About The Program

The UTDiscovery Awards are a competitive award made by the Office of Undergraduate Education in partnership with the Office of Research and Innovation, designed to reward the contributions and facilitate the entrepreneurial development of undergraduate researchers at UT Dallas.

UTDiscovery scholars will work directly with startup companies that are members of UTD’s Venture Development Center, or VDC. The principals for these companies are engaged in a variety of research, from basic to applied, to equip their startups for commercial success.

Research projects may range across a broad spectrum of possibilities, from validating product technologies, to investigating market or customer insights, to identifying prior art and existing alternatives to the startups company’s proposed solution.

Students selected to receive an UTDiscovery Award receive $2,000, awarded upon participation in the UTDiscovery Award poster competition held in mid-December 2021 (Fall) and/or mid-April 2022 (Spring). Research sponsors from the UT Dallas VDC supporting participant projects receive $500 (for supplies, project travel, poster printing, etc.). Up to 10 awards may be made per semester.

Students whose research, posters, and presentations are deemed to be exceptional will move on to the poster finals competition, held one week later. Judges from the external research and venture community will appraise the top presentations, with awards of distinction conferred to the top three winners.

Students may participate in UTDiscovery up to two times, e.g., a student selected for the Fall 2021 may apply to participate again in the Spring 2022.

Research projects will be drawn from the member companies of UTD’s VDC.
For more information about these companies, visit: https://venture.utdallas.edu/companies/  


In order for a submission to receive consideration for an UTDiscovery Award, the student must meet certain eligibility requirements. Student applicants must be:

  • Currently-enrolled, degree-seeking UT Dallas undergraduate researchers
  • Enrolled in a UT Dallas undergraduate program through the Spring 2022 semester
  • Letter of recommendation or support from faculty, advisor, or other knowledgeable mentor
  • Committed to completing the Entrepreneurial Mindset Bootcamp. This is a once per week, 90-minute virtual training program, beginning October 20, 2021, that is focused on helping students learn an entrepreneurial approach to work, as well as sharpening the interdisciplinary skills that startups seek (See: https://embtexas.splashthat.com/ for Spring 2021 schedule)
  • Contributing to an existing research project, under the direction of a VDC member company principal OR acting as an independent principal investigator under the guidance of a VDC member company principal
  • Able to create a research poster encapsulating the project and present results at the UTDiscovery Awards poster contest event in early-December 2021 and mid-April 2022. Semifinalists selected during the poster contest must present their posters and results to corporate judges and compete for awards of merit at the UTDiscovery Awards poster finals event, held in mid-December 2021 and late-April 2022.

How to Apply

Applications for the 2021-2022 awards are open

Students applying for the 2021-2022 UTDiscovery Awards may do so using the online submission portal link.

The deadline to submit a proposal for the Fall Semester is September 5, 2021. Deadline for the Spring Semester is December 3, 2021.

NOTE: VDC member company principals must submit proposed research areas for Fall Semester 2021 projects by August 20, 2021.

Application FAQs

Which type of research topics are eligible for an UTDiscovery Award?

All UTDiscovery research topics will emerge from the needs of participating VDC companies. VDC company technologies span across a wide range of topics: computer science and software engineering; hardware engineering; biomedical engineering; interface design; AI and ML; sensors; chemistry; materials science; biological sciences; transportation and mobility; drones; clean and renewable technologies; and many, many more.

May I submit an application for a project that has already been completed?

No. Eligible projects will be posted each semester (including summer).

What should be included in my application description?

If there are particular areas of study or topics with which you have some experience or a prior background, it would be useful to describe those in your application. Further, founders of startup companies tend to value speed, dependability, flexibility, outstanding communications, organization, and the capacity to be a self-starter, not require a lot of direction or hand-holding.

My application has special symbols that don’t work in the text box. What should I do?

You can attach a .pdf with your project description. Type “Please see the attached” in the text box and attach your application.

When will I know if I will receive a UTDiscovery Award?

The process is paced to provide notifications early in the semester. So, for example, Fall 2021 notifications are expected by Friday, September 10.

How do I print my poster for the poster contest?

The university print and copy services can assist you with your poster printing needs. Please click on the link for more information https://services.utdallas.edu/print/#services.

How will my poster be judged?

Posters will be judged by a combination of Venture Development Center researchers and members of the external research and venture community. The first round of judging will be conducted by a group of VDC representatives. After the first round of judging, the posters deemed to be exceptional will move on to the poster finals competition, and be judged by representatives from the external research and venture community.

Can I re-apply for the next cycle I do not get selected?

Yes. You may want to investigate why you weren’t selected for an award previously. Then, consider ways to further augment your experience or call attention to your ability and interests, in your revised application, to help it further stand out.

What if my project takes longer than the semester?

Award recipients are invited to apply for a renewal on the project, if agreed by the VDC company sponsor, extending it with a new phase for an additional semester.

Program Contacts

Kim Warren
Sr. Manager, Operations and Business
Venture Development Center

Hillary Campbell
Office of Undergraduate Education