KeyReX: KWARC Early Research Experience
Research (i.e. finding out facts about your field that noone knows yet, or building things that noone has seen yet) is one of the most challenging, fun, and satisfying mental activities you can engage in. Of course, there are other (physical, spiritual,...) activities that are great as well, and you may well prefer them. But for those of you who are mentalists, please read on.
Usually (i.e. in other universitites) research is considered the privilege of faculty and graduate students. But this is more a traditional restriction, due to the fact that there are usually too many undergrads to organize involving them in actual research. But at Jacobs University we can manage even for first-year students and that is (for me at least) one of the most important advantages of Jacobs (transdisciplinarity and interculturality are among the others). Of course, another hallmark of Jacobs University is that on average we exhaust the work capacity of our undergraduate students, so the the involvement in research must be optional. Furthermore, regular course work should always take precedence over research work.
The KeyReX is an extracurricular, educational activity offered by the KWARC research group (my research group, see http://kwarc.info) to involve undergraduate students into research early on. Participation in the KeyReX is purely optional and does not gain participants Jacobs credits (even though I will be happy to write recommendation letters mentioning your involvement in the KeyReX, furthermore, students who engage in research over some time often leave Jacobs with scientific publications which are strong arguments in their graduate school applications).
KeyReX introduces students to actual KWARC research projects on semantic document management and guides them through the initial learning curve (learning practical bits and pieces e.g. about PERL, LaTeX, XML processing, semantic web frameworks, web portals, etc.) to become productive. Much of the actual instruction is actually done by KeyReX alumni, i.e. Jacobs students who are now doing research on their Master's or Ph.D. projects in the KWARC group, though I will be there to supervise. There are currently two projects that are featured in KeyReX:
- The arXMLiv project which works on transforming a large corpus of LaTeX documents to Web formats.
- The Planetary project which supplies a semantic publishing framework for technical documents (the PantaRhei system is an instance).
So there are a variety of ways students can engage in research and make use of prior knowledge or new interest.