Undergraduate Research

As one of the premier research universities in the nation, UW-Madison offers an important way to enhance your undergraduate education: by working for credit or for an hourly wage on engineering research projects. These experiences will expose you to state-of-the-art information and technology and will help prepare you for advanced studies in engineering and other fields, or to contribute specialized knowledge in the workplace. Research opportunities exist in several forms.

Faculty Research Projects

An undergraduate student performs research in the Modified Asphalt Research Center.

Many engineering professors hire undergraduates to work part-time on their research projects. Engineering instructors or the engineering department offices can refer you to faculty members who hire undergraduates. Depending on their current projects, engineering research centers also hire undergraduates. To access directories of faculty and staff by department and to search for faculty research of interest to you, go to You can also use the Wisconsin Discovery Portal to locate the right UW-Madison researcher for your collaboration and research needs.


Independent Study Projects

Depending upon the project topic and scope, undergraduates can receive credit for proposing and developing an independent research project. If you’re interested in conducting independent research, talk directly with your engineering instructors or stop by an engineering department office.

Emilie and Ramon present a poster at the Lightfoot Symposium
Emilie and Ramon present their poster at the Lightfoot Symposium. Reed Laboratories in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering utilizes both computational and experimental methods to study microbial metabolism. Its missions are to construct models of metabolic networks in bacteria such as E. coli and to expand our knowledge of microbial processes. The ultimate goal is to use these models to engineer the bacteria in order to produce biofuels such as ethanol and isobutanol. This work represents a major step in moving towards energy sustainability.


Engineering Honors in Research Programs

Individual engineering departments offer honors programs for high-ability undergraduates enrolled in their majors. Students in these programs plan and conduct engineering research projects under the guidance of faculty members.

UW-Madison Undergraduate Research Scholars (URS) Program

Students may apply to work on research projects with faculty members across campus through the URS program

Summer Undergraduate Research Experience and Research Experience for Undergraduates (SURE/REU)

The University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering in cooperation with the Graduate School and NSF’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Center hosts a summer research experience for undergraduate students from May 31, 2016 (travel day) through August 6, 2015 (travel day). Participants will spend ten weeks conducting laboratory research in an area of engineering or the physical sciences. Students are exposed to other research available on campus through weekly meetings and faculty seminars, and participate in social activities with current graduate students. At the conclusion of the program, students submit their research paper and present their research in an interdisciplinary poster session.

Students may request projects in the following College of Engineering departments and programs. Applicants are also encouraged to browse the list of engineering centers, institutes and consortia to see additional project possibilities.

Biomedical Engineering MS  PhD
Chemical Engineering MS PhD
Civil and Environmental Engineering MS PhD
Environmental Chemistry and Technology MS PhD
Electrical and Computer Engineering MS PhD
Engineering Mechanics MS PhD
Geological Engineering MS PhD
Industrial and Systems Engineering MS PhD
Limnology and Marine Science MS PhD
Master of Engineering (Polymer Engineering and Science)    ME
Materials Science and Engineering MS PhD
Mechanical Engineering MS PhD
Nuclear Engineering and Engineering Physics MS PhD

The program provides students with opportunities that build on their interest in science and engineering careers. Participants conduct a research project under the direction of faculty mentors and work as members of laboratory research teams investigating problems in engineering and the physical sciences in an academic environment.

All participants receive a financial support package worth approximately $7,500. This package consists of a $5,000 stipend for the ten-week period, travel expenses to and from the program, housing in University dormitories, and a meal program at an on-campus facility.

The College of Engineering is made up of nine departments and is known internationally for its research in engineering and the physical sciences. The University of Wisconsin-Madison is located in the city of Madison on the south shore of Lake Mendota, one of several lakes in the area. The UW campus offers opportunities for interdisciplinary work between its superb undergraduate and graduate programs and other schools such as the School of Medicine and Public Health, School of Veterinary Medicine, and more. Madison is the capital of Wisconsin with a population of 200,000 and offers a wide variety of social, cultural, educational and recreational opportunities. The city is 1-1/2 hours northwest of Chicago and 1 hour west of Milwaukee.

  • Undergraduate students majoring in mathematics, chemistry, physics, engineering, biotechnology related engineering areas, and other physical sciences with an interest in attending graduate school.
  • Students who have completed their junior year.
  • Students with an overall GPA of 3.4 or higher on a 4.0 scale. Because SURE/REU is a graduate recruitment program, specific GPA requirements for graduate applications in individual departments will be applied.
  • Students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents enrolled in an accredited college or university.

Please note that the APPLICANT is responsible for submitting a complete application consisting of the following:

1.The application form, available online.

2. A statement describing your scientific interests and goals. Be sure to include information on previous laboratory research experience, post-graduation (undergraduate) plans, any experiences you have had that have prepared you for this experience, along with your reasons for applying to the program.

3. “Unofficial” college transcripts.

4. One letter of recommendation from a professor in your major area or a former research advisor/supervisor.

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

If you plan to submit a Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) application through the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), PLEASE NOTE that applications are received after the SURE/REU deadline. We URGE you to submit an application early.

Criteria for selection will be based on academic qualifications as determined by academic record and prior course work, letters of recommendation, and the statement regarding scientific interests and career goals. Preference will be given to rising juniors and seniors.

Placements will begin January 15, 2016, with an absolute program deadline for receipt of materials of February 15, 2016. Apply early to increase the likelihood of placement in the laboratory of your choice. Complete the online application. References, letters and transcripts can be sent electronically to