Ph.D. track in Computation and Energy

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The Computation and Energy PhD track was launched in 2014. The new track is an addition to the PhD program that develops research in the field of embodied computation and new systems for energy and environmental performance. Through associated faculty it is linked to the School of Engineering and Applied Science, particularly with Computer Science and the Andlinger Center for Energy and Environment. A proseminar for the PhD track supports the initial methods and processes for this research. The applied research component of the track is supported by infrastructure for research such as the extension of the Architectural Laboratory with the Embodied Computation lab, an industrial robotic arm as well as the Andlinger Center research facilities.

Applications can be submitted through the Ph.D. Program Admission page. The deadline to apply is December 31 annually. The track is coordinated by Prof. Axel Kilian and Prof. Forrest Meggers

It is strongly suggested that students entering the Ph.D. program have a laptop computer at the school as part of their equipment. Incoming Ph.D. students are eligible to purchase one that is specially priced through the University.

During the first year of residence, a two-term pro-seminar introduces students to the process of developing prototype based research, the literature review process and methods for innovative scientific hypothesis generation and analysis and guides the development of individual research proposals.

The course requirements for each student are set by the Ph.D. Program Committee according to the student’s previous experience, specialized interests, and progress through the program. The course load consists of a total of sixteen courses, nine of which have to be taken for credit, including two required proseminar courses during the first two years of study. Based on the extension of the coursework four research projects have to be developed, documented in paper format, and submitted as a package for the general examination once coursework is completed. The coursework has to have an interdisciplinary focus that supports the student in developing expertise in an area of research as an extension of the architectural core that serves as the basis for developing a dissertation proposal.

Pre-Generals Requirements(s):

Each year in mid-May, Ph.D. students are expected to present a one-page progress report to the Ph.D. Program Committee. The purpose of these reviews is to give feedback to the student and to keep all members of the Ph.D. Committee informed about the work of all students. The annual progress report submitted by the student should list the courses taken for grades or audits, papers completed or in progress, grades received, and a description of how course work relates to the field(s) of concentration. The report should also describe any conferences attended, lectures given, teaching or research assistantships completed. For second-year students, the report should incorporate a prospectus on the materials to be included in the general examination dossier. The prospectus must include a list of the four research projects documented in paper form, including the professor, course number, and term the related courses were taken. In addition, this prospectus must explain the major and minor fields of concentration that these papers reflect.

General Exam:

The general examination is designed to ascertain the student’s general knowledge of the subject, acquaintance with scholarly methods of research, and ability to organize and present material. The components of the general examination are assembled sequentially during the student’s period in residence, according to a program overseen and approved by the Ph.D. Program Committee. The general examination is normally taken upon completion of two years of course work (preferably in the fall of the third year in residence).

Students begin this process by requesting that the examination be held and submitting a list of suggested committee members. The next step is the preparation of a dossier of four project papers to be presented by the student, including one research paper on the dissertation topic, as well as a list courses taken for grades or audits, grades received, and a description of how course work relates to the field(s) of concentration. The research paper must clearly define the field of research; it must comment on the state of existing research in the selected field and explain the contribution to the field that the paper is making. The research paper is to be developed into an academic paper at a level of submission to peer-reviewed scientific journal. The reports and paper package and the coursework will form the basis for the General Examination

The General Examination is designed to ascertain the student’s general knowledge of the subject, acquaintance with scholarly methods of research, and ability to organize and present material. An examination committee is formed from by the track committee and external members as needed to reflect the research focus. The General Exam is an oral examination based upon the four project reports, papers, and coursework. The projects for the general examination are assembled during the student’s course and project work, with one being developed as a research paper to the level of publication in a conference of journal in that research field.

The general examination itself is conducted in two parts: a satisfactory oral defense, and the acceptance by the committee of the dissertation proposal, followed by a public presentation. The oral defense is scheduled after the examination committee has read and reviewed the papers, and that no incompletes or failing grades remain on the student’s record. Following the successful completion of the oral defense, and within a period of two to three weeks, the student selects a primary dissertation adviser from among the Ph.D. Program Committee, and up to two second readers to guide the dissertation research. The assignment of the advisers is subject to approval by the Ph.D. Program Committee. The student works with the dissertation adviser to develop a proposal that clearly defines the field of research, comments on the state of existing research in the selected field, and explains the contributions to the field the dissertation will make.

The student should present the dissertation proposal within 6 months of completion of the general examination. After the successful public presentation of the proposal, the examination committee discusses the proposal and other relevant aspects of the program with the student. Successful completion of the two parts of the general examination signals the transition to supervised independent scholarly work on a topic of the student’s choosing.

The culmination of the program is the defense of the finished dissertation at the final public oral examination, which includes the thesis advisor, a second reader from the PhD Committee, and a third internal or external reader.