MAE 198/ MAE 199 Directed Group Study and Independent Study

Undergraduates may participate in engineering research at UC San Diego through a number of informal and formal mechanisms. Many students first become familiar with research by participating 5-10 hours/week during the academic year or 10-20 hours/week in the summer on a volunteer basis. Other students are involved in research through engaging in MAE 198 and/or MAE 199, as described below.

Directed Group Study (MAE 198) and 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. Students may take MAE 198 and/or MAE 199 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
  • The student then must submit a Special Studies request through the EASy portal. (The student must submit this at the beginning of each quarter they plan to enroll.)
  • After the EASy request is approved by the faculty and Department Chair, the EASy system will clear the student for the MAE 198/ MAE 199 course and notify them by email. Enrollment is not automatic.
  • The student must enroll themselves in the course after obtaining clearance from the Registrar.

For instructions on how to submit a Special Studies request, please visit

Note: EASy request review can take 1-3 weeks.

Under the following conditions, MAE 198 and/or MAE 199 can be used to satisfy one technical elective (TE):

  • The student must be in the Aerospace Engineering (FA19 & FA23 academic plans only), Mechanical Engineering or Environmental Engineering major and have a GPA of 3.0 or better at the beginning of the 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 faculty advisor and the Department Chair. If the performance is not of A or B quality after the first quarter, the faculty advisor can cancel the contract and the student may not attempt additional MAE 198/MAE 199 units.
  • The student must declare their intention to seek TE credit by attaching the completed MAE 198/MAE 199 Contract with the Special Studies request through the EASy system
  • 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 198/MAE 199) and it may not be co-authored by more than two students.
  • The two consecutive quarters of MAE 198/MAE 199 must total 8 units. 4 units for each quarter. (MAE 198/199 can only be taken P/NP.)
  • Students may not receive credit for more than one technical elective for MAE 198/ MAE 199 units.


More information:

  • The initial MAE 198/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 198/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.
  • 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 to the MAE Student Affairs department.
  • MAE Student Affairs will send the report to the Department Chair, who will determine whether or not the student will receive TE credit based on the content and quality of the report. If the Department 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 198/MAE 199 for one TE).


  • Late reports may be denied.
  • MAE 198/MAE 199 may not replace ABET approved courses.