Research Lives Here

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As a top-ranked materials program, we believe it is crucial to provide our undergraduate students with rich research opportunities to compliment and enhance our academic offerings.

These research opportunities give students a chance to gain a deeper understanding of academic topics, while preparing students for industry or graduate studies.  Getting involved in research early on helps to build a well-rounded package that is attractive to potential employers or graduate programs.

Undergraduate students are actively engaged in high level research through the Undergraduate Research Fellows program, International Internships in Materials (IIM), numerous Cooperative Education & Professional Internship Program (Co-op) activities with industry and government labs, and the senior capstone project.  The extensive research activities at Penn State are organized under the Materials Research Institute (MRI).

Faculty Research Groups

Penn State faculty have research programs covering all interdisciplinary areas of the field including nanotechnology, electronic materials, photonic materials, energy materials, biomaterials, computational materials and structural materials with applications in health care, communications, transportation, recreation, energy and electronics. 

The majority of faculty members in the department run their own research groups, click here to review faculty by area of research.  Students can become involved in a faculty research group as early as freshman year.

National Science Foundation Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) Research and Mentoring Program 

This program provides 2D materials research opportunities for first or second year Penn State students. Faculty members from two National Science Foundation Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) 2D materials research programs are teaming up to offer an EFRI Research and Mentoring program. Our program will further the research aims of our EFRIs while contributing to broadening participation of underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. The 2D Materials REM program will provide research mentorship opportunities for first and second year Penn State students. More Info

Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU)

At Penn State we believe strongly in providing opportunities for talented undergraduate students. The NSF funded Research Experience for Undergraduates in Soft Materials is designed to prepare students for graduate study, to encourage change in graduate education, and to provide a deeper understanding of the academic and professional fields the students are pursuing. With access to Penn State's strong research background and our department's significant expertise in the field of materials, the program is specifically designed to provide an opportunity for students to perform research who would not normally have the chance to do so.  More Info

International Internship in Materials (IIM)

Our department has our own international internship program where qualifying students may travel abroad to work on a research project with others from around the world.  The goal of the International Internship in Materials Program is to enrich the learning experience by immersing them in an international research activity.

Likewise, we provide reciprocal opportunities for international students from our partner institutions.  This allows those students to receive the same experience as our undergraduates, while exposing our resident students to international perspectives and cultures.

The students selected for this program will be offered research internships based on the collaborations between departmental faculty members and faculty at partner institutions. Since these internships are highly structured research programs, students are able to use their research in support of technical electives and/or senior thesis (a requirement for all MatSE students).  More Info

Undergraduate Research Fellows (URF)

Launched in 2006, the Undergraduate Research Fellows Program creates an opportunity for freshman. sophomore, and junior year students to pursue research experiences with Materials Science and Engineering faculty.  Upon acceptance into the program, the Undergraduate Research Fellow will be required to present the results of their research at the departmental poster competition in the spring semester.  The faculty advisor of the Undergraduate Research Fellow will receive financial support for the research project and travel costs to a professional meeting, if the research is presented.  Undergraduate Research Fellows are selected in the fall semester for the upcoming academic year. To apply or for more information contact student services.


*U.S. News & World Reports ranking, 2012