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Undergraduate Research

The faculty has active research programs in many of the most exciting and important fields of chemical engineering. Undergraduate students participate in research in each of these areas, and the faculty encourage all students to consider taking advantage of this resource, enriching their education by participating in projects intended to lead to new discoveries.

Undergraduate students in laboratoryThrough original research, students learn new experimental, computational, and theoretical skills that help both in their class work and in their future careers. Research also provides an opportunity for students to experience, while still undergraduates, the challenges, expectations, and excitement that would occur if they chose a career path that included graduate school followed by academic or industrial research.

CBE students may do research for either course credit or as a paid research aide. Please note: students cannot receive credit and be paid for research in the same lab.


Research for Course Credit

There are 4 different research courses that can be taken for credit. If you are interested in doing research, please read over each option and consider which class fits your situation best. 

NOTE: Regardless of the department, only 3 credits of graded undergraduate research can be used to fulfill Technical Elective credits.

CBE 28901: Undergraduate Research

This is the course that first and second year students should sign up for as their first experience in research. This is a one credit course, and involves a minimum commitment of 4-5 hours/wk. This course is S/U, may be taken more than once, but does not satisfy chemical engineering degree requirements. 

CBE 48901: Undergraduate Research

This is the course that students in their third year and beyond should sign up for as their first experience in research. This is a one credit course and involves a minimum commitment of 4-5 hours/wk. This course is S/U, may be taken more than once, but does not satisfy chemical engineering degree requirements.

CBE 48902: Advanced Undergraduate Research

This is a three credit course which students should expect to spend 12-15 hours per week. Successful completion of CBE 48901 or another substantial research experience is a prerequisite for enrolling in CBE 48902. It can be counted as a technical elective and students must produce a written report, beyond 3000 but no more than 5000 words, of their results at the end of the semester. This course is graded and may be repeated but may only count as a technical elective one time.

Some students do research in other departments which can also be a tech elective. To be a tech elective it must be science or engineering related research, 3 credit hours letter-graded and require a significant written document a copy of which must be submitted to the CBE Academic Program Administrator.

CBE 48903: Undergraduate Thesis

This is a 3 credit course which is normally taken in the final semester. Successful completion of CBE 48901, CBE 48902 or a substantial research experience in the Department is a prerequisite for enrolling in CBE 48903. Students are required to produce a substantial written document that will be defended orally before a committee of CBE faculty. The ideal outcome of a successfully defended undergraduate thesis is a journal article. This course can be counted as a (3 credit) CBE elective, and may not be repeated.

The research can be conducted in any department but the defense committee must have at least one CBE faculty member. Students enrolled in this course will find their defense committee (3 normal faculty members) and an agreed upon time. The Academic Program Administrator will secure a space for the presentation and will complete the curriculum change eForm to have the "completed Engineering Thesis" designation added to your transcript.


Choose an advisor

After determining which course fits you best it is time to find an advisor. In general, the best way to find an advisor is to do some research on what projects are going on in the department. You should look through this research, and determine who is doing work which most closely matches your interests. Once you have identified a few possibilities, contact the professor and see if there are any opportunities available for undergraduates in their research group (the answer is often yes, although some of the more popular projects may become oversubscribed). Once you and the faculty member have reached agreement on the project outlines and expectations, notify Lisa Ellam [lellam@nd.edu] in the CBE office to obtain the necessary waivers, and sign up for CBE 48901. 

You can find information on our CBE professors and their active research here.


Enroll in Research for Credit

The last step is to now enroll in your research course. To do so follow the steps below. 

  1. Get approval from your research advisor (the faculty member you are researching with), they must email their approval to Academic Program Administrator.
  2. Submit the online request form.
  3. Complete required lab safety training.
  4. After receiving the override, enroll yourself before the sixth day of classes.