ENG 198 JS2 "Introduction to Research"
Research is a wonderful way to fulfill honors requirements. The purpose of this course is to introduce students to research methodologies, to survey the outstanding opportunities available in the College of Engineering, and to help plan for an upper-class honors contract including research. In addition to the lectures, students will also work on team projects and/or independent study assignments. This course is reserved for freshman James Scholar students in the College of Engineering and it fulfills the freshman honors requirement. Sophomores and juniors may also take the course as space allows.
SPRING 2017 - This course meets on Mondays in 1214 Siebel Center, at 4:00pm. The weekly meeting will consist of lectures, discussions, class brainstorming and student-led activities. A range of open assignments, involving some independent study and research from library and internet sources will be the basis for students' interaction in class. "Open" means that assignments will not be collected for formal grading, but students will be expected to have worked on their own on such assignments to support their participation in class discussion, not unlike the way discussions may take place in research meetings. There will be an individual or team final project activity (independent study), starting approximately at mid-term, which will result in a final paper. Final grade will be based on attendance, participation in the class discussion and the final paper.
Instructor: Umberto Ravaioli (Senior Assistant Dean and Professor of ECE) email@example.com - Office: 206 Engineering Hall
There are no formal office hours for this class. Please, contact the instructor by e-mail with any questions.
- As students registered for this course you are expect to attend class regularly, to come to class prepared and to be on time. If there are any conflicts that may prevent you from being punctual, please discuss with the instructor. While an occasional absence should not be a problem, you should inform the instructor if you need to be absent for a prolonged period, whatever the reason.
- You are expected to participate in the discussions and to be engaged at all times. You may access electronic devices for the purpose to perform in class research but not for activities extraneous to the class.
- The class will require you to research a variety of materials and prepare a final paper on a topic of your choice. Make sure to cite your sources. Writings should be your own work.
Term paper is due on or before 5:00pm, Wednesday May 10, 2016
Turn in hard copy at the front desk in 206 Engineering Hall
The term paper takes the place of a final exam for this course
Recommendations for the term paper format:
§ Approximately 10 pages, double spaced (double-sided is OK to save paper)
§ Use figures, but sparingly.
§ Have essential list of cited references at the end, approximately half a page to a page. Choose a style for the references an d be consistent throughout
§ You may adopt the style template used by technical societies journal (e.g., IEEE, ASME, AIP). This is a great learning process for the future. However, keep in mind that 10 double space pages will be much less than 10 pages in the journal format
Introduction to the course.
Open Assignment 1 - Explore research activities in your department, consulting material posted on the departmental web site. This will be the basis for discussion next week. Try to collect information and answer questions like: What research activities are ongoing in your department? What are the areas that you are interested in? Why? Identify at least one area that really attracts you and look for additional information. Bring your comments and questions next week, being prepared to share with the class.
Open Assignment 2 - Public Broadcasting stations have aired the series "NOVA Making Stuff" and "NOVA Making More Stuff". All programs in the series are accessible on line:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/tech/making-stuff.html (Making Stuff: Stronger / Smaller / Cleaner / Smarter)
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/tech/making-more-stuff.html (Making Stuff: Faster / Wilder / Colder / Safer)
Versions of these eight videos are available on You Tube, if you have trouble accessing via the PBS website. Focus on one episode of the show that interests you the most and try to discover more. Develop talking points or questions to bring up in class. There are also many interesting links to other technology topics that you may explore for discussion or inspiration for future activities.
January 30, 2017
Discussion on open assignments.
Hands on exploration of on line library resources - A large number of books and almost every relevant scientific journal is available on line through the digital resources of the University of Illinois library. However, many journal papers may be too advanced for undergraduate students. It is important to get familiar with publications suitable for an intermediate or general reader that introduce technical topics of current interest. The best start is to explore publications of the main professional societies.
For example, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) publishes
- IEEE Spectrum
- IEEE Computing in Science and Engineering
Another important Society is the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) which publishes
- Mechanical Engineering (The Magazine of ASME)
Open Assignment 3 - Find out what society may be in your area of study and if they publish a magazine. Browse recent issues and pick an interesting article. Be prepared to discuss that article in class.
Open Assignment 4 - Watch the documentary "Naturally Obsessed: The Making of a Scientist" available on line at
Be prepared to discuss the documentary next time.
February 6, 2017
ANNOUNCEMENT: I am supposed to report for jury duty on February 13, 2017. As you may know, no electronics is allowed when serving in court.
If discharged in the morning, I will post as early as possible a message indicating that class will take place. If there is no message, assume that there is no class. Additional material will be assigned if we miss class.
Discussion on open assignments.
READING ASSIGNMENT (required): D. Beach "The Responsible Conduct of Research" - This 1996 book is available from Wiley Online Library for members of the University of Illinois Community. From a computer on the UIUC network or elsewhere if connected via VPN, you can reach the book download page at:
There are 10 chapters in this book. You should start reading it immediately, at a rate of at least 2 chapters or so a week and be done by end of Spring break. Besides reading the entire book, focus on the chapter which interests you the most and be prepared to discuss it in class whenever you are ready to do so.
Some more tips on finding library sources:
http://www.engineeringvillage.com (here you may find material like patents)
Open Assignment 5 - Explore one digital library resource. Search a topic of interest and see what you can come up with. Report in class about your findings. Every student in the class should bring notes with at least one topic of interest and several interesting findings researching the library resources.
Information on ethics training requirements for various federal agencies:
National Science Foundation (NSF) – Certified RCR training is required for all graduate students, undergraduate students, and postdoctoral researchers included on all full proposals submitted or due on or after January 4, 2010. These individuals must be trained within 60 days of their start date on these awards. See http://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/rcr.jsp.
National Institute of Health (NIH) – All trainees, fellows, participants, and scholars (typically meaning faculty, students, postdoctoral researchers, and professional or scientific staff) receiving support through any NIH training, career development award (individual or institutional), research education grant, and dissertation research grant must receive RCR instruction. Please note that revised NIH guidelines indicate that online training alone is insufficient—the RCR training these individuals receive must contain a face-to-face component. See http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-10-019.html.
USDA-NIFA – For awards subject to February 2013 Research Terms and Conditions and those awards issued subsequently, program directors, faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and any staff participating in the research project must receive training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research. At a minimum, this training should address issues of authorship and plagiarism, data and research integration, and reporting misconduct. See http://nifa.usda.gov/responsible-and-ethical-conduct-research.
Open Assignment 7 Listen to Podcasts:
This American Life 441: When Patents Attack! http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/441/when-patents-attack
This American Life 496: When Patents Attack... Part Two! http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/496/when-patents-attack-part-two
What are your reactions and thoughts generated by these programs? Come with comments and ideas to share.
February 13, 2017
CLASS WILL TAKE PLACE AS NORMAL - NOT SELECTED FOR JURY DUTY TODAY
Discussion on open assignments.
Assignment (Mandatory) - It is time to select a technical topic for self-study during the second half of the semester, leading to the completion of the class term paper. Bring to class a brief proposal on one sheet of paper, with the following elements:
1) Name and UIN
3) Title of the Topic
4) Summary description of the topic
5) Reflections on why you are interested in the topic, why it is important, why it is interesting to you, implication for society, etc.
This is to be turned in, in class. Type and print, no handwritten material.
Open Assignment 8 Select one video to watch for discussion in class, from the list below. Think about relevant research directions that could impact the future of society, the way you see it. What will be enabled? What are the risks? What are the opportunities?
- Memory Hackers - http://www.pbs.org/video/2365663085/
- Rise of the Robots - http://www.pbs.org/video/2365658843/
- Search for the Super Battery - http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/tech/super-battery.html
More free resources:
Downloadable monographs from Institute of Physics (U.K.): http://iopscience.iop.org/bookList/10/1
Open Assignment 9 Download from the collection above volumes of general interest for this Research Class:
- Effective Science Communication http://iopscience.iop.org/book/978-0-7503-1170-0
- Quantifying Measurement http://iopscience.iop.org/book/978-1-6817-4433-9
Also, look for titles which may relate to your interest for the term paper.
February 20, 2017
Collection of proposal for technical topic to be pursued as independent study.
Discussion on previous open assignments.
Open Assignment 10 - Watch the video "Humanity from Space" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UCmCs7hc1g
What statistics do you find most compelling in terms of challenges which may inspire you to do research?
Think about aspects which show how things are intimately interconnected socially, economically. etc
Also, take note and comment on how information/data are displayed.
If you are interested in global phenomena from a natural science point of view, consider watching also
"Earth from Space" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSRgKKoLLiQ
February 27, 2017
NO NEW OPEN ASSIGNMENTS
- Continue with the reading of "The Responsible Conduct of Research"
- GET STARTED WITH YOUR INDEPENDENT STUDY ON THE TOPIC OF YOUR CHOICE!!!
Focus on gathering background material from a variety of sources as discussed in class until now.
March 6, 2017
Discussion on the "Professional Trajectory - Part I" - James Scholar program, graduate school, how research fits in all of this.
Funding opportunities for graduate school: Fellowship websites: www.nsfgrfp.org (National Science Foundation), http://ndseg.asee.org/ (National Defense Science & Engineering Graduate Fellowships). Other opportunities are coordinated by the National and International Scholarship Program on campus: http://www.topscholars.illinois.edu/
For those interested in computational science, the Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship is another opportunity:
March 13, 2017
Discussion on the "Professional Trajectory - Part II" - Continuation from last week.
Publications on Undergraduate Research by the National Academy Press
Undergraduate Research Experiences for STEM Students: Successes, Challenges, and Opportunities (2017)
Integrating Discovery-Based Research into the Undergraduate Curriculum: Report of a Convocation (2015)
March 27, 2017
Discussion on papers. Analysis of samples publications and scholarly journals.
April 3, 2017
Class brainstorming about research.
Assignment for April 10 - Review again the material in the book by D. Beach "The Responsible Conduct of Research".
EVERYBODY: Bring at least one relevant observation or a question on research ethics originating from reading the book. We will go around the classroom and EVERY STUDENT will have to talk by presenting the requested observation or question. We will have an open discussion in class.
April 10, 2017
Discussion on the book by D. Beach "The Responsible Conduct of Research".
Open Assignment 11 - Watch this recent CBS "60-minutes" segment and related videos posted on the website
What are your reactions to the "research" mentioned in this program?
Open Assignment 12: Read the article "Rethinking the Design of Presentation Slides" by Michael Alley and Kathryn Neeley in Technical Communication, November 2005, pp. 417-426 (available on digital library - best way to get there: select "Advanced Search" and type title and first author's name. It will come right up). This paper discusses Assertion-Evidence slide design developed by Prof. Alley. You may also consult the Web site below for more information:
Other useful reference material:
on preparations of research posters (NIH): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1876493/
April 17, 2017
Comments on Open Assignments from last time.
Continuing the discussion on the book by D. Beach "The Responsible Conduct of Research".
An egregious case of scientific misconduct and some of its consequences:
- described on page 16 of "On Being a Scientist"
- shame on the New York Time: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/26/us/panel-says-bell-labs-scientist-faked-discoveries-in-physics.html
- even a wikipedia entry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sch%C3%B6n_scandal
- and he lost his PhD: http://blogs.nature.com/news/2011/09/jan_hendrik_schn_loses_his_phd.html
April 24, 2017
- This is Undergraduate Research Week at the University of Illinois:
Check out the Undergraduate Research Symposium and consider participation in future years
- Discussion on presentation of data
May 1, 2017
Science Daily - A resource to track research