Undergraduates within the McKelvey School of Engineering are encouraged to pursue independent laboratory or industrial research during the academic year or summer break.

Many Washington University in St. Louis faculty have research openings for students. Students should reach an agreement with a faculty member who is willing to serve as supervisor on the objective and scope of the project. The faculty supervisor must be either employed full time in the School of Engineering or affiliated with the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Application Requirements

In cooperation with the faculty supervisor, the student will prepare a written proposal including:

  1. A clear and concise statement of the objective of the project.
  2. A brief synopsis of the work to be done (e.g.,) and a statement as to the estimated design content, if any, for engineering topics credits.
  3. A justification for the requested total number of credits (see Guidelines for expected workload per credit hour). BME 400 is to be used for one to six credit hours of independent study with no engineering topics units.
  4. BME 400A, 400B, 400C pertain to a request for 1, 2, 3 engineering topics units respectively); Note, when requesting engineering topics units, you must justify the engineering content (e.g. design an experiment, instrument, program or model a system).
  5. A realistic budget for necessary materials, services or equipment and the source of the funds required.
  6. A reasonable expectation of weekly or total time to be spent on the project; time commitment for a three-credit course is usually about nine hours per week.
  7. The final outcome expected by the supervisor (e.g., written report, working program, instrument or mechanism, etc.) on which your grade will be based. Note: the BME department requires a final report to be submitted to the BME office as well.
  8. Transition to On-Line Classes Only:  Please discuss a plan with your advisor for modification of scope and effort of your independent study if the school moves to on-line only education during the Spring 2021 semester.

The proposal must be accompanied by a Request for Approval form. Details for submission can be found in the form. Note that three units of BME 400C may be used to fulfill a Tier II course as part of the undergraduate curriculum, but the student must register for a grade (not pass-fail).

Sample Report and Guidelines

The final report should meet the following requirements, based on the number of credits:

  • BME 400A (one credit): Minimum of 1,200 words and a minimum of four tables/figures
  • BME 400B (two credits): Minimum of 2,400 words and a minimum of six tables/figures
  • BME 400C (three credits): Minimum of 3,600 words and a minimum of eight tables/figures

All reports should include: 

  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Results and discussion
  • Conclusion and future steps
  • References

Acknowledgments are optional. View a sample report and sample report proposal

Deadline and Approvals

The proposal and the form must be submitted five working days prior to the last day to add a course.

The proposal will be evaluated by the biomedical engineering department Undergraduate Studies Committee. The student will receive a status email following committee review and before start of classes. Approved Independent Study proposals indicating total course credits and engineering topics units shall be placed in the student’s file.