The UConn IDEA Grant Experience

Project Development Course
The UConn IDEA Grant Community
What UConn IDEA Grant Recipients Have to Say

The UConn IDEA Grant Program is about more than just receiving funding. It’s about having a valuable learning experience that helps you explore a topic of interest, develop skills that will prepare you for a career or graduate study, test out career and/or academic options, and build a network of like-minded peers engaged in innovative and creative projects.

  • IDEA Grant recipient Genevieve Nuttall
    Genevieve Nuttall '17 collecting feather samples from red-winged blackbirds

Project Development Course

All UConn IDEA Grant recipients are required to complete a non-credit online project development course prior to beginning their project work.

During the course, recipients work through a series of modules that help them refine their project plans, make arrangements for project supervision, secure research approvals if necessary, evaluate how and with whom to share the results of their work, and prepare to engage in a self-directed project. Through participation in the course, recipients will have the opportunity to share their project and receive input from their IDEA Grant peers and OUR staff. The course will take around 40 hours to complete and will be facilitated through HuskyCT.

For the most part, the online course was how I developed my project. When I applied for the IDEA Grant, I knew what project I wanted to complete, but I did not really have a plan for how I was going to do it. This online class helped me to develop my project…It was very helpful for me to actually have to write my ideas down and organize them into goals and objectives. It helped me to visualize my project in more than just abstract terms.

– Abby Moore ’16, Spring 2015 UConn IDEA Grant Recipient

The online course was extremely helpful in making me think about aspects of the project I either a) would not have thought about in the first place and b) may not have wanted to think about (the less fun or exciting parts of project development) but that are essential to creating a successful project. Because of the online course, I had budget expectations, and many details already figured out at an early stage that I surely would not have without the online course.

– Benjamin Piascik ’17 Spring 2016 UConn IDEA Grant Recipient

Creating a budget was extremely helpful during the course as I had not done anything like that before and was surprised to see how quickly research costs add up. It also helped me guide my spending.

– Alexandra Rudolph ’16, Spring 2015 UConn IDEA Grant Recipient

Take advantage of what the OUR offers: workshops, assistance, and guidance. The staff is highly devoted to the students they work with, and all students should allow themselves to learn as much as they can. Be ready for change in your projects; dream ambitiously and adapt intelligently.

– Vincent LaMonica ’15, Spring 2014 UConn IDEA Grant Recipient

Completing the online course helped me mentally prepare a plan to carry out my project. We had to come up with a basic timeline of project completion for the application, but the online course helped fill in this plan and check that everything in the plan was feasible.

– Genevieve Nuttall ’17, Fall 2015 UConn IDEA Grant Recipient

The online course helped to make the project more cohesive and complete. When I first received the grant, I was nervous because of the uncertainty of what the project would entail. The online course helped to lay it all out so that I began thinking about all the crucial components early on such as the budget, timeline, supervision plan, and even cover letter and resume to realize how this project would support my educational experience. Although I did not stick exactly to my original proposal, timeline, and budget I was able to use both as a reference point and recognize if I was still on the right track as setbacks occurred.

Makayla Davis ’14, Spring 2013 UConn IDEA Grant Recipient


The UConn IDEA Grant Community

The IDEA Grant program is more than funding for projects. Students who are awarded IDEA Grants join a diverse interdisciplinary community of innovative and creative thinkers. During the academic year there are social events and skill-building workshops for UConn IDEA Grant recipients to help build a sense of community and facilitate networking opportunities for the group.

Social events provide an opportunity for IDEA Grant recipients to get to know their peers and share information about their projects. In past years the social events have included a kick-off gathering at the beginning of the academic year, study breaks during the academic year, and cookie decorating at the end of the fall semester. The social events culminate with a year-end reception in April to celebrate the accomplishments of the IDEA Grant recipients who have completed their projects and to welcome the next group of recipients to the program.Dillon Jones - IDEA Grant Reception

Skill building workshops focus on topics of interest to the group. Past workshop topics have included public speaking skills, research poster preparation, building and maintaining professional relationships, considering graduate school and the graduate school application process, funding beyond the IDEA Grant, and a discussion of how to incorporate UConn IDEA Grant projects into a resume and speak about the project in an interview.

What UConn IDEA Grant Recipients Have to Say

Because of my UConn IDEA Grant, I have been able to showcase my work to a global audience, and have opened up so many doors to future opportunities that never would have been possible before…This truly shaped my future. I now know I want to pursue a career in video production and filmmaking. I want to continue my passion for storytelling and create bigger and better projects in the future.

– Maneetpaul Singh ’15, Fall 2014 UConn IDEA Grant Recipient

From completing my IDEA Grant project, I was able to learn about interviewing, how to properly fill out IRB forms, present comfortably in front of others, and become confident in myself and my career choice. This project was nothing but beneficial. Now, I have found myself to become a great resource and advocate for others to push my students and peers to complete undergraduate research as well.

– Isabella Horan ’19, Fall 2015 UConn IDEA Grant Recipient

I challenged myself to move even further beyond my coursework in my final year here at UConn, and I am so grateful to have been able to work on a topic I am passionate about through my IDEA Grant experience. My exhibition furthered my passion for research that I hope to continue in graduate school for years to come…Because of my IDEA Grant I was able to turn what I started as an idea into a project that I am immensely proud of. I have developed as a student, a researcher, and a curator, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such amazing professors, archivists, and staff members as I brought my exhibition to life!

– Giorgina Paiella ’16, Spring 2015 UConn IDEA Grant Recipient

I have learned so much from completing my IDEA Grant project. It has been an uphill battle every step of the way, however with each and every challenge I faced, I also conquered. I became stronger and more confident in my abilities. I have become very independent in my work and learned to be an advocate for myself when things were not working out. Although I may have wished many times for a much simpler path I believe that the skills I have learned in completing this project will lead me to be an independent strong professional woman who can advocate not only for her patients but for myself.

– Jessica Laprise ’16, Fall 2014 UConn IDEA Grant Recipient

I developed my scientific literacy skills in developing and executing my IDEA Grant project. Before my project, I mostly read scientific papers for classes and even then, I would mostly just read the abstract and skim the rest of the paper. But with my project, I had to closely analyze all aspects of an article and determine how it would be pertinent for my research.

– Srinivas Srirangam ’17, Fall 2015 UConn IDEA Grant Recipient

My project had such a powerful impact on me. In completing this grant project, I not only gained the necessary skills and confidence to create a successful body of artwork and carry out my first solo exhibition, but also, it helped in strengthening my skill-set and consequently helped me get my first job as a fresh graduate.

– Diana Abouchacra ’17, Spring 2016 UConn IDEA Grant Recipient

The IDEA Grant has given me more direction in my career path than any other academic experience I have had at UConn or any other institution. It has provided me with novel opportunities to take risks and be independent which has given me confidence as a student and as a future professional My entire undergraduate experience has been shaped by my IDEA Grant project, most notably my aspirations to pursue pediatric infectious disease through the study of medicine and graduate as an Honors Scholar in three years.

– Kiersten Kronschnabel ’15, Fall 2013 UConn IDEA Grant Recipient

When I applied for the IDEA grant, I wanted to pursue a project that was unlike any of the classroom experiences I could gain at UConn. By working in the field that I am interested in pursuing a career in, I was able to gain valuable insight that I do not believe would have been possible otherwise…This project has helped me to realize how relevant and obtainable my future goals are. I have been very fortunate that I have learned what I am passionate about early on in my academic career so that I was able to tailor every possible opportunity at UConn towards my goals.

– Jake Sippel ’14, Spring 2013 UConn IDEA Grant Recipient

I developed a greater sense of awareness from research to classroom to the world and community. I am able to contextualize the work I do in research in different angles. I have also developed creativity and problem solving skills, necessary for my engineering future…I have learned to write proposals, actualize an idea, communicate, and self-advocate. These are skills that I will require in graduate school, and being an independent investigator has helped me prepare for this future.

– Ari Fischer ’15, Spring 2013 UConn IDEA Grant Recipient

I learned that being a leader is difficult in more ways than just having more demanding work to do; leading a project and the people working on it is also emotionally engaging. I now believe the  most challenging part of leading a complex project is being able to integrate the intellectual (what should we do) and emotional (why should we do it) components into the team strategy for getting things done.

– Dillon Jones ’15, Fall 2013 UConn IDEA Grant Recipient

Through completing the IDEA Grant project I have improved my ability to think analytically and be persistent when setbacks occur……Most importantly I learned perseverance is key to undertaking any challenge or creative project. Although I faced many setbacks throughout the year, I remained eager to learn the process of conducting a research project from submitting a proposal, receiving a grant, obtaining IRB approval, designing study measures, recruiting participants, collecting data, analyzing results, and presenting my findings to others. I am thankful for this opportunity and know that from this experience I will always be a lifelong learner and seek out opportunities that may present themselves as challenging because I know I can tackle it.

– Makayla Davis ’14, Spring 2013 UConn IDEA Grant Recipient