We provide our summer research assistants with levels and types of support similar to what we provide our graduate students, with both technical and social support oriented towards providing a well-rounded and fulfilling summer experience. Our summer research assistants each have dedicated office space, sometimes sharing offices with existing graduate students, and always located near (usually in the same hallway as) our faculty mentors. Our summer research assistants also have full access to our department’s shared spaces (e.g. a social lounge for graduate students and faculty) and resources typically available to graduate students (e.g. computers, office supplies, printing, and extensive staff-provided services). We organize a summer seminar series for our research assistants that consists of a blend of generally-accessible Software Engineering research topics as well as topics such as the general research process and preparation for graduate school (see Summer Seminar Series).
Our REU students will live together in on-campus housing dedicated for summer research assistants, along with summer research students in other (non-ISR) programs. Our campus provides a vibrant social life for summer research students, with joint activities and seminars planned through CMU’s Go Research! summer program; these seminars include topics such as how to prepare for graduate school and tips for writing graduate school application essays.
The summer in the School of Computer Science at CMU is an especially active time for seminars from visiting researchers, and we encourage our students to attend these seminars. In this manner, the students are exposed to excellent research from around the world, learn about topics they’ve never considered, and sometimes even find future graduate advisors. In addition, the summer is a popular time for thesis proposals and defenses; there were 21 computer science thesis defenses alone in Summer 2015. We encourage REU students to attend at least one thesis proposal and one defense to get a better understanding of the Ph.D. process, and we talk to our students about these experiences to answer their questions and help them apply the resulting lessons to their own work.
Our department also provides substantial social support to ease the adjustment of our students to our department and Pittsburgh. We organize and fund social activities for all our summer research students, including group and departmental meals, amusement park trips, bowling, and cultural attractions within Pittsburgh. These activities are organized by a social coordinator who is a graduate student in our department.