A major part of Texas A&M at Qatar’s vibrant research program is undergraduate research, combining two of the branch campus’ core missions — education and research. Classroom instruction provides students with knowledge, but the opportunity to apply those concepts to real-world problems and explorations through participation in a research project provides a taste of what it is really like to be an engineer. Participation in research on problems that are relevant to Qatar thereby enhances student learning by integrating students into faculty’s hands-on research activities.
Texas A&M at Qatar places great value on student-driven research, and active undergrad-uate research program is supported in large part by the Qatar National Research Fund’s Undergraduate Research Experience Program (UREP). Since the branch campus began par-ticipating in UREP, more than 350 students have worked on 111 total projects totaling $3.54 million.
Advised by faculty mentors, and working with other members of a research team, the student researchers carry out literature reviews, design research modules, collect and analyze data, and present their ideas and research findings. By participating in undergraduate research, students improve their disciplinary skills, learn research methodology, and become better presenters and writers. Undergraduate research helps student participants build self-confidence, gain a sense of accomplishment, make better-informed career decisions, and position themselves for employment or advanced studies. Participation in research also allows students to share their results with the world community through publications in refereed journals and international conferences. Many Texas A&M at Qatar students have received local, regional and international awards as a result of their research.
Undergraduate research is also a spring-board into graduate school. Dr. Nayef Alyafei, one of Texas A&M at Qatar’s newest petroleum engineering faculty members, says that he discovered his true calling when he himself participated in two research projects with faculty members while enrolled at Texas A&M at Qatar as a student. “Research is fun because you get to explore a problem you don’t have an answer for,” he says. “You’re in the middle of a maze, trying to find the exit, or the solution. And in the process you learn a lot.”
It’s something he says he hopes his own students will discover for themselves. “I don’t want my students to simply get their bachelor’s degrees and go straight to work,” he says. “I want to encourage them to pursue post-graduate studies before applying to jobs in Qatar, because we need high-caliber people in this country. Hopefully, students will see me and know that if I did it, they can do it, too, and if I can inspire one student to get a Ph.D. then I’ll have done my job.”
This new website highlights the achievements of Texas A&M at Qatar’s student researchers and showcases the variety of projects students have been in-volved in, ranging from how high temperatures and pressures affect the rheological proper-ties of drilling fluids to data transfer via visible light communications to noninvasive wireless health monitoring systems. Whatever the topic, Texas A&M at Qatar provides its students opportunities to find solutions to real-world, real-life problems.
Texas A&M at Qatar ranked first in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region among universities for research impact, according to the Times Higher Education 2015 world university rankings.
Many Texas A&M at Qatar research projects have involved participation by undergraduate students. Advised by faculty mentors and working with other members of a research team, the student participants carry out literature review, design research modules, collect and analyze data, and present their ideas and research findings. Through participation in undergraduate research, students improve their disciplinary skills, learn research methodology, and become better presenters and writers. Undergraduate research experience helps student participants build self-confidence, gain a sense of accomplishment, make better-informed career decisions, and position themselves for employment or advanced studies.
Many opportunities exist at Texas A&M at Qatar for students to participate in undergraduate research. If you are a person with great curiosity and inquisitiveness, and willing to keep a commitment by going the extra mile, then you may find undergraduate research to be an extremely gratifying experience.
Following are some frequently asked questions and answers that may help you prepare for participation in undergraduate research.
1. In what ways can an undergraduate student participate in Texas A&M at Qatar research projects?
An undergraduate student can work for a research project sponsored by the Undergraduate Research Experience Program (UREP), or any other research project that is open to undergraduate participation. UREP is a competitive research program managed by Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF). A qualified Texas A&M at Qatar faculty member may submit a proposal to the UREP program. At the time of proposal submission, a number of undergraduate students need to be identified and registered with the QNRF website. If the proposal is awarded, the students named on the proposal will work on the research project. UREP rules are subject to change. Please refer to the QNRF website for the most updated information.
2. How can I find out what research a faculty member is doing?
You can ask the faculty member directly or a person familiar with that faculty member. You can also search the Internet, especially the Texas A&M at Qatar website and the QNRF website. The QNRF website has an “award search” function. You can find the award search page, and use keywords (e.g., a faculty member’s name, a subject of interest to you) to find out more information.
3. How can a student register as an undergraduate student researcher on the QNRF website?
Student can create an account on the QNRF website and subscribe for newsletter through its registration webpage:
https://oss.qnrfsubmission.org/Registration/RegistrationStart.aspx Please check the QNRF website to verify the URL, as website changes may occur frequently.
4. Can students work on research projects with faculty members from other programs?
In general, yes. For example, a mechanical engineering student may work on a research project led by an electrical engineering faculty member; a chemical engineering student may participate in a study conducted by a liberal arts faculty member.
5. Can Students work in more than one UREP project in the same cycle?
Generally speaking, no. Current UREP rules do not allow a student to participate in more than one UREP project. A person only has 24 hours a day; over-commitment will eventually lead to the failure to fulfill one’s commitment.
6. Who decides on the subject of the research topic in the proposal?
Typically, the primary writer of a research proposal is the person that decides on the subject of a research proposal (and the subsequent research project if the proposal is awarded). In most cases, the primary proposal writer is the Lead Principal Investigator (LPI) or the Primary Faculty Mentor (PFM). The LPI or the PFM may seek input from others, including interested undergraduate students, when developing the proposal or carrying out the research project. However, students are encouraged to create their own research ideas and develop research proposals with the faculty member. A successful research project primarily based on students’ ideas is one of the most rewarding things that a faculty member can imagine.
7. Can students initiate a project proposal and submit it?
Students can initiate a research idea and participate in the development of a proposal. However, the faculty member must submit the proposal in most QNRF sponsored programs.
8. Can a student join an ongoing UREP project?
Students may join an ongoing UREP project when another student needs to be replaced.
9. Can students continue to work on their ongoing UREP projects after graduation?
UREP rules generally allow a student participant to continue working on a UREP project after the student participant graduates during the course of the project.