Frequently Asked Questions
What is the NSF-REU?
The NSF-REU is a program designed to give undergraduates experience in doing graduate-style research.
What are the benefits to me?
Experience in graduate-style research. A summer job in your career field. Knowledge. Fun. Yes, research can be fun.
What exactly will I be doing in the REU at Auburn University?
You will do extensive reading on a new research topic and you will additionally design and execute experiments. This process should culminate in quality written work.
That's rather vague - how will I spend my time?
- Attend a short scheduling meeting, designed to help you make goals for the week. You will focus on attainable milestones (e.g. read these three papers twice each, have the prototype of my robot ready to walk, collect samples of handwriting data).
- Work during the week towards the above goals, meeting with a faculty advisor as necessary. You should make every effort to contact those knowledgeable about your research project for guidance when you get "stuck," so that you don't spend very long periods of time on the same problem. You don't have to work in a vacuum!
- Attend a meeting at the end of the week, where you will report your progress. Further, each week one student from the REU will present their research project in a more formalized presentation to the entire group.
What exactly will be required of me?
Research isn't a contract where exact specifications can be provided, but there are some minimal guidelines for the program overall.
- Attend meetings - it is important to know everyone's progress and to be able to help them with any obstacles they have encountered. At each meeting, be ready to speak a bit about your progress on your project.
- Create two presentations. These presentations (which can use a digital medium, such as PowerPoint) should give a good overview of the research area and the direction of the research. You should not assume that the audience is particularly knowledgeable about the topic area. You will do one at midterm and then a final presentation at the end of the REU.
- Work with an academic mentor and meet their expectations, whether those be focused on reading, implementing
- Write two reports. The reports provide insight into the individual's experience at the REU, the background of the topic being studied, the nature of the research, the progress of that research, pitfalls to avoid, and planning information. This report can be fairly extensive and should provide much insight into the project itself. You will create one report at mid-term and a second at the conclusion of the REU.
- Write one paper. This is to be distinguished from the reports in that it should be a publishable entity. What does that mean? This will be formally written (the report can be less formal), it will be concise (around 6 pages, generally), and will contain only information relating directly to the research. The end goal should be that the paper should make the research reproducible by a reasonably knowledgeable reader. This will be due at the conclusion of the REU.
Where will I get a research topic from?
Early in the program, there will be a number of projects presented by various academic mentors. The students in the REU will be able to request projects of interest to them. The Academic Director will attempt to fulfill these requests as best as possible.
I've never done anything exactly like this - who will be there to help?
Program Director: This person makes decisions about salary and logistics.
Academic Director: This person oversees the meetings during the week and can provide assistance with general research questions, issues with mentors, program questions, and other issues.
Academic Mentor: This person will be an expert in the given field of your research and help direct your research. They can help you with project-related questions and all manner of academic issues.
Graduate Assistant: This person takes care of the day-to-day logistics (rooms, resources, etc.). Further, they may provide assistance with research questions and fill the role of "camp counselor."
Where will I live? What should I bring?
You will live in either dormitories or apartments. What you will need to bring depends on the exact accommodations. As a general rule: if you want something, you should bring it. However, basic furniture will be present.
How will I get paid?
Though the dollar amount varies from year to year, you will generally receive 30% of your total pay at the beginning of the program, 30% at midterm, and 40% at the end of the program. Auburn University students are generally paid every two weeks through the university employment system.