Photo courtesy of Vertically Integrated Projects at Georgia Tech

The Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program here at Tech serves as an ideal representation of the Institute’s motto of “Progress and Service.”

If you are an undergraduate student looking to gain research experience while working with experienced, influential mentors, then VIP is for you. Through the program, faculty and undergraduate students work together to create impactful change.

The program allows for an integration of both research and academics by creating a group experience. For at least a semester, curious undergraduates are directed by a faculty mentor to study a particular subject of interest.

Each group consists of students from different backgrounds, many of whom come from disciplines such as  biomedical engineering, computer science, education, environmental engineering, biology and many more.

Teams have the opportunity to learn fundamental skills while experimenting with new technology in the form of engineered hand-held devices and large-scale lab equipment. Moreover, they are able to interact with study participants and sharpen their professional communication skills.

Meanwhile, faculty are able to tackle sizable projects with joint student effort. Clearly a win-win situation for both.

In addition, students participating in the program are able to earn credit for their work, which can count towards research electives or free electives, with certain specific exceptions.

Students meet once a week, on a pre-determined class schedule for the entirety of an academic semester. After applying to the program, all you need is a course registration permit and you are good to go from the registration side of things.

With respect to team topics, program participants can switch in between unique Vertically Integrated Projects after an initial commitment of one semester to their primary team of interest.

Many VIP undergraduate students participate in the program for more than one semester, and they are able to participate for up to three years. In this way, the undergraduates find adequate time to become adept in their subject material, as well as train newer program participants.

Collectively, working on a team while finding solutions to real world problems allows the students to gain exposure to professional teamwork, especially while joining forces to conquer a diverse design project of great magnitude.

What kinds of projects are available to students?

Any discipline, from health systems, industrial design, and digital media, to biology, aerospace engineering and marine sciences is available to apply to. For a full list, visit www.vip.gatech.edu/teams.

Because the research-based organization is considered an extensive program, students are continuously mentored not only by faculty, but also by those who are graduating, allowing for long term development.

Teams are able to take their expertise from their project to a whole new level by presenting at competitions to win awards, such as at the VIP Innovation Competition which is sponsored
by Cisco.

While participating in faculty research, students also have the opportunity to participate in published work and get more exposure in regards to technical writing and publishing.

Student’s VIP grades are based on documentation and records, teamwork and contribution.

For students who are considering pursuing a Research Option (RO) under their major, VIP is a great opportunity because it requires thesis work on a continuous project. Having access to a faculty mentor and other experienced students within the team can be a great resource throughout the process as well.

Whether you are interested in bees, security challenges, automotives, concussions, gravitational waves or improving something Tech already has to offer, Vertically Integrated Projects seems like the type of program in which nearly everyone can find their niche.