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CRA-WP: Distributed Research Experiences for Undergraduates (DREU)

Org: Computing Research Association - CRA-WP


DREU interns have the opportunity to be directly involved in a research project and interact with graduate students and professors on a daily basis. This experience is invaluable for those who are considering graduate school; DREU will provide a close-up view of what graduate school is really like and increase interns’ competitiveness as an applicant for graduate admissions and fellowships. Faculty mentors will have the opportunity to work on their research project with new students from other institutions and to mentor future graduate students.

Eligibility – Students
Applicants should be students who are pursuing an undergraduate degree at an institution in the U.S or its territories. Applicants should be interested in doing research in the computing field. International Students may apply, however most of the funds for the DREU program are restricted to US citizens and permanent residents, so the number of non-US student participants will be limited. Priority will be given to students who have completed two to three years in a CS or CE major by the program start date, however all applicants are considered.

Eligibility – Faculty
Potential mentors should be professors in CS, CE, or other closely related areas at U.S. PhD granting universities with active research programs, into which DREU students may be integrated. Interaction with current graduate students is a feature of the DREU experience; it is necessary that the mentor’s research group include graduate students who will be on campus throughout the summer.

How to use this Activity in your Project BPC Plan:

Not sure how to use this activity in your Project BPC Plan? Once you customize the red text, this activity should fit the checklist for Project BPC Plans. Disclaimer: Using this text in your Project Plan does not guarantee NSF approval of your BPC Plan.

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If you intend to use this activity in your BPC Plan (Departmental or Project), be sure to submit the Program Interest form, found at the bottom of the page, so this organization is aware of your intended participation.


Activity Summary

Each summer, the PI will partner with DREU to mentor two undergraduate research students who are underrepresented in computing because of their race/ethnicity, gender, and/or disability status.

1. Context & Goals

Context: [Provide currently available data. Including IPEDS and K-12 data from]

Goal: Two students who are underrepresented in computing will be mentored each summer. 

Activity Motivation: Research has shown that REU experiences can increase students’ confidence and their interest in pursuing a PhD (Russell et al., 2007). 

2. Intended Population

Activity Participants: The PI, a graduate student funded on the proposal, and 2 undergraduate participants from the DREU program (, which matches faculty with students who are underrepresented in computing. 

Participant Recruitment: Students are not paired with mentors at their home institution; however, the PI will publicize the DREU program each year through the student mailing list and holding an information session each January (before the deadline) to encourage students to apply. The students from the PIs’ institution will most likely be matched with a faculty member at another institution. 

3. Strategy

Activity Content: The PIs will apply best practices for mentoring undergraduates in an REU provided by the Computing Research Association (; and and the National Center for Women and Information Technology (; In particular, the PI will discuss intended outcomes of the REU program (Pages 45-47 in the PDF at with the undergraduate researchers during the first, middle, and last weeks. 

Activity Budget: This proposal funds 2 undergraduate students from the DREU program per year ($7000/student). 

Responsibilities of PIs: The PI will mentor the two DREU students and support the graduate student in providing additional support. 

4. Preparation

The PI has applied for DREU mentorship, which included writing an essay about the specific mentoring structures and strategies the PIs will use, describing the intended interactions with graduate students, identifying the undergraduate students’ work environment and computing resources, describing the lodging options for students, and a description of the student’s project that included multiple opportunities for early, visible progress. The PI designed the project based upon the advice from page 18 of the PDF at

5. Measurement

The PI will email past DREU mentees each year to track whether or not they have pursued additional research opportunities or applied to graduate school. The PI and DREU mentees will participate in all DREU evaluation efforts.

Departmental, Partnering

Intended Level(s)

Intended Population
American Indian or Alaska Native, Black or African American, Hispanic, LGBTQ, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, Persons with Disabilities, Women

Program Costs
$7,000 per student

Program Matching Funds Available?
Limited funds available to cover up to 50% of costs

Program Interest Form