Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Research Team via Independent Study Courses


Undergraduate students from Engineering, Physics, Geology & Chemistry come together to form multidisciplinary teams as part of an undergraduate research opportunity through a sequence of independent study classes within the Department of Engineering at James Madison University. The undergraduate research groups typically contain students from freshman to senior years, totaling approximately three to eight students per academic year per group. One of the primary objectives is to provide a high-level research experience for undergraduates in a nurturing environment within the academic year. Peer-mentoring is integral piece to the team dynamics. The course sequence that facilitates the research opportunity is constructed in order for students to produce research that can be applied to obtaining a minor in Materials Science. Methodologies employed in the course range from problem-based learning, inquiry-based learning, and collaborative efforts with outside entities. The course objectives are geared towards developing critical & creative thinking, technical writing and oral communication skills through the development of planned action & experiments with data analysis as well as submitting findings to be presented at regional and national conferences.

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The creation and development of the Madison Engineering program has been a collective and collaborative effort and the author would like to acknowledge the faculty, staff, and administration of the Madison Engineering Department, CISE and James Madison University. The dedication of these individuals has facilitated a culture and environment, which has allowed the faculty to create courses like the Project courses. The author also would like to acknowledge the continued support of the Center for Materials Science as well as the following individuals that have had a profound impact on the development of the Project courses:

Dr. Brycelyn Boardman, Department of Chemistry, James Madison University — LEPN research group

Dr. Joy Ferenbaugh, Department of Integrated Science and Technology, James Madison University — LEPN research group

Dr. Robert Prins, Department of Engineering, James Madison University — ME research group

Dr. Yonathan Admassu, Department of Geology and Environmental Science, James Madison University — PACH research group

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Gipson, K.G. Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Research Team via Independent Study Courses. MRS Online Proceedings Library 1762, 83–92 (2015).

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