My REU experience so far....
I started my REU a couple weeks ago (only working 10 hours a week during the spring semester). I am working with a professor that is growing AlN wide bandgap semiconductors bu molecular beam epitaxy. So far it hasn't been what I expected of it, based on what others have told me about their REU experiences. So far the experience was certainly not bad, but just different than what I expected.
Others have told me that as soon as they showed up they were assigned a project, pointed to the literature they should be reading and any background info they should study, and then they were cut lose and told to get to it.
I am over 20 hours into the REU and I still haven't been assigned a project. Mostly I have just been reading a book on MBE fundamentals my advisor assigned, and he said when I get through chapter 1-4 of the book he has other books for me to study (thin film characterization in-situ and 'ex-situ', such as reflective difference spectrometry, ellipsometry, RHEED, in-situ mass spectrometry, etc). He also wants me to learn autocad and origin, which I've had absolutely zero exposure to as a double major in EE and physics. I also have to learn the basics of UHV. So I understand that in this particular area there's a lot of preparatory learning to do before I can get started, so this is understandable.
Now, today my advisor came to me and asked if I have any thesis topics in mind that I wanted to work on and I had no idea. I have really only been exposed to this specific field of research for the past couple weeks, and I have not had any prior exposure to AlN MBE research. As I look through the literature I find that it will be very difficult to come up with a topic that hasn't been done before. As I said, I expected them lab faculty to have a project ready for a ugrad before they started. I am not really complaining, as it's great that I am given the opportunity to come up with my own original topic, but it's just not what the other REUs went through, that's all.
Anyone have an opinion on this matter? Should I just spend the weekend looking through the literature trying to come up with a topic?