By working for a professor or in a research lab, you can gain hands-on experience that will help you find your first internship or job, explore potential career paths, and discover what areas of engineering excite you. Your supervisors may later serve as professional references for an internship, job, or graduate school. You will be exposed to new lab techniques, coding and data analysis tools, and you will build your communication and interpersonal skills.
How do I approach a faculty member?
Most UMD faculty do not post their opportunities in Careers4Engineers, therefore you must approach them directly. It is critical that you look at their website and resume (often called a Curriculum Vitae) in advance. What is the focus of their research? What resources do they have and what skills might you be able to contribute? Are you excited about the topic and how can you convey that?
Bring your resume to the faculty member’s office hours along with a list of questions about their work. If they don’t have office hours, you can send a polite email asking for an appointment. If you’ve received a high grade from a professor, that’s a great place to start.
How do I find research opportunities?
In addition to approaching UMD faculty directly, there are a number of established programs on campus and across the country. Plan ahead if you want to apply since many deadlines are 6 months before the program begins. You should be prepared to commit 4-10 hours a week throughout the semester.
Of special note are nationwide Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs) available through the National Science Foundation (NSF). REUs take place on college campuses throughout the country. You are provided with a stipend for the summer. Some programs offer free campus housing and transportation costs. Plus you have an instant cohort for socializing.
National Science Foundation REU
You may search by discipline or key words. Most deadlines are in January and February and most require letters of recommendation and a personal statement in addition to a resume and unofficial transcript.
A. James Clark School of Engineering
Provides a list of several resources through the school to gain research experience.
Maryland Center for Undergraduate Research
Database of research opportunities on campus plus tips on how to apply.
National Scholarships Office
Funding resources for research in STEM.
Conduct a job search using the keyword “research”.