Northwestern CS Launches New Research Track

The program is accepting applications through February 24 for fall 2023 enrollment

In fall 2023, Northwestern Computer Science (CS) is launching a new research track designed to enable second-year students majoring in computer science to learn the fundamentals of academic research through a collaborative group project. The program is accepting applications now through February 24.

Northwestern Engineering’s Joseph Hummel, Sara Owsley Sood, and Haoqi Zhang are spearheading the program.

The research track program aims to provide undergraduate students with a structured and mentored research experience through the completion of two new courses — COMP_SCI 298: Introduction to Research Track and COMP_SCI 398: Research Track Practicum — and a project demonstration.

Sara Owsley Sood“A student’s first research experience can be a daunting,” said Sood, Chookaszian Family Teaching Professor and associate chair for undergraduate education at the McCormick School of Engineering. “With this new research track program, we hope to create a support structure and community to enable to positive first CS research experience.”

The research track cohort will enroll this fall in COMP_SCI 298, a new one-credit course designated as an unrestrictive elective. Led by a graduate student research-track adviser, the course will provide a foundational introduction to the research process.

Students will be assigned to teams of four to five members based on research interests and experience from prior coursework. Teams will kick off their projects by conducting literature review, gathering data or resources, and gaining any project-specific skills. A CS faculty member will provide guidance and project mentorship.

Haoqi Zhang“Research is one of the greatest learning experiences that colleges have to offer,” said Zhang, an associate professor of computer science at Northwestern Engineering; director of the Design, Technology, and Research (DTR) program; and codirector of the Delta Lab. “With this program, we want to support many more of our CS undergraduates getting involved in research early, and make it possible for many of our students to progress towards self-directing their own research projects, and eventually completing a senior thesis."

In winter 2024, the cohort will enroll in COMP_SCI 398, a one-credit course which can be counted either as a technical elective or a project course. Teams will continue progress on their research projects under the supervision of a graduate student research track adviser and a CS faculty member.

Joseph Hummel“I’m very excited to help lead an undergraduate research track in computer science, and open a pathway for all students who might be interested in undergraduate research,” said Hummel, professor of instruction at Northwestern Engineering.

Teams will present their projects during a CS research showcase event in spring 2024.

"Undergraduate student research has been very active in the department for a long time,” said Samir Khuller, Peter and Adrienne Barris Chair of Computer Science at Northwestern Engineering. “We felt it was time to provide broader exposure to research opportunities, and I am very glad to see that Haoqi, Joe and Sara have led this effort and crafted a wonderful program.”

Applicants accepted into the research track program will receive an invitation in the spring detailing assignments to a specific research project and adviser.

The program application deadline for fall 2023 enrollment is February 24.


McCormick News Article