MRS Spring Meeting 2001
Conference paper

Beyond the classroom: Educating undergraduates in materials science research and careers via the CPIMA SURE program

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The Center on Polymer Interfaces and Macromolecular Assemblies (CPIMA), an NSF MRSEC and joint partnership among Stanford University, IBM Almaden, and University of California at Davis, established the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) Program in 1995. Its mission is twofold: to expose undergraduate students to cutting-edge research and to help students with their ultimate career decisions. Approximately twenty-five students each summer are assigned a research project under the direction of a mentor. Students are exposed to a variety of research environments including universities, industry, and laboratories overseas. Regardless of site, students participate in research group meetings and learn the research process - a valuable experience that is often not obtained during a student's undergraduate years. To complete the research experience, SURE students attend a CPIMA Forum where they present posters on their research and interact with members of both academia and industry. While undergraduates are exposed to academia, they are often not exposed to industry or alternative careers. SURE students learn about industrial research by visiting IBM and getting a tour of the Almaden Research Center. A Career Day is held during the Program where students are given workshops on applying to graduate school as well as talks from people in different scientific careers, both traditional and nontraditional. Assessment surveys show that after their exposure to a number of experiences and ideas over 10 weeks, the SURE students have learned important lessons that a traditional classroom does not afford. To date, over 150 students have participated. © 2001 Materials Research Society.