Undergraduate Researcher Presents at the National Council on Undergraduate Research

Achievement date: 
2014
Outcome/accomplishment: 

Andrew Rogers, a year-long Undergraduate Research Scholar at the Future Renewable Electric Energy Delivery and Management (FREEDM) Systems Center – a National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Research Center (ERC) based at North Carolina State University – was selected to present his research at the National Council for Undergraduate Research’s (NCUR) Conference on Research Experiences for Undergraduates Student Scholarship in Arlington, VA, in October 2012. Rogers’ presentation highlighted his modeling of the FREEDM loop pilot protection systems under the advisement of Dr. George Karady at Arizona State University.

Impact/benefits: 

The fast pilot protection system leverages time synchronization and digital word to execute primary and overcurrent protection strategies in looped energy distribution zones. Rogers used “soft” skills related to oral and written communication, networking, and the ability to serve as a positive mentor to his peers to present his yearlong research experience.  The non-technical skills he employed are crucial to continued success in higher education and in the workplace. The ability for undergraduates to gain national recognition for their research experiences helps solidify interest in attending graduate school. 

Explanation/Background: 

The National Conference on Undergraduate Research was established in 1987 to promote undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative activity in all fields of study by sponsoring an annual conference for students. Unlike meetings of academic professional organizations, this gathering of young scholars welcomes presenters from all institutions of higher learning and from all corners of the academic curriculum. Through this annual conference, NCUR creates a unique environment for the celebration and promotion of undergraduate student achievement, provides models of exemplary research and scholarship, and helps to improve the general state of undergraduate education.

NCUR’s Conference of Research Experiences for Undergraduates’ (REU) Student Scholarship features presentations by students from REU programs in all disciplines, sessions for REU administrators and faculty, and opportunities to meet with representatives from the NSF and other government agencies.

After watching undergraduate researchers trickle in and out of laboratories, gaining the technical skills but not interacting with the myriad of other opportunities the FREEDM ERC has to offer, Dr. Penny Jeffrey proposed the REU program to better immerse students in the realm of Center research, industry, and education programs. FREEDM implemented the yearlong, Center-wide REU program with emphasis on helping students gain crucial professional development skills while applying course knowledge and technical skills. Participating students – like Rogers – learn how to network with industry members, present research in both written and oral formats, and address ethical issues specific to engineering.