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NSF REU Program at UT Dallas CS Offers A Unique Research Experience

For the past ten years, the UT Dallas Computer Science Department has organized a ten-week research program each summer funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) for undergraduate students. This Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program is led by Dr. W. Eric Wong, full professor of computer science and software engineering. It offers a unique experience for students who are interested in getting involved in research on “Software Safety and Reliability” at an early stage of their undergraduate education, and it instills in them a strong fundamental knowledge of the field. Students gain proficiency in a broadly applicable skill set, including written and oral communication, research methods, critical thinking, and problem-solving, which better prepare them for their future studies and professional careers.

Ten undergraduate students selected nationwide spent ten weeks of their summer working individually and in teams on carefully designed projects to solve important problems critical to software safety or reliability. Students attended workshops and seminars hosted by not only faculty at UT Dallas, but also experts from the industry such as Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, Raytheon, and Argo Data Resource Corporation to help them establish necessary background knowledge and improve their technical and research skills. They also went on field trips to sponsoring companies for a better understanding of how software safety and reliability is applied in practice to real-life applications. These events gave students a first-hand opportunity to discuss with on-site practitioners about how to address the gap between the current “state-of-practice” and “state-of-research”.

The 2018 class had ten students with six males and four females. Four were from UT Dallas and the others were from six different universities: Wentworth Institute of Technology, Sam Houston State University, the University of Texas at Austin, University of Texas at El Paso, Cochise College, North Central Texas College. Two of these Universities are Hispanic-Serving institutions. Five of the ten participants came from traditionally underrepresented in higher education.

Each REU participant student receives a $5,000 stipend and meal allowance. Travel expenses are also reimbursed for out of town participants. Participants also receive free on-campus housing. Social events, such as a barbeque party and a trip to the Six Flags amusement park, were organized to provide a casual way for students and faculty mentors to get to know each other better, to increase their cohesion, and to improve communication during more technically-oriented discussions.

In 2018, our REU students worked on the following projects:

They have already made significant accomplishments including:

  • A poster presentation on “Ensuring Privacy in Connected Intelligent Transportation Systems” by Itzel Tapia at the 2018 Research Experiences for Undergraduates Symposium organized by theCouncil on Undergraduate Research, which will take place on October 28 and 29 in Washington, D.C.
  • Participation at the 2018 Grace Hopper Conference by Tiffany Do as a member of the UTD Computer Science Delegation
  • Recipient of the Green Fellowship by Itzel Tapia, which is offered jointly by UT Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and UTD, providing a semester-long, fully paid undergraduate research fellowship

For more information about the UT Dallas REU Program on Software Safety and Reliability, please visit its website.


ABOUT THE UT DALLAS COMPUTER SCIENCE DEPARTMENT

The UT Dallas Computer Science program is one of the largest Computer Science departments in the United States with over 2,800 bachelors-degree students, more than 1,000 master’s students, 190 Ph.D. students,  52 tenure-track faculty members, and 41 full-time senior lecturers, as of Fall 2018. With The University of Texas at Dallas’ unique history of starting as a graduate institution first, the CS Department is built on a legacy of valuing innovative research and providing advanced training for software engineers and computer scientists.

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