Undergraduate Research

Over the last year, I advised 5 undergraduate students on a couple research projects. One of them included the development of tutorials and lab assignments for a new class, but didn’t have a goal of publishing an academic paper. This student did a good job, and added on a persistance of vision display to a combat robot’s spinning arm that wouldn’t have otherwise been there.

The other main project involved the rest of my research students. Three of those students were seniors, and have since graduated and began working full-time jobs in industry. However, the research they performed was very good, and we are currently working on an academic paper that I believe to represent a significant contribution to the field of cache performance analysis. In fact one of these former students believes that our methods may be useful to his current employer where he’s involved in a dram caching layer for a large database.

The real difficulty I’ve discovered in finishing off this paper comes from the lack of availability from the authors, and the lack of accountability to me for performing work. The project took some time to get started last fall, and as a result we only finished about half of what I had planned for the year. It seems that student pay is a poor motivator for students that will be making significantly more based on their course grades. The students I had doing research for grades seemed much more likely to try to do what I asked, though one had some serious problems describing what was missing from that student’s knowledge. The end result was that I could not advise this student effectively.

Even after all of the challenges, the goal is to submit the paper in the next week. Right now it’s not even close to complete. Here’s hoping that the (former) students can find the time to complete the paper.

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