Information for Faculty and Graduate Mentors

The SURF program aims to provide a hands-on research experience for undergraduate students that will stimulate their interest in advanced education and research careers. The program is an opportunity to attract top undergraduates to Purdue’s graduate school. It is a 10-week program spread across an 11-week duration where students participate in research activities, attend professional development seminars, and complete assignments for approximately 40 hours a week. The professor outlines the student's research schedule and appoints a graduate student mentor for the undergraduate. The program facilitates SURF participants in planning their future career, writing professionally, and presenting at a technical conference.

Recruiting Undergraduate Researchers

  • Students are encouraged to contact faculty members with potential SURF opportunities. Faculty members are also encouraged to identify a student to apply for SURF.
  • Students must first complete the SURF online application. Qualified students are then identified by a faculty member for a specific project who then submits a project description and recommendation for the student to be selected for SURF and assigned to their project.
  • Faculty members post a research project on the SURF website if they want to select a student from a pool of applicants.
  • Faculty members review applications and select applicants to interview for their project and recommend a student for the project.
  • Next, the schools/colleges review their students’ applications and send their recommendations to the SURF office.
  • SURF office reviews all recommended applicants and finalizes the participant list.

Funding of SURF students

  • SURF participants receive a $5100 stipend 
  • The SURF funding model splits the cost equally between — the professor, the professor’s school/department, and the professor’s college. Each entity contributes $1700 towards one SURF student.
  • If a PI wish to recruit more than one student or have more than one project, PI is responsible for 2/3 or the full stipend depending on the departmental agreements.

Timeline for SURF program

  • Post projects between December 13, 2021 - January 10, 2022
  • Student/application review and selection period starts February 16, 2022 through March 18, 2022
  • Request students by the third week of March 2022
  • Offer letters will be sent by EURO throughout the last week of March and first week of April 2022

Confidentiality of the Project

Please note that students are required to present their research in a public forum and the abstract of their work will be made public in the form of an abstract booklet. Since their work will be presented to the public, research projects that have confidentiality restrictions are not suitable for students in this program.

Mentoring a SURF participant

Your role as mentor plays an important role in the student’s decision to pursue ;a research career. Some tips for engaging undergraduate researchers include:

  • Assess your student’s skills, knowledge, and interests
  • Create an open environment and encourage your student to ask questions
  • Explain the overall goals of the project, and the student’s role
  • Meet with the student on a regular basis, a fixed weekly meeting is recommended
  • Clearly define your expectations and outline the student’s tasks and responsibilities
  • Work with the student to develop a schedule to complete various aspects of the project within the length of the program
  • Explain the role of other members of the team and the reporting structure
  • Provide guidelines and expectations regarding the lab notebook and data collection
  • Provide constructive feedback, employ active listening skills
  • Get to know your student on an informal basis. Talk to your student about career options, research as a career, graduate school options.
  • Review the schedule of SURF activities and encourage your student to actively participate

Additional Resource: Graduate Students Mentoring Undergraduate Students: Opportunities, Expectations, and Strategies (PDF); Presentation by Dr. Sean Brophy, Purdue University

Safety in the Laboratory

Every SURF student must become familiar with laboratory safety practices. SURF faculty and graduate student mentors are responsible for providing a safe environment and should:

SURF participants are not employees of the University and therefore are not covered under Workman’s Compensation. During the summer, each SURF student is covered with limited medical insurance through the Risk Management Office. This coverage is primary but does have limitations. Any unapproved and unpaid medical expenses will be the financial responsibility of the student.

If the student needs medical assistance, contact the SURF office as soon as possible.

  • Indiana Space Grant Consortium Award
  • REU Grants
  • NSF Grants

Did you know the cost that the FWS student’s salary is paid according to the following split:  70 percent federal share and 30 percent departmental funds (for every dollar that a student earns, $.70 cents is paid with FWS funds and the other $.30 cents is paid from departmental funds)? The Engineering Undergraduate Research Office (EURO) can facilitate a conversation between the division of financial aid and disseminate research opportunities that you may have for undergraduate students. This is an opportunity to leverage research funds and provide a meaningful career-related employment opportunity for engineering undergraduates.  If you would like to be considered for this opportunity, please let us know at