I started an REU a Wayne State Univ at their Smart Sensors and Integrated Microsystems lab in the middle of January. Since then I have only been working there 10 hours a week. So far, it doesn't looks like I will even be getting started on any particular research project there any time soon. The reason for this is the experimental equipment used in this particular field is very expensive and there's just a ton of stuff to learn before I will be able to use it on my own. I am working with a professor that is growing Aluminum Nitride thin films by plasma source molecular beam epitaxy. Everyone keeps telling me to publish, publish, publish, but I don't feel this is will be the outcome of my experience there. Most of the time I am reading the literature and the manuals for a lot of the equipment. I am also just following my research advisor around all day and he explains the stuff to me. Sometimes he will ask me to calibrate some equipment, but usually I just follow him around and ask him questions. Perhaps since this is a longer term REU (part time in the spring 07, full time in the summer, and part time in the fall 07) they are just trying to get me fully trained before they give me a project, as opposed to other REUs where you are kinda just thrown into a jroject knowing next to nothing. I am giving a presentation on reflection high energy electron diffraction to the department in a few weeks, but this will not be on any original work. It will just be an overview of the topic based on what I have read in textbooks and the literature. Is this typical of some REUs? At least I am learning a lot of stuff, as opposed to just cleaning glassware or something like a lot of REUs are stuck doing, but I am not publishing. I am trying to get experience that will give me a competitive edge when applying to grad schools, and I just want to know if I am getting that.