What should I expect from my REU experience?

In summary, my REU experience so far has been different than what I was expecting. I was not given a project to work on, and I have only been reading a book on MBE fundamentals my advisor assigned. I understand that there is preparatory learning involved, but I would like to be assigned a project sooner rather than later.
  • #1
1,318
19
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?
 
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #2
Your REU is certainly different as you have 3 semesters correct? This one, summer, and fall. With this long of a work schedule, you'll probably get more in depth on whatever subject matter you study. Perhaps this is why nothing has been assisgned. That and because of this long time available, they will give you an opportunity to choose something instead. During the summer they usually only have 10 weeks so its just more time efficient to give projects.

As for project ideas, a good first step might be to see if you can reproduce results from some paper you've read. Considering you don't have any experience in these areas yet, it may be beneficial to learn how its done this way... assuming it isn't expensive to do it.

Good luck!
 
  • #3
Mororvia said:
Your REU is certainly different as you have 3 semesters correct? This one, summer, and fall. With this long of a work schedule, you'll probably get more in depth on whatever subject matter you study. Perhaps this is why nothing has been assisgned. That and because of this long time available, they will give you an opportunity to choose something instead. During the summer they usually only have 10 weeks so its just more time efficient to give projects.

As for project ideas, a good first step might be to see if you can reproduce results from some paper you've read. Considering you don't have any experience in these areas yet, it may be beneficial to learn how its done this way... assuming it isn't expensive to do it.

Good luck!

This is true...this is a (hopefully) 3 semester long experience...
 
  • #4
Has anyone ever heard of ambitious community college students going over to the university they plan to transfer to and try to get a research project?

I feel disadvantaged in that regard, being at a community college. Perhaps I should just wait until my Senior year.
 

What is an REU program?

An REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) program is a competitive summer research program funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) that allows undergraduate students to participate in hands-on research experiences in various fields of science and engineering.

What are the benefits of participating in an REU program?

Participating in an REU program can provide valuable experience in conducting research, networking with other scientists, and potentially leading to future opportunities such as internships, graduate school, or career opportunities. It also allows students to explore a specific field of study and gain a deeper understanding of their research interests.

What kinds of research projects are typically offered in an REU program?

REU programs offer a wide range of research projects in various fields such as biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, mathematics, physics, and more. These projects can vary in length and complexity, but they all provide hands-on experience in conducting scientific research.

What is the application process for an REU program?

The application process for an REU program typically involves submitting an online application, including a personal statement, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and sometimes a research proposal. Each program may have specific requirements, so it is important to carefully read and follow the instructions provided by the program.

What should I expect from my REU experience?

Your REU experience will vary depending on the program and research project you are involved in. However, you can expect to work closely with a mentor or research team, attend seminars and workshops, present your research findings, and have the opportunity to network with other students and professionals in your field.

Suggested for: What should I expect from my REU experience?

Replies
3
Views
522
Replies
7
Views
1K
Replies
1
Views
266
Replies
6
Views
758
Replies
2
Views
916
Back
Top