SURF-IT Launches Undergraduates into UCI Research

By Anna Lynn Spitzer

SURF-IT orientation
Program administrator Said Shokair tells
the students to get excited about their research.

Irvine, Calif., 06.28.06 -- Another group of undergraduate students has embarked on a summer of multidisciplinary research at UC Irvine.

The second annual Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship in Information Technology program, co-sponsored by Calit2@UCI and UCI’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, officially kicked off this week. Seventeen SURF-IT students, each of whom is paired with a faculty mentor to conduct IT-related research, gathered Tuesday in the Calit2 auditorium for the program orientation. They met each other – and affiliated faculty and key administrators – gained additional insight into the SURF-IT program and shared a pizza lunch. After lunch, Stu Ross, Calit2 assistant director of research development and SURF-IT research coordinator, led the students on a tour of labs in the Calit2 Building.

“Get passionate about your research,” UROP Director Said Shokair, the SURF-IT administrative coordinator, urged the students as the orientation began. “The research experience is exciting, challenging and rewarding.

“SURF-IT will give you career insight and guidance as well as exposure to many aspects of information technology,” he promised.

Students were encouraged to be receptive to the advantages of multidisciplinary research. “Don’t be afraid to think outside the box,” Shokair emphasized. “Interact with others; be open to other disciplines.”

SURF-IT orientation
SURF-IT orientation
Students, professors and other program affiliates get acquainted over lunch.

Shokair also shared the goals and expectations of the program with the new student researchers. Among those expectations were a solid commitment, tangible deliverables and a strong work ethic. “How many hours are you planning to work each week?” he playfully asked one unsuspecting student. When she answered that she wasn’t really sure yet, he retorted good-naturedly: “Wrong answer. You’re all expected to put in at least 40 hours a week.”

During the orientation, each student introduced him/herself to the others, giving a brief overview of the research project s/he would be working on. Faculty mentors introduced themselves as well, with several giving advice to their new charges.

More than one advised the students to consider continuing their research when the summer program concludes. “The benefits of research are often reaped in the second or third quarter or beyond,” the group was told.

Stu Ross --SURF-IT orientation
Stu Ross prepares to lead
SURF-IT students through Calit2 labs.

In addition to their own research activities, SURF-IT students will attend bi-weekly seminars that will highlight the program’s various research areas. They will also participate in social and educational activities with students in IM-SURE – Integrated Micro/Nano Summer Undergraduate Research Experience – another UCI summer program, funded by the National Science Foundation.

At the end of the 10-week program, the students will present their research findings at a poster session held in conjunction with a closing reception.

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