Undergraduates may participate in engineering research at UCSD through a number of informal and formal mechanisms. Many students first become familiar with research by participating 5-10 hours per week during the academic year or 10-20 hours per week in the summer on a volunteer basis. Other students are involved in research through engaging in MAE 199, as described below.
Independent Study for Undergraduates. MAE 199 courses offer qualified and motivated students the opportunity to work closely with faculty and graduate students and gain first hand experience in conducting research. MAE students may take MAE 199, Independent Study for Undergraduates, only under the guidance of an MAE faculty member. It is the responsibility of the student to approach the faculty member about undergraduate research opportunities in their lab.
If the faculty member is available and willing to accept the student, then the student must meet with the faculty to discuss a research project and complete a Special Studies Form. The student must submit this form to MAE Student Affairs at the beginning of each quarter they plan to enroll in MAE 199. After obtaining the Department Chair's approval, MAE Student Affairs will clear the student for the MAE 199 course and notify them through the Virtual Advising Center (VAC). Enrollment is not automatic. The student must enroll themself in the course after obtaining clearance.
MAE 199 is typically taken as an elective. Under the following restrictive conditions, however, it may be used to satisfy one Technical Elective (TE) course credit for the major:
• The student must be in the Mechanical Engineering or Environmental Engineering major and have a GPA of 3.0 or better at the beginning of the MAE 199 project.
• The project must cover two consecutive quarters of work and the performance must be equivalent to A or B work, as determined by the 199 project advisor and the Undergraduate Affairs Committee (UAC). If the performance is not of A or B quality after the first quarter, the advisor can cancel the "contract" and the student may not attempt additional MAE 199 units.
• The student must declare their intention to seek TE credit by filing with the department (1) a Special Studies Form at the beginning of each quarter, and (2) an MAE 199 Contract at the beginning of the first quarter.
• A final written report must be submitted by the student to the faculty advisor at the end of the second quarter (or the final quarter) of research. The final report must follow certain guidelines (see "Structure of the Report for MAE 199" document below) and it may not be co-authored by more than two students.
The initial MAE 199 TE Contract should include an outline of the proposed research objectives, the course background the student has had or will be taking as preparation for the research project, and the student's current GPA. The student, their MAE 199 faculty advisor and the Department Chair must sign the contract.
At the end of the first quarter, a progress report should be submitted to the faculty advisor. The advisor may cancel the contract for less than B performance, assigning a grade of P or NP, as appropriate. These units will not count toward technical elective credits.
At the end of the second quarter, the faculty advisor will assign an internal letter grade based on the final written report and discussions with the student during the previous quarter. If this grade is less than B, then a grade of P or NP, as appropriate will be reported for the second quarter and no technical elective credit will be given.
Otherwise, the faculty advisor must submit the graded final report to MAE Student Affairs at the end of the second quarter. It is the student's responsibility to make sure that their faculty advisor submits the graded report. MAE Student Affairs will send the report to the UAC Chair, who will determine whether or not the student will receive TE credit based on the content and quality of the report. If the UAC Chair approves the student's final report and the letter grade they received on the report, then TE credit will be assigned (two quarters of MAE 199 for one TE).
Late reports may be denied. It should be noted that MAE 199 may not replace ABET approved courses.
*NOTE: The Undergraduate Affairs Committee recently approved Aerospace Engineering majors to receive TE credit for MAE 199. All three MAE majors are now eligible to receive TE credit for undergraduate research.