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Is it pointless for me to do undergrad research?

  1. Apr 5, 2009 #1
    I currently plan on graduating next fall semester, with a physics B.A. my main concern is when I plan on applying to grad school next fall for mechanical engineering, probably for a M.S. in fluid mechanics or heat transfer. Is it a good idea to do it at a different school from my undergrad? personally, I would rather have the change of environment

    I heard most grad schools require 3 letters, so thats my main reason for seeking another prof to do undergrad research for right now until the rest of this semester. I did an REU last summer, and am fairly close with only 1 other professor at my school, so if I apply to grad schools this upcoming fall, I currently only have 2 profs who can write me even somewhat-decent letters of rec. Is this a good plan? or is it not necessary to do another research project considering that my gpa is high (3.86), and hence that along with average letters of rec will let me get into decent grad schools (top 20-ish)?

    My goal is to eventually work for a large defense contractor, like boeing, lockheed martin, etc. I want to work on rockets, missiles, etc and do more theoretical rather than experimental work
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 5, 2009 #2
    I don't know for sure, but I've heard that the more undergrad research experience you have, the better.
  4. Apr 6, 2009 #3
    Undergraduate research and/or internships still ranks high in the application process for engineering graduate programs (and you're right... you should try to get a third strong letter). The best MS programs will include research (thesis-based MS programs). You may even want to look into programs that include collaboration with a national/military lab or a defense contractor as a possibility (for my MS in engineering I did work t the Air Force Research labs... some of my friends in the program later went to work for defense contractors... pluses in their application where that they already had security clearance and contacts).

    You might want to look into REU's in your area of interest (perhaps even sponsored through a mechanical engineering rather than physics department), REU's at a national lab, or work in an engineering lab at your own home institution (it'd be good to take a few upper-level classes in engineering there as well... that will boost your application to engineering graduate programs as well).
  5. Apr 6, 2009 #4
    where can i look into M.S. programs that include collaboration with a national/military lab or defense contractor?

    i'm not gonna do an REU this summer since I'll be doing a summer internship for a private company this summer.
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