The Allen School has a fantastic undergraduate program. It's large (nearing 1,000 students) and it's difficult to get into. There are some amazing undergraduates out there eager to work with Ph.D. students and learn a little bit about research. Keep in mind, however, that research is not a required activity and the undergrads don't really know what "research" means (do you?). They will be intimidated by the idea of approaching faculty and grad students about possible projects to work on.

So, you've found an undergradute student that you'd like work with. Now what?

Step 1: Talk to your advisor

Make sure your advisor knows that you want to hire an undergrad. Consider the following:

  • What do you want the undergrad to accomplish? Think about what background is required for them to successfuly help you on your project. (i.e. Java programming? Great, all CSE undergrads have this experience already. Kernel hacking? Ummm.. cool! But probably not.)
  • What does the undergrad want to get out of the experience? Have they never done research before and are looking to get their feet wet? Are they looking for a potential honors project (this requires significant faculty involvement) and/or have specific ideas about what they can contribute? Are they hoping to apply to Ph.D. programs and need letters of rec from faculty?
  • How much time do you have to train and mentor an undergrad? It will usually take more than one quarter to get someone up to speed and used to the research process.
  • How much time does your advisor have to spend working with an undergrad?
  • Does your advisor/lab already have an "application process" for bringing on undergraduate researchers? If you don't know, figure it out!

Step 2: Figure out if they need credit or want to get paid

Undergrads can do either, but not both. The undergraduate web pages discuss the types of research credit available in detail. In general, the expectation is that undergraduates will do 3-4 hours of research work per week, per credit. 3 credits is a typical amount for an undergraduate to take -- this would mean 9-12 hours of research per week. Undergrads will register for the credit with a faculty code; the faculty member submits the grade at the end of each quarter. You do not need to help the undergrad figure out what type of credit to register for! That would be the responsibility of the facutly member and/or the undergraduate advisers. (Most likely the undergraduate advisers.)

    • CSE 499 is ungraded credit and the most simple. Basically if they put in the hours they've earned the credit.
    • CSE 498 is graded credit and has more specific requirements. Probably best to make sure a faculty member is more heavily involved, possibly meeting with the undergrad on a weekly basis. CSE 498 sometimes develops into an honors project, which includes a thesis and presentation. An honors project definitely requires close faculty supervision. There are limits on the amount of CSE 498 an individual student can take. The limit is low (6-9 credits).

If you will be paying them, email your advisor's budget admin to set it up. Undergrads cannot work more than 20 hours per week (with the exception of summers). They are paid an hourly rate and are not eligible to have their tuiton paid.

5th Year Master's Students are eligible to hold an RA or TA position that will pay their tuition, in the same way that Ph.D. students are. They will register for CSE 600 to represent their research. If a master's student wants their CSE 600 credits to count towards the degree they need to do a thesis. In this case, you should refer them to Crystal Eney, staff advisor for the BS/MS program, and their facutly advisor to make sure that they set it up correctly.

Step 3: Invite them to join your group meetings or get involved in other ways

Again, talk to your advisor about what is appropriate, but in general undergrads who are well-connected within the group will perform better and get more out of the experience. You should consider ways in which you can mentor them and help them to get to know the group, especially if they are working on a project that will span multiple quarters.

Undergrads are also allowed to register for 590/591, with instructor permission. Many of them don't know about this, so you can help by telling them which seminars to look at.

Questions? Send logistical questions to Elise or the undergraduate advisers. Go to your advisor for research questions.