Guidelines for the Preparation of the Research Proposal

Doctor of Engineering applicants are required to submit a Research Proposal as part of their application. The research laid out in the proposal needs to be of importance to the applicant’s employer as it forms the basis for the collaboration between Johns Hopkins Engineering and your company/agency.

The research proposals are evaluated both by your prospective advisor (who will have expertise in your subject) as well as the Doctor of Engineering Oversight Committee (who have backgrounds spanning many different areas). You need to write a proposal that is appropriate for both audiences. That is, you need to provide an overview of your research goals that is broadly understandable to someone who is not knowledgeable in your field and also a deeper discussion for someone with the appropriate expertise.

The project you propose should require depth and creativity. The results you plan to obtain should have impact beyond a narrowly focused problem. We recommend that you use the questions articulated in the Heilmeier Catechism as a guide to creating an engaging, successful proposal.

  1. What are you trying to do? Articulate your objectives using absolutely no jargon.
  2. How is it done today, and what are the limits of current practice?
  3. What’s new in your approach and why do you think it will be successful?
  4. Who cares?
  5. If you’re successful, what difference will it make?
  6. What are the risks and the payoffs?
  7. How much will it cost?
  8. How long will it take?
  9. What are the midterm and final “exams” to check for success?

Please note that you need not address all of these questions, but they provide a helpful framework for preparing your proposal.

Finally, we want to know about prior research experience and including that as an appendix to your proposal is most welcome.

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