WCU students gear up for expo, national conference in Asheville

Undergraduate research will be under the spotlight at Western Carolina University during upcoming weeks as WCU students participate in an on-campus Undergraduate Expo and record numbers of students travel to Asheville to share their research at the 20th annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research.

WCU’s Undergraduate Expo is set for March 27-30, with more than 140 students presenting research papers, poster sessions, creative writing, performances and demonstrations. Students from a different academic college will be featured each day.

Brian Railsback, dean of the Honors College, which sponsors the Expo, said there has been an “amazing increase” in undergraduate research activity at WCU over the past two years, fueled by the university’s rising academic standards, new facilities and increasing faculty commitment to student research. “Faculty members from the four academic colleges increasingly understand the benefit of undergraduate research for our students,” he said.

The Expo schedule includes presentations on topics such as “Economics of Solar Photovoltaics in Residential Construction in Western North Carolina,” “Redesign of Boat Propeller,” “Stolen People: The Scary World of Identity Theft,” “Software of the Democratic Mind,” “Franklin High School: A Legacy of Community Involvement,” “Advertising: The Necessary Evil” and “Methods of Capital Punishment.”

Student presenters and faculty sponsors will gather for the Expo banquet at 5 p.m. Monday, March 27, in the Grandroom of WCU’s A.K. Hinds University Center. The banquet program will showcase the talents of WCU music majors.

A school record 66 students will pack up their research projects April 6-8 and join 31 faculty sponsors in heading to the University of North Carolina at Asheville, site of the National Conference on Undergraduate Research. They will be joined there by students and faculty members from more than 200 colleges and universities across the nation.

“Projects submitted to the national conference are reviewed by panels of professors in all disciplines,” Railsback said. “The high number of presenters from WCU is truly demonstrative of the quality of undergraduate faculty/student partnerships going on here.”

To obtain a full schedule of Expo presentations, contact the Honors College office at (828) 227-7383. For more information about the national conference, visit the Web site at ncur.unca.edu (link no longer active).