Professor Mohammad Al Faruque strongly encourages students to take advantage of the many research opportunities available at UC Irvine, considering research to be a vital part of an undergraduate education. Professor Al Faruque enjoys incorporating undergraduates into the culture of his lab and helping them experience what a research career entails. At the same time, he credits his close interactions with the students in his lab with helping him become a better teacher and mentor. UROP is pleased to recognize Professor Al Faruque for his contributions to the undergraduate researchers he has mentored.

1. How did you develop an interest in mentoring undergraduate research or creative projects, and what type of projects have you directed?

I started at UCI in October 2012. I was very much impressed by the quality of our undergraduate students from my very first undergraduate class, where I was teaching them parallel computer systems. They approached me very naturally as I was telling them what do I do in my research besides teaching this course. Since that time I have been recruiting undergraduate students in my lab. I want to give full credit to our undergraduate students who showed an interest in working with me and started producing amazing results in my lab. I must say our undergraduate students are always encouraging me to work with them all the time and as a professor this is a huge privilege for me to encourage them towards their passion. My research produces many small scale research prototypes for demonstration purposes (e.g., autonomous vehicles, smart house). I typically involve undergraduate students in developing these prototypes (they include embedded systems software, hardware, communication, and control) while also involving them in research discussions with the rest of my group.

2. What do you look for and what are your expectations of undergraduates you select to conduct research under your guidance?

I look for curiosity and enthusiasm. I want to see that they have the right motivation and a “can do” attitude.

3. Describe your level of engagement and style in mentoring undergraduates.

I prefer close scientific interactions with my undergraduate students. However, I also engage them with my graduate students for day to day research work. As I am recruiting K-12 students for my group during the summer, I prefer to create small groups consisting of graduate, undergraduate, and K-12 students during this research timeframe. I encourage my undergraduate students to present their work in the weekly meetings and also to ask questions if they have doubts in the research methods.

4. In your experience, how have your students improved or benefited as a result of their undergraduate research experience?

I think once they do the research and get a closer interaction with my research group, they can feel the bigger picture of the project and research I am working on. They become highly motivated once they know why they are doing it. They feel themselves to be a part of the larger scientific community and a contributor. This helps them build their confidence and also in many cases encourages them to go on for graduate education in the top engineering schools of the country.

5. What have you learned or benefited from guiding undergraduate research or creative projects?

As a young professor I learned a lot form my undergraduate researchers regarding their expectations in the class. I found that they prefer visual, they want to know why they are doing it, and also they want to know how my lecture topics are connected to the other courses/topics they have studied in the earlier quarters.

6. What recommendations and advice would you give students embarking on undergraduate research or creative projects?

This is the best opportunity you have. You are privileged to get exposed to the world class research so early in your studies before going to graduate school. Take the challenge and prove yourself and be a part of the scientific community. Your contributions will be counted and recognized. In the last three years of my academic career, two of my undergraduate students published their work in the top IEEE conferences as a co-author with me.

Research Interests: Embedded Systems, Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) for applications like autonomous electric vehicles, smart electricity grid, and digital manufacturing

Faculty Profile:


Past Faculty Mentors of the Month

Dec. '15 Barbara Sarnecka
Nov. '15 Sarah Pressman
Oct. '15 Elliot Botvinick
Sep. '15 Xiangmin Xu
Aug. '15 Belinda Campos
Jul. '15 Yama Akbari
Jun. '15 Loretta Livingston
May. '15 Mohammad Al Faruque
Apr. '15 Steven D. Allison
Mar. '15 Emily D. Grossman
Feb. '15 Munjal M. Acharya
Jan. '15 Marcelo A. Wood