Awards Overview

Undergraduate summer research awards are allocated by a competitive process to fund a student researcher to work with a professor over the summer.  

These are full-time opportunities that begin in May and end in August. You must be available to work the full summer. (For example, you are not eligible for an award if its time frame overlaps with your PEY Co-op.) Some awards require you to submit a brief report in September.

First step? Find a research supervisor.

It’s best to start this process before the application periods open in February.

The awards come from three funding sources: 

  • The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Undergraduate Student Research Award Program (USRA)  
  • The University of Toronto Excellence Awards (UTEA)  
  • Faculty Undergraduate Summer Research Awards 

Note: A research award is not considered a scholarship, which current and prospective students are eligible for. See the Scholarships & Funding page, which includes information on your Online Engineering Portfolio (ePortfolio). 

For any questions about these awards, email or call 416-978-3145. 

Applying for an award  

When you apply for an award, you are in effect applying to the department to be one of the ECE nominees put forward to the funding agency for that award. The department selects its most promising candidates as nominees based on relevant criteria for each award. 

If you have already received an award in a previous year, you may apply again; however, we want to give as many students as possible the experience and opportunity to undertake summer research, so a consecutive award is not guaranteed. 

You may apply to multiple awards but are only allowed to claim one. 

Finding a research supervisor 

You are responsible for finding a research supervisor for all research awards. 

Start by familiarizing yourself with the ECE research areas and then review what our ECE faculty members are working on. You may want to check that your potential supervisor is a member of the research area you’re interested in (especially for biomedical engineering topics). 

Never done research before? Don’t worry!

Awards are open to all students, and for many a summer award is their first research experience. Email us if you need help getting started.

When you decide on a potential research topic and supervisor, send them an email introducing yourself and describing your interest — much like a cover letter for a job. Have your CV and academic record ready! 

Note: For the NSERC Award, verify that your potential supervisor holds an NSERC grant, which is an NSERC requirement. 

Showcasing your summer research 

Summer research is an inspiring experience that not only looks good on your CV but grows your network and opens doors for collaboration. 

Each August, students organize an Undergraduate Engineering Research Day (UnERD), an annual conference to give students the opportunity to showcase their summer research projects to industry professionals and be recognized for their achievements. 

At UnERD, the spirit of the U of T Engineering community is on display — now going on 15 years! Read about the latest UnERD.