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I've been looking to get into research, but I'm not sure I can do when I've only taken two quarters of Computer Science. I go to the University of Washington, if it's relevant. This is a page on research. I find that I'm not able to judge what is possible for a first year looking through the website. Most things look intimidating, but I'm sure I could somewhere on some problem if I actually attacked it.

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4 Answers 4

Why would you be doing any research in your first year?

Undergraduate studies are about learning fundamentals and getting exposed to a lot of topics. Your interests would also change significantly from 1st year to 3rd year. For instance, I used to be interested in AI, and ended up in software engineering.

Most people don't think about research until 3rd or 4th year, and only if they are considering graduate school. If you plan to be a developer rather than to go to grad school and obtain a PhD, you certainly shouldn't worry about it.

If you want to try it out, there are sometimes courses with research opportunities or jobs for undergrads interested in research.

You could also talk to your faculty advisor about this, or even a professor whose course you particularly like.

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Have you taken any classes that give you an idea of where you want to focus within CS? i.e. operating systems, compilers, architecture, language theory, AI, etc.

Try researching the faculty in your department - get an idea of their research interests, and take a look at their working papers and current projects. If you see one that's of interest to you, e-mail the professor and express an interest in their work. In my experience, interest goes a long way, and even an inexperienced student who shows the motivation and interest to contact a professor will be looked upon favorably.

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Email is good, but it helps to show one's face as well. –  Job Mar 8 '11 at 2:19

Why research? What in you limited experience inspired you? I have nothing against research, but you could just have easily said "I want to create cheese. My university has a cheese program" and follow with a link. What is it about research that intrigues you? Have you ever met a researcher? Talked to one? Done any heavy thinking about a single topic for months if not years?

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If participating in research is a requirement for your studies, it probably means you will assist in existing research versus author new and original research. Browse through the projects linked through the document you shared. Find the topics that interest you the most. Set up a brief meeting with the researchers on each project. Decide which is the best fit and volunteer your services.

If all goes well, your experience will put you in a good place to author new and original research after you graduate.

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