Undergraduate Research: Pushing the Boundaries

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Dana Hartley, Ph.D.
Director, Undergraduate Studies

If your student is ready for a challenge, likes working beyond the traditional boundaries of coursework, and wants to participate in something “hands-on,” then undergraduate research may be a great experience. Georgia Tech is a leading research university and provides an ideal setting in which students can experience the exciting world of discovery by working directly with a faculty mentor. College of Computing Associate Professor Amy Bruckman describes research as “a chance to work on a totally new problem - one that no one has ever tackled before.” It’s also an intellectual challenge. Recent psychology graduate Dianne Palladino commented, “Being involved in research helps students to think critically about the information that is conveyed to us in our daily lives, even if a career in research is not the ultimate goal.” Plus, it looks great on a resume!

Georgia Tech has an excellent reputation in research and is actively involved in engaging its undergraduate student community in research. To take this initiative even further, the Institute outlined an ambitious goal of involving 60 percent of undergraduates in research, created an institute-wide Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), and developed a formalized thesis option to the Georgia Tech degree called the Research Option. Students in the Research Option acquire more in-depth research experience within the framework of a research proposal and process. Students at Georgia Tech are well on their way to helping the Institute fulfill its goals. Last year, nearly 43 percent of Tech graduates had participated in research during their time here, and more than 122 are participating in the new Research Option.

Georgia Tech undergraduates can participate in research during fall, spring, and summer semesters either for course credit (graded) or for pay. Research classes for course credit count toward free electives in most majors and discipline-specific electives in other majors. Faculty mentors may hire students as research assistants or students may receive funding through the President’s Undergraduate Research Award (PURA). Options for research also include full-time summer experiences both on- and off-campus and international research.

UROP provides programs which support undergraduates pursuing research. Students can attend workshops, participate in the annual spring research symposium, and learn how to find funding for research. Advising is also available for students as they look for opportunities. Students of all years (freshman through senior) can also be involved in two student research oriented organizations - the Student Advisory Board for Undergraduate Research (SABUR) and The Tower, Georgia Tech’s official undergraduate research journal. For additional information, including video interviews of several students, visit the UROP website.

If your student is interested in learning more about how to become involved in research as an undergraduate student, encourage them to attend one of our fall information sessions. We’ll talk about the possibilities available to students and discuss how to find a project. Several students will be in attendance to provide their personal perspectives and answer questions. We’ll also cover funding for research, summer opportunities, and UROP programs to support students in research, including two student organizations. For additional information, contact


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