The influence of materials science and engineering undergraduate research experiences on public communications skills

  • Marsha Ing
  • Wenson Fung
  • David Kisailus
Keywords: undergraduate research, communication, engineering


Communicating research findings with others is a skill essential to the success of future STEM professionals. However, little is known about how this skill can be nurtured through participating in undergraduate research. The purpose of this study is to quantify undergraduate participation in research in a materials science and engineering laboratory and relate this information to undergraduates public communication skills. Descriptive information from undergraduate survey response on the distribution of the quality of these research experiences across 10 weeks for eight undergraduate students is provided. This information is correlated with undergraduates ability to publicly communicate their work with a wide audience during presentations at a local museum. Findings indicate that there is variation between undergraduates in terms of the types of research activities that they participate in, how closely they work with graduate students, and how often they are asked to share their ideas and thinking about research activities. There is a positive and significant correlation between active participation in particular types of research activities and the ability to communicate their work with a wide audience.