Rice ECE faculty have coordinated to offer more than 80 remote research positions for undergraduates and professional masters students during Summer 2020, nearly tripling the number of summer research positions from previous summers.
Rice ECE is one of the most prolific research departments nationwide, with per faculty research funding in the top-5 in the US, based on data from Academic Analytics. The department has a strong culture of engaging undergraduate students in research labs at all levels, from freshmen to seniors. ECE is the only department on campus that guarantees that if a student wants to engage in research, they will be able to find a position. Because of this rigorous training, ECE students are in high demand for summer internships every year. However, this year the corporate downturn meant a spate of canceled internships for many engineering students. Students of all years reached out to faculty to share the hardships they were facing. This led ECE instructors to act fast amid the growing need for summer placements.
“We met around three weeks ago, and ECE faculty collectively decided to increase the number of summer research internships in their labs,” said ECE Chair Ashu Sabharwal. That coordinated effort has already led to more than 80 confirmed positions, with nearly 40 paid from research grants – made possible due to robust funding in the department.
One of the students earning a coveted internship position is junior computer science major, Will Ledig. “For me, having my internship canceled felt very defeating, and I worried a lot about finding something to do over the summer to enrich my education and career. Being able to work on research at Rice allows me to still contribute to something meaningful this summer.”
The 10-12 week research positions are remote, with the students being mentored by faculty and graduate students. Most of the students filling up the 80+ positions are majoring in ECE and Computer Science.
Sabharwal said, “We’re working to have all research internships available as paid positions, as nearly all students could use a stipend to meet their financial needs while training in these advanced research positions.”
Junior computer science major, Jolisa Brown, recently accepted a sought-after research position. Speaking on her experience, she said, “I received the disheartening news three weeks ago that my original internship program would be canceled. I was concerned about restarting my search in mid-April, among so many other candidates nationwide that are receiving similar news about their programs. I began searching through my resources at Rice and discovered this summer research opportunity. Upon learning more, interviewing, and receiving the position I felt a great surge of relief to know not only would I continue to have a means of financial earnings this summer, but that I also would continue honing my skill set and making further connections with pioneers in my field.