It’s called UROP (pronouned YER’-OP,) and it’s MIT’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.
UROP matches students with faculty in research partnerships, and for the past 34 years, the program has been the centerpiece of an MIT education. Students jump at the chance to participate in cutting-edge research, and faculty jump at the chance to get research assistance from lively, creative undergraduates.
UROP students win design competitions, publish in scholarly journals, make presentations at professional conferences, make policy recommendations to government agencies, and patent their inventions.
Students say the beauty of UROP is that you get to build a relationship with a world-class faculty member and have a great mentor. They say the program teaches you teamwork and how to listen. You’re treated not as a student but as a professional. You learn about yourself and others. You discover new areas of study, and you learn by doing. You have the amazing opportunity to do research that contributes to the world. And by the time you graduate, you’re a pro.
“Undergraduates are so energetic and exciting to work with,” says Prof. Kim Vandiver, dean for undergraduate research who directs the UROP program. “Their enthusiasm is absolutely reinvigorating, and sometimes they think of things you’ve never even thought of.
“Research is only part of UROP,” he adds. “Developing a strong relationship with a mentor is often the more important benefit.”
Students agree. Sometimes, they say, you don’t believe that you can achieve great things, but that when a professor believes in you and is enthusiastic about your work, you grow to believe that anything is possible.