REU Site on Embedded Machine Learning Systems:
Student Activities

The research process requires the development and integration of technical, analytical and communication skills. These skills take time to assimilate and to put into use in the context of a specific research project. Although many of these activities can take place within a summer program, it can be very difficult to bring a research project involving all components to satisfactory completion within a ten to 12-week time frame. We address this challenge in our REU site by involving students during both the summer and the academic year, and by structuring our program so as to involve students for as many as two years. The additional time gives the participants the opportunity to explore their research topic to a deeper level, to publish their work in technical conferences and journals, to take on leadership roles, and to develop professional relationships with their peers and their mentors that extend beyond the REU program.

Students work full time in the Summer for approximately twelve weeks. This time will be dedicated to studying technical topics in detail, to conducting and evaluating experiments, and to developing professional skills. The academic year program is a part-time commitment (about five hours per week) that runs approximately March 1 to December 1. The time before the summer is dedicated to background reading and to choosing a project. The time following the summer is used to finish remaining experiments, writing, and to prepare for a final presentation at the research experiences symposium that is held during the Fall.

Faculty Mentors. Faculty mentors and students collaborate on research topics of mutual interest. They meet on a regular basis to design and analyze algorithms, systems, and experiments, and to work together in the communication of their research results (both oral presentations and writing). All students work with at least one of the principal mentors and potentially with one or more of the supporting mentors. The principal mentors all bring an expertise in ML and experimental methods, and provide experience in one or more application domains. The supporting mentors bring a deep connection to the application domains. In many cases, the supporting mentors are already active collaborators of the principal mentors.

Student Collaboration. In addition to working closely with a faculty member, the students often work in groups. Students who participate in the program for two years move to a more active mentoring role in their second year. In addition, the graduate students of the principal faculty are involved in mentoring.

Research Seminar. The entire REU group meets regularly via videoconference. The weekly summer seminar focuses on research, technical and professional skills. In the first weeks, topics include ML techniques, scientific and statistical methods, and communication skills. Later topics include research careers and the graduate school process. In addition, the REU students present their own work in the form of short status reports. The seminar group also meets frequently during the academic year. During this time, we make heavy use of videoconferencing to connect with students from their home institutions. The focus for this part of the seminar is on student research projects and professional development.

Focused Research Meetings. These meetings are dedicated to the detailed discussion of specific projects, ML methods, or selected papers. Although all REU participants and affiliated students and researchers are invited to participate in these meetings (in person or via videoconference), they are generally attended by particular sub-groups.

Presentation of Research Results. Successful researchers have the ability to present their own work both formally and informally. Our REU program enables the students to develop these skills through both oral and written presentations. Oral presentations begin with the informal status reports to the weekly research seminar. This gives students a chance to present short reports to their peers. More formally, our REU site organizes the OU Research Experiences Symposium. We hold this symposium during the academic year, enabling a far greater attendance and participation among non-REU participants. This symposium is an opportunity for students to present their research, to hear about the work of others, and to attend professional development panel sessions. A subset of the REU students

Training the students to disseminate their research results in writing also starts with informal writing and moves to formal peer reviewed publications. Each REU student is responsible for maintaining a research report on our public wiki. In addition, it is our goal for all REU students to participate in the process of writing and presenting a refereed publication. Where appropriate, we will encourage our senior students to take the lead role in the writing process and to mentor their junior colleagues. The faculty mentors are also heavily involved in the writing process.

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Last modified: Mon Feb 18 01:24:55 2008