Find a Mentor
First, spend some time assessing your own interests and exploring faculty research in relevant fields. Learn as much as you can about the people and projects that interest you. Visit faculty members’ departmental and personal Web sites.
Search for projects within the Engineering departments. Gather as much information as possible from other students, administrators, and faculty. It’s just like interviewing for a job—you must be well-informed and persuasive when you finally talk to your prospective faculty mentor.
Once you’ve defined what kinds of projects you are looking for, you must begin talking to prospective faculty mentors. E-mail is often the best way to communicate with a busy faculty member. Express your specific interest in their research. Mass e-mailing all faculty in a department or field will typically not work well. If you don’t make contact right away, try to locate the faculty member’s assistant or a member of the graduate research team for advice. Follow-up by going to the faculty member's office hours to introduce yourself in person and ask to discuss opportunities for participating in their research.
Make sure your résumé is in good shape when you begin contacting prospective faculty mentors or their graduate assistants. Be sure you show your research experience and/or aptitudes. Highlight jobs in which you have demonstrated transferable skills. Call attention to supervisory experience or experience working on teams. Demonstrate your reliability, initiative, and your leadership skills. And do it all succinctly, in clear language, in a standard format.