Undergraduate Onboarding

There are three levels of involvement within the lab. Everyone will need to start at 1 but may skip some steps depending on their prior experience.

  1. Basic skill development. If interested in our lab please fill out this survey. Before starting a research project there are some basic skills you will need to develop in reading, writing, programming, and aerodynamics. We have a starter project to guide you through this here. You will complete these at your own pace. It is expected to take a couple weeks for a student with previous programming experience. For a freshmen it may take a semester or two. While completing the mini-project you should start to learn more about the research in the lab. You’ll want to get to know some of the graduate students and the projects they working on. Attend our group meetings if possible (contact me or any of the students) to learn when current meetings are held). Visit with students after meetings or in the lab, learn more about ongoing research projects and look through some of the relevant publications.

  2. First research project (course credit). When you have identified some areas of interest, talk to the graduate students in that area to learn more about what they are doing and what needs they might have. Almost all of our undergraduate hiring is driven by the graduate students needs, so you should go through them first to find opportunities. Once you have identified a potential research area or two in collaboration with one of the graduate students, send me a couple of paragraphs describing the proposed project and schedule an appointment to come visit (preferably with the graduate student). Once we settle on a direction, you will then need to create a syllabus for the upcoming semester. Your syllabus should contain a week-to-week description of tasks, deliverables, and a reading/learning schedule. Your graduate student mentor will help you develop this. Readings should come from journal papers recommended by the graduate student and textbook/course resources listed below under Reading and Learning. ME 497R is usually the ideal route for a new researcher. Registering for ME 497R opens up time in your schedule for research, and the course fulfills a tech elective towards graduation. Registering for 3 credits requires about 10 hours of work per week (you will need to report hours worked as part of the grading). The course is graded, and you will be expected to produce an end-of-semester report. Follow the BYU ME writing guidelines. It should be written in the style of a scientific conference paper.

  3. Undergraduate research assistant (paid). After successfully completing a 497R, or with prior relevant research experience in another lab, you are eligible for a paid position. You will continue to work with your graduate student mentor to define goals for the semester and produce end-of-semester reports leading towards conference presentations and journal publications. Starter projects are usually focused on reproducing existing research as this is often a helpful path to get up to speed.