Loyola CS Research Opportunities

Projects are the bread and butter of the CS experience. Beyond the learning experience and credit you receive they are often uniquely fun and rewarding. And don’t forget, we always celebrate projects at the end of each semester with quick presentations after the end-of-semester party.

COMP 398/490: Independent Study

See COMP 398/490: in the Course Handbook for details.

If you want to pursue a project outside the scope of a class, this is the most likely route to receiving credit toward graduation. It’s also the simplest way to receive significant advising, as many projects are collaborations with faculty who also maintain related resources.

You sign up for a COMP 398 (undergrad) or 490 (grad) after discussion with the faculty member you will partner with - criteria for working on these differ slightly among faculty by design, but here’s a helpful orientation, since independent study typically comes in two flavors. Some faculty will only take independent study students who are interested in contributing to long-term research efforts, generally aimed at producing results available to the wider academic community - often team efforts requiring more than a semester from start to finish so your efforts will often be a piece of a larger project. Another common option is developing an independent study for a personal project or independent learning experience, however note that often these efforts must be independent efforts with less faculty involvement, so establishing clear goals and criteria for completion are the student’s responsibility.

To pursue an independent study project, first consider if you have the required experience to pursue a project of interest - often it is best to do independent study projects after foundational courses are out of the way. Second, if you have an idea of your project goals, contact the relevant faculty member. Once you have mutually agreeable goals, you will be enrolled through an email send to the department.

Note: There are also the occasional COMP 388/488 research courses (always with “Research” in the title) which serve a similar purpose to research-based independent study COMP 398/490 courses. Contact the instructor of these courses for how they may or may not differ from typical COMP 398/490’s if you are interested.

COMP 388-X: Research Methods in CS (1 credit hour)

The spring research seminar supplements the CS department seminar (currently on alternate fridays at 12:30pm) by specifically aiming at students who will directly engage in research and to facilitate their contributions in their ongoing projects. This course is designed to emphasize the tools and techniques in research collaboration, analysis, and presentation to help project groups outside the course to focus on content. Progress is encouraged and tracked in projects outside the course through milestones such as abstracts, small fellowship-style proposals, informal updates, and outcome-oriented goal setting where appropriate.

COMP 390: Computer Science Seminar

See COMP 399: for details.

The CS seminar is an opportunity to engage with other students as well as the various speakers and events supported by the CS department, usually on Fridays at 12:30pm. Past seminars include internal faculty speakers and external speakers focusing on Big Data analytics, spatial statistics, and STEM outreach opportunities. Every semester the seminar supports a local competition, recently with a Loyola hackathon competition in the Fall and a Datafest analytics competition in the Spring. Requirements include reasonable attendance expectations and brief writeups about your experiences.

Engaged Learning Courses

These are courses specifically with a project-oriented or applied learning focus, satisfying the engaged learning requirement for undergrads at Loyola. Here are the typical engaged learning courses in CS.

The following courses (with their course handbook links) are all Engaged Learning courses that encourage capstone projects as an outcome:

This course will introduce students to the project-focused environment that is part of a typical undergraduate student experience in computer science. In CS, interesting projects are performed as group projects in courses, independent study research experiences with faculty, or in collaboration with industry partners. By selectively coordinating with the biweekly Loyola CS seminar (COMP 399) and the concurrent research methods course (COMP 388), students will have a chance to both observe interesting work and learn some of the tools used in performing those projects.

LUROP (Undergraduate Research)

LUROP began as the umbrella under which several undergraduate research programs at Loyola were promoted, supported, and administered. There are currently thirteen different LUROP fellowship programs that offer undergraduates an opportunity to conduct research under a mentor, who may be a faculty member, a graduate student, or a community partner, depending on the program. These fellowships also offer excellent opportunities for faculty members and others to mentor young researchers, which is the heart of the LUROP experience. Many of these fellowships predate LUROP, and twelve are directly administered by their own centers, departments, or directors. Together, they are centrally coordinated by the Center for Experiential Learning in the Sullivan Center at the Lake Shore Campus, which also directly manages the Provost Fellowship. For more information, and directions for applying, see the page for the LUROP Fellowships.

We encourage our students to apply for the LUROP programs. We are routinely contacted to ensure that our students know about this program and apply. Our students often do well when competing for these awards, and this is a great way to get support for working with your CS department profesors.