What is Faculty Research Student Teams (FRST) MDP?

Learn valuable skills you can apply in your future career through faculty-led research opportunities. Wherever your future career takes you, research opportunities through MDP will allow you to develop valuable, life-long technical and professional skills to help you be successful while giving you a head start on building your research and professional work experience. Explore your curiosity and creativity by working on pioneering research topics across various fields of engineering. Whether you want to design and build a robot or develop a software program there is sure to be a role that fits your interests.

  • MDP currently offers 9 faculty-led research projects of 10-40 students (from varied majors) per team. Check out our research projects for a detailed list of our current project offerings!
  • Teams are broken down into 4-7 subteams (2-7 students per subteam) based on the technical skills required for certain research tasks.
    Each subteam is led by a subteam leader – a more experienced student on the team.
  • Team members receive direct guidance and mentorship from the faculty Primary Investigator(s)/PI(s).
  • Some current and past FRST students have published their work in scientific journals, co-authored patents, and began their own startups through participating in the FRST program

The FRST MDP coursework is completed through the research efforts and group meetings of the research group; there are no lectures and no exams. Per the CoE Policy for the Assignment of Credit Hours, students should expect to spend about 4 hours of effort (including meetings) per credit hour per week.

Continue reading the following sections for additional information about the FRST program requirements, summer research opportunities, and details about program expectations, events, deadlines, and MDP support for students.

Program Requirements for FRST Students Enrolled in MDP
FRST students are required to participate in a minimum of 2 semesters, enrolled in 2 credits/semester. Students join their team in January, typically take a break for the summer, and then resume the program in the fall to finish their required second semester.

MDP strongly encourages all FRST students to continue working on their FRST projects beyond the 2-semester minimum as students benefit from long-term participation. As students gain experience, they become eligible for leadership positions on the team, deepen their technical/research skills, and further access valuable, meaningful learning opportunities (such as conference presentations and publication opportunities).

Summer Research Opportunities
Often research can be continued throughout the summer as most faculty PIs continue their research throughout the summer. Students may stay on campus and continue their work without enrollment in a course. MDP provides a summer fellowship enrichment program of weekly social and professional development opportunities. Summer stipend awards are often available; these are dependent on current funding and an individual’s financial situation. Awards are made in March.
A Week in the Life of an MDP FRST Student

Though each research team is different, and the faculty PI may have their own unique requirements, students can generally expect to spend their time each week as follows:

Weekly/Biweekly Meetings with the Entire FRST Team and PI (1-2 hr/week or biweekly)
The entire FRST team meets with the faculty PI to review the current progress updates about the challenges and accomplishments of the prior week(s) and plans to be accomplished by the next team meeting. Updates are presented by each team member (or each subteam lead, depending on the team). Whether you present or not, students are expected to participate in discussions and take notes.
Weekly Research Planning Meeting with Subteam (1 hr/week)
Each subteam will have a research planning meeting each week to address the current challenges, coordinate tasks, and establish a timeline amongst the subteam members. Subteam leads typically facilitate these meetings and are expected to communicate information from these meetings to other subteams and the faculty PI. 
Weekly Work Together Time (2-4 hrs/week)
Subteams are expected to coordinate a mutual time where multiple subteam members are working on the research project to encourage collaboration and teamwork.
Weekly Independent Work Time (2-10 hrs/week, depending on the number of enrolled credits)
Individual team members are responsible for completing their research tasks. This time may be spent collaborating with other team members if others have mutual availability but expect there to be times when others are not available. You will need to work independently to get the work done.
MDP FRST Events, Deadlines, and Support

New Cohort Onboarding

  • Apprentice Dinner (Early-Mid November or December) – meet fellow cohort and learn how to succeed in your research experience
  • JumpStart Kickoff Dinner (Early January) – meet team members and faculty PI
  • Research plan due (Mid-Late January) – research plans are to be established amongst subteam members and faculty PI

Events Throughout the Year for All FRST Students

  • MDP Events and Workshops (1-2 per month during Fall and Winter terms) – MDP hosts social/team building events, professional development activities, and workshops to help students develop new skills that they can bring to their teams. While they are not mandatory, they are highly encouraged for the student’s benefit. Students who participate maximize their personal and professional growth and are more satisfied with their teams.
  • Design Expos (Mid-December and April) – Events for team members to showcase their research to other MDP teams and the broader campus community and to practice their presentation skills.

Additional Support from MDP

In addition to the events and programming offered throughout the year, MDP also provides 1:1 coaching/mentoring to MDP students. Ellen Solomon is the FRST Program Manager and hosts in-person or virtual office hours each week. Topics of discussion vary but have included questions about the FRST/MDP program and research in general, advice and guidance on seeking professional development, applying to and preparing for graduate school, and preparing resumes as well as conversations about professional development and support for FRST teams. 

To learn more about Ellen and how she can support you and your team, check out her bio page or send her an email at esitz@umich.edu to book a meeting with her.