Graduate Program Overview
While the undergraduate program focuses on developing knowledge and skills through class and laboratory work, graduate education puts increased emphasis on developing students’ independent research abilities. During their Master’s program of studies, students must still take a substantial number of courses, whereas original research is the central focus of their doctoral program.
The Joint Institute offers Master of Science (MS) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees in Mechanical Engineering (ME) and Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) related areas. Qualified Bachelor and Master students are encouraged to apply for admission to the graduate program. The admission procedure details the steps required to gain admission to the Joint Institute. Admission at the Joint Institute is not contingent upon the selection of a research adviser.
Selecting an Adviser
Qualified students admitted to the graduate program at the Joint Institute select a faculty adviser of their choice. Graduate students can select a faculty adviser from the onset of their graduate study program.
Many students, however, remain undecided by the start of their graduate program. To help them make this often arduous decision, the Joint Institute offers all incoming Master or Doctoral students a Graduate Teaching Assistantship for their first semester. In this position, students earn the same stipend as graduate research assistants. During that first semester, students must be actively involved in selecting a faculty adviser by
- Speaking with all professors performing research in their technical areas of interest to identify the projects they are most closely interested in,
- Interacting with their fellow graduate students who are also a good source of information concerning research projects.
By the end of their first semester, students are expected to select an adviser and become involved in a sponsored research project.
The Research Environment
During their graduate program, students will become involved in research projects, working under the guidance of a professor. Typically, research projects are financed by industry, foundations, or government sponsoring agencies external to the Joint Institute. When a research contract is awarded, the associated budget is controlled by the faculty member and used to pay for equipment and supplies, travel expenses, student stipend, etc. The research contract also spells out the deliverables that must result from the research work. Figure 1 shows the relationship between the various elements of a research program.
The research must be carried out in a timely and professional manner. The reputation of the faculty member, of the Joint Institute, and of the student himself depend on the success of these research projects, as measured by the achievement of the goals stated in the research proposal, the timely completion of the deliverables, and the quality of the resulting scholarly publications. This arrangement achieves two goals: new knowledge is generated and at the same time, the student’s ability to perform cutting-edge research is developed.
The success of these research projects depends to a large extent on the unique relationship between the faculty adviser and the graduate student. This relationship must be one of mutual respect and trust. The adviser must provide patient guidance and support for the student and must have reasonable expectations of his/her productivity. The tasks assigned to the student must be commensurate with his/her abilities, level of skills, and level of knowledge of the field. Graduate students must make every effort to complete the tasks assigned to them in a timely and professional manner.
Because an advanced degree is granted to the student for demonstrating his/her ability to carry out original research independently, progress towards this goal is measured by the successful completion of increasingly complex tasks in an increasingly independent manner.
The success of the graduate program hinges upon the quality of the graduate student/faculty adviser relationship. If a difference develops between the ad-visor and the graduate student, the head of the graduate committee will step in as a mediator to guarantee that remedial measures are taken in the best interest of the ad-visor, student, research project, and overall graduate program.