Student/Faculty Research A distinguishing feature of Harvey Mudd College is its involvement of undergraduates in research. Research experiences have tremendous educational value: involving students in open, unstructured problems; engaging students in creative intellectual endeavors; reinforcing material taught in the classroom; and developing problem solving and communication skills which transcend disciplinary boundaries. A major recent study concluded that across gender, ethnicity and institution type, research enhances the educational experience of undergraduates, both in terms of their general satisfaction, and in terms of learning gains in areas such as: learning to work independently, learning to overcome obstacles, ability to analyze data, self confidence, ability to integrate theory and practice, learning ethical conduct, as well as many others.
Our own students and alumni report that their research experiences were among the most important and memorable parts of their undergraduate education. The 2003 Faculty Ad Hoc Committee Report noted that "as a testament to its importance, many of the best graduate programs expect undergraduate research for admission." Indeed, Harvey Mudd has the enviable record of sending a larger fraction of its science graduates to doctoral programs in the sciences than any other college or
university in the country.
Given that Harvey Mudd is a college of science, mathematics and engineering, are we uniquely positioned at the national level to make undergraduate research an integral part of the education we offer? Should we offer all students the opportunity to be involved in a summer research experience (where we broadly define research)? Could an institutional research program become a selling point for the college? How can our faculty be best supported in their supervision of undergraduate research, particularly summer research? More specifically: What are the signs of a successful research effort at the individual level and at the institutional level? Are our current academic-year and summer-research efforts serving the same goals?
Ran Libeskind-Hadas and Tom Donnelly
Broader Responsibilities. Now that HMC has reached its 50th birthday & is no longer an infant amongst institutions of higher learning, what new responsibility should it shoulder to help the world with its most serious technological problem(s)? William Konya ‘83