SURF: Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships

This past summer, undergraduate students from around the world converged at Purdue to pursue hands-on research projects. Their goals? To study new ways to transform coal into liquid fuels. To develop instructional technology in first-year physics education. To increase the efficiency of solar cells. To design and test radio-frequency antennas. And more.

Through Purdue's Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program (SURF), 56 students from universities in Australia, Austria, India, Ireland, Serbia, Switzerland, and Turkey joined some 130 Purdue students in working directly with Purdue professors and researchers, employing tools used on the cutting edge of science, engineering, and technology. Participants spend the summer on campus, earning a $1,000-per-month stipend. The experience enhances students' classroom learning, involves them in real problem solving, and sparks interest for research careers in science and engineering.

"Most undergraduate students don't have the opportunity to do this type of research," says Jay Gore, Purdue's Vincent P. Reilly Professor in Mechanical Engineering and founder of SURF, which got its start in 2003. "The goal is to introduce undergraduate students to the concept of graduate and post-graduate research projects and have the opportunity to be mentored by university professors and researchers."

SURF provides a second program for Purdue students who want an off-campus experience: the Research at Federal Labs Program. And beginning in 2008, SURF will offer a year-round research program for students at Purdue.

—Lisa Hunt Tally