The Energy of Inquiry: Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative (FURI)

The Energy of Inquiry: Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative (FURI)

"Our integration effort for the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative has focused on developing practical and innovative ways to inspire and motivate students to see EM and the 3C’s as critical to societal success."

- Cortney Loui, Coordinator, Student Engagement, Fulton Schools of Engineering

Case at a glance

Integration goals

To inspire and motivate students to see EM and the 3Cs as critical to societal success and therefore their research projects

Materials affected

FURI website, undergraduate research website, social media plan, the FURI application system, presentation materials including slides, and promotional materials such as fliers

Lessons learned

It is essential that program staff receive as much EM training as possible so that they can not only contribute to but lead efforts to integrate EM into student engagement programs.


Started in 2005 as Fulton’s first student engagement program, the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative (FURI) is designed to enhance students’ engineering and technical undergraduate curriculum by providing hands-on lab experience, independent and thesis-based research experience, and the opportunity to travel to professional conferences. The underlying goal is to empower students to start conducting research and developing professional relationships with faculty as early as possible in their academic careers. 

Students in FURI develop an idea under the mentorship of a Fulton Engineering faculty member, then apply for funding. If they are accepted, they perform research, attend workshops, write about their research (in, for example, summaries and abstracts), and participate in the research symposium. A Symposium is held at the end of each fall and spring semester every academic year, but students may apply to be in the program during fall, spring, or summer, per the application specifications. Most new FURI cohorts comprise students who are sophomores, juniors, and seniors. 

Students complete the program requirements for research by writing brief research summaries and abstracts, and completing professional development activities. Students get their professional headshots taken for the semesterly abstract publication and abstract website. Finally, students design a research poster, which they present during the symposium. According to annual alumni surveys, many FURI participants have gone on to apply their unique experiences to work in related industries, as well as graduate studies in engineering, medicine, law, and other disciplines. FURI helps students secure internships and sometimes identify their Ph.D. focus.

Grand Challenge Scholars Program students are among FURI participants, reflecting our ongoing effort to increase and refine integration of EM throughout the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. We also support this effort by simultaneously promoting KEEN Student Mini-Grants to FURI applicants and current FURI students, as well as KEEN Professorships.

Fulton undergraduate students in good academic standing, both on-ground and online, are eligible to apply for two semesters of funding. They are also eligible to apply for the Undergraduate Research Travel Grant if they have been accepted to present their research at a conference or will be conducting research elsewhere that is connected to their ASU research.  Faculty mentors must be faculty in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. Because the University considers participation in the program a job, FURI counts as five hours of work per week.
Additional background and related information can be found on the FURI website

Integration details

For this integration effort, we initially added EM by working with individual students. We introduced EM/the 3Cs to students and showed them how the concepts, although nascent, were already discernible in their plans, and then guided revisions to bring the concepts to fruition in the students’ abstracts and posters. 
These initial efforts included having EM/KEEN information posted on the FURI website and on social media, as well as promoting the information through monthly newsletters. EM/KEEN was also represented at various research-oriented and tabling events at the Polytechnic and Tempe campuses, including Student Engagement Open Houses, faculty engagement events, and demystifying undergraduate research events.
We have partnered with KEEN for these promotional events. Ultimately, the following materials were affected by or created as a result of this integration effort:

  • Student applications (administered through a custom Engineering Technical Services application platform)
  • FURI symposium video
  • Student interviews
  • FURI book of abstracts (including the online form students use to submit their abstracts)
  • KEEN fliers and other promotional materials 
  • KEEN presentations
  • FURI website
  • Undergraduate research website 
  • Social media 

To provide a more complete view, a timeline of our EM integration activities for FURI follows:

Spring 2016 

  • Several faculty members were assigned the task of investigating how to incorporate EM into FURI (and student organizations), with the understanding that work would continue during the summer for fall implementation. 
  • We started promoting FURI among KEEN Professors.
  • We planned how to incorporate EM into FURI abstract and poster workshops, settling on discussing EM and how the 3Cs connect to student research and providing students with proposed outlines and content blocks for incorporating EM and the 3Cs into their abstracts and posters. 

Fall 2016

  • We started introducing EM/3Cs to individual students. 
  • Initial marketing materials were produced and distributed, as we launched our marketing and social campaigns developed in the spring.  
  • The campaign included targeting engineering faculty interested in developing research that incorporates EM principles, and encouraged mentorship of undergraduates.  
  • The campaign also included adding an article on KEEN in a prominent location within the Symposium Abstract Book to familiarize faculty and students with the network and EM.
  • FURI students gained access to an online application to request funding for research integrating EM. These applicants were required to watch two videos on EM and answer questions regarding the content.  In their applications, these students were also required to highlight the connections and value creation components of their research. 

Spring 2017

  • We continued working with individual students, including urging those with EM/3Cs projects to apply for KEEN Student Mini-Grant funding. 
  • The KEEN team reviewed students’ FURI abstracts for EM suitability and found 50 that met the criteria. Ultimately, KEEN funding supported 15 presenters at the spring FURI Symposium. The KEEN research stipends were a way for students to have funding extend beyond the two standard FURI semesters. 
  • Prior to the symposium, KEEN-sponsored students attended either an online or in-person training on EM, during which they were asked to share how they were applying EM principles to their research.
  • During the event, these students presented in a KEEN-designated area of the symposium and the KEEN logo was included on their posters.  In the symposium abstract book, the profiles for these students noted that they applied EM in their work. 
  • We re-ran the article on KEEN in the abstract book, and the KEEN team had a table at the Symposium. 
  • We decided to begin reviewing FURI applications for EM suitability and working with student to integrate the EM element before the program starts.

Fall 2017

  • We added EM to the FURI application system to be able to identify additional potential KEEN students through the FURI application process. 
  • KEEN-funded students were more fully incorporated into the FURI program and proceeded through the Symposium presentation experience with other FURI participants (writing abstracts, designing a poster, getting a headshot, and presenting at the Symposium).
  • We promoted KEEN/EM more widely by posting fliers and delivering short informational workshops.
  • The article on KEEN and EM was again included in the FURI Symposium Abstract Book, and the KEEN team again had a table at the Symposium. 

Spring 2018

  • KEEN-funded students were again more fully incorporated into the FURI program and proceeded through the Symposium presentation experience with other FURI participants, and we again promoted FURI among KEEN Professors.
  • The article on KEEN and EM was again included in the FURI Symposium Abstract Book, and the KEEN team again had a table at the Symposium. 
  • We identified FURI as a focus area for FSE’s overall assessment of its EM integration effort.

NOTE: Supporting resources for this case study can be found within its companion KEEN card (link below), which is also where the community can discuss the case and its broader topic.

Integration outcomes

The outcomes of this integration effort have not yet been formally measured, but we have made strides in incorporating EM/the 3Cs into the FURI program so that it is apparent in student abstracts, posters, and presentations. Overall, from FURI applications to FURI program completion, the integration has worked well because much of the research students are conducting is geared toward creating solutions to societal problems. We are pleased with our progress to date; however, we see potential for further integration and look forward to having formal assessment data.

Future plans

Our future plans include the following EM integration activities: 

  • Further refining how to integrate EM more deeply into the overall language of the program 
  • Addressing EM in summer FURI programming, should we pursue developing it
  • Determining how to best integrate EM into our undergraduate research journal (through conversations with the journal’s advisory board)
  • Continuing to include EM in related funding opportunities and publicizing it at a broad range of engineering events--essentially continuing to activate as many areas in ASU’s EM ecosystem as possible


From the start, the FURI team found the integration effort exciting, yet they recognized a small amount of confusion when first trying to understand how to incorporate EM/the 3Cs of innovation into FURI programming. Embracing the opportunity, the team ultimately focused on identifying creative ways to not only incorporate the concepts into the program and students' activities in the program but to help students see how the concepts apply to their day-to-day lives.

This EM integration effort has depended upon substantial institutional support for undergraduate research, including the availability of a dedicated website and the free FURI orientation course offered through ASU Libraries (delivered online, with a FURI badge available to students who complete it). The FURI program itself has been made possible by the generous support of Mr. Ira A. Fulton and his family and has an operating budget for day-to-day spending and stipends of nearly $1 million, separate from KEEN funding. 

The FURI team has also had the advantage of working with a dedicated KEEN team, whose members have been receptive to questions, new ideas, and troubleshooting throughout the process of planning and implementing the best way to present EM/the  3Cs to FURI students, faculty, and related staff. The freedom to innovate and explore possibilities has been invigorating, and the FURI team recommends that staff leading similar programs get as much EM training as possible so they can better understand how to promote and implement EM as it is integrated into a given program. They also recommend that program teams identify clear goals early on to enable the tracking of how much progress is being made.

Data are available showing applications by schools and majors as well as general demographics. For example, the majors with the greatest representation have been biomedical engineering and chemical engineering. We struggled a bit to get computer science and civil engineering majors involved. The computer science students are very active in research at the undergraduate level, but they have not been well represented in FURI applications.