What Being a Research Institution Means for Students

Research being showcased during the 2023 Engineering Open House in Wichita State's John Bardo Center.Matt Crow/Undergraduate Admissions
Research being showcased during the 2023 Engineering Open House in Wichita State's John Bardo Center.


Understanding what opportunities are available at a college can help with finding an institution that will help you reach your goals. Wichita State is an urban public research university, meaning research is at the forefront of what the institution does.

But what does that mean for students? Often students play a vital role in academic research supporting faculty while getting hands-on experience. This can also include working alongside outside organizations, industry partners and government agencies. Faculty who engage in research are considered leaders in their field and are actively publishing work throughout their careers.

Getting Started Early

While postgraduate students are typically more involved – often leading their own research projects during grad school – universities such as Wichita State offer avenues for undergraduates to gain experience, sometimes as early as their first semester on campus. There are a few different avenues available to Shockers.

  • Wichita State hosts its annual Undergraduate Research & Creative Activity Forum (URCAF). This is available to students across all disciplines and can use different forms of media including spoken word pieces, artistic compositions, scientific data and more. Cash prizes are awarded to students each year.
  • For students with an entrepreneurial spirit, there is the Shocker New Venture Competition presented by Wichita State’s Center for Entrepreneurship. This annual event is a team competition that allows participants to pitch their startup ideas. Shocker New Venture is three rounds with the grand prize being $25,000. A full rundown of dates, deadlines and rules can be found on the Shocker New Venture webpage.
  • FYRE (First Year Research Experience) in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), which helps first-year students understand the scientific research process and increase interest in continuing research beyond their first year. Shocker Gary Tran details his experience in FYRE and why students should get involved in research during their first year.
  • Students may also get opportunities to showcase research on a larger scale, such as Shockers Yousaf Khan, Alia Michaelis, Bao Nhu To and Julie Tran being recognized for their work at the Kansas IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (K-INBRE) Symposium. Platforms such as K-INBRE and other research showcases allow students, faculty and researchers alike to present their findings and collaborate on ideas.

It is important to note that these examples are only a snippet of what is available to undergrads. Reach out to your professor(s) to see what opportunities they may have in your field.

Interested in Learning More?

Supporting student research is a core part of Wichita State University’s mission and values. For more information, visit the undergraduate research webpage.


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