A DoGEE PhD student will explore the current state of knowledge in his or her field. Information and ideas developed by others are critically examined and placed in proper context. Through this activity, subject areas are identified that are important to achieving the goals of the discipline, but which have not been explored or developed. The student will propose new research to improve understanding in this key area. A research proposal should then outline, in an orderly and logical manner, how key questions are addressed. While pursuing these research hypotheses, the student must take time to consider alternative explanations for experimental observations, and devise new experiments that critically test assumptions and theories. The student will learn to state problems clearly and solve them in a reliable and efficient manner. Whatever lines of reasoning one uses, one must be sure as possible that the conclusions are correct, particularly since there is always some uncertainty in science and engineering. The student must think through his/her research plans to avoid unproductive activities. Because research involves managing time and resources, the Ph.D. student is receiving excellent preparation for future professional work.
Each graduate student, when first reporting to the Department, is initially assigned a Program Advisor, based on the stated interests of the student. The advisor should be consulted in matters of programs of study, financial aid, thesis topics, or other problems. Ph.D. students should eventually select a Research Advisor who may or may not be the same individual as the Program Advisor. This occurs as soon as the student has defined his/her area of interest and is sufficiently familiar with the faculty of the Department. Administrative responsibility for the candidate’s progress rests initially with the Program Advisor; this responsibility is then assumed by the Research Advisor. This does not imply that the student should seek guidance in his or research only from the advisor. The entire staff of the Department, and in fact of the University, is available to each student to supply whatever advice and assistance may be needed in pursuing research and other work for the advanced degree.
By the beginning of the second year, Ph.D. students, in consultation with the Research Advisor, should begin developing a research topic and preparing a dissertation proposal. The Ph.D. is a research degree, in which the student learns how to initiate and carry out original research. The current state of knowledge in the chosen field will be explored first. Information and ideas developed by others are critically examined and placed in proper context. The student then proposes new research to improve understanding in this key area. A research proposal is written that outlines how key questions will be addressed in an orderly and logical manner. The writing of a thesis proposal helps to:
- set research objectives that are well defined and attainable
- plan and organize the research
- connect ideas and discover inconsistencies in thinking
Relatively short proposals (15-20 pages) are encouraged. All proposals should contain a clear and succinct statement of the proposed work, including the following:
- Title of the proposed thesis,
- Specific aims or objectives,
- Supporting information (work by others, literature review),
- Research methods,
- A proposed time or progress schedule.
Discussion of thesis topics may begin as soon as the candidate wishes. It is recommended that this proposal be submitted at the earliest possible date, not later than one year prior to the intended completion date of candidates for the Ph.D. Submission of a thesis proposal prior to their Departmental oral examination is required.
In order to complete the Ph.D. degree, a DoGEE Ph.D. candidate must pass the following two major hurdles in our program:
- Departmental Oral Examination (DQE)
- Graduate Board Examination (GBO)
The DQE and GBO are normally taken in either the 4th or 5th semester of Ph.D. study. The 4th semester is encouraged for Ph.D. students entering our program with a Master’s degree. Students entering our Ph.D. program directly from the B.S. degree have until the 5th semester to take the exams. The Research Advisor should work with the student and the department in scheduling these examinations.