Summer Reads For Engineering Students (And Their Parents)

Starting College this year? I’ve compiled a short summer reading list that you’ll find useful whether you are beginning college this fall as a freshmen or planning to transfer from a community college.

#1 Studying Engineering by Raymond Landis

Literally the “go to” text book for engineering orientation courses. I love this book for many reasons. Not only does this book introduce you to the various branches of engineering, this book also gives a practical glimpse into the study skills needed to be a successful engineering major covering everything from time management techniques to having a growth mindset. Aside from being a guidebook on the engineering profession the book also gives students a mechanism to explore their individual learning styles. One of my favorite lines that I often use with my own students is “No Deposit, No Return.”

#2 Learn to Program by Chris Pine

I especially like this book for students who have not yet taken a coding class. Why? Because it teaches you the art of programming while emphasizing the process not just the end result. Even if you have zero programming experience Chris Pine does an outstanding job that even a newbie can follow. I’ve seen many students read this book over the summer and have a great understanding of the art of programming and the tips and tricks to save time, work more efficiently and be bug free.

#3 Cracking the Coding Interview by Gayle Laakmann McDowell

So you know how to code but do you know how to survive the technical interview? If the only thing standing between you and your dream job/internship is a whiteboard then this is a must read! It’s the “true Hollywood story” version of behind the scenes interviews from companies such as Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and several other tech titans. Aside from helping you ace the technical interview the book also gives tips on salary negotiations and declining offers.

#4 CLiftonstrengths for Students by Gallup

This book is not specific to engineers but it is an amazing resource to help students understand their individual strengths. Developed by the Gallup organization this book includes the Strengthsfinder access code that allows students to recognize their top signature themes. By understanding one’s signature themes and learning to recognize the strengths that others bring, students can maximize their college experiences and optimize team projects. A growing number of engineering programs have adopted the strengths based curriculum so why not get a head start on recognizing your own individual strengths this summer.

#5 The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

I can almost guarantee that next fall when you go into your professors’ offices you’ll find copies of Covey’s iconic book proudly displayed on their bookshelves. Engineers will love the usage of Venn diagrams. I’d recommend a hard copy not an e-book because you’ll want to highlight things in this book.

For Parents

The Naked Roomate: For Parents Only by Harlen Cohen
There are many books available that give college freshman tips on surviving their first semester. However, few are written specifically for the new college parent.  Packaged as a lighthearted “how to” guide for parents The Naked Roommate does a good job in preparing parents for their first year as a college parent. Whether the student is going across the country or attending the local community college, parents will find the first hand testimonies from college freshman throughout the book useful.

One of the book’s highlights is its chapter on the role that technology plays in family communication.  Weekly long distance phone calls to mom and dad have been replaced by Skype sessions. Letters home are now sent via text message or emailed through Facebook.  If parents choose to “friend” their kids on Facebook they are encouraged to use the site as a means of catching up with their kids, not catching them in wrongdoings. Having one’s kid add them as a friend on Facebook is a privilege not a right. Therefore, parents who chose to add their freshman kids on the social media site should do so sans judgments even if they are curious about what’s inside those red plastic cups in all those photos…  This is where college advisors and career counselors can intervene by reminding college students about the importance of managing their online personas.

The book emphasizes the important role that parents play in ensuring that students fully engage themselves in the college experience.  First generation parents are encouraged to investigate resources available to their first generation college students as research has shown that these students are less likely to participate in enrichment activities such as internships or study abroad.  However, once the semester begins, parents should detach with love and resist the temptation to try and instantly fix everything. For instance, each time the freshman is checking in with their parents to vent about their roommate, express homesickness, or ask for help, the less time they’re communicating with campus resources such as counselors or academic advisors.   Helicopter parents are gently reminded that it’s never ever ok to contact their kid’s professors and how FERPA laws change once your child turns eighteen.   I would recommend this book to advisors because of the range of topics that the book addresses.  This book leaves no stone unturned when it comes to addressing serious topics, including topics such as what to do if your child is arrested and coming out in college.  Advisors will appreciate the author’s willingness to bring up real life situations and not simply rely on surface talking points such as how to do laundry or how to use a credit card.  The Naked Roomate is a good resource for those designing parent orientations.

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Programs for Community College Students

Community College students are encouraged to look at the freshman and sophomore listings. The programs included here are ones that either only accept community college students or have specifically emphasized a keen interest in reaching community college students.

University of Texas at Austin

The Cyberinfrastructure (CI) Research for Social Change Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at Texas Advanced Computing Center is actively engaging 10 undergraduate students each summer for nine-weeks in solving real-world problems of national relevance, teaching them to not only be critical thinkers, but to be creative and reflective as well.

Students gain skills in advanced programming and problem solving and use the CI to conduct cutting-edge research in engineering, science, and computational medicine. Research projects emphasize advanced computing as a tool to power discoveries that will impact social change for future generations.

Levels: Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors & Non-Graduating Seniors
Minimum GPA: Not Specified
Citizenship Requirements: US Citizens & Permanent Residents

Deadline to Apply: April 12th but applications will be on a rolling admissions so apply early.
Apply

University of Michigan


The University of Michigan Interdisciplinary REU Program (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) in the Structure and Function of Proteins is designed to provide undergraduate students with a 10 week research experience in the areas of biochemistry, biophysics, cheminformatics, computational chemistry, enzymology, marine biology, molecular biology and plant biology.  The research projects featured in this program all involve studies of the structure and function of proteins.

REU Faculty Mentors represent the departments of Biochemistry; Chemistry; Medicinal Chemistry; Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology; Pathology, Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Students from groups that are historically underrepresented in graduate education in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines, including first-generation college students and US military veterans.

Levels: Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors & Non-Graduating Seniors Minimum GPA: Not Specified
Citizenship Requirements: US Citizens & Permanent Residents
Deadline to Apply: February 15, 2019
Apply

Rutgers University Computational Biology Summer Research Experience at Rutgers

Program Description: The Computational Biology Summer Program provides meaningful summer research experiences to 10 undergraduate students and combines experimental, theoretical, and computational approaches with a focus on the intersection of the mathematical, computational, and biological sciences. In addition to the research experience, students receive computational biology training, professional skills development, and enrichment sessions geared towards broadening their understanding of the application of and issues surrounding scientific research. US Veterans are strongly encouraged to apply

Levels: Freshman & Sophomores
Minimum GPA: 3.0
Citizenship Requirements: US Citizens & Permanent Residents
Deadline: March 1, 2019
Apply

Texas A & M

As part of the program, students will participate in a five-week online workshop, consisting of discussions, live video chats with NASA experts and various mission design challenges. Students will then apply for the opportunity to spend four days at a NASA center, getting an inside look at NASA missions and science, networking with NASA scientists and engineers, and developing a presentation to showcase their work to a panel of judges.


Site Name: Texas A&M Mechanical Engineering REU


Program Description:Insufficient energy research and the shortage of U.S. citizens pursuing advanced degrees in engineering and science are both topics of supreme importance in modern times, and with this Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) site we are targeting both problems through a collaborative effort between various laboratories at Texas A&M University. Approximately ten undergraduate students from colleges and universities throughout the United States will reside at the Texas A&M campus for 10 weeks during the summer months, working alongside professors and graduate students conducting research on a broad range of topics related to energy and combustion science.

Levels: Freshman, Sophomore, Juniors, and non-graduating Seniors from Non-Tier One Schools.
Minimum GPA: Not Specified
Citizenship Requirements: US Citizens & Permanent Residents
Deadline:  May 1, 2019
Apply

National Community College Aerospace Scholars

The National Community College Aerospace Scholars, or NCAS, program is an educational experience for community college students interested in exploring careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The program provides selected students with a four-day, in-person learning experience at a NASA center.

As part of the program, students will participate in a five-week online workshop, consisting of discussions, live video chats with NASA experts and various mission design challenges. Students will then apply for the opportunity to spend four days at a NASA center, getting an inside look at NASA missions and science, networking with NASA scientists and engineers, and developing a presentation to showcase their work to a panel of judges.

Levels: Community College Students
Citizenship Requirements: US Citizens
Deadline: Check website for deadlines and session dates
Apply

Urban Water Innovation Network (UWIN) Multiple sites including Arizona State, Texas A&M , Northeastern University, University of Maryland

School or Organization: Multiple sites including School University of Wisconsin-Madison, Augsburg University, Boston University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Iowa, University of Maryland-Baltimore County, University of Minnesota, and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Description: Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology,through support from the National Science Foundation, hosts a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program focused on Sustainable Nanotechnology. Selected participants will spend 10 weeks conducting research in collaboration with one more principal investigators of the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology. Each student will be located at one of the participating institutions but will interact with faculty and students at all institutions via in-person and cyber-enabled interactions

Levels: Freshman, Sophomore, Juniors, & Seniors
Minimum GPA: Not Specified
Citizenship Requirements: US Citizens, Permanent Residents, & Non-US Citizens
Deadline: February 8, 2019
Apply

2019 TUNL/Duke REU Program
Undergraduate Research in Nuclear and Particle Physics at TUNL/Duke University

The Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) programs provide opportunities for students to participate in science and mathematics research at institutions throughout the country. REU programs are especially valuable for students attending academic institutions with very limited research opportunities. Sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the REU program at TUNL/Duke enables students to participate in research at the frontiers of nuclear and particle physics.

Students participate in a 10-week summer program combining research experience, lectures, and social activities. The REU program dates for 2019 will be Sunday, May 19 to Saturday, July 28. Students applying to this program have a choice of indicating their preference to work in one of two research components: (1) nuclear and particle physics at TUNL or (2) high-energy particle physics with the Duke High-Energy Physics (HEP) group.

Levels: Sophomores, Juniors & Non-Graduating Seniors
Minimum GPA: Not Specified
Citizenship Requirements: US CItizens & Permanent Residents
Deadline:  January 18, 2019
Apply

Columbia University


The Biostatistics Epidemiology Summer Training Diversity Program (BEST) was established to expand and diversify the behavioral and biomedical sciences’ workforce by introducing undergraduates from underrepresented populations to biostatistics and cardiovascular and pulmonary disease research. Students representing racial and ethnic minority groups, disadvantaged backgrounds, and students with disabilities join the Department of Biostatistics at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health’s for eight weeks of research, training, academic and career planning, and social activities around New York City. All applicants must have completed one semester of college level calculus.

Levels:Freshman, Sophomores, Juniors & Non-Graduating Seniors
Minimum GPA: Not Specified
Citizenship Requirements: US Citizens & Permanent Residents
Deadline: March 1, 2019
Apply

Multiple Sites Including Penn State, University of Michigan, Florida International University

The Center for Advanced Self-Powered Systems of Integrated Sensors and Technologies (ASSIST) is a National Science Foundation sponsored Nanosystems Engineering Research Center (NERC). ASSIST develops and employs nanotechnology enabled energy harvesting and storage, ultra-low power electronics, and sensors to create innovative, battery-free, body-powered, and wearable health monitoring systems.  The program is open to any student who is majoring in a science or engineering-related field.

Levels: Freshman, Sophomores, Juniors & Seniors
Minimum GPA: Not Specified
Citizenship Requirements: US Citizens & Permanent Residents
Deadline: February 15, 2019
Apply

Clemson University


Program Description: The Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (“the SURE program”) in Solid-State Devices for Electronics, Photonics, and Magnetics Technology was created to address this need.  The SURE program will provide an average of ten students per summer the opportunity to pursue ten weeks of directed research in the areas of electronic, photonic, and magnetic devices, including material and device design, processing, characterization, and modeling.  Faculty members on the REU team currently conduct independent, interdisciplinary, and industry-coordinated studies ranging from fundamental materials and physics to functional devices, circuits, and systems. Ideal candidates will be majoring in Students should be Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, Bioengineering, Physics, or other closely related disciplines

Levels: Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors
Minimum GPA: 3.0
Citizenship Requirements: US Citizens & Permanent Residents
Deadline: February 15, 2019
Apply

Multiple Institutions including Howard University, Stanford University, University of Arkansas, and University of Illinois

The Center for Power Optimization of Electro-Thermal Systems (POETS) offers a 10-week summer research program that provides undergraduate students with an opportunity to explore careers in research. Students gain an experience that will help strengthen their knowledge, skills and understanding of research methodologies as well as graduate school. The POETS REU program places students at one of its four universities. While at a POETS institution, REU students work on a POETS research project under the guidance and mentorship of a faculty member and graduate student or post-doctoral mentor.

Levels: Freshman, Sophomores, Juniors & Seniors
Minimum GPA: 3.0 and above
Citizenship Requirements: US Citizens & Permanent Residents
Deadline: February 15, 2019
Apply