The objective of the DREU program is to increase the number of people from underrepresented groups including women, minorities, or persons with disabilities who are enrolled in graduate studies in the fields of computer science and computer engineering.
Are you an undergraduate student interested in exploring research in computer science?
Or are you are a faculty member interested in being a research mentor?
Distributed Research Experiences for Undergraduates (DREU) might be the program for you!
DREU is a highly selective program that matches students with a faculty mentor for a summer research experience at the faculty mentor’s home institution.
DREU interns have the opportunity to be directly involved in a research project and interact with graduate students and professors on a daily basis. This experience is invaluable for those who are considering graduate school; DREU will provide a close-up view of what graduate school is really like and increase interns’ competitiveness as an applicant for graduate admissions and fellowships. Faculty mentors will have the opportunity to work on their research project with new students from other institutions and to mentor future graduate students.
DREU was a joint project of CRA-WP and the Coalition to Diversify Computing (CDC). DREU is supported by the National Science Foundation. Additionally, DREU partners with other organizations committed to broadening participation in computing to administer their summer REU programs including, the NSF funded Institute for African-American Mentoring in Computer Sciences (iAAMCS), and the NSF funded Alliance for Access to Computing Careers (AccessComputing).
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number (1840724). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
Applicants should be students who are pursuing an undergraduate degree at an institution in the U.S or its territories. Applicants should be interested in doing research in the computing field. International Students may apply, however most of the funds for the DREU program are restricted to US citizens and permanent residents, so the number of non-US student participants will be limited. Priority will be given to students who have completed two to three years in a CS or CE major by the program start date, however all applicants are considered.
Potential mentors should be professors in CS, CE, or other closely related areas at U.S. PhD granting universities with active research programs, into which DREU students may be integrated. Interaction with current graduate students is a feature of the DREU experience; it is necessary that the mentor’s research group include graduate students who will be on campus throughout the summer.
For questions regarding eligibility, please email email@example.com.
Students may identify potential mentors they wish to work in their application, although this is not a requirement. In addition, students may indicate a preference regarding the gender and/or the ethnicity of their mentor. However, students are not paired with professors at their home institution.
Faculty may indicate students they particularly wish to work although they may not select students in their home institutes.
- Number of students per mentor. Mentors are encouraged to request two students if a single student would be isolated. However, we expect to limit awards to two students per mentor.
- Joint/co-mentoring possibilities. Two or more mentors may submit a single application to jointly supervise one or more students.
- Cost sharing by faculty mentors is encouraged. The number of students interested in the DREU program has increased substantially over the last several years and many qualified students have not been selected due to lack of funding. To enable more students to participate, faculty are encouraged to provide funds to support (partially or fully) students; the DREU will provide travel support for all students.
- All interested faculty are eligible to be DREU mentors. All interested faculty are encouraged to apply as mentors. Nonethess, based on the documented benefits of role models with similar gender or from similar demographic groups, it is anticipated that DREU funds will be used to support students matched with mentors from groups underrepresented in computing. Hence, it is anticipated that other mentors will provide full funding for their students’ stipends (the program will provide travel support).
For questions regarding the application, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students and faculty mentors apply separately to the program. A committee evaluates the applications and selects students for funding.
- The student’s potential for success in graduate school, as indicated by his or her record and recommendations.
- The extent of the student’s experience and skills.
- The student’s potential gain from the experience (e.g., students at institutions unable to offer research opportunities with professors).
- The potential that the student’s participation will advance the goals of the program.
- The suitability of the professor’s research project for undergraduates.
- The conduciveness of the professor’s university environment to the goals of DREU (e.g., an active summer research population that would provide the student with a window into the future graduate life).
- The professor’s demonstrated skills in the mentoring of undergraduates.
- The potential that the professor’s participation will advance the goals of the program.
Notification of matches will be made in March.
For questions regarding the evaluation criteria, please email email@example.com.
|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.|
|Mentor||Faculty||Faculty at home institution of student. At least two faculty, from different disciplines, for multidisciplinary projects.|
|Deadline||February 15||May 18|
|Sponsor||CRA-W / NSF/ Other Partners/Sponsors||CRA-W / NSF/ Other Partners/Sponsors|
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
DREU Participants Procedures and Requirements Summary
*All Requirements are mandatory unless otherwise noted
|Items Required for 1st Milestone (Before DREU Program Starts)||STUDENTS:
1. Letter of Agreement
In order to submit your Letter of Agreement you will need to complete the following tasks in the DREU Program Site:
– Input REU Dates (as agreed upon by you and your mentor)
– Read the letter of agreement to verify all information is accurate before adding your digital signature.
2. Tax Documentation
As CRA is required to issue a 1099 at the end of each year to all stipend recipients, everyone must complete and provide the appropriate form (W-9 or W-8) on the DREU Program Site:
– 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 (optional, but highly recommended)
Students can receive their payment by direct deposit.
4. Complete the DREU Pre-Survey
You will receive an email that includes a survey from the Center for Evaluating the Research Pipeline, you must complete this survey prior to beginning your DREU program.
5. Student Webinar
We strongly encourage students to attend so they can better understand the program and expectations.
6. Relocation Travel- The DREU program covers the cost (up to a maximum of $500) for the student to relocate to/from the mentor’s institution.
NOTE: Due to the COVID-19 situation, this task does not apply to the DREU 2020 cycle since it will be a virtual experience.
Student makes arrangements to relocate to/from the mentor’s institution by completing the Travel Arrangements task in the DREU Program Site. If students intend to relocate to their mentor’s institution via car/train or other mode of transportation, they will notify the DREU program chairs by emailing email@example.com.
1. Specify mentor contributions
2. Mentor Webinar
We strongly encourage mentors to attend so they can better understand the program and expectations.
Items Required for 2nd Milestone
Students must submit their website URL where they’ll be regularly documenting their DREU Experience.
|Items Required for 3rd Milestone
(end of week 5)
1. Students submit their Progress Report
1. Mentors submit their Progress Report
|Items Required for 4th Milestone
1. Student submits the Student Final Report
2. Student submits their Final Website URL
Students must submit the final version of their website documenting their DREU Experience. The website must also include the student’s final report of their research project.
3. Student must complete the DREU Feedback Survey.
1. Mentor submits their Final Report.
|During or After DREU Program
||Research Experience Related Travel Request
DREU participants are able to receive Travel funding from CRA-WP for activities directly related to the student’s research experience.
Distributed Research Experience for Undergraduates
Morgan Buford (DREU 2015)
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.
Laura Barreto (DREU 2014)
Laura 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)
The 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.”
Tips For a Successful Mentoring Experience
The tips below are based on the findings of the Learning through Evaluation, Adaptation, and Dissemination (LEAD) Center which was an evaluation conducted of the DREU program (formerly known as DMP) since 1994.
Overall, the LEAD evaluators identified three key elements of the DREU program that were linked to a successful experience for the students:
- A mentor who takes an interest in the student’s welfare and provides frequent feedback about the student’s progress.
- A research project that is interesting, challenging, and valued by the mentor’s research team.
- Immersion in a research-based environment that includes interactions with graduate students.
Ways to prepare for the students’ arrival and reduce start-up time
Given that ten weeks is a relatively short time to complete a comprehensive research project, many mentors try to “make the most” of the ten weeks, by preparing for the students’ arrival in ways that minimize start-up time. The following strategies are suggested:
- Contacting the student prior to the program. As a mentor, you should contact a student prior to the program to discuss the proposed project, this will enable you to assess the student’s background and learn about their research interests. Following such a discussion, you can decide whether the proposed project is feasible and make changes, if necessary, prior to the student’s arrival. Also, you can suggest readings and other things the student can do before arriving.
- Helping the student access university services. Setting up a computer account, arranging for an office, and helping the student obtain access to other university services (temporary student identification cards, library cards, etc.) may save start-up time. Many mentors position the student’s desk or office near theirs or that of their graduate students to involve the student more directly in the research team.
- Helping the student obtain housing. Helping find summer housing is very useful to the students. Many universities have websites or newsgroups listing summer sublets and most have dorms available during the summer. Many DREU students find it convenient to stay on campus, especially if they do not have a car. Often, the student will need your assistance to find out about these options and to fill out any necessary paperwork.
Factors to address when the student arrives and throughout the program
Almost all students have had little or no research experience, and most have not interacted with a faculty member in a cooperative research project. These students hope to learn more about research and graduate school through their experience in the DREU program, and they want their mentor to provide direction by:
- Explicitly defining the nature of the mentor-student interactions. Students look to their mentor to establish the nature and frequency of their interactions. Students want their mentor to delineate their expectations, with regard to:
- The goals and expectations for their research project
- The nature of the mentor-student communication. For example, whether they will communicate through regular, formal meetings, or whether interactions will be on a casual, as-needed basis.
- The protocol for acquiring day-to-day project-related assistance. In other words, whom to ask when the student has questions, and when and how to contact the mentor.
Note: If you plan to have the student work with a graduate student, it may be helpful to have the student and graduate student discuss these same issues.
- Discussing expectations with the student and providing feedback on their progress. Since the students have little experience with research, they may lack a framework to assess their progress. Discussing with the student what you think the student should be able to accomplish over the course of the DREU program and providing ongoing feedback about their progress will give the students a framework within which to work, an idea of how well they are doing on their project, and tools for future self-assessment.
- Judging whether or not the project is within the technical capabilities of the student. Most students enjoy being able to work independently on projects that are challenging and interesting. However, the degree to which they enjoy working independently depends on their knowledge, experience with a particular topic, and comfort level with the unstructured and open-ended research process. Assessing these skills early in the program will help you both in project selection and in assessing the amount of feedback and guidance a student needs. This type of early assessment will help increase the students’ confidence and independence in their work. Because you often cannot assess a student’s interest level and background prior to knowing the student, it is common for mentors to prepare multiple projects from which the student can choose.
- Involving the student in the collaborative research process. Almost all students value feeling like a member of the mentor’s research team. By interacting with other graduate students and faculty on a day-to-day basis, they will develop a better understanding of graduate school life and research, and feel like a part of the research community.
Mentors can use the following exercises with undergraduate and graduate students during their REUs:
For questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The DREU Program
Can a student be paired with a mentor at the same university?
Most of the DREU participants are NOT from the same institution, but we do have some. If there is a particular reason the student would like to stay at that institution and work with a particular faculty member, then both student and faculty should make that clear in the application.
Do students have to find their own housing?
It is the responsibility of the student to find lodging for the summer.
What kind of commitment (in hours/week, or even total hours) is required to participate in the DREU?
The DREU program is meant to be a full-time intensive 10 week research experience for undergraduates.
Are there set dates for DREU internships? Do students have to be matched with mentors from universities that have the same academic calendar?
The program is very flexible and the mentorship dates are scheduled at the mutual convenience of the student and the mentor. These details are worked out during the matching process and should not prevent anyone from applying for the DREU program.
The DREU Student Application and Selection Process
What groups are considered to be underrepresented in computing?
We follow the official definitions as to who qualifies as being a member of an underrepresented group. Groups that are underrepresented in computing include women, African Americans, Native Americans (American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians), Pacific Islanders, Hispanic U.S. citizens and permanent residents (including Mexican-Americans, and mainland Puerto Ricans), individuals who identify as part of the LGBTQAI community, and persons with disabilities.
What conditions are considered disabilities?
Are international students eligible for the DREU?
Yes, as long as they are pursuing an undergraduate degree at a U.S. or Canadian college or University. However, most of the funds for the DREU program are restricted to US citizens and permanent residents.
I am an international student studying in the United States, and I do not have permission to work. Can I still participate in the DREU?
Most international students can participate in the DREU via curricular practical training (CPT). This training needs to be approved by your home institution. You should see your international advisor (or someone at your office for international students) to determine if you are eligible and to determine what you need to do to participate in DREU via CPT.
Can current seniors, or students who have already graduated with a bachelors degree, apply for the DREU?
Yes, students can participate after they have graduated. However, we would prefer for students to participate earlier. Graduating students that are already admitted to graduate school are less likely to be funded than less advanced students who have still not decided if graduate school is for them.
What is the best time in their academic program for students to participate in DREU? Can freshman apply?
The majority of DREU participants are rising seniors or juniors, this is a good time for students to participate. However, freshman have successfully participated in the DREU.
Can male students apply for the DREU?
Yes. In fact, men from groups underrepresented in computing are strongly encouraged to apply for the DREU.
Is the DREU open to students in majors outside of Computer Science and Computer Engineering?
Yes. During the selection process, all applicants will be evaluated using the DREU selection criteria described on the DREU Application homepage .
Where do I send my official transcript?
You should send your official transcript to: Prof. Nancy Amato, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Texas A&M University, TAMU 3112, College Station, TX 77843-3112. Note: You should enter your unofficial transcript into your DREU application.
Where do I send my letters of recommendation?
After you submit your application, we will send your references an email with directions as to how they can submit their recommendation letter. If they cannot submit their letter through our online portal then they should contact us at email@example.com.
If I applied for the DREU Program last year, do I need to resubmit all my information again to apply this year?
Yes, you will still need to fill out a complete application.
The DREU Mentor Application and Selection Process
Can two (or more) faculty mentors apply together to jointly mentor one or more students? Is there anything special required to submit a joint application?
Yes, the DREU accepts joint applications for mentors. Each mentor applicant should provide the personal application materials, but only one of the applicants needs to provide the information related to the research project and the environment at their institution.
I’m a professor at a PhD granting institution in Canada. Can I apply to be a mentor?
Yes. While we do have some unrestricted funds, most of our funding comes from the U.S. National Science Foundation and the intention is to fund students attending US institutions.
I’m a professor at a PhD granting institution outside the US or Canada. Can I apply to be a mentor?
No, we’re sorry but currently eligible mentors for DREU students should be faculty at PhD granting institutions in the US or Canada.
Why are you asking DREU mentors to provide funds?
Due to increased interest in the DREU program, faculty are now encouraged to provide funds to support (partially or fully) students, to enable more participants.
Does it increase my chances of being selected as a DREU mentor if I can contribute funds to the support my DREU student?
No. The selection and matching process will be performed in a “blind” fashion, which does not consider a mentor’s financial contribution until after they have been matched with a student.
Does the DREU allow male mentors?
Yes. All interested faculty are encouraged to apply as mentors. Male faculty from underrepresented groups in computing are strongly encouraged to apply.
Can a PhD student apply to be a mentor?
We prefer to have faculty mentors. One way for a PhD to participate would be to get a faculty member to apply as a mentor and then assist with mentoring the student(s).
If I applied to be a DREU Mentor last year, do I need to resubmit all my information again to apply this year?
No, you do not. Mentors have the option to import their application from the previous year or start a new one.
Detailed Questions about the DREU Program (For Participants)
What does the travel relocation budget cover?
As a part of the DREU program, you are awarded a travel relocation budget of up to $500 to be used for relocating to and from your mentor’s institution. If you decide to drive, you will be reimbursed for mileage between your home or home institution at the Federal rate of $0.535 per mile. The federal rate includes fuel and mileage. In addition, you can use part of the $500 relocation budget to cover your ground transportation costs to/from the airport.
Can I use my travel relocation budget towards visiting home during the DREU program?
No, these expenses are not reimbursable.
Where can I find an overview of the program requirements, payment schedule, information about how to request travel grants, etc?
On the Travel & Financial Tab
How are DREU stipends treated for US income tax purposes?
Because these awards are not for qualified tuition and related expenses but instead represent compensation for research services rendered as a condition of receiving the grant, they are reportable as gross income, not as wages. CRA is not required to withhold any taxes on these stipends and no withholding will be done. The CRA is required to issue 1099’s or W-2’s to award recipients; these are mailed to participants in February. It is the responsibility of each recipient to properly report the award as taxable income on his or her tax return in the year received.
Can DREU stipends be paid via direct deposit?
Yes. In fact, it is highly recommended that participants take advantage of direct deposit. The Direct Deposit form can be found on the Travel & Financial Tab.
I am an international student studying in the United States, and I do not have permission to work. What do I need to do to participate in DREU?
International students typically participate in DREU via curricular practical training (CPT). This training needs to be approved by your home institution. We suggest you see your international advisor (or someone at your office for international students) to complete the appropriate paperwork.
Does the DREU program have any funding to help DREU students attend technical conferences?
Yes, DREU students can apply for research experience related travel. CRA will assist them to attend a technical conference with their mentor and their research group during or after their DREU internship. If it is after the DREU internship, then the travel must be in direct relation to the student’s internship, e.g., a conference where a paper the student co-authored as a result of their DREU experience will be presented. Students can also apply for funding to make a short duration (a week or so) return visit to work with their mentor to continue work begun during the DREU experience, e.g., for a week or so over winter or spring break.
How should the DREU program be acknowledged when research by the DREU student is included in a paper, poster or otherwise publicly presented?
Please be sure to let the program Co-Directors know about this by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We recommend including a mention of the DREU program in the place where research support would normally be acknowledged. A sentence along the lines of the following is suggested:“The work of [DREU Student’s name] supported in part by the Distributed Research Experiences for Undergraduates (DREU) program, a joint project of the CRA Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research (CRA-W) and the Coalition to Diversify Computing (CDC), which is funded in part by the NSF Broadening Participation in Computing program (NSF BPC-A #1246649).”
Detailed Questions about the DREU Program (For Mentors)
Does the DREU program have any advice for mentors to help them be more effective mentors for their DREU students?
Yes, some mentoring tips have been developed specifically for the DREU based on findings of the Learning through Evaluation, Adaptation, and Dissemination (LEAD) Center which performed an evaluation of the CRA-W DREU program (formerly known as DMP) from 1994-2005.