What is IMMERSE?

The IMMERSE program was initiated in 2003 by Professors Aaron Hawkins and Stephen Schultz of BYU's Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. At that time, the university's administration had emphasized undergraduate research and BYU's Office of Research and Creative Activities (ORCA) was offering grant money to support faculty-directed student activities. ORCA accepted Dr. Hawkins and Dr. Schultz's proposal for an undergraduate research effort, focused on microelectronics and microfabrication, and the first handful of students were hired in the summer of 2003.

Originally called the Microfabrication Mentoring Environment (MME), the program began with the goal of having every undergraduate student publish some type of scientific paper. Students were given a number of high risk research projects that eventually led to larger, externally funded programs. Additionally, students were asked to help establish standard processes in our revamped cleanroom facility and document them on the internet.

In 2007, the program's name was officially changed to IMMERSE to more accurately reflect its goals and structure and the Micron Foundation became a major sponsor. IMMERSE has now expanded to include over fifty undergraduate students per year and over ten faculty mentors. Funding for student salaries comes from a combination of ORCA mentoring funds, endowment funds, and research grants from external sponsors like the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Defense.

From 2003 to 2017, 251 students have been employed by this program and its success has been far-reaching. The vast majority of participating students have published a scientific paper while part of the program and gone on to graduate school.

Preparing students to attend graduate school has become a primary focus of IMMERSE. Without participating in IMMERSE or other undergraduate research opportunities, many Electrical and Computer Engineering students take their first job without considering the opportunities of graduate school.

IMMERSE not only encourages students to seek higher education, but it also prepares them with distinguished, hands-on knowledge and experience that graduate schools are looking for.  This motivates more students to apply for graduate school, and opens up new possibilities for graduate school acceptance.

Undergraduate Research

The focus of the IMMERSE program is to allow undergraduate students to conduct and publish significant research. Faculty mentors help participating students write and publish technical papers summarizing their research projects and results. The "Undergraduate Research Model" of the IMMERSE program has been successful in helping participating students to publish their work in technical, peer-reviewed journals and articles.

The program operates with the goal that every student author or co-author a technical journal or conference paper.

Undergraduate Mentoring

The IMMERSE program is known for its one-on-one mentoring. Participating students have daily opportunities for close interaction with mentoring professors, where they are taught the essentials of good research and scientific method. IMMERSE mentors give useful presentations on various topics, such as writing a technical paper, presenting your research, and applying to graduate schools. Faculty mentors also help guide individual research projects by helping participating students to set weekly research goals. Students are given opportunities to practice giving various types of technical presentations.

Members of IMMERSE participate in weekly IMMERSE meetings, at which faculty members give instruction on speaking, writing, the research process, grad school admissions, and more. Students also give technical presentations at these meetings.

Regular meetings with individual research groups are also held to review and set research goals and coordinate technical training with other students.