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A Monthly Publication of Georgia Tech Alumni Association -- April 2, 2001

 
Photo by Caroline Joe
Amy Bruckman, an assistant professor in the College of Computing, has created UROC to allow undergraduates an opportunity to work on research-related projects.
Program Involves Undergraduate
Students in Research Projects

When Amy Bruckman joined the College of Computing faculty in 1997, she missed the involvement of undergraduate research, which she experienced while earning her doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

So she created the Undergraduate Research Opportunities in Computing program in 1998, similar to the MIT program. Faculty seeking assistant researchers can post research opportunities in a UROC database available to all students. Depending on the project, students may earn either course credit or pay for their research.

"I think it is important to raise awareness of research and to foster research into the culture at Georgia Tech," says Bruckman, an assistant professor who also directs research at the Electronic Learning Communities. "I often tell my students that strong research experience can outweigh their grade point average for potential employers."

Mark Gudzial, an associate professor in the College of Computing, agrees. "I've found that the undergraduate students often become turned on to research through their work. [UROC] is the best example of a learning community that I see on campus."

UROC encourages undergraduate students to get involved in research by offering travel grants for students whose papers have been accepted to a conference. They also sponsor an annual symposium where students present their research projects in a format similar to academic conferences. Computing faculty select the top research presentations and winners receive prizes. The symposium recognizes outstanding student research and spreads the word to other students about research opportunities in the college.

"At the informational meeting the first semester, we had more faculty than students attend," Bruckman says. "A year later we hoped for 30 and got 150 to 200 students at the information session." The 2001 Symposium is scheduled for April 17.