Promoting undergraduate research by creating a research option in a technical communication course: Initial project phase

Michael P. Alley, Jenny Lo, Bevlee Watford

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Although many institutions such as the National Science Foundation, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the National Research Council have called for more undergraduate research, incorporating significant research experiences into undergraduate engineering curricula has proven to be challenging. This paper presents the initial phase of an experiment in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech to address this problem by means of a research option in the traditional technical communication course. In this research option, students have the opportunity to prepare for and to document a summer research experience. To that end, the research option of the course is divided into two segments: (1) a spring segment to prepare students for a summer research experience, and (2) a fall segment to teach students to how document that research experience. This research option culminates in an undergraduate research symposium that is to show other undergraduates the benefits of and opportunities for a research experience. This paper documents the initial phase of this experiment - namely, the recruiting of students into the research option. Included is a discussion of a pilot symposium on undergraduate research that served as an advertisement for the research-option course and that provided lessons for next year's symposium. Also included are the statistics on the number, diversity, and quality of undergraduates who have applied for this research option. Twenty of the twenty-five slots for the pilot course were filled, the students have been of high quality (an average GPA of 3.7/4.0), and 11 of the 20 students are from underrepresented groups in engineering. This recruitment phase demonstrates that such a research option appeals to students who are qualified to attend graduate school. In addition, the course appeals to groups that are underrepresented in engineering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11847-11854
Number of pages8
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005
Event2005 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: The Changing Landscape of Engineering and Technology Education in a Global World - Portland, OR, United States
Duration: Jun 12 2005Jun 15 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)


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