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No one ever fell in love with engineering by reading a textbook. Knowing this, many Engineering School faculty members welcome undergraduates into their labs each summer as a part of the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates program (REU).

“When you are in the laboratory, you’re trying as hard as you can to find an answer to a problem that’s never been solved before,” says Jerrold Floro, associate professor in the Materials Science and Engineering Department and co-principal investigator of one of the three REU grants the School has secured. “You begin to see the knowledge you’ve learned in the classroom in a new light, as a tool to be used, not something to be memorized and repeated.”

In Floro’s laboratory, students take on cutting-edge issues that grow out of Floro’s interests in synthesizing and characterizing the structure of electronic materials as well as materials that self-assemble on the nanoscale.

Floro also moderates a weekly journal club, where undergraduates hone their public-speaking skills by summarizing an article related to their research. Their fellow students not only ask about content but also critique their presentation. Students then apply the lessons learned to the 20-minute presentation on their work that they give at the daylong Research Symposium that ends the session.

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