Dean's Early Research Initiative (DERI)

The Dean's Early Research Initiative (DERI) aims to enhance high school students' exposure to engineering research while, providing opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to develop skills in mentoring. High school students in their junior year who are interested in engineering or computer science may apply for this one year program, which begins in the summer and continues throughout their senior year.

What to Expect

The goal of the DERI program is to give high school students an extended research experience resulting in sufficient data to support a presentation. At the same time, the program provides graduate students and postdoctoral fellows the opportunity to develop critical skills in proposal writing and mentoring students. These are skills that will benefit them in their future careers, whether in academia or industry.

DERI Fellows

  • Fellows will work with a Ph.D. student and faculty member on a research project.
  • Fellows will be expected to work a total of 60 hours during the summer, starting no earlier than July.
  • Fellows will work at least 4 hours a week during the school year (those weeks where both the high school and VCU are in session).
  • Fellows will prepare a poster based on their research project and will present it at the closing ceremony at the end of the year.
  • Fellows will receive $200 support to attend a local scientific event (such as VJAS) to present work as determined by the faculty mentor.
  • Applicants will be selected based on their academic achievements.
  • Fellows will receive a fee waiver when they apply for undergraduate admission to VCU.
  • Fellows will be offered offered a Trustee Level Scholarship if they enroll in the VCU College of Engineering as a first time freshman.
    • Trustee Level awards are renewable for 4 years of study at $7000 per year, $28,000 total.

DERI Mentors

  • Research mentors will design and submit an appropriate research project proposal for the high school student.
  • The proposal must also contain a letter from the faculty mentor confirming his/her willingness to provide support for the project, including any supplies needed.
  • The selection committee will review the proposals and identify research projects for potential match to DERI fellows.
  • Each research mentor will receive $500 support to attend a scientific conference determined by the faculty mentor.
  • Each research mentor will receive $300 support for supplies needed to support the research project.

Submit your DERI Mentor proposal