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pyroknifepyroknife . Posts: 259 Junior Member
edited November 2012 in Graduate School
I feel like posting here would be best, seeing that some of you have had REU/summer research program experience.

I'm an engineering major planning on pursuing grad school.

I just have a few questions regarding REUs. Most of these are regarding this website: US NSF - REU - List Result

1) I went on the NSF REU site and looked through the ones for engineering, but it appears many, if not most of the sites have not updated their page from the past summer. It's already november and most deadlines are due in february. Anyone know when they usually update their site?

2) As seen in the above website, a lot of the potential sites do not have any links to click on the left hand side. For example, in the first row, there's no link to "Cornell University-Endowed REU-Site Program at the Center for Nanoscale Systems" application site or anything.

3) How long should I give my LOR writers to write the letter and submit it?

4) I'm currently a junior. I'm pretty sure I know what research area I want to pursue for grad school. Should I still apply for REUs that are not related to my potential research area?

Post edited by pyroknife on

Replies to: REUs

  • b@r!umb@r!um Registered User Posts: 10,173 Senior Member
    4) How badly do you want to do an REU? If you have your heart set on a research area for graduate school, it would be in your best interest to get some research experience in that area. Have you asked any professors if you could work with them next summer? The majority of undergraduate research projects are arranged informally, not formally organized like an REU. However, if doing something in your area is not an option, an REU in a different area is better than no research experience at all.

    3) You should try to give your references at least one month to write and submit your recommendations.

    2) Have you tried Google?

    1) Many websites will be updated in December and early January.
  • pyroknifepyroknife . Posts: 259 Junior Member
    Thanks for the reply.

    I really want to do an REU for a few reasons. I'm currently a mechanical engineering major but I want to switch to aerospace engineering (my current undergrad school does not offer this, but the 2 are closely related). There aren't many aerospace-related REUs, I will definitely apply to all of them, but since REUs are very competitive, I want to apply for other areas as well (even if not all that related).

    By "asking professors," do you mean professors at my current school or at other schools? None of the professors at my current school are doing any aero-related research, but I am doing research in one of labs, but it is not an area I'd like to pursue. Also, it doesn't seem most of the professors pay. Even though I'm not too worried about money, it would be nice to get paid in the summer.

    Another reason is I want to live somewhere else for the summer because I like traveling, so I guess an REU at a desirable location would be good.
  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 11,672 Super Moderator
    1) At the earliest, likely late November. A lot of the same sites that are running REUs are probably also running graduate programs, and they may be focused on that first. I'd imagine they would be updating in December before they leave for break. But the application rarely changes from year to year, so if you'd like to start writing a statement or something, you can.

    2) As suggested above, try Google. Also, Google will help you expand out from the NSF-supported programs - there are a lot of summer research programs that aren't NSF-supported.

    3) 6-8 weeks is the suggested amount of time.

    4) It's better to have an REU that's unrelated to your interests than no REU at all. I would apply primarily to ones related to what you want to do, but keep your options open and apply to a few that are further afield of your interests.
  • b@r!umb@r!um Registered User Posts: 10,173 Senior Member
    By "asking professors," do you mean professors at my current school or at other schools?
    Either. Have you talked to your own professors about summer opportunities elsewhere? They might be able to refer you to a colleague at another university who is doing something more in line with your interests. I've always found those conversations to be quite fruitful.

    Also check with your university if they have funds to support student research during the summer. You might be able to get a few thousand dollars from the university to pursue unpaid research off campus.
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