The Materials Research Society's Undergraduate Materials Research Initiative (UMRI) is a program designed to introduce undergraduates to research and the excitement of discovery in materials science and engineering. Through an open competition process modeled after federal funding agencies, participants gain an understanding of the research process from proposal to final report. Each awardee receives a grant for the cost of a moderate research project (maximum $750). In addition, the student researcher receives an award of $250 upon completion of the project. The MRS awarded 20 grants for research performed during the inaugural 1998/99 academic year, and it has awarded 40 grants this academic year. In addition to financial assistance, the MRS also provides positive exposure for both the UMRI undergraduate researchers and their advisors in order to highlight the importance of an active research experience. Past and present UMRI awardees have been invited to present their work in a poster session during this meeting. The educational impact of the program will be explored in terms of applicant demographics and survey responses from awardees. The review process, international aspects, and suggested research timeframes will also be discussed. The basic operating principles of this program have potential application to any academic, industrial or governmental program designed to increase faculty and student interest in undergraduate research. Such programs address the need to attract and retain talented individuals to technical careers.