About a hundred undergraduate students visited Gates Hall on February 28, 2019 to learn about graduate research in Computer Science from current CS doctoral candidates.

Of his experience presenting new research findings, Rolph Recto, a CS graduate student said: “Research Night was a good opportunity to chat with undergraduate students about my research and also to discuss potential projects they could participate in. It is always enjoyable to discuss my work to an enthusiastic crowd, and the undergrads here did not disappoint. Also, I personally would not have gotten into grad school without the support of professors and grad students who guided me to do research projects when I was an undergraduate, so I also see Research Night as a way to pay forward the generosity I received then to students who might be interested in an academic career.”

CS graduate student, Raunak Kumar reflected on his experience at the event: “When I was an undergrad at UBC [University of British Columbia], it was very helpful to hear from graduate students about their research, and talk to them about finding research positions and applying for graduate school. So I decided to present my work at the event, hoping I could inspire current undergrads to explore research and graduate school, and to answer any questions they might have about getting started. I am glad I took part in the event! It was a pleasure talking to students with different levels of experience and background. They all seemed very interested in my poster, and asked me specific questions about my projects, general questions about research in my field (machine learning and algorithms), finding research positions as an undergrad, etc. A few of them said they would contact me via email afterwards if that was ok, and I was happy to volunteer!” 

Undergraduates who spent the evening in conversation with their informal graduate student mentors also had much to say about the benefits of the engaging experience. Jia Wei, a CS major, said: “I was interested in getting to know more about research in CS. It’s a great opportunity to learn about projects and it was exciting to meet some of the PhD Students.” And CS major, Natalie Neamtu added: “I came because I’m starting to think about research and I feel it’s a little less intimidating to talk to the PhD students. They’re closer in age to me and also at a similar point in their life. They were so helpful and it was really cool to see all of the things happening in CS at Cornell.”

Research Night, like the BOOM [Bits on our Minds] event and multiple High School Programming contests, continues to expand the CS department’s commitment to a broad initiative to engage and enlist students across age and research area.