When I first came to USC as a freshman, I never imagined myself doing research, and to be completely honest, I really didn’t even know what there was to research, but starting my second semester freshman year I started working in my first research lab! I started working in the lab just as a web site developer because the lab I joined was brand new to USC and needed some help getting a website started. I worked all semester with Professor Perez in the Autonomous Microbrobtic Systems Lab and at the end of the semester he offered me a full position for my sophomore year.
I current work in the flying machines team making control algorithms for microrobic quad copters! When I first started at USC, I would not know what any of that meant, but now after working in the lab for almost a year, I have learned so much from my professor and other research students. Research is not just a great way to fuel your passions, but an incredible way to get hands on learning experience with what you are learning in class!
While the way I fell upon research is very unconventional, there are so many resources and options for students in Viterbi to find paid and unpaid research positions.
1. Merit Research – When admitted to USC, some students already after freshman year will have the opportunity to do paid research in a lab that is also participating in the merit research program. If you are not notified about this when starting school (I am not a merit research student) you can always apply later into your college career.
2. Viterbi Undergraduate Research Matching – A great tool Viterbi has for its students is the undergraduate research matching website where you can input all of your research interest, resume and bio and they will match you will all the available positions that fit that description. After that you can apply through the website and then someone from the lab will follow up with you.
3. Talking to your professors – Most professors at USC are currently conducting research and will often talk about it in their classes. If you are ever interested in what they are doing, just go up to them after class or their office hours and ask them if there is a way for you to get involved. If you aren’t picky and don’t mind working for free for a bit, most professors are more than willing to take on some extra hands and teach you how their lab works.
These are just some of the ways to get involved with research on campus. Whether you are thinking about it now, or end up deciding you want to start some research senior year, Viterbi will always have ways of helping you find a research position!