March 2008-February 2009
Level of Access
This REU award for a Site on Sensors Science and Engineering supports 9 engineering and science students each year for three years in a 10-week summer research experience at the University of Maine. Students conduct research advancing their knowledge of engineering, chemistry, physics, and/or biology. The participants work with eleven UMaine researchers and benefit from access to specialized sensor science and engineering research facilities such as the Laboratory for Surface Science and Technology and National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis. The students are treated as junior colleagues and by the end of the summer function at least at the level of typical first-year graduate students. REU participants interact with faculty research mentors, graduate students, post-docs, technicians, visiting scientists, and middle- and high-school teachers. Such interactions help the students develop strong communication skills and the ability to work across disciplines as required in a growing number of professional environments. REU participants complete formal courses, INT 398, Undergraduate Research Participation, and ECE 465, Introduction to Sensors, make a presentation within a context similar to a national or international conference, and share results from their research experience at a middle or high school.
Intellectual merit: The focus on sensor science and engineering research and interdisciplinary problem-solving is novel and contributes to the program's intellectual merit. This focus builds on substantial research strengths at UMaine that have led to NSF-funded GK-12 (Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education) and RET (Research Experiences for Teachers) programs in sensor science and engineering.
This program capitalizes upon past success with undergraduate training activities and efficiency in student recruitment and selection, assignment to faculty mentors, research supervision, and follow-up.
Broader Impacts: Undergraduates utilize new knowledge to solve real-life research problems that impact society. This REU site specifically recruits women and minorities and provides research experiences for students from non-PhD-granting institutions. Three of the 11 senior research personnel are women who are especially well qualified to mentor female students. The site enhances the Nation's infrastructure for research and education by bringing together faculty and students from diverse disciplines under the intellectual umbrella of sensor science and engineering. The program activities also ensure that multi-user facilities are sites of research and mentoring for significant numbers of science and engineering students. Specific research results are disseminated through campus presentations and more broadly through professional journals and symposia, enhancing scientific and technological understanding. Based on their interaction with RET participants and GK-12 fellows during their on-campus research
assignments, REU participants share their research experiences with middle and high school students and teachers. Society will benefit as these undergraduates, as a result of their research experiences, choose to continue in graduate school or to excel in technologically and scientifically challenging careers that advance such areas as homeland security, food safety, transportation, communications, and medicine.
This site is supported by the Department of Defense in partnership with the NSF REU program.
Vetelino, John F., "REU Site: Sensor Science and Engineering" (2008). University of Maine Office of Research and Sponsored Programs: Grant Reports. 350.