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REU/SURF advice .

  1. Jan 23, 2006 #1
    REU/SURF advice.....

    ok, so I am going to be sending off tons of applications for different SURFs/REUs around the country this week. I am an EE/physics double major (or I hope to be....) and I am interested in optoelectronics and semiconductor physics. The problem is, I haven't had a formal course on either of these subjects and don't know much about either of them. In fact, I haven't even taken an electronics course. The only thing I know about optoelectronics and photonics is from the tiny bit I taught myself and from a university physics 2 course, which was E&M and optics. Do these REU research advisors expect you to know anything about the subject matter you're researching, or is it like a fresh start going in? If I need to know some basic concepts do you think it would be ok for me to call the person I would be working under to ask them to recommend some books to study so that I would have the requried background knowledge or is this a bad idea?

    I know you're going to ask me how I know I will be interested in the subject matter if I've never had a formal course on it. Well, simply put, I don't KNOW I will be interested....I THINK I will be interested, based on the little I've read. I am told by many that people start looking do do REUs during the summer between sophomore year and junior year....well, at this point most people haven't had a formal course on these subjects.

    So, bottom-line: Are these researchers expecting these ugrads to be well versed in the basics of the subject they are researching, or do they expect that tey will be starting from the beginning?

    The only physics I've had were uphys 1 and 2 with labs. I have also had uchem 1 and 2 both with labs, and ochem 1 and 2 with an ochem lab.

    As for EE classes, I've had digital electronics with lab, and circuits 1 with lab. This semester I am taking electromagnetic theory, circuits 2 with lab, adv. digital with lab and microprocessors with lab. None of these classes talk about the physical aspects of electronics (not even the digital classes....). I take electronics and adv. electronics for those, and I am also going to take solid state technology. Also, I plan to take a photonics course, but that is about a year down the road.

    Thanks for your advice.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2006
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 23, 2006 #2

    I can only speak about the REU program I participated in, so this is simply an example. The univeristy I did my REU at took mostly students in the summer between their Junior and Senior years. It was assumed that you had a solid knowledge of programming, modern physics, intro. physics. It also assumed you had been introduced to quantum, intermediate mechanics, optics, and other higher level physics classes. Now, all of the students that were accepted had done a little research in the field before coming to the program. You only have two months typically and in my eyes that is not enough time to come in and learn about a research topic AND accomplish some research unless you have some working knowledge of the area already. That being said, a lot of the REU programs are very competitive. Odds are there will be 100s of applications for only 10 positions or so. Some of the astronomy REUs I applied for had 1000s of applications. Don't be discouraged if you don't get in this time around. Make sure, you apply again for next year!
    Good luck,
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