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Expectations and Summer Requirements


The Honor Code
SFP programs operate under the Caltech Honor Code. Please be sure to review the Honor Code prior to the start of your project.

Meet all requirements – on time
Requirements for students are few but extremely important:

  • Meet the eligibility requirements.
  • Students are expected to work hard on the project and to participate in the full ten-week period. They should not take courses or hold other jobs.
  • Students must submit two interim reports.
  • They must write and submit an abstract and final paper.
  • They must give a final presentation.

Please note that there may be additional program-specific requirements.

Future applications, recommendations, or acknowledgement of research on transcript for Caltech students will be jeopardized by not completing all requirements.

Get help!
The staff of the Student-Faculty Programs office is here to assist you with questions or problems that arise during the summer. If you need help, please do not hesitate to contact us or come in. The summer passes very quickly, so it is better to address issues sooner than later!

You get out of this summer what you put into it
Like most any opportunity, students will get out of the summer what they put into it. Those who work hard on their projects, ask questions, delve into the subject and reflect on what they are doing and why they are doing it, will learn a great deal. They will gain self-insight about what they like (or don't like) to do. They may get strong recommendations from their mentors for graduate school or jobs. Participants can develop good communication skills, which will benefit them throughout their careers. Mentors and co-mentors expect students will commit themselves fully to the research.

SFP programs are designed to be an educational and professional research experience. Students should devote full effort to the project during the ten-week period and should not hold other jobs, take classes, etc. Students should have their own small projects that are part of the ongoing research in the mentor's lab. Students should become colleagues with other members of the group.

Research-group relations
Students are expected to participate fully in the life of the research group, respect the work of all members of the group, and attend and participate in group meetings or other gatherings. Students should work as much and as long as other members of the group work. Often students work directly with a co-mentor, a graduate student, postdoctoral scholar, or a member of the technical staff at JPL, who will provide day-to-day supervision. The co-mentor's responsibility is to guide and assist the student, provide expertise, and answer questions. Students SHOULD NOT work from home, their room, or any other location on a regular basis.

Students should ask questions! For most students, this summer is an introduction to research. It is a chance to learn a lot, and it is important to ask questions about things you don't understand. Participants should also communicate their expectations to their mentors and/or co-mentors, just as mentors/co-mentors should discuss expectations with students. Most problems that arise during the summer come from misaligned expectations.


The expectations and requirements for summer fellows are few but extremely important. Students in all SFP programs are required to submit two written interim reports, an abstract, and a final technical paper, and give a final presentation. These requirements help students develop good communication skills, focus on progress toward their research goals, and synthesize the work done over the ten-week period. Check out the links above for more information on these requirements.