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Again, UROP Struggles to Meet Funding Requests

By Kevin S. Subramanya
Staff Reporter

Swamped with requests for funding research projects, the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program will once again have difficulty in meeting the needs of the several hundred undergraduates who want to be involved with research projects this summer.

"The request level met the budget already," said UROP administrator Claude J. Poux. "There are 300 proposals currently, but we are expecting a total of approximately 1,200 before the end of the spring semester," he added.

"This summer, we definitely receive the most number of applicants," said Undergraduate Research Director Norma G. McGavern. She said the program has about $500,000 to fund summer work.

Although students with full faculty funding may receive more, a student with UROP funding may receive a maximum of $3,300 for the summer.

Students and faculty should treat UROP as a "tertiary source of funds and not a primary source," Poux said. "We want our money to be used when there are no other resources."

Poux also said that UROP "tries to support junior faculty and first-year undergraduates" who may not otherwise be able to receive funding. UROP also tries to help senior faculty who have lost their grants or are in between grants.

UROP encourages the faculty sponsoring research to pay as much as they possible can, Poux said. In general, the cost of hiring a UROP student is split evenly between the faculty and UROP. However, if a faculty member requires complete UROP funding, the UROP office will usually negotiate a way to divide the funding between them.

UROP juggles funds

"We're in the juggling phase right now," Poux said. "We have to decide how much money to give to each student, and by working closely with the faculty, we will try our very best to spread out the wealth in a fair manner."

Like last year, applications are being considered on a rolling basis instead of a deadline.

"We're looking for good ideas in the proposals, student's track records, and especially what the student's faculty supervisors have to say," McGavern said. "There are no hard and fast rules; there are just guidelines."

The money which UROP gives to students comes from many different sources, including the Institute, grants, companies, and alumni, McGavern said. Much of this is "soft" money, meaning that the same amount may not be available from year to year.

Nearly 45 percent of undergraduates currently do UROP work, while around 75 percent participate in the program while at MIT, McGavern wrote in the January 1993 issue of the Faculty Newsletter.