Undergraduate Research

Students have the opportunity to follow their own investigational instincts through undergraduate research. This requires a collaborative effort between the student and faculty. Research that culminates in the production of an undergraduate research thesis allows the student to receive the designation of “With Research Distinction” or “With Honors Research Distinction” on their diploma. For additional details and requirements regarding these levels of distinction, please see Distinction Guidelines.

The process begins with the student’s selection of a research topic and Project Advisor. The advisor can be any faculty member within the College of Engineering who has graduate advising status. The student may also select a co-advisor from outside the College of Engineering if the project is interdisciplinary in nature. The advisor(s) work with the student to sculpt the student’s topic of interest into a feasible research project. From there, the student develops a proposal, outlining the prior research scholarship on the topic, research methodology, anticipated results, and other relevant information. This proposal, along with a letter of support from the project advisor(s) will then be submitted to the Distinction Coordinator. Once approved, the student can begin work on the project and earn independent study or research credits (4999H, 4999, or departmental equivalent).

As the research and thesis approach completion, the student completes an oral defense of the thesis with the project advisor and at least one additional faculty member who also has graduate advising status. Students pursuing Honors Research Distinction have additional requirements laid out in Distinction Guidelines. Once the thesis is successfully defended and has been uploaded to the Ohio State Knowledge Bank, the student is certified for Graduation with Research Distinction. Students who are completing undergraduate research projects are also strongly encouraged to display their work at both the College of Engineering and Denman Undergraduate Research Forums. These two events provide students with an excellent opportunity to refine their presentation skills, earn recognition for their work, and compete to win prizes.

Students who plan to complete a research thesis are eligible to earn funding through the College of Engineering Undergraduate Research Scholarship (URS) competition. This competition takes place every semester (autumn, spring and summer), and awards range from $1,000 to $6,000 based on the strength of the student’s proposal after review from a collection of independent Engineering faculty members. Students interested in competing for the URS should begin working on their proposals in advance of the submission semester to ensure quality and completion prior to the deadline. For more information about the URS, including deadlines, please see Distinction Guidelines.

The research thesis option provides undergraduates with a unique opportunity to engage in a full-scale research project with the guidance of a faculty member that will result in the production of a thesis. The benefits of participating in undergraduate research are numerous. Students who plan to pursue a graduate degree will find the experience extremely valuable preparation for a Master’s or Doctoral thesis while also bolstering their credentials when seeking admission to their graduate program of choice. Students who plan to work in industry will benefit from the experience of developing and completing an independent project from start to finish. Regardless of the motive, the opportunity to complete a research thesis is one that provides an invaluable learning experience.

The objectives of the Graduation with Research Distinction and Honors Research Distinction program are:

  1. Provide high ability undergraduate students with exposure to methodologies and techniques used in academic research.
  2. Facilitate significant individualized interactions between faculty members and students through a multi-term research experience.
  3. Promote interest in the pursuit of graduate-level study.
  4. Conduct an extended independent investigation that results in the production of a research thesis.