Each summer the Mathematics Department sponsors three programs, RSI, SPUR/SPUR+, and UROP+, in which graduate students supervise high school and undergraduate students carrying out mathematical research. Faculty advisors are Professor David Jerison and Professor Ankur Moitra. Dr. Slava Gerovitch is program director. A solicitation will be circulated to all MIT graduate students at the beginning of the Spring term.
Eligibility: Most regular graduate students, including those who graduate this June, are eligible to serve as mentors. Warning: non-US students who graduate in June must apply several months in advance for a work visa for the summer (usually OPT).
Compensation: Mentoring two students in RSI pays $4,600 ($2,300 per student); mentoring two students in SPUR or UROP+ pays $5,200 ($2,600 per student); mentoring one two-person group in SPUR+ pays $4,500.
RSI Dates: June 29 - August 4, 2017
SPUR Dates: June 26 – August 4, 2017
SPUR+ Dates: June 5 – August 4, 2017
UROP+ Dates: June 1 – August 31, 2017
In both RSI and SPUR, mentors meet with their students (typically two per mentor) one hour each weekday. In the first week, students are assigned original individual or joint research projects, depending on their preferences and availability. The students work on these problems full time. Coming up with a good problem or area of study is the hardest part. Mentors should consult faculty (especially their thesis advisors) for help choosing a problem.
At the end of both programs there are presentations. The high-school students give 10-15 minute power point presentations during the last two days of the program and often develop their projects further for the Intel or Siemens competition. The SPUR students prepare a short (ten-page) paper on their work and give a 20-minute oral presentation on the last day of the program. We also run a weekly seminar in SPUR, with talks by faculty members.
SPUR+ is a new program, running in parallel with SPUR, but starting a bit earlier to include three weeks of guided reading in preparation for research. SPUR+ students will work on projects in teams of two. SPUR+ program is specifically targeted for young women and students of color. Students in the SPUR+ program meet with their mentor three times a week for 1.5 hours during the guided reading period (for three weeks prior to the beginning of SPUR). After that, SPUR+ operates in the same way as SPUR.
In UROP+, mentors meet with their students (typically two per mentor) for 1.5 hours twice a week. Up to 50% of the meetings can be via skype, if the mentor and/or the student are away. The mentors create the projects in consultation with their advisors. The projects can have a large educational component (i.e., directed reading), but should also have a research component. By the end of August, the UROP+ students prepare a paper, at least 10 single-spaced pages long, which can be to a large extent expository.
RSI is the Research Science Institute, a national program run by a nonprofit organization CEE (Center for Excellence in Education). RSI recently received major funding from Akamai.
Each summer CEE selects 75 outstanding high school students from many countries to do research in science and engineering at MIT. About a dozen participants are selected to do projects in mathematics. CEE supervises the students while they live in MIT dormitories and arranges all kinds of social activities and general science lectures for them.
RSI students regularly win prizes at national science competitions, such as Intel Science Talent Search (Intel STS), Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology, and Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF). See a list of recent award winners.
SPUR is the MIT Mathematics Department's Summer Program in Undergraduate Research. Up to eleven MIT undergraduates participate. A number of projects have led to published papers, many of them joint with the graduate student mentor. SPUR mentors and students attend a weekly seminar of lectures by MIT faculty members.
UROP+ (Supervised Undergraduate Research Opportunity) is the MIT Mathematics Department's summer program, which matches MIT undergraduates with graduate student mentors, who supervise UROP projects. Up to seven MIT undergraduates participate. A final paper can be submitted to arXiv.org and a journal if it contains original results.