Apprenticeships in Creativity: Colorado State Symposium April 24-25 Recognizes Scientific, Scholarly Imagination of Undergraduates

Undergraduates who have conducted their own science experiments, designed engineering advances, written poetry, performed theater, painted, sculpted and otherwise set Colorado State University apart will be honored April 24-25.

The sixth annual All-University Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium will recognize the efforts of about 200 undergraduate students who, working under faculty mentors, have produced original science, engineering, art and other creative ventures.

Michael Antolin, associate professor of biology and chairman of the symposium, said creators-whether scientists, artists, engineers or poets-traditionally served an apprentice to better learn their craft. "It’s what sets Colorado State apart from other educational institutions in Colorado," he said. "We provide an opportunity for students to work directly with faculty in research laboratories, in studios and in theaters.

"In terms of rich undergraduate experiences for students who want to achieve the highest level that they can, this is something we do that’s different than most places.

"This aspect of the university is one of the last apprenticeship systems left-and apprenticeship is how you become a scientist or an artist," Antolin said. The two-day event is sponsored by the Office of the Provost under the direction of Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies Laurie Hayes, and some $5,000 in prize money will be awarded to those whose efforts are judged outstanding.

"Our annual symposium provides the spark of encouragement that is available at a large research university," Hayes said. "Many students come to places like Colorado State unaware of their abilities to participate actively in discovery.

"My six years of experience on the Board of Governors of NCUR, a national organization that promotes undergraduate research, convinced me that we need centrally-funded programs that prompt faculty to include undergraduate students in their scholarship. The synergy of students, faculty, and discovery is critical to the sustainability of the university."

The benefits of research and creative activity cut both ways, Antolin said. There’s no difficulty lining up faculty mentors, who relish the opportunity to work one-to-one with interesting, talented people. That mentorship, he said, is key to learning how to unlock ideas; budding creators can learn how to unleash their talents. "In the sciences, for example, there is a National Science Foundation study that shows that most working scientists have had actual research experiences as undergraduates in a laboratory," he said. "The difference between Colorado State and a small, liberal arts college is that the latter offers a simulated research experience. We have real undergraduate research labs where real people come up with real projects. It’s not simulated, it’s the real thing."

This year, like last, some 200 students will participate, some in teams of two or three undergraduates.

All displays, activities and receptions are free and open to the public.

Visual arts entries will be on display at the Curfman Gallery in Lory Student Center from April 17 to May 5.

Creative writing-poetry and prose readings-and performing arts presentations-dance and dramatic performances-will be given at 7:30 p.m. April 24 the Lory Student Center Theatre.

Research and design presentations will be on display from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. April 25 at the Lory Student Center Main Ballroom.

A reception for all participants will be held at the Curfman Gallery from 5-7 p.m. April 24. An awards ceremony will be held the following day with keynote remarks by Gerald Callahan, associate professor of pathology.

More information is available at the symposium’s Web site at