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Becoming involved in summer projects

  1. Jan 22, 2014 #1

    CAF123

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    I am in Year 3 of a five year undergraduate programme. My university is offering various summer projects which are experimental, theoretical or computational in nature. How does one get involved in such a project? I have been told to seek out projects from potential supervisors/academic faculty within my university, however I do not know what this means in practice.

    Is it advisable to email the majority (or all) of the faculty whose area I am interested in to ask about potential projects or only those academics who have lectured previous courses I have attended?

    Does this usually mean I should be trying to see if I can get involved in a project that is already been offered by the faculty or one that I thought about myself and then taken to various members of the faculty?

    Many thanks.
     
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  3. Jan 22, 2014 #2

    ZapperZ

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    Obviously, you read about such programs. Isn't there a contact information or names of people you can contact for further information? Surely they will be able to provide the answers to the questions you just asked here. It is difficult for us to give you any kind of answer because this appears to be a specific program at your institution. Other than broad, generic replies, which you might already know, there's not much specifics any of us can tell you.

    So go look at the information given and ask the relevant party that do know.

    Zz.
     
  4. Jan 22, 2014 #3
    If you can, go in to their office and speak to them in person. They will remember you much better that way. It's perfectly acceptable even if they haven't taught you before. Heck, I have had professors who taught me who never remembered me again and others never taught me but were excellent advisors.
     
  5. Jan 22, 2014 #4

    Choppy

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    Some other ideas on how to approach this:

    - Go to your university's undergraduate physics (or whatever your major is) club/society. Usually one of their functions is hooking up students with summer positions.

    - Talk with some graduate students and find out who has hired summer students in the past and what their projects were like and what their experiences were.

    - Often there will be presentations at the end of the summer on what summer students did. It may be too late to do this in the original poster's situation, but generally, if you're at all interested in a summer position, try to attend these.

    - Approach one of your professors whom you find it easy to talk to and ask if he or she knows about any opportunities. Professors talk and just about any one of them will know who usually hires. Another option in this respect is your undergraduate advisor.

    - Another approach is just to look up who is doing what and go by what interests you the most. A polite email asking about possible positions is fine.

    - Look into undergraduate summer research awards. Some departments or faculties or outside bodies will offer up small stipends to support undergraduate research. When contacting a professor, it's always nice to start out by saying something like "I find your work really interesting. I'm applying for a summer research scholarship and was wondering if you would be interested in mentoring a student if I were successful."
     
  6. Jan 23, 2014 #5

    CAF123

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    Yes, I just contacted my undergraduate advisor and he told me that in most cases either a professor has a project or the professor would arrange a project for a student who was interested.
    Thanks, this is what I will look into doing next. I might contact some of the faculty from the particle theory group about possible projects in that area or in quantum mechanics. Given that I am only year 3 of undergrad, I am a little doubtful for prospects in the former category. Do you think so?
     
  7. Jan 23, 2014 #6
    I spoke to my personal tutor recently about a similar thing and was advised against this approach. Better, he told me, was to research the specialism of a particular member of staff before getting in touch, as that way you'll be much better able to convey your interest in they're particular area of work, thereby making you more attractive as an assistant or whatever.

    Blanket e-mails, I was told, would most likely be deleted pretty quickly.
     
  8. Jan 23, 2014 #7

    Choppy

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    You won't know until you ask.

    For the most part, professors are well aware that undergrads aren't able to offer a lot beyond what they've covered in their courses. But even in theory groups there are some projects that are basically just coding that doesn't require an advanced understanding of the physics to move forward.
     
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