Why should I become a Scieneering mentor?

The success of the Scieneering program relies on the strength of its mentors and the diversity of the projects they bring to the program. Faculty mentors provide Scieneers with lab space and oversight while the student participates in the mentor’s interdisciplinary research project. Scieneering mentors work with undergraduate students from a discipline outside their own. For example, an engineering faculty member mentors a student from the life sciences. In this way, the student is a resident expert in a complementary discipline and can offer a new perspective and expertise to a faculty member's interdisciplinary project.

Scieneers must complete the equivalence of at least 3 credit-hours of research and are expected to present outcomes at the annual research symposium at VT and/or external professional meetings. Students generally begin their interdisciplinary research experience after completing the core courses in their chosen minor, which provide them with a foundation for successful integration into a lab outside their major discipline. It is common for Scieneers to extend their research involvement beyond one semester, with many electing to continue research with their Scieneering mentor until they graduate.

Here is what current and past faculty members have to say about why they became mentors and what they got out of the experience…

  • “The undergrads learn much about hands-on research and taking responsibility for a project and my research group and I gain a valuable colleague and data.”
  • “It is a good opportunity to work with undergraduate students and to scout new, potential graduate students.”
  • “Programs that screen undergraduate students thoroughly usually result in curious, diligent research assistants. This helps our research immensely.”
  • “I enjoy working with motivated and enthusiastic undergraduate students from various background. Our high quality undergraduate student body is an invaluable resource for enhancing research productivity of VT. Undergraduate research experience (particularly through well-established programs such as scieneering) is a great mechanism for imparting confidence in our students and encouraging them to pursue higher education. Additionally I believe undergraduate researcher experience is a mutually beneficial experience for both the graduate and the undergraduate students involved. "
  • “Seeing the undergraduate students develop into mature, confident, and high quality researchers are the most rewarding part of this experience. This is also an excellent experience in mentoring and management for the graduate student mentors. The scieneers have been a great asset in enhancing our research progress and strengthen our representation in technical conferences. I hope to see the culmination of their work in form of scholarly publications."

Who is eligible to be a mentor?

Because Scieneering students must conduct faculty-supervised research, generally a faculty member will be primary mentor (i.e. mentor on record). However, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students may also be mentors (and are encouraged to do so!), with the approval of the faculty member in charge of the research group.

How do I become a mentor?

Becoming a mentor is simple. Please submit your interdisciplinary research project information on the *NEW* Undergraduate Research Opportunities (URO) database. In your posting, please indicate that the project is a part of the Scieneering program. Students will contact individual mentors to discuss projects of interest and once mentor approval/acceptance is achieved, the student will submit a mini research proposal to the Scieneering program before officially starting their research.

Faculty Development

The Scieneering program values the vital part mentors play in the program. Each year, we co-sponsor two mentoring workshops to provide a platform to discuss topical issues related to mentoring a diverse group of undergraduates, particularly those faced with the challenges of working in interdisciplinary teams, and to learn mentoring techniques from VT and external experts and faculty peers. Workshops are open to faculty, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students involved in undergraduate mentoring activities.