Distributed Research Experiences for Undergraduates

Compare to CREU
Time Summer (10 weeks) Academic year plus optional summer
Target group Women, ethnic minorities, students with disabilities, and students from other underrepresented groups Women, ethnic minorities, students with disabilities, and students from other underrepresented groups
Stipend per student $7000 per summer;
relocation travel assistance when appropriate.
$1,500 per semester and $4,000 during optional summer extension
Location Mentor’s institution Student’s institution
Team Work Varies Encouraged in CS and CE. Expected on multidisciplinary projects.
Interdisciplinary Varies Varies
Mentor Faculty Faculty at home institution of student. At least two faculty, from different disciplines, for multidisciplinary projects.
Deadline March 1st May 18
Sponsor CRA-W / CDC CRA-W / CDC
Travel & Financial Support

Funding for students consists of $700 per week for research, plus relocation travel assistance of up to $500 when appropriate. Additional funds may be available to support student travel related to their DREU experience, e.g., to a technical conference, either during the research internship or afterwards.

For questions regarding Travel & Financial Support, please email dreu@cra.org.

DREU Participants Procedures and Requirements Summary

When Requirements
Items Required for 1st Stipend (Before DREU Program Starts)

1. Letter of Agreement

2. Tax Documentation

As stipends are subject to taxes, all students must complete the appropriate form (W-9 or W-8) and submit it to CRA.

W-9 form: for students who are U.S. Citizens or Permanent residents.

W-8 form: for students who are not U.S. Citizens or Permanent residents. International students need to fill out a W-8.

3. Direct Deposit

Students can receive their payment by direct deposit. (Recommended)

4. Student submits current payment information.

5. Student enters start and end dates for the DREU experience that are agreed upon by the student’s mentor.

6. Relocation Travel

Student makes arrangements to relocate to/from the mentor’s institution by contacting Democracy Travel.

Items Required for 2nd Stipend Payment

1. Student submits current payment information.

2. Website URL

Students must submit the URL for his/her website documenting his/her ongoing DREU Experience.

Items Required for 3rd Stipend

1. Student submits current payment information.

2. Progress Report

Student and Mentor submits Progress Report.

3. DREU Admin approves Student and Mentor Progress Reports.

Items Required for 4th Stipend

1. Student submits current payment information.

2. Final Website URL

Students must submit the final version of his/her website documenting his/her DREU Experience. The website must include the student’s final report of his/her research project.

3. Student must complete the DREU Exit Survey.

4. Mentor submits Final Report.

Student’s website must be fully approved and permanently installed on the DREU website by DREU Admin.

5. DREU Admin approves Final Reports.

Items for After DREU Program Ends Research Experience Related Travel Request

DREU participants are able to receive Travel funding from CRA-W for activities directly related to the student’s research experience.

Participant Websites

Distributed Research Experience for Undergraduates

Morgan Buford (DREU 2015)

observatory (1)Morgan Buford, Valarie Sheffey, and Omar White worked as a team this summer during their DREU Experience at the University of Alabama to design a voice-activated home automation app to work with Cortana on a Windows phone. The purpose of the project was to assist the elderly in their homes. There have been multiple studies that show that there are many benefits of the elderly living in their own homes rather than assisted living facilities. Their app can assist with daily functions such as adjusting the thermostat, opening blinds, locking doors, and more. It is completely voice controlled, which enables individuals to now bridge the gap between technology and the elder community.

Morgan Buford – The University of Texas at Tyler (DREU 2015 Photo Competition Winner)
Valarie Sheffey – The University of New Mexico
Omar White – Indiana University

Laura Barreto (DREU 2014)

Laura BarretoLaura Barreto has had a full paper on her DREU research at Texas A&M accepted at the 27th Annual Conference on Innovative Applications of Artificial Intelligence (IAAI-15). Her paper titled “Maestoso: An Intelligent Educational Sketching Tool for Learning Music Theory”, which was co-authored by mentors Dr. Tracy Hammond and doctoral student Paul Taele, describes her summer research work on an intelligent sketching system for teaching people with little to no background about music theory using sketching input and human automated human instructor-emulated feedback.

Julia Ferraioli (DREU 2005)

Julia FerraioliThe DREU program provides applicants with the opportunity to conduct research with a faculty mentor for a summer; applicants are directly involved in an active research project and interact with graduate students and professors on a daily basis. This experience is completely immersive and can have a significant impact on one’s academic and career path. For Ms. Ferraioli it was the start of her passion for research and problem solving. “Working with Dr. desJardin, taught me about tackling unsolved problems — how to approach them, how to research prior work, and how to carefully craft your own solution. Due to my newfound interest in research, I expanded this research topic for my senior thesis.”

But what truly sets DREU apart from other programs is the memories that students carry with them years after. As Ms. Ferraioli remembers, DREU is not just about research, but also about rising to the challenges, even if they are unsolvable. “The most memorable moment of my DREU experience was when Dr. desJardins tasked me with figuring out how to handle a case where the dimensions on different elements of data didn’t match. I researched the problem, brainstormed my own algorithms, dreamt about it, and filled up pages and pages of a notebook with scratched out diagrams and false starts. I confessed my defeat during our weekly meeting. Smiling, she said that the problem I described was as yet unsolved, but we did discuss my attempts.” This moment was integral in Ms. Ferraioli’s life, it was the moment she realized that failure was an inevitable part of learning. Even if there is no existing solution, it does not mean you give up; that is where you start. “This moment completely redefined the concept of failure for me, and removed a lot of the fear surrounding ‘approaching something new’.” Even if you fail, you will have gained valuable knowledge of what doesn’t work, for the next time you try.

Currently, Ms. Ferraioli is a Senior Developer Advocate with Google Cloud Platform. Her responsibilities are wide-ranging and ever-changing. At a high level, she works to drive adoption of the various Cloud projects, which includes raw computing power as well as massive data analysis. Ms. Ferraioli works with companies to facilitate their use and success with the products, give technical talks, help the engineering teams identify gaps or usability issues, and/or write sample applications illustrating use cases. The most rewarding aspect of her role with Google Cloud Platform is seeing how companies can now have the ability to build and deploy like Google, tackling problems that at one point seemed unsolvable. “I once saw a teenager build an app that helped scheduling at a suicide hotline, and he was able to do that with the Google App Engine.”

Program Chairs

Maria GiniMaria Gini

Univ. of Minnesota
Bio | Website

Julia Hirschberg


Columbia University
Bio | Website

Ming LinMing Lin

Univ. of North Carolina
Bio | Website

Nancy Amato

Texas A&M
Bio | Website

Monica-AndersonMonica Anderson

Univ. of Alabama


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