MIT's Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP)

Guidelines: Sample UROP Proposals

This page provides 4 sample UROP proposals to help you understand the level of detail that you should include when crafting your own proposal submission each semester.

Click on one of the links below to jump to the proposal sample of interest to you.


Sample Proposal 1: Science

Student's Name
Term
Postdoctoral Fellow's Name
Faculty Supervisor's Name
Date Drafted

The Upper Mystic Lake has been the basis of several studies investigating arsenic behavior systems. High levels of arsenic are present in the sediments of this lake and its tributary, the Aberjona River, strongly implying that the river and lake are important pathways for arsenic from an upstream hazardous waste site. Arsenic is toxic and a known human carcinogen. Throughout much of the year, most of the arsenic exists as As (V), which tends to "stick to" particles and settle to the bottom. Under those conditions, risk of human exposure is limited. During the summer, bottom waters become anoxic and the As (V) is reduced to As (III) which does not "stick" as well to the sediments. Significant amounts of arsenic are regenerated from the sediments by this mechanism, and if the lower layers of water are mixed with the upper layers, the risk of exposure could be much greater for people recreating in the lake.

The goal of this project is to determine the extent to which arsenic sorbs to the particulate iron-hydroxides in the bottom waters of the Upper Mystic Lake. We are interested in determining the size and quantity of these particles so as to better understand arsenic equilibrium and transport. We will also study this role in the Halls Brook Storage Area, a small water body with high influent arsenic concentration, which feeds the Aberjona River.

In the field, water samples will be collected through a series of filters which will sort the iron particles by size. Field measurements of temperature, conductivity, pH, and dissolved oxygen will be made at each sampling depth. In the lab, several tests will be run on these samples. Iron concentration in the filtrates will be analyzed by graphite furnace atomic absorption (GFAA), and concentrations of As (+V) and As (+III) will be determined by hydride generation/atomic fluorescence. Filtered materials will be acid-digested and tested for total iron and total arsenic analysis using GFAA.

My responsibilities will involve both field work and lab work. I will assist in the field sampling twice per week. I will also learn the above methods and prepare samples for the arsenic and iron tests. In addition, I will be involved with the data interpretation, the development of a model describing arsenic sorption, and through this will develop a better understanding of contaminant transport in the environment.

I am excited about this opportunity because it will give me exposure to the field of environmental engineering. I am really interested in the field work aspect and hope to learn important lab techniques as well. Overall, the project will give me an opportunity to gain experience in performing research, collecting and analyzing data, and interpreting results. In addition, it will help me confirm my career goal as an environmental engineer. The project sounded very interesting and I hope to learn a lot about research and field work.


Sample Proposal 2: Social Science

Student's Name
Term
Postdoctoral Fellow's Name
Faculty Supervisor's Name
Date Drafted

INTRODUCTION

Many business people, academics, and others now believe that there will be dramatic changes in the ways successful businesses are organized in the next century. The major trends driving these changes are increased international competition, the introduction of new information technologies, and the reassessment of the potential of human resources. With the startling setbacks of several of the world's most successful companies, these changes are leading many people to believe that the large, hierarchical organizations that were so successful in the decades after World War II are now becoming obsolete. In the next few years, some companies will position themselves to exploit these changes, but many others will be left behind.

To help today's business leaders understand these changes, the MIT Sloan School of Management has created a major new research and education initiative. Instead of simply predicting what these new organizations will be like, the objective is to INVENT the organizations that will become common 10-20 years from now by working with today's innovative managers. "It is clear that the successful organizations of the next century will be very different from those of today. It is also clear that these changes will create significant opportunities for the people and companies who do understand them and will create enormous problems for those who do not."

RESPONSIBILITIES

Working directly with [Postdoctoral Fellow's name], I will continue to assist her in the study of today's innovative organizations, the businesses that have incorporated innovative organization approaches or advanced technologies into their corporate structures. More specifically, one of my responsibilities will be to perform background research on companies and incorporate information into the Interesting Organizations database. Further tasks will include drafting secondary reports from personal research and possibly interviews with company representatives as well. This upcoming summer I plan to work full-time, up to 40 hours a week.

WORK PLAN

"Inventing the Organizations of the 21st Century" is an ongoing research and education initiative that was launched in 1995. The duration of the project is several years. I will continue working on projects that I started this term, and I will progress to new and more advanced projects as they arise over the course of the summer.

PERSONAL

I am very enthusiastic to continue working with the multidisciplinary team of researchers involved with this project. As a student, I am excited to be able to supplement my education with out-of-class research. While learning about the organizations that are perceived to be on the "cutting edge," those that have incorporated the best technologies and most innovative organizational approaches into their management structures, I will gain a better understanding of the overall business environments of both our society and of our world.

Because the scope of this initiative is greater than what current consulting firms have to offer, this project is particularly attractive. Having an interest in the field of professional consulting, work on this project would allow me to explore in greater depth the subject material that a future career in consulting would involve. In addition, I will have the honor of working with a distinguished group of faculty and staff members that are under the direction of [Faculty supervisor's name].

Because I am a student majoring in economics, minoring in psychology, and I possess a strong interest in management science, this multidisciplinary research initiative, which draws upon all three of these fields, really feels like a "nice fit" in terms of what it has to offer and by what I can give back.

[Student's Name]
[Student's Signature]


Sample Proposal 3: Arts/Humanities

Student's Name
Term
Postdoctoral Fellow's Name
Faculty Supervisor's Name
Date Drafted

I am proposing a UROP in order to assist [Faculty supervisor's name] from Foreign Languages and Literatures. We have discussed his project at length, and my qualifications as a native informant of French are required to help in the completion of an interactive subtitling system to be used in Foreign language classes at MIT next fall.

The project specifically needs a native French speaker in order to input dialogue and French slang into the computer. I will be listening to the video and will modify the original script of the film "Un Monde Sans Pitie." When this task is completed, I will come up with keywords for each line of subtitle. These keywords are used by students to grasp more information about the film. Then, in collaboration with [Faculty supervisor's name], I will find appropriate illustrations to present cultural and linguistic aspects related to this film.

Personal Justifications:

I am deeply interested in this project because first of all it enables me to stay in contact with my own language and culture. My professor has expressed the need to work with a native Parisian to complement the cultural notes that he already has collected for the film in question. Furthermore, I will be in charge of entering and choosing the best forms of presentation for such cultural information. I am planning to be a Course 6 major, and I am very interested in language acquisition and educational methods. I know from experience what learning a language is like since I have had to cope with English, Dutch, Latin, German, and Spanish, and taught English for two years. I also developed an interactive dictionary in my computer class in high school. Finally, this UROP will provide me with some precious experience of teamwork and computers.

General Project Description:

In spite of the quantity of video material available to students in the US, the lack of narrative films in the original language without subtitles has long been a source of problems. The current solutions are unsatisfactory since they do not solve the major language barrier for the introductory class and intermediate level language students, that is, the personalized access to the right amount of information acquisition. Indeed, it will allow professors to take advantage of various existing technologies to author subtitles in the target language and to create additional materials to accompany commercially distributed laser disks, quick-time movies on CD-ROM, as well as time-coded videos.

The film in high resolution will appear on the screen of an AV Macintosh without the cumbersome subtitles. Underneath the film image, a dialog box will allow the student to choose between several levels of linguistic information (no help, keywords only, full script, full script and cultural footnotes) and to navigate between scenes at various speeds (by chapter, by scene, by line of text). These four levels will be easily accessible at any point of the viewing session as will be the switching between the different speeds. Moreover, the modular design of the program will allow for the addition of listening comprehension tools as well as a battery of comprehension exercises, self-testing and visual recognition exercises. The first film, Eric Rochant's "Un Monde Sans Pitie," will be fully developed and the finished program will be printed on CD-ROM.

Work Commitment:

The total number of work hours should be 100 hours, spread out over the length of the Spring Semester at normal UROP rate.


Sample Proposal 4: Engineering

Student's Name
Term
Postdoctoral Fellow's Name
Faculty Supervisor's Name
Date Drafted

My UROP project for this summer is "The Characterization of Active Materials," for AMSL (Active Material Structures Lab) in the Aero/Astro Department. The active materials with which I will be working are piezoelectric composites which will be eventually incorporated into a helicopter rotor. The project involves two basic tasks. The first is the preparation of the active composites. I will be performing photolithography in a clean-room, essentially preparing copper films, imprinting them with the proper circuit, and attaching to the composite materials with regular epoxy. An alternative method to photolithography, which basically exposes a negative of the circuit to UV light, is a silk-screening technique which can be used to manufacture larger circuits and may actually produce a superior circuit. If this method is found to be worth pursuing, part of the project may involve machining a proper rig for screening larger circuits.

The second half of the project begins about a month into the summer. It will begin with preparations for the installment of an INSTRON tensile testing machine. I am going to become familiar with the machine and begin testing the tensile strength of the active materials I have manufactured. In preparation for the use of similar active materials on a rotor blade supplied to AMSL by Boeing, these tensile strength tests will be performed for different orientations of the fibers of the composites as well as for single filaments of the composites. Once this task is completed, and using the data I have collected, the manufacturing and testing of the 1/6 scale Boeing rotor will begin.

The current schedule is to finish the first part of the project by the installation of the INSTRON test machine, about one month into the summer. The rest of the project should proceed from there, ending in August with the manufacture of the actual active material components for the rotor.

I will be working closely with [graduate student's name], a graduate student in Aero/Astro. For the first part of the project, I will be performing photolithography with another UROP student. I believe that I can be of great help in the manufacture of these active materials, of which a vast number are needed for testing. I have two summers' lab experience and work well with my hands. I have always wanted to see how good I am at delicate circuitry, which has to be manufactured with a great deal of precision. In addition, I have had experience with microhardness testers, so I will be competent and accurate working with testing machines. I believe that I can be of use developing a new method of manufacturing and that I will be able to help others learn to use the INSTRON tester.

This UROP presents me with the unique chance to decide whether I think Course 16 is what I want to do with my life. I am torn between my interest in aerospace engineering and the more solid future of mechanical engineering. This UROP lets me see what's really happening in the Aero/Astro Department. I am quite thrilled at the prospect of being paid for the chance to work with fascinating equipment and state- of-the-art materials. In fact, this is exactly the kind of experience I had in mind when I chose to come to MIT.

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