Meeting of the Minds at Carnegie Mellon University

by Lisa Warren

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Late April and early May bring the end of the academic year to many college campuses, while for high schools the final push comes a bit later. For those who can swing it, late-spring college visits may provide exciting opportunities.

Timing and planning a trip can be tricky, though: Activities like student-led campus tours might be unavailable when classes are not in session, such as on “reading days”* and during final exams. 

Celebrating innovation and creativity
At Carnegie Mellon University, renowned for its ground-breaking research and for combining disciplines such as the arts and technology, the end-of-the-year “Meeting of the Minds” symposium on undergraduate research takes place on a Reading Day–May 4, 2011, this year.

The symposium celebrates undergraduate scholarship, innovation, and creativity. It is sponsored by the Undergraduate Research Office, which provides advising, grant funding for student research projects, and assistance with national and international scholarship and fellowship program application processes.

Meeting of the Minds draws more than 400 undergraduate student participants, from freshman to senior level, and from a wide range of majors. Individuals and small teams give oral “PowerPoint” presentations and present posters, exhibits, films, demonstrations, performances and more at this popular annual event.

Competitive types can also register for one of the Special Competitions and compete for cash prizes. Thousands of fellow students, faculty, and interested visitors circulate throughout the day, meeting the student researchers and learning about their original projects.

Meeting of the Minds is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the University Center on the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, campus.

Enlightening, thrilling, life-changing
A small sampling of current and recent undergraduate research projects can be found here

Among those profiled is Rachel Inman, a fifth-year senior from South Carolina, and her “My City, My Block” industrial design project. Describing the significance of the URO’s support for undergraduate student research, Rachel says, “Each year, I would visit Meeting of the Minds, walking through the exhibit spaces, and discussing the projects with my peers. It was not until spring of my junior year that I decided I wanted to undertake my own research project. . . . My SURF (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship) project not only allowed me to take an idea from initial planning stages to completion, but also pushed me to resolve how I planned to present my findings to both experts and novices.”

When asked to describe in one word her experiences as an undergraduate involved in research,
Rachel said, “Enlightening.” Other students chose words like “Thrilling,” “Incredible,” “Life-changing,” and “Vital.” Students and families who are similarly excited about undergraduate research opportunities but are unable to attend CMU’s Meeting of the Minds on May 4 should contact or make plans to visit the Undergraduate Research Office at Carnegie Mellon University.

Tip: If you visit a college campus on a day when guided tours are not available, make a point of viewing a virtual tour if one is available.  Check out Carnegie Mellon's virtual tour here.

*Most college calendars include one or more reading days each term, with no classes or required events scheduled, so that students can prepare for final exams and presentations. 

Explore our Smart Learning series for more posts about undergraduate research programs, entrepreneurial, and study abroad opportunities available at U.S. colleges and universities.

Author: Lisa Warren

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