In this work in progress paper, we describe an REU summer experience on imaging sensors that involved a female junior level Electrical Engineering student, a graduate student advisor, and three faculty. A research plan was designed to embed the student in a sensor and machine learning research with specific emphasis on energy-efficient cameras. The motivation for submitting this paper is the unique planning and the quality of the overall student experience which resulted in continuous engagement of the REU student with the faculty after the REU summer program completed. The program resulted in a major presentation at an international event, an NSF I/UCRC poster presentation, a research conference submission which is remarkable for an undergraduate student, and finally a new research direction for the graduate mentor and faculty. This paper describes successful strategies for research engagement for undergraduates in state-of-the-art research fields which yield positive outcomes for all participants, and is grounded in contemporary educational methodology and theoretical frameworks.