Preparing for UROPs
Before you begin your search and start to contact faculty members, take a moment to examine your interests, needs and goals, so that you can communicate them effectively. Professors want to know that you have the time, energy, and commitment to become a productive member of their research groups.
- When do you hope to start your UROP? Do you want pay, credit, or to volunteer?
- How much time can you commit given your coursework/activities?
- Fall/Spring UROPs generally require 6-12 hours/week and IAP/Summer UROPs are generally full-time 35-40 hours/week.
- Can you work on a project for more than one term/summer? Do you want a long-term project or a short-term one? What seems best for you?
- Faculty members often seek continuity in their research teams. One term may not be enough for both you and your faculty supervisor to benefit from research collaboration. But, there are definitely one-term only projects too!
- Which departments/research areas interest you? What aspect of a field or problem do you hope to investigate? Do you have an idea you wish to pursue, but need a faculty mentor?
- Why do you want to engage in research? Do you want to explore a major? Gain experience in an area of interest? Exercise your creativity? Are you hoping to publish, patent, join a start-up, etc. based on your UROP experiences? A combination? Something other?
- What are your future plans/goals? Are you planning toward grad school, med school, a career?
- What are your skills? What relevant courses have you taken? What programming languages do you know? What sort of lab research have you conducted? What are your hobbies and interests—your transferable skills?
Update Your resume
Many UROP supervisors will ask you to provide a resume, information on relevant coursework//activities, and/or references when applying for UROPs. Potential employers will also ask for these items when you apply for jobs, so having your resume prepared in advance is a good idea.
While formal research preparation may not be necessary for every UROP, some faculty and departments do seek students who have already completed certain classes or who have some level of research background.
Students interested in research preparation, should consider enrolling in an introductory laboratory subjects and/or specific departmental seminars. Participating in these subjects is a good way to get an idea of what research will be like. See the Online Subject Listing and Schedule or the MIT Summer Session Catalog to find applicable offerings.
Also consider speaking with the applicable department UROP Coordinator for advice on preparation for research in a particular field.
Online Safety Training
Since you are not authorized to begin research until all department and EHS safety training requirements have been fulfilled, consider completing online MIT EHS Training before you begin your UROP search.
Additional specific training requirements may apply to specific UROP projects, but completing available online training relative to your field of interest may prove beneficial.
MakerLodge provides training to undergraduate makers - from shop safety to maker tech - as well as access to various Lodges on campus available to trained makers. MakerLodge training sessions are regularly scheduled, so be sure to visit the MakerLodge site for details. The skills, experiences, shop tools, and facilities MakerLodge provides will prove valuable to you in UROPs in many areas.