Real Skills, Real Work - Undergraduate Research Internships

Research internship in India, summer of 2014

Jim Nicholson (far right) and Blake Jones (fifth from right) spent the summer of 2014 at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, India.

Real-world experience is a crucial part of any education.

The Department of Physics and Astronomy at Western University recognizes the need for hands-on research opportunities outside of class, and is proud to guarantee a paid internship for every undergraduate student registered in one of the core specialization programs of the Department. The Department facilitates a wide range of positions in academic and industrial settings, and will ensure that each student has had at least one summer internship experience by the beginning of their fourth year.

According to Prof. Shantanu Basu: " Our students need to have hands-on experiential learning in their chosen field, and develop soft skills of communication and networking. We understand this in our Department, and we are developing an array of competitive opportunities for our undergraduate students to engage in research. These can be done at Western, at partner academic institutions, and in targeted companies."

There is an enormous variety of opportunity:

  • In academic settings
    • Professor-supervised projects in P&A at Western
    • Research through other departments at Western
    • Research at other universities
    • P&A Department internship (e.g., laboratory development)
  • In industrial environments
    • internships at local companies
    • internships in the rest of Canada
  • Through international experiences
    • both academic and industrial opportunities through exchange programs

Full-year industrial opportunities are also available through the Science Internship Program, and can last for either 8, 12, or 16 months.


“Summer research positions are an important part of any undergraduate career. The chance to assist a professor in their research, learning about a topic in more detail than is possible in a classroom setting, is always a rewarding experience.

Last summer I had the opportunity to participate in a really unique experience. Dr. Pranawa Deshmukh was visiting from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM) and after a few discussions about his work, myself and another student were offered a position over the summer to work here at Western for 2.5 months followed by a 6 week internship at IITM where we continued the research we had started at Western and got the chance to work with the research group there on other projects.

The chance to travel to India was exciting in and of itself, but traveling there work on a new research project in atomic physics was really amazing.”

                -  Jim Nicholson

“I did a summer internship at the University of Saskatchewan due to a partnership Western has recently developed with them. I contacted the supervising professor with a letter of interest and was accepted to take part in a project developing organic photovoltaic devices. 

My experience was very informative: I was able to learn and practice a variety of valuable technical abilities among a group of highly competent and motivated individuals. This project both built upon and deepened my existing classroom knowledge into a marketable skill set applicable to a rapidly growing branch of physics.

I found the internship very rewarding as it helped me see how physics is taught and performed in a different environment. Furthermore, I was exposed to a number of experts in the field, extending my network of contacts and broadening my array of potential careerpaths. I would recommend this program to any student open to travel and wishing to elevate themselves above the crowd of future applicants, whether in industry or academia.”  

                -   Miguel Young