Undergraduate research (Crucible theme)

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Cambridge undergraduates study one subject, and do that very thoroughly. In a university with no "minor" options, how do students build interdisciplinary skills? One way is to spend the summer pursuing undergraduate research opportunities in other departments.

A major Crucible initiative since 2002 has been the development and maintenance of an Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (UROP). Initially based on the UROP programme at MIT, and developed by David Good within the education programme of the Cambridge-MIT Institute, the programme has since been maintained with funding from the Newton Trust, and from EPSRC (coordinated by Alan Blackwell)


Crucible members have led a wide range of projects in which teams of undergraduates gained experience of design research, creating advanced technologies informed by human and social perspectives.

Major undergraduate research project teams:

UROP programme coordinators:

Other design research opportunity for Cambridge students include:

  • Computer science tripos group design projects
  • Manufacturing engineering tripos design studio
  • Masters in Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment
  • Cambridge Digital Studios

The Cambridge Design Education Forum involves members from each of these departments.

Specific cross-disciplinary projects funded under the UROP scheme include:

MML, 2004

1. Software techniques for integrating digital video into language learning (Contact: Gavin Burnage)

Dominic Smith (Girton) will work for 10 weeks, for 1 week beginning 14 June, then for 9 weeks beginning 28 June.

2. Register in the History of Spanish (Contact: Dr Chris Pountain)

Gemma Wheeler (Robinson) will work for 4 weeks beginning 21 June Julia Angell (St John's) for six weeks beginning 19 July.

Physics, 2006

James Mead worked on: Dasher

 Investigate and evaluate methods for text-messaging with two

buttons, aimed at disabled people. Specifically, test new two "dynamic" methods of steering the free software communication system, "Dasher", developing and enhancing them in response to user feedback. The main deliverables are a new mode for Dasher that's robust and ready for delivery to real disabled users, and a quantitative evaluation of it.

Computer Lab, 2006

Chris Smowton worked on Dasher

Gareth Bailey, Hugh Warrington, Mattias Linnap, Vincent Chen