|Newsletter of the Department of Electrical Engineering|
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Poised to Become National Leader in Undergraduate Research Opportunities
The Department will launch its Maryland Engineering Research Internship Teams (MERIT) program this summer, building upon the already successful undergraduate research program initiated last summer.
The MERIT program, supported through funding from the National Science
Foundation and the Army Research Laboratory, offers students the opportunity
to engage in cutting-edge, team-based research in the broad areas of telecommunications
and microelectronics. Students typically work in teams of 2-3, and are
supervised jointly by both faculty members and graduate students.
The purpose of the MERIT Program is simple: to involve talented students
from around the country in a diverse research program, introducing them
to team-based, cross-disciplinary research, as well as to help them prepare
for graduate school and define career goals.
Although the primary focus of the program is on research, the summer
program is also supplemented with technical and educational seminars,
as well as field trips to several local companies. These opportunities
are designed to expose students to the latest technologies and educational
opportunities, as well as to leaders in their respective fields of research.
In addition, special seminars are conducted to help prepare students for
their careers and/or graduate school.
Last summer, the RITE program brought together 19 electrical and computer
engineering students, chosen from a group of more than 75 talented applicants
from the University of Maryland, Carnegie Mellon University, Virginia
Tech, Rensselaer, and George Washington University. Throughout the 11-week
program, students developed their research projects, attended weekly technical
seminars, and visited both Hughes Network Systems and Lucent Technologies.
Participants hard work culminated in the RITE Site fair, during
which students demonstrated their projects and competed against their
colleagues. Students gave brief introductions to their work as judges
viewed the posters and asked participants questions about their research.
Awards were given for the best and most promising projects, based on criteria
such as technical difficulty, general knowledge the student had acquired
in the broad field of telecommunications, clarity of presentation and
novelty of the projects main ideas. Winners received $100 each and
a plaque bearing their name.
The Department expects to host at least 30 students for the MERIT program
this summer. In addition to the Army Research Laboratorys support
for the MRCP component, and NSFs support for the RITE component
of the MERIT program, the Department plans to expand the program even
further in the future through industrial sponsorship. With this increased
support, the Department will be poised to become a major center for undergraduate