Large Gear Department of Mechanical Engineering
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Graduate Curriculum

General Information for ME Graduate Students

       ME Graduate Program Coordinator

The ME Graduate Program Coordinator (GPC) is responsible for graduate recruitment and admission processes, the graduate curriculum, and to assist students in the academic procedures and policies during their graduate studies at NDSU.  The GPC may be contacted in 106 Dolve Hall or at the following address:

Dr. Ghodrat Karami
Professor and Graduate Program Coordinator
Department of Mechanical Engineering
NDSU Dept 2490
PO BOX 6050
North Dakota State University
Fargo, ND 58108-6050
g.karami@ndsu.edu

The Graduate Program Coordinator is appointed by the Department Chair.  Duties include the following:

Graduate student recruitment and application processes:

  • Promote graduate student opportunities in the ME Department.
  • Recruit highly qualified student applications, and maintain records of all graduate student applications for admission.
  • Maintain familiarity with university and department requirements for admission and assistantships.
  • Work with the ME Graduate Committee to review and revise (as necessary) departmental standards for admission.
  • Make recommendations for admission and assistantships to the ME Graduate Committee and Department Chair.
  • Respond to inquiries from prospective graduate students
  • Oversee graduate program requirements and curriculum:
  • Work with ME Graduate Committee to make recommendations regarding graduate curriculum changes, course proposals, and etc.
  • Monitor progress of graduate students towards degree completion.
  • Advise graduate students on course and curriculum requirements.
  • Review and approve Plans of Study and other required forms for graduate students.
  • Review and approve, as appropriate, the transfer of credit for graduate coursework, provided that all requirements in the ME Graduate Handbook are satisfied.
  • Other responsibilities:
  • Chair the meetings of the ME Graduate Committee.
  • Manage assignment of desks, office space and other resources for graduate students.
  • Mediate conflicts between graduate students and faculty.
  • Act on behalf of the ME Graduate Committee during the summer, seeking other faculty input when appropriate.

 

       ME Graduate Committee

The ME Graduate Committee consists of the Graduate Program Coordinator (Committee Chair) and other faculty members from the ME Department.  The primary function of the Committee is to develop and implement policies associated with the graduate program, make recommendations concerning graduate student admission and granting of assistantships, and review recommendations from the ME Faculty concerning the course and curriculum development.  Activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Development of academic goals, policies, and procedures related to the ME graduate program;
  • Administration of graduate academic policies and procedures (graduate admissions, approval of Plans of study, etc.);
  • Approval of student petitions for exceptions to ME Department policies; and
  • Continual review of the graduate curriculum, evaluation of the ability to meet the stated goals, and proposals for needed curricular revisions.

 

       Major Advisor

All incoming graduate students will be assigned a faculty advisor.  Students recruited directly by an individual faculty member in the ME Department will be assigned that faculty member as their advisor.  For all other students, the Graduate Program Coordinator will be assigned as their initial faculty advisor.  The initial advisor will assist with the admission process, first-semester course selection, and obtaining a regular major advisor.

A major advisor should be sought by the end of their second semester of study and must be a full or associate member of the graduate faculty in the ME Department.  The major advisor, who typically is an expert in the student’s area of interest, will serve as the student’s mentor and will assist the student in preparing their Plan of Study.  They will help ensure that the student is making satisfactory progress towards completion of the degree.  For students pursuing the M.S. thesis option for a Ph.D., the major advisor also serves as the thesis/dissertation director and chair of the supervisory committee, provides guidance in the selection of a research topic, and supervises the research project.  Students can have a single major advisor or co-major advisors, where multiple faculty members choose to share the advising task.

The ME Department realizes that it is sometimes in the best interest of the student to change advisors.  For example, a new student may have selected a major advisor, but later wants to accept a Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) position form another faculty member.  In such cases, ethical behavior requires that the student consult with their first major advisor before making a commitment to a new advisor.

 

       Supervisory Committee

The supervisory committee serves to help guide the student as he/she investigates his/her research topic and develops his/her skills in conducting original research.

Since the student’s major advisor and supervisory committee are empowered to help the student develop the technical and research skills to conduct Master’s level or PhD level research, the student is expected to meet with the supervisory committee throughout his/her graduate studies.  For PhD students, the Graduate School appointee should be invited but is not required to attend.  At a minimum, the student must meet with the supervisory committee to present his/her research proposal no later than once semester before the final defense.  Regular meetings with the major advisor and committee members allow the faculty and the student an opportunity to work together in developing their research and technical skills.  It also allows the faculty members to keep the student on track for graduating in a timely fashion, as well as refining his/her Plan of Study as new courses and new interests arise.

PhD student that fail to meet with his/her major advisor and/or supervisory committee on a regular basis after the Plan of study has been submitted may be perceived as an indication that the student is not making progress or has lost interest in pursuing a Ph.D. degree at NDSU.

The supervisory committee for a Masters student must consist of at least three faculty members:

  • The Major Advisor who chairs the supervisory committee
  • A second faculty member from the ME department, who is a full or associate member of the graduate faculty;
  • A third member who could be either a faculty member from outside the student’s program or with approval from the NDSU Graduate School, a qualified off-Campus expert in the field.

 

The supervisory committee for a Doctoral Candidate must consist of at least four members:

  • The Major Advisor who chairs the supervisory committee
  • A second faculty member from the ME Department, who is a full or associate member of the graduate faculty;
  • A third member who could be either a faculty member from outside the student’s program or with approval from the NDSU Graduate School, a qualified off-campus expert in the field.
  • The Graduate School Appointee, who is an NDSU Faculty member from outside the ME Department.

 

       Plan of Study

All students must consult with their major advisor and submit a Plan of Study by the end of the second semester of study.  After being completed by the student, and recommended by the major advisor, the Plan of Study must be submitted to the ME Graduate Program Coordinator and then to the NDSU Graduate School through the ME Office.

 

       Support and Funding

Financial support for graduate students may come from the ME Department or through research grants administered by individual faculty members.  A full-time assistantship consists of 20 hours/week; graduate assistants on full assistantships are not allowed to work on a second assistantship without prior approval from the Graduate Dean (i.e., 20 hours/week maximum).  Any graduate student working 10 or more hours per week may receive a full or partial tuition waiver as well as a salary, subject to the NDSU policies in effect at the time of enrollment.  Financial support is available in the form of Graduate Research Assistantships (GRAs), Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTAs), and Graders.

Requirements for Receiving Support:  In order for a student to receive support from the ME Department, he/she must be a U.S. citizen or have a valid F1 Student Visa one week prior to the beginning of the semester.

GRAs:  Funding for Graduate Research Assistantships (GRAs) comes from grants or contracts received by faculty members from various agencies.  As a stipulation of these awards, the faculty member(s) is responsible for seeing that the proposed research is completed in a timely manner as well as for assuring quality of the research.  GRAs are often paid a base salary, and may receive a tuition waiver as well.  Typically, in addition to fulfilling the requirements of the contract, the research funded by the grant serves as the foundation for the student’s thesis or dissertation, providing in-depth knowledge into his/her particular field of research.

Each faculty member is responsible for selecting his/her own GRAs.  Often, students may start as a GTA or Grader, and then change to a GRA once he/she identifies a faculty member as their major advisor.  It is possible, however, that the students with outstanding credentials may enter as GRAs.  Prospective students are likewise encouraged to contact faculty members in their areas of interest to inquire about GRA positions.

GTAs and Graders: The ME Department has limited support for hiring Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) and Graders.  GTAs may be responsible for teaching lower-level courses or laboratories for the department.  Graders are responsible for grading homework, quizzes, exams, etc. for individual courses.  In return for their work, they receive a salary and may be eligible for a full or partial tuition waiver if they work 10 hours or more for the department.

To be eligible for GTA or Grader positions, international students must meet English Language Proficiency requirements specified by the Graduate School.  The accepted measures of language proficiency are the internet-based TOEFL (ibT) and IELTS.  The minimum test score requirements for GTA and Grader positions are listed in the table below.

 

Total Score

Speaking Subscale

Writing Subscale

 

ibT

IELTS

ibT

IELTS

ibT

IELTS

Grader

79

6.5

19

5.5

21

6.0

GTA

81

7.0

23

6.0

21

6.0

Students wishing to be considered for a GTA or Grader position must notify the Graduate Program Coordinator at least one month prior to the start of the semester.  Most GTA/Grader positions are one-year commitments and are awarded in early March to incoming and returning graduate students.  As resources become available, more GTA and Grader positions may become available.  The positions are awarded on a competitive basis and the decisions to award them are based upon the students’ GRE scores, TOEFL/IELTS scores, GPA, progress made towards graduation and area of expertise.

 

       Enrollment Status and Credit Load

Nine credits are considered a full-time graduate load for students not receiving departmental support (assistantship).  To receive financial aid, students must be enrolled at least half-time (5 credits).  Graduate assistants working 20 hours per week are considered full-time if registered for five or more graduate credits.  Federal law requires all international students with a 20-hour per week assistantship to carry at least six credits for full-time status.  Loan deferment may also require full or half-time status.  Eligibility varies with financial aid programs and students should contact their lender for requirements.

Graduate students wishing to register for more than 15 credits in a regular semester need to secure approval from their Department Chair as well as from the Dean of the Graduate School.

 

       Graduate Student Orienation

All new graduate students are encourage to attend the orientation organized by the Graduate School.  There will be a separate ME Departmental orientation at the beginning of the fall semester and all graduate students are required to attend.

Office Space:  Office space is available on a limited basis to M.S. and Ph.D. graduate students.  Students should contact the Graduate Program Coordinator or their major advisor regarding available spaces.  Priority will be given to students with research or teaching assistantships.

Keys/Card Access:  Graduate students frequently require keys or card key access to offices, laboratories, and the buildings.  The major advisor is required to send requests for card/key access for their student to the ME office.  The student is required to complete all necessary safety training before access will be processed.  All safety training forms will be processed through the ME Office.  The Departmental Chair and the student’s major advisor must certify the validity of each key request.

Safety Training Seminars:  All graduate students are required to attend safety training seminars as provided by NDSU and the ME Department’s Safety Committee.

 

      Advising and Registration

Each semester, during Advising Week, students will meet with their advisor to discuss plans for enrolling in the upcoming semester.  An Advising HOLD will be put on each students account and will only be removed after meeting with the advisor.  Students must check out their advising folders prior to the advising meeting, from the ME Office and will not be able to register until this hold has been removed. 

Registration for classes, for the most part, should be completed by April 30 (for Fall Semester) and November 30 (for Spring Semester).  After these dates courses will be evaluated and those with less than the required minimum enrollment are at risk of cancellation.

 

       The Graduate Courses

A list of graduate courses offered by the ME Department can be found in Appendices B and C of the printed Graduate Handbook.  Students might need to register for some cross-listed courses.  Cross-listed courses are courses listed in the course catalogs of more than one department.  The “home department” of a cross-listed course is the department in which the course is normally taught.  A cross-listed course with the ME Department is considered to be an ME Course, regardless of the section in which the student is enrolled.

 

       ME Department Graduate Series Seminars

To supplement the student’s formal coursework and research experience, the ME Department offers a Graduate Seminar series.  All full-time graduate students are expected to attend these seminars.  Attendance will be taken at each seminar and will be used as a factor when evaluating students for fellowships, scholarships, and assistantships.  The attendance record of all GTAs and GRAs will be reported to the students’ major advisor.

All M.S. and Ph.D. students are required to enroll in ME Graduate Seminar (ME 790) for three semesters, per degree, during their pursuit of the M.S. degree and/or Ph.D. degree.  ME 790 is offered as a 0 credit, required course and grades will be given only as pass/fail.

Seminars will be scheduled, on average, every other week, with approximately 8 per semester.  They may be offered by graduate students, faculty members within the ME Department, or by students, faculty, or visiting researchers from outside the department.

Every student is required to attend at least two-thirds of the regularly scheduled ME Graduate program seminars each semester in which they are enrolled to receive a passing grade (unless otherwise noted).  In addition, each student is required to present a seminar during one of the three semesters enrolled, likely the last one.

Any student who attends less than the required number of seminars may petition the ME Graduate Committee, in consultation with the student’s major advisor, to make up the missed seminars (e.g., by attending seminars offered by other departments)

 

       Co-op/Internship Work Experience

The ME Department encourages graduate students to pursue cooperative education or internship opportunities when available.  However, students who wish to pursue such opportunities should notify their major advisor well in advance of the employment dates so that appropriate arrangements can be made.  Prior to acceptance of a co-op/internship opportunity, it is expected that the student will have completed all coursework and a majority of the research, and submitted a draft copy of the thesis or dissertation, unless alternative arrangements have been approved by the major advisor.

 

       Time Limitations

Graduate study for the Ph.D. degree in mechanical engineering requires a minimum of three years, and more typically four years for full-time study beyond the baccalaureate degree.  A student who has a Master’s degree must devote at least one academic year of study towards the Ph.D. degree in resident at NDSU.

Graduate credit for any course work that is more than 7 calendar years old at the time of the final defense cannot be used to satisfy degree requirements for an M.S. degree.  Likewise, any coursework that is more than 10 years old at the time of the final defense cannot be used to satisfy degree requirements for a Ph.D. degree.

The final defense must be repeated if the final copy of the approved thesis/paper/dissertation is not delivered to the Graduate School or if any other degree requirements have not been completed within one year of the date of the final examination (defense).

If a period of time, two years or greater, lapses before the final copy is submitted, the student must reapply to the Graduate School, re-defend the thesis and must register for a minimum of two credits.  Degree date is based on the date when final copies are submitted to the Graduate School. 

 

       Dismissal from the Graduate Program

The progress of each graduate student will be reviewed by the ME Graduate Program Coordinator, in consultation with the Graduate Committee and the student’s major advisor, each semester.  If a student’s progress is unsatisfactory, the student may be subjected to probation or dismissal form the ME Graduate Program.

Conditions for Dismissal

  • Any graduate student who has completed 12 or more hours of graduate coursework and who has not attained at last a 3.0 cumulative GPA will be subject to probationary status.  If the student does not fulfill the 3.0 cumulative GPA requirement in the subsequent semester (following probationary status), the student may be dismissed from the program.
  • Any student who has completed the formal coursework and/or residency requirements, but is not making satisfactory progress toward the completion of the remaining degree requirements, may be dismissed from the program.

 

Dismissal Procedure

For any student subject to dismissal, the student’s major advisor and supervisory committee will be consulted prior to making a final decision.
The dismissal is effective at the end of the semester in which the decision is made.
The student will be notified in writing of the potential dismissal within four weeks in which the decision is made.
The student may appeal the decision of dismissal within four weeks of notification by submitting a letter to the ME Graduate Committee.

 

       Petition to the Graduate Committee

This handbook includes the general policies and procedures for the ME Graduate Program.  In rare cases, a student may have legitimate reasons for deviating from these general requirements.  In such cases, the student must submit a letter to the ME graduate Committee to request special consideration.

 

       Leaving the Department

Students are required to return the key(s) for the office, laboratories and building; clean up office/lab spaces; and return any department-owned books, solution manuals, computers, or other equipment.  The ME Department also requests contact information from graduates in order to keep a profile of all alumni.

 

 

M.S. Program in Mechanical Engineering

This section of the graduate handbook is intended to help students enrolled in the M.S. program, their major advisors, and their supervisory committees during the student’s work on his/her Master of Science Degree in the ME department.  This section includes:

  • The ME department philosophy and a short description of the M.S. degree program;
  • Summary of the roles and responsibilities of the student, his/her advisor, and his/her supervisory committee;
  • Requirements for the M.S. degree in mechanical engineering; and
  • List of milestones and requirements a student needs to meet in order to earn his/her M.S. degree.

 

       Philosophy about the M.S. Program in Mechanical Engineering

The philosophy taken by the ME Department with the M.S. Program is to empower the student, his/her major advisor, and supervisory committee to tailor the student’s studies according to his/her background, skills, interests, and challenges within the student’s area of interest.

The milestones and requirements of the M.S. program are described herein, subject to the requirements of the NDSU Graduate School.  It is expected that they will often be expanded as necessary by the student’s major advisor and supervisory committee in order to ensure that the student receives the background he/she will need upon leaving NDSU>

This philosophy makes it imperative that the student begin working closely with his/her major advisor and supervisory committee as soon as possible. The student can expect the following:

  • The student’s major advisor will typically be an expert in the student’s area of interest and will have the greatest knowledge of what is needed to do M.S. level research in the student’s chosen area; and
  • The student’s supervisory committee members will typically be experts in related areas, which can provide great breadth of knowledge than one person can provide.

Together, the student’s major advisor and supervisory committee help guide the student towards completion of his/her M.S. degree by:

  • Helping to develop the student’s technical skills (i.e. helping to develop a Plan of Study) to the point where he/she has the skills necessary to conduct research at the M.S. level;
  • Helping the student learn what is involved in conducting original research at the M.S. level; and
  • Helping to develop the student’s research skills.

This philosophy places responsibility of watching the student’s progress on the major advisor and the supervisory committee for overseeing the student’s progress, and if necessary, terminating the student’s studies if the student is not making sufficient progress.

 

 

      M.S. Degree Options in Mechanical Engineering

Two M.S. Degree options are available in the Mechanical Engineering Department:

  1. Thesis Option, which emphasizes research, the ability to analyze data, and preparation of a scholarly thesis; and
  2. Comprehensive study option, which emphasizes a broader understanding of the major area.

The main difference between the two options for an M.S. degree is that the final document developed by the student is a thesis under the thesis option and it is a paper under the comprehensive study option. Only students enrolled in the thesis option are eligible for GTAs or GRAs in the ME Department.

A minimum of 30 graduate credits is required for the M.S. degree at NDSU.

All graduate students are requried to meet the requirements for Graduate Seminar (ME 790) as described under section 3.11 of the printed handbook.

 

      M.S. Thesis Option Requirements

M.S. Thesis: A thesis typically documents the student's first exposure to the research process. This document often includes:

  • Problem statement (the objective, or hypothesis, of the thesis);
  • Explanation of present knowledge related to the problem; and
  • Presentation of the new knowledge created by the student in meeting this objective, or in testing the hypothesis.

The requirements for how thorough and significant the latter two sections must be are determined by the student's major advisor and supervisory committee. Students who select the thesis option need to work closely with both their major advisor and supervisory committee as they move forward on the research. Significant guidance from the major advisor and supervisory committee is expected since this is often a student's first exposure to the research process.

Course Credits (21 – 24 credits)

  • A minimum of 21 course credits from approved graduate courses is required, with a minimum of 18 from didactic courses (numbered 601-689 and 700-789).  The remaining course credits may come from other approved graduate level courses, such as Individual Study (ME 793), field experience (ME 795), or Special Topics (ME 696/796).
  • Of the required course credits, a minimum of 15 credits must come from graduate level ME courses (600-700 level), with a minimum of 9 credits from 700-level ME courses.
  • Of the required didactic courses, at least one must be an advanced mathematics course, and a minimum of two additional core courses must be from the ME curriculum. 
    • The mathematics requirement may be fulfilled by taking ME 711 (Advanced Engineering Analysis), or another approved graduate level math course offered by another department (i.e, Math or Statistics).
    • The two additional required core courses may be selected from the following list (note that the list of acceptable core courses may be amended periodically upon approval by the ME faculty):
      • Advanced Dynamics (ME 721)
      • Advanced Mechanics of Materials (ME 722)
      • Advanced Vibration (ME 729)
      • Advanced Thermodynamics (ME 751)
      • Heat Transmission I (ME 761)
      • Mechanical Behavior of Materials (ME 731)
    • Substitution to the core courses may be made on an individual basis upon approval of the student’s major advisor, supervisory committee, and the Graduate Program Coordinator or Department Chair.  Only didactic, 700-level ME courses may be substituted for core courses.  Advising Checklist must also be signed by both advisor and the ME Graduate Program Coordinator.

M.S. Thesis Credits (6 – 9 credits)

  • A minimum of 6, but not more than 9, thesis credits (ME 798) may be applied towards the M.S. degree.
    • A typical M.S. thesis in the ME Department is worth 6 thesis credits.  All graduate students in the Thesis Option are recommended to submit an article to a refereed journal or refereed conference based on their thesis research.
    • To be considered for 9 thesis credits to be applied to the M.S. degree, a student must have one article accepted to a refereed journal based on research work performed at NDSU.  The student’s major advisor, supervisory committee, and the Graduate Program Coordinator or Department Chair must approve the request for 9 thesis credits.

Thesis Proposal

The purpose of the thesis proposal is to allow the student to demonstrate that he/she can identify a problem in his/her area of interest and formulate a strategy on how to apply his/her skills in addressing the problem.  Note that at this stage, the student is not expected to have any concrete results, but rather an understanding of the problem and how he/she might approach it.

The thesis proposal is to be both a written and oral presentation on what the student proposes to work on for his/her M.S. thesis.  A 2-5 page written proposal should be delivered to the supervisory committee at least one week before the oral presentation.  The content of the proposal should include the following:

  • Objective of the student’s work, or the hypothesis he/she wishes to investigate;
  • Explanation of why this topic is significant;
  • Literature review and an explanation of what others have done in the area;
  • Explanation of what methods the student proposes to use to attack this problem;
  • Speculation on what the results may be; and
  • Timeline for completion of the work.

The thesis proposal must be presented to the student’s major advisor and supervisory committee no later than one semester prior to the final thesis defense.

Publication

Students in the Thesis Option are recommended to write and submit a manuscript to a refereed journal, or to a refereed conference (as determined by the student’s major advisor and supervisory committee).

 

M.S. Comprehensive Study Option

M.S. Paper:This paper (non-thesis) requirement is for students who are more interested in understanding existing knowledge, possibly as the foundation for later work in industry.  Exact definitions of what sort of research can result from a Master’s Paper are determined by the student’s major advisor and supervisory committee.  Some examples of a paper would be:

  • Survey of existing literature in a given area along with an original example demonstrating and contrasting these methods; or
  • Development of a new product along with a survey of how it compares with existing devices.

The limited new knowledge developed in the examples above prevents the paper from being a thesis.  If, however, the student adds to his/her work and develops a technique to significantly improve previous methods, the work may constitute an M.S. Thesis.  The format for the Master’s Paper typically include the following:

  • Problem statement;
  • Explanation of present knowledge; and
  • Original Example demonstrating or assimilating several existing techniques

Course Credits (27 credits)

  • A minimum of 27 course credits from approved graduate courses is required, with a minimum of 21 from didactic courses (601-689 and 700-789).  The remaining course credits may come from other approved graduate level courses, such as Individual Study (ME 793), Field Experience (ME 795), or Special Topics (ME 696/796).
  • Of the required course credits, a minimum of 18 credits must come from graduate level ME courses (600-700 level), with a minimum of 9 credits from 700-level ME courses.
  • Of the required didactic courses, all ME graduate students are required to take at least one advanced mathematics course, and a minimum of two additional core course from the ME curriculum, as noted under the Thesis Option.

Paper Credits (3 credits)

A research paper must be completed as part of the degree requirements.  No more than 3 credits of ME 797 (Master’s Paper) may be applied to the degree as part of this requirement.

Paper Preparation Guidelines

The comprehensive paper is expected to provide evidence that the graduate student has a thorough understanding of a subject related to a field of mechanical engineering.  Presenting a quality paper assures that the graduate student has potential as a mechanical engineer to produce similar quality scientific research/design reports in his/her professional career.  The Comprehensive paper requirement is satisfied by completion of a written work that the student’s supervisory committee certifies as providing:

  • A good understanding of a fundamental subject in mechanical engineering
  • Representative outcomes of thorough research work accomplished by others or by the graduate student him/herself
  • A thorough literature survey on the subject of the paper
  • Evidence of a systematic research/design approach to the subject of the paper
  • Competent use of the English language, good organization, and thorough editing

In addition, it is expected that the graduate student writes and submits to the major advisor a draft of the paper during preparation for the final defense.  The draft will be critiqued by the advisor.  The student should revise and edit the paper before submitting the final version to the supervisory committee.  There are no specified page requirements for the paper, but it should be highly polished and complete to meet the foregoing required criteria.   The guidelines for the paper should adhere to the same NDSU Graduate School guidelines for thesis preparation.

Exceptions to any of the requirements noted above may be granted only upon approval by the student’s major advisor, supervisory committee, and Graduate Program Coordinator or Department Chair.

 

      M.S. Thesis/M.S. Paper Defense

Each student must present his/her thesis/paper in an oral defense.  This defense will be administered by the student’s major advisor and supervisory committee.

The final draft of the thesis/paper needs to be submitted to the major advisor at least two weeks prior to the oral defense.  Upon approval by the student’s major advisor, and at least two weeks prior to the defense, the student must submit the following:

  • Request to Schedule Examination form to the ME Office for approval from the Graduate School; and
  • Abstract to the ME office

Once the thesis/paper has been approved by the major advisor, the student must provide it to the supervisory committee, at least ten days prior to the final defense.

A negative vote by more than one member of the supervisory committee will signify failure of the final exam.  The student may repeat the examination only upon permission from a majority of the supervisory committee.  The committee will set a date at least one month after the failed examination.  The thesis/paper final exam may be attempted only twice.  Should the examination by failed twice, the student will not be given a third examination except by recommendation of the examining committee, program administrator, and special approval of the Dean of the Graduate School following consultation with the Graduate Council.

If the supervisory committee requires further revisions to the thesis/paper, the Approval Page required by the Graduate School, will not be signed until all revisions have been approved by the examining committee.

Continuous enrollment is required until all degree requirements are completed, including submitting final copies of a thesis, paper, or dissertation.

To participate in commencement the student must have passed the final examination seven days prior to the commencement ceremony.

 

       Summary of M.S. Program

 

Milestone

Time Frame

Purpose

Select the Major Advisor and Supervisory Committee

First to Second Semester

To graduate in a timely manner and to begin thinking about, and working on, the paper/thesis topic as soon as possible

Meet the Major Advisor

Every Semester

Demonstrates progress towards the M.S. degree.
Allow the Supervisory Committee and opportunity to:
-help develop the student’s research and technical skills;
-keep the student ‘on track’ for graduating in a timely fashion; and
-refine the student’s Plan of Study as new courses and new interests arise.

Complete M.S. Plan of Study

Second Semester

A list of courses in which the student needs to enroll in order to be provided with the technical skills needed to conduct graduate level work in the area of interest.

Develop M.S. Thesis Proposal (Thesis Option Only)

Second or Third Semester

Demonstrate the technical skills needed to conduct Master’s level research in the area of interest:
-understanding the problem;
-understanding why the problem is significant;
-ability to develop a plan for how to solve the problem; and
-ability to read the technical literature in the proposal’s subject area.

Defense of M.S. Thesis Proposal (Thesis Option Only)

At least one semester before the final

For the Thesis Option, the student must present his/her thesis proposal to the supervisory committee at least one semester prior to the final semester

Journal or Conference Manuscript Submission (M.S. Thesis Option Only)

Final Semester

Disseminate the knowledge obtained for the thesis.  Students are recommended to submit a manuscript to a peer reviewed journal or technical conference as determined by the major advisor and supervisory committee.

M.S.Thesis/M.S.Paper Defense

Final Semester

The student must demonstrate the use of his/her skills to follow through on the plan to complete the research.  The purpose of the defense is to evaluate whether or not the student (rather than someone else) completed the work being described in the paper/thesis, as well as that the quality of the work is worthy of a Master’s level paper/thesis.

 

 

 


 

 

 

     Ph.D. Program in Mechanical Engineering

This section of the graduate handbook is intended to help students enrolled in the Ph.D. program, their major advisors and their supervisory committees during the student’s work on his/her Ph.D. degree in the ME Department.  This section includes:

  • The ME Department philosophy and a short description of the Ph.D. program;
  • Summary of the roles and responsibilities of the student, his/her advisor, and his/her supervisory committee;
  • Requirements for the Ph.D. degree in mechanical engineering; and
  • List of milestones and requirements a student needs to meet in order to earn his/her Ph.D. degree.

 

       Philosophy about the Ph.D. Program in Mechanical Engineering

The philosophy taken by the ME Department with the Ph.D. Program is to empower the student, his/her major advisor, and supervisory committee to tailor the student’s studies according to his/her background, skills, interests, and challenges within the student’s area of interest.

The milestones and requirements described herein are intended to be minimal in nature, subject to the requirements of the NDSU Graduate School.  It is expected that they will often be expanded as necessary by the student’s major advisor and supervisory committee in order to ensure that the student receives the background he/she will need upon leaving NDSU.

This philosophy makes it imperative that the student begin working closely with his/her major advisor and supervisory committee as soon as possible.  The student can expect the following:

  • The student’s major advisor will typically be an expert in the student’s area of interest and will have the greatest knowledge of what is needed to conduct Ph.D. level research in the student’s chosen area; and
  • The student’s supervisory committee members will typically be experts in related areas, which can provide greater breadth of knowledge than one person can provide.

Together, the student’s major advisor and supervisory committee will help guide the student towards completion of his/her Ph.D. degree by:

  • Helping to develop the student’s technical skills (i.e. helping to develop a Plan of Study) to the point where he/she has the skills necessary to conduct research at the Ph.D. level;
  • Helping the student learn what is involved in conducting original research at the Ph.D. level; and
  • Helping to develop the student’s research skills (i.e. helping to develop the student’s dissertation proposal for the student’s comprehensive/preliminary exam).

This philosophy places responsibility on the major advisor and the supervisory committee for overseeing the student’s progress and, if necessary, terminating the student’s studies if the student is not making sufficient progress.

 

       Ph.D. Degree Options in Mechanical Engineering

A minimum of 60 graduate credits beyond the M.S. degree, or 90 credits beyond the B.S. degree is required for the Ph.D. degree in mechanical engineering.  In addition, each student must pass a comprehensive qualifying exam, consisting of a written component and an oral component, before being formally admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree.  Once the student’s dissertation has been completed, he/she must paws a final oral examination, focusing on the dissertation, before being awarded the Ph.D. degree.  Specifically details of the curriculum requirements and examinations for the Ph.D. degree are included below.

M.S./Ph.D. Option: The course and research (Dissertation) credit requirements listed for the M.S. degree must be completed.  A student enrolling in the Ph.D. program directly after obtaining a B.S. degree (i.e. without having an M.S. degree) may elect to first obtain an M.S. degree.

Ph.D. Option:  The course credit requirements listed for the M.S. degree must be completed.  The remaining 6-9 research credits, normally awarded for the completion of an M.S. thesis, may be replaced by any approval graduate level didactic courses.

All graduate students are required to meet the requirements for Graduate Seminar (ME 790) as described under section 3.11 of this handbook.

 

      Ph.D. Degree Requirements

Course Credits

  • A minimum of 24 additional course credits from didactic courses (601-689 and 700-789) must be completed, with a minimum of 15 of these credits from 700 level courses.
  • Of the required Ph.D. course credits, a minimum of 15 credits must come from graduate level (600-700 level) ME Courses, with a minimum of 9 credits from 700 level ME courses. 
  • A minimum of 24 research (Ph.D. dissertation) credits must be completed.
  • The remaining 12 credits may consist of any approved graduate level credits, including didactic courses, Individual Study (ME 793), Field Experience (ME 795), Special Topics (ME 696/796), or Ph.D. dissertation credits. 

 

Ph.D. Degree Qualifying Exam

All students admitted into the ME Ph.D. Program must pass a comprehensive qualifying exam before being formally admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree.  This examination consists of a written component (qualifying exam) and an oral component (dissertation proposal), and is to be taken after the greater portion of the coursework has been completed.

      Written Component of the Qualifying Exam

This exam focuses on the coursework completed by the student during his/her graduate studies and is taken after the greater portion of the coursework has been completed.  The written component of the qualifying exam consists of the three following written exams:

  • One examination covering mathematics and numerical methods; and
  • Two addition exams on subjects selected from the following list: (note that this list may be amended periodically upon approval of the ME faculty):
    • Mechanics of Materials
    • Mechanical Properties of Materials
    • Thermodynamics
    • Heat Transfer
    • Fluid Mechanics
    • Dynamics
    • Biomechanics

A reference list will be provided to all students in advance to assist them in preparing for the exams.

Exam dates will be scheduled on a semi-annual basis (once during each the fall and spring semesters).  All written exams will be 3 hours in length, and will be administered over a 3-day period (1 exam per day).

The qualifying exam will be developed, administered, and graded by a committee comprised of Graduate Faculty within the ME Department.  The information below applies to situations where a student fails one or more exams.

Retakes:  If a student fails one of the three written component of the qualifying exam, only that exam must be retaken the following academic semester (the exam can, however, be taken earlier at the discretion of the student, his/her major advisor, and the ME Graduate Program Coordinator).  If the student fails two or more of the exams, he/she must retake all three exams the following semester.
If both attempts to pass the written component of the qualifying exam fail, the candidate may request to take the examination a third time.  This request requires the support of the student’s supervisory committee, ME Graduate Program Coordinator, ME Department Chair, and the Dean of the Graduate School.
If a student fails to pass the written component of the qualifying exam a third time, that student will no longer be eligible to obtain a PH.D. degree from the ME program and will be asked to withdraw within one year.  If the student does not already possess an M.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering, he/she will be permitted to complete the requirements for that degree during that one year period.

The Procedure for Written Component of the Qualifying Exam

  • The PhD candidate selects three subjects from the table in appendix D of this handbook.
  • Mathematics and Advanced Numerical Methods must be one of the three selected subjects.
  • The selected subjects must be approved by the student’s Major Advisor
  • The ME Graduate Program Coordinator schedules the exam dates
  • The exams will be held on three separate days, with each exam lasting three hours.  The Department holds the exams once a semester (last full week of October in the Fall Semester and February in the Spring Semester)
  • Upon completion of the exams, the ME Graduate Program Coordinator informs the student of the results of the written part of the qualifying exams.
  • If the student fails any of the subject exams, he/she can retake the failed exam(s) once more by coordinating with the ME Graduate Program Coordinator in the next regularly scheduled dates.
  • The Ph.D. qualifying exam will be closed books and closed notes.  If required the Department will provide the necessary references for the subject of the exam appropriately.

The Oral Component of the Qualifying Exam-Dissertation Proposal

The dissertation proposal represents the oral component of the preliminary examination.  This component is taken, typically within one academic semester after the student has passed the written part of the qualifying exam.

This oral exam consists of a presentation and defense of the student’s proposal for his/her dissertation research, and it may also cover material from coursework that is fundamental to the dissertation.  The exam will be administered by the student’s supervisory committee.  The written proposal should be delivered to the supervisory committee two weeks before the oral defense.  The content of the proposal should include the following:

  • Objective of the student’s work, or the hypothesis he/she wishes to investigate;
  • Explanation of why the intended research work is significant;
  • Literature review and an explanation of what others have done in the area;
  • Explanation of what methods the student proposes to use to attack this problem;
  • Preliminary results or speculation on what the results may be; and
  • Timeline for completion of the work.

Permission to schedule the oral exam must be requested through the Graduate School at least two weeks prior to the examination.

At the conclusion of the oral exam, the examining committee will record, in writing, its approval or disapproval of the student’s presentation and defense, and will file its report with the Dean of the Graduate School.  A negative vote by more than one member of the student’s examining committee will signify failure of this exam.  Upon permission of a majority of the student’s supervisory committee, the student will be allowed to take the oral exam a second time.  The examining committee will specify a period of time, not less than 1 month, that must elapse before the exam can be repeated (an exception to the time limit may be granted by the Dean of the Graduate School upon consultation with the examining committee members).
 If both attempts to pass the exam fail, the student may request to take it a third time.  This request, however, will require the support of the supervisory committee, ME Graduate Program Coordinator, ME Department Chair and the Dean of the Graduate School.

After passing the exam, the student will formally be admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree.

The Procedure for the Oral Component of the Qualifying Exam

  • Once the PhD candidate has passed the written part of the qualifying exam, he/she should submit a Request to Schedule Preliminary Exam for the oral component, in consultation with their Major Advisor, to the ME office for Graduate School approval.
  • The oral exam will be coordinated by the Major Advisor and the Supervisory committee.
  • The subject of the presentation will be his/her research work.
  • Major Advisor reports the results of the oral exam to the ME Graduate Program Coordinator and submits Report of Final Exam to the ME Office (within 7 days) for Graduate School approval.
  • Upon the successful completion of the qualifying exams, the graduate student is formally admitted into the PhD program.

Publication

All Ph.D. students are recommended to submit and publish their dissertation research in peer reviewed journals or peer-reviewed technical conferences. (The student’s Major Advisor and supervisory committee will recommend the name or type of journals or conferences in which to publish.

PhD Dissertation Defense

Each student is required to pass an oral final defense after all coursework and the dissertation have been completed.  This examination will be concerned primarily with the dissertation, but it may also cover material from coursework, especially those courses fundamental to the dissertation.  This examination will be administered by the student’s supervisory committee.  The requirements for the final exam are listed below.

At least one academic semester must elapse between the preliminary and final exams.
Request to Schedule the Final oral exam must be submitted through the ME Office for Graduate School approval at least 2 weeks prior to the exam.


At the conclusion of the final exam, the supervisory committee will record, in writing, its approval or disapproval of the student’s final exam, and will file its report with the Dean of the Graduate School. 


A negative vote by more than one member of the student’s supervisory committee will signify failure of this exam.  Upon permission of a majority of the supervisory committee members, the student will be allowed to take the exam a second time.  The supervisory committee will specify a period of time, not less than 1 month, that must elapse before the exam can be repeated (an exception to the time limit may be granted by the Dean of the Graduate School upon consultation with the supervisory committee members).  


If both attempts to pass the exam fail, the student may request to take the exam a third time.  This request, however, will require the support of the supervisory committee, ME Graduate Program Coordinator, ME Department Chair and the Dean of the Graduate School.

 

       Summary of Ph.D. Program

Milestone

Time Frame

Purpose

Select the Major Advisor And Supervisory Committee

First to Second Semester

To graduate in a timely manner and to begin thinking about, and working on, the dissertation topic as soon as possible.

Meet with Supervisory Committee

Each Semester

Demonstrate that progress is being made towards completion of Ph.D. requirements and allow the supervisory committee an opportunity to:
-Help develop the student’s research and technical skills;
-Keep the student on track for graduating in a timely fashion; and
-Refine his/her Plan of Study as new courses and new interests arise.

Complete Ph.D. Plan of Study

Second Semester

Make sure that the courses in which the student enrolls will provide the technical skills needed to conduct Ph.D. level research in student’s area of interest.

PhD Qualifying Exams: Written Part

After the Majority of Coursework has been completed

The student demonstrates that he/she has the technical skills necessary to conduct Ph.D. level research in his/her area of interest.

PhD Qualifying Exam: Oral Part

Typically one semester after passing the written exam

The student Demonstrates the following:
-he/she has an understanding of the proposed problem;
-he/she understands why the proposed problem is significant;
-he/she has developed a plan for solving the proposed problem; and
-he/she has read the technical literature in the area of interest

Publication in Peer Reviewed Journals

Prior to Final Examination

To disseminate the new knowledge developed through the research and to demonstrate that the work is respected by external reviewers.

Defense

Final semester (at least one semester following Dissertation Proposal)

The student is able to use his/her skills and follow through on the plan to complete the research.  This defense is an evaluation by the examining committee to make sure that the student (rather than someone else) completed the work being described in the dissertation, as well as that the quality of the work is worth of a Ph.D. level dissertation.


Page Last Modified: September 24, 2013
Web Master: Tiffany Neuharth
Published By: NDSU's Mechanical Engineering Department
Located At: Dolve Hall Room 111 - Fargo, North Dakota 58102
Telephone: 701-231-8671, Fax: 701-231-8913