National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network

National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network

Serving Nanoscale Science, Engineering & Technology

REU Application Advice, Warnings, and Answers

Dear Applicants:

We will likely process over 1000 full or partial applications this year. We are happy to answer questions as they arise but things will go much smoother for everyone if you consider the following Advices, Warnings, and Answers before you ask a question. Please read on before emailing us!

NNIN REU Application Advice

If you are having any trouble accessing your application online, try one of these tricks:

  1. Access your application from FireFox. Applicants report the most success via FireFox!
  2. Try shutting it all down -- log out, quit your browser, shut down your computer and start fresh. As you know, computers get into a funk sometimes and then a complete rest is advised.
  3. Try accessing your application from a different computer altogether.
  4. Give any file you are uploading a very simple name -- essay.doc, or dot whatever. Long file names with lots of spaces tend to jam our system!

Please note the following advices for filling out your account information and application form:

  1. Please capitalize proper names correctly -- Your Name, Your Street and City.
  2. If your preferred first name is not your given name, please fill out "Preferred First Name" -- especially if you would rather be called something completely other than your given name. Please do not enter your "nickname" as your "First Name" -- this will cause confusion when we receive materials with your given name. Finally, please enter your complete last name, including all surnames.
  3. If your college is not listed in the drop-down menu, spell out your college's name. Acronyms are not always understood. For instance -- does "CU" stand for Cameron University, Columbia University, Cornell University...?
  4. The same goes for your Field of Study -- please spell it out completely and correctly. Electrical and Computer Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, etc.
  5. Open your online version of your transcript when it comes time to enter your coursework into our application. Typically you can then copy and paste back and forth between the two sites, which will make the job much more easy and accurate. Discrepancies between the information you enter and your official transcript (should we ask you for one) will disqualify you from our program.
  6. Respond to any emails from the NNIN REU Program Assistant with your full name within your email.
  7. The Faculty/Academic Advisor is usually someone in your department who helps you decide what courses to take, in what order, to fulfill your major's requirements. It is often the person an applicant will also ask to write a recommendation, but not always.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Your complete NNIN REU application includes the following FIVE components:
    1. Your online profile account. You will first create an account, and then log into that account to complete steps 2-4. It works best if you have the necessary information on hand to complete items 2-4 and the email of your recommender before you start step 2.
    2. Our completed application form, which includes your relevant coursework (transcript) and your site choices,
    3. Your personal essay,
    4. Your one page resume,
    5. At least one recommendation letter.
  2. We do not require an official transcript as part of your application. If you are accepted, we will supply instructions for getting an official transcript to us expediently. Remember your internship award is contingent on your declared coursework matching the coursework in your transcript.
  3. Application Materials: We log and file all the materials we receive -- whether or not we know we are going to receive them and whether or not we have an application to which to attach them. We hang onto all materials until well after the application deadline. If we do not receive something by the final deadline that an applicant said we'd receive (i.e. a second recommendation) we don't look for it.
  4. Application Submission: You MUST upload your essay as the final step to submit your application, and you MUST upload your essay by the ONLINE APPLICATION DEADLINE. If no essay is uploaded by the ONLINE APPLICATION DEADLINE, then your application does not exist and ergo, will not be included in the selection process.
  5. Application Confirmation & Completion: Once I receive your online application components, I will send you a confirmation email and let you know whether or not I have your required recommendation. I will also email incomplete applicants one week before the FINAL APPLICATION DEADLINE to apprise them of a still missing recommendation. I'm sorry to say that there are too many applicants for me to check on recommendations BEFORE you submit your application components.
  6. Essay: Your personal essay is critical to our selection process. It is through your words that we ascertain your 'fit' with our program. Please submit a well-written essay, 1-2 pages long, in which you discuss the relationship between your present studies and a career in engineering or scientific research. As preparation, you may wish to discuss your career interests with one or more professors, and include any insights you gain from these discussions, and any other sources, which explain how this program might help you prepare for your future. Be sure to discuss any research field you are most interested in. If you do not believe your grades reflect your potential, please explain them in this essay. The formatting of your ESSAY is, in fact, ENTIRELY up to you. But, I do have a few suggestions! Try using Times, font size 12, one inch margin all around, TWO pages maximum. Single space is fine as long as you use a SIZE 12 font! Any size smaller is too hard to read when one is reading hundreds of essays! CRITICAL: Put your FULL NAME as a footer on every page, along with the page number. Finally, do NOT include your social security number anywhere in your essay or any other document. It is illegal for us to distribute SS#s!
  7. One-Page Resume: This resume should focus on your scientific achievements and activities. Note any honors and awards that you have received that are relevant, as well as any prior research experience. Put your FULL NAME at the top of your ONE-PAGE resume. Since your resume must be ONE PAGE, stay on topic! If you upload a resume with more than one page, understand that anything beyond the first page will NOT be included in your application. As an aside here, if possible, PDF your resume and upload the PDF. The often intricate formatting of resumes is sometimes lost when uploaded as a Word document. Finally, please do NOT include your social security number anywhere in your resume.
  8. OOPS! You uploaded the wrong file! If you uploaded the wrong essay or resume, just email the correct document directly to me as a .doc, .docx, or .pdf, whatever works best for you. SEE THE CAVEATS BELOW! Please name the file "YourLastNameCorrectEssay" and/or "YourLastNameCorrectResume." In the body of the email, note that this new document replaces any previous documents we may have received and sign your full name. I'll trash the old document and include the new one.
    • WARNING #1: This is not an invitation to upload any old document and then email the correct document to me later! Be cautious and upload the correct document the first time around.
    • WARNING #2: As we get closer to the application deadline, I may NOT have time to switch out documents. Again, be cautious and upload the correct document the first time around.
  9. Permanent Residents: If you are a citizen of another country AND a Permanent Resident of the United States, your application must include a copy of your Green Card, BOTH SIDES. Email that directly to me, as a .doc, .docx, or .pdf, and name the file "YourLastNameGreenCard" -- you may also snail mail or fax it to me (contact info above). Whatever works best for you. We will black out your resident number and will not send it on to anyone.(If you are NOT a Permanent Resident of the United States, then I'm sorry to say that you are not eligible for our program.)
  10. If you need to start the program late or leave early: Every year we accommodate a few students who have to start late or leave early due to CLASS SCHEDULES. You MUST put a note in your essay clearly stating that you have a schedule conflict with our program dates, and then we can figure out if it's possible to work around that conflict. It is not an instant death-knell to your application! But if I make you an offer and you admit THEN that you can't make the beginning or end of the program, you may very well be disqualified just for that omission alone. So tell us, up front, in your essay, if you have a scheduling conflict.
  11. Online Recommendations:
    • ONLINE RECOMMENDER HINT #1: Talk to your intended recommender(s) FIRST before registering them online! Let them know to be looking for the auto-email from "NNIN REU Admissions <do-not-reply>" with the secure link for uploading THEM to upload their recommendation letter.
    • ONLINE RECOMMENDER HINT #2: If you are having trouble getting our online system to accept your recommender's email address and / or they have not received the auto-email from "NNIN REU Admissions <do-not-reply>" -- we are finding that typically, applicants are inadvertently including a blank space in the email address and therefore it won't work. Or applicants drop in a hyperlinked copy of the email, which won't "take" either. Or there are quotation marks or "<" ">" in the e-dress. The solution is to just plain carefully type in the email address by hand and be sure not to add any spaces or non-e-dress punctuation. If the system still doesn't work, email me with your recommender's name and email address, and I’ll send the auto-email to them myself.
    • ONLINE RECOMMENDER HINT #3: Once you have registered your recommender(s) and submitted your application form, a new recommender cannot be added online. If you need to change or add a new recommender have the recommender mail (i.e. U.S. Postal service) the recommendation to me at my address below. This must be received by the final deadline to be included in your application materials.
  12. Project Reviews: We do not have the upcoming summer's project information for you to peruse ahead of time (the only exception are the SEI projects, listed here). Students are selected for particular projects by the project leader based upon their interests and experience.  To help you choose your Top Five preferred sites, please read over past project reports to get a taste for the research performed at each NNIN . DO NOT contact past principal investigators and ask to work with them via the NNIN REU Program. To do such a thing is presumptuous and ill-advised.
  13. First Year Students (FYS): Every year, we do choose some FYS for our program.  More sophomores and juniors are chosen, however,  because they are more likely to have the kind of higher level course work most faculty are looking for.  However, please remember -- you must be an undergraduate student attending a two-year or four-year accredited college, having completed at least your first year before participating in our program.  High school students and recent high school graduates are not eligible.
  14. For social science students interested in the SEI projects only: Note, the applictions is geared towards engineering students apply for engineering positions so some reinterpretation is appropriate for these projects.  If you are primarily interested in the SEI projects, please indicate so in your essay. Also, in the appropriate places, please list the courses and discuss your research experience and interests that you think are relevant to these projects.

I hope this page answers your question!

Ms. Melanie-Claire Mallison
NNIN REU Program Assistant
350 Duffield Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853