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STARTUP - Undergraduate Research Experience

The 2013 application is closed. The next application cycle will open in Fall 2014.

The NASA PA Space Grant Consortium has partnered with Gannon University, Lincoln University, Penn State - Abington, Penn State - Altoona, Penn State - University Park, and Temple University to provide prolonged and meaninful research experiences for students in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) at their respective universities. The program, called START-UP (STEM Academic Research Training engaging Underrepresented Pennsylvanians) focuses on recruiting freshmen and sophomore students from underrepresented groups to engage in hands-on STEM research projects.

Students! This is your chance to do research for pay while investigating various fields of study. If you are an underrepresented student, START-UP can offer you a low-risk chance to do research before making any life changing decisions about your major. If you are a freshman or sophomore student planning on being at your university for three more semesters, START-UP offers you a way to enhance your research skills as well as provide an avenue where you can learn more about your major. START-UP provides students with a learning experience that closely resembles how science and engineering are done in the real world.

This program specifically targets underrepresented students; women, minorities (African-American, Hispanic, Native American, Pacific Islander), and students from underrepresented rural populations with economic hardship, who are interested in pursuing a STEM degree. You must be a U.S. citizen in your first or second year of college (freshman or sophomore), and be able to work at least five hours per week in a lab. Upon selection, students will participate in research for three semesters; Spring 2014, Fall 2014, and Spring 2015 (summer semester participation may be an option in some labs but it is not required). A $500 stipend is provided each of the three semesters.

During your START-UP assignment, you will work closely with a research team, which normally consists of a faculty member as well as several graduate students. You will learn the language of research and how to use high-tech equipment. You will also learn how to work safely and efficiently in the laboratory. You will attend lab meetings, participate in discussions, prepare posters as well as collect data. You may even have the opportunity to attend professional conferences or travel off-site to do field work. You will also find out how those physics and chemistry formulas you learned in class are useful in research.

You will discover that science and engineering is not only listening to lectures but teamwork, which requires communications skills, initiative, imagination, patience, and creativity.

This is not just bottle washing or busy work - START-UP students often have their own projects or work closely with graduate students to collect important data for the lab. This is not necessarily a one-way street. You may already have skills that make your expertise valuable to the lab.

Application Process

The first step of the application process is to read the descriptions of available laboratory research opportunities. You can select up to three labs that match your interests. The more labs you select, the better your chance of being accepted into the START-UP program. Once you have read the descriptions and decided on your lab selections, you can apply using the online application. Participating faculty will be notified of your interest and may choose to interview preferred candidates. If selected, you will work in one research lab for all three semesters.

The application for the 2015 cycle of the program will open Fall semester, 2014.


The principal funder for the START-UP program is NASA through The Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium Office.

Please contact us for more information.
Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium
Penn State University
2217 Earth-Engineering Sciences Building
University Park, PA 16802
Phone: 814-863-5957
Fax: 814-863-9563
nasastartup@psu.edu