Undergraduate research opportunities

Undergraduate research opportunities are important for those interested in pursuing a career in engineering and sciences, and those experiences will stand out on graduate school applications and in job interviews. The undergraduate research experience takes on many forms. Whether you are participating in experiments, field monitoring, laboratory testing, data curation, running analyses or helping with specimens preparation, volunteering or working in an academic civil and environmental engineering lab or research group is an invaluable experience. Students who form relationships with graduate students and faculty early on in their academic career will have greater opportunities to learn advanced research skills, explore new fields and deepen the knowledge gained in the classroom. Participating in undergraduate research is beneficial in the following ways:

  • Gain valuable experience that will be advantageous in any career path
  • Develop first-hand practical experience on many of the theoretical topics covered in the class room
  • Meet new colleagues and expand your future career options
  • Explore different areas of research and find your research passion

How to get involved in CEE undergraduate research

There are many ways to participate in research as an undergraduate. The best place to start is to find a research group or project you are interested in. The department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) has consolidated available research projects with department faculty in five broad research areas: earthquake and structural engineering, environmental engineering, geotechnical engineering, pavement engineering and science and transportation engineering. Browse available groups and projects and apply to the three you are most interested in using the CEE research applicationIf you have questions or need more information, please email the CEE department


Other options for research projects

Students are welcome to independently pursue research opportunities outside of the CEE department, including opportunities with other departments or programs within the College of Engineering or the University, as well as outside of the University with an off-campus research group or other institutions such as the Desert Research Institute (DRI). Meanwhile, students also are encouraged to consider multi-disciplinary research projects that extend beyond CEE and involve faculty or researchers from other groups such as Materials Science and Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Atmospheric Science, etc. Current professors, graduate teaching assistants and other undergraduates already involved in research would be a great resource for finding an independent or multi-disciplinary project.

When independently pursuing research projects, be sure to get in touch in a professional and respectful way to ask faculty or graduate teaching assistants if they are willing to take on any new student researchers. Personalize each correspondence, and give them as much information as you can: your availability; the type of position you are looking for (are you volunteering, seeking academic credit, or looking for a funded opportunity and paid assistantship); and your interest in their research.

Think of that request like a job interview: many students want those research spots and you will make a bigger impression if you review the professor’s research so you are knowledgeable about their field.

Good luck and have fun!