The 2009 Undergraduate Research Exposition at WCU

Each year, the WCU Honors College hosts an Undergraduate Research Exposition in the spring semester. Taking place over a four-day period, faculty-sponsored students are given the opportunity to present their work to the students, faculty and community of Western Carolina University. Though the event is named The Undergraduate Exposition, submitted work is not limited to research. In an interview Dr. Railsback, the Dean of the Honors College, expressed that all undergraduate work is acceptable, including creative submissions, performances, poster/portfolio displays, service work, etc. In fact, he encourages students to submit work that best reflects their abilities and interests. This year’s 2009 Undergraduate Research Exposition will be held from Monday, March 23 through Thursday, March 26 in the University Center Grand Room.

Presenting at the exposition has numerous benefits. In a very competitive work force, especially during a recession, it is important for students to build a resume for themselves.

“Jobs just are not as abundant as they used to be,” Dr. Railsback mentions.

“Some students are graduating from the university and cannot find jobs. It’s not because they weren’t efficient in their undergraduate degree, it is for the reason that they have to compete with so many other graduates in the same boat. The problem is that the selection process is getting more detailed and jobs are being given to those graduates who not only have a degree, but also went a little farther into building their resume. Presenting at the exposition is a great thing to have on a resume because it demonstrates that a student is adequately familiar with his or her field of study. A potential employer may view this as a major plus when hiring,” said Dr. Railsback.

Presenting also helps a student gain the essential skills needed to have a career, such as getting your name out there for potential employers.

“You are going to be presenting your whole career; might as well start doing it now while you have the chance to practice,” Dr. Railsback states.

In addition to building a resume, the exposition also serves as a resource to see what others are doing. By presenting or attending, one can be exposed to Western’s academic diversity.

There are so many majors and minors offered at the university and as Dr. Railsback jokingly asserts, “I’ve been here 20 years, and I always learn something new.”

Therefore, if you’re looking for a broad sense of what Western offers and what students are learning and doing, the exposition is a great resource.

Last year’s exposition featured more students than any of the University of NC Colleges and Universities, and those students whose work was accepted to present at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research shed academic light on Western Carolina University by ranking in the top ten of undergraduate presenting schools.

“The conferences are great opportunities to see how good Western Carolina University is compared to other universities; your diploma is only as good as the students who graduate from it,” Dr. Railsback claims.

He strongly encourages all students to take the opportunity and present their work at this year’s 2009 Undergraduate Research Exposition.

For more information on the Undergraduate Research Exposition guidelines and deadlines, check out The Honors College Undergraduate Research Website. Students who wish to submit their work need to fill out a submission form, also found on the website, find a faculty sponsor, and then take the form to Bonnie Beam in the Honors College Office in Reynolds Hall.

For more information, e-mail Dr. Railsback at