Frequently Asked Questions for Undergraduates

Program runs June 1-August 7, 2015

Q. I am interested in conducting engineering research. Is SEER the right program for me?
A. Part of Olin College’s mission is to transform undergraduate engineering education. Rather than engineering (technical) research, the SEER program focuses on improving the educational experience of engineering undergraduates and on understanding the needs of the K-12 population. SEER participants will be engaged in educational research.

Q. I am not an engineering student. Should I apply for SEER?
A. The SEER program is designed for individuals who are studying or teaching engineering or a closely related field. However, you may send us an e-mail at to tell us a bit about yourself and why you’d like to participate, and we can tell you if it makes sense for you to apply.

Q. I am an international student studying on a visa. Can I apply for SEER?
A. Our funding sources allow us to offer fellowships only to US citizens or permanent residents.

Q. How many letters of reference do I need? How do I submit them?
A. Two letters of reference must be submitted for your application to be complete. Please follow the directions on the REU Application page for submitting your letters of reference. Remember, they need to be emailed to directly from those who are recommending you.

Q. Who should I ask to send reference letters for me?
A. At least one letter, if not both, should be a from a faculty member. The other may be from someone who knows you in an academic or professional capacity. Contact both your references well in advance of the application deadline. A well-prepared recommendation should evaluate your strengths and weaknesses as well as your potential as a researcher.  It should also include professional achievements, communicate information about any relevant skills, and address your general character and work ethic. If you have been involved in conducting research, the person supervising the research would be an appropriate choice for one of the letters. Remember, it is your responsibility to make sure the letters of reference are submitted by the application deadline.

Q. How are students selected to participate in SEER?
A. Admission to SEER is based on a number of factors. We consider educational and career goals, essay responses, research interests, and academic record to determine the applicant’s overall fit with the SEER program. 

Q. What are my chances of being accepted to SEER?
A. There are approximately 10 fellowships available. Your chances of being accepted depend much more on how good a fit you are for the program than on how many people apply.

Q. When will I find out if I’ve been accepted to SEER?
A. Accepted students will be notified on a rolling basis of their acceptance to SEER, but final decisions are expected by April 1, 2015.

Q. How much is the stipend for SEER?
A. Participants in the REU program will be provided a stipend of $5000 for the summer.

Q. What type of housing is offered?
A. All SEER REU participants will be provided housing at Olin College, in the form of suites comprising private rooms and a shared common area and baths, as well as a refrigerator and a microwave. Rooms are equipped with power, voice and data connections, and the residence hall has wifi and central air conditioning. Each floor also has a common lounge area, and there is a shared kitchen in the residence hall.

Q. Will I be on a meal plan?
A. The summer dining hall schedule may vary. A meal stipend will be provided for times when a dining hall meal plan is unavailable.

Q. Can I have a car and/or bike on campus?
A. Yes. Free on-campus parking is available. Needham is located in the suburbs of Boston. The subway to Boston is 5 miles away; the commuter rail is 2 miles away.

Q. I am graduating before June 2015. Can I apply for SEER?
A. No.  All participants in SEER must be current undergraduates, which means they cannot have completed their undergraduate education before the conclusion of the SEER program.

Q. Will my travel to and from the program be reimbursed in any way?
A. REU participants will be reimbursed up to $1,000 for their travel to and from the program, within NSF guidelines (generally, this means economy-class tickets and the least expensive modes of surface transport).

Q. I have a question that is not answered here. How can I get an answer?
A. We will gladly address any questions you might have. The best way to contact us is to send an email to


Click here for the Summer 2015 Olin SEER REU Application.