News & Announcements - Focus on Graduate Students
Office of Graduate Studies supports mentored undergraduate research experiences.
The University of Texas at Arlington Office of Graduate Studies recognizes the value of mentored undergraduate research experiences in assisting students with advancing both academically and professionally. Early research experiences expand a student's knowledge in an area of study through the guidance of distinguished faculty mentors and access to state of the art technologies and facilities.
"Students can consider these programs as trial versions of graduate programs," says Nguyen Tran, Mechanical Engineering undergraduate and 2012 I Engage mentee.
Tran participated in the I Engage Mentoring (IM) program supported by the Office of Graduate Studies this summer. IM pairs doctoral or doctoral-bound students who have completed 30 hours of graduate study with an undergraduate mentee. The pairs work on a self-selected research project under the guidance of faculty mentor.
Tran was mentored by doctoral Mechanical Engineering student Adrian Rodriguez. Their project was titled "Impact analysis of a flexible plate" and focused on the study of rigid body contact and impact. In particular, Tran and Rodriguez examined the behavior of a flexible plate that is subject to an impact from a striker with a spherical end. The plate was modeled as a fiber matrix composed of six fibers, or bodies and only single point impact was considered between the striker and plate. Dr. Alan Bowling supervised the pair.
The IM Program sponsored over twenty undergraduate students this summer. An additional twenty undergraduate students participated in the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Summer Research Academy (SRA), which the Office of Graduate Studies actively supports.
LSAMP SRA provides UT Arlington and non-UT Arlington undergraduate students the opportunity to perform research under the supervision of qualified UT Arlington faculty members. LSAMP SRA students must present their research findings at a UT System LSAMP conference, the ACES symposium hosted by the Office of Graduate Studies, and the annual SACNAS National Conference. LSAMP SRA students are also encouraged to present work at conferences in their fields. During this experience, participants network with graduate students in their program take part in meetings designed to assist in with the application to graduation process.
"These kinds of mentor-based programs help students in becoming more efficient researchers," says Rodriguez. "I advise students to invest quality time in research, to participate, and to show commitment."
"It will pay off. Programs like these are priceless," Rodriguez continues.
The Office of Graduate Studies provides support to other programs funded by the National Science Foundation including the Civil Engineering program, "Hazard Mitigation, Electrical Engineering's Sensors and Applications," and the AUGMENTS program, "Undergraduate and Graduate Study in the Geosciences."
Each research experience provides undergraduate students with hands-on experience conducting supervised research, opportunities to enhance independent thinking, creativity, critical-thinking skills, and problem-solving skills. Participants gain a body of research that can be presented at local, regional, and national professional conferences and research symposia.
Lisa Berry, Coordinator of the I Engage Program, says the undergraduate research experience affords many benefits to undergraduate students. "These experiences provide a safe, encouraging environment for undergraduate students to test their abilities and skills and identify and mitigate any deficiencies prior to beginning a graduate program."
"Through participation, a student often is able to confirm whether or not to attend graduate school, which can save the university and the student the expense of a negative first-semester or first-year experience. Students who ultimately pursue graduate studies, this experience increases their confidence and ability to complete a graduate program. I wish all students considering graduate school had access to an undergraduate research experience," says Berry.
In addition, Ashley Horn, Student Development and Graduate Career Services Specialist, notes that "Students who participate in Undergraduate Research Experiences are exposed to advanced research practices that parallel the rigors of graduate school. Students get the opportunity to asses not only their academic strengths and weaknesses, but their true level of dedication to furthering their field of choice. This level of self-awareness cannot be gained through books alone."
Learn more about undergraduate research at UT Arlington, visit: