ME Academic Procedures

MS Program

Plan of Study

All M.S. students shall complete a Plan of Study in consultation with their faculty advisor. A formal Plan of Study Summary must be completed by the student, approved by the advisor and the Department Chair, and filed with the Graduate College prior to taking the M.S. Final Examination. Plan of Study forms may be obtained from the Graduate College web page.

MS Final Examination

Thesis option - An oral examination primarily concerned with the defense of the student's thesis.

Non-thesis option - An oral examination that is comprehensive up through courses taken in the student's M.S. program.

The Final Examination Committee shall consist of at least three faculty members, including at least one with a primary appointment in the Department of Mechanical Engineering & Industrial Engineering and affiliated with the Mechanical Engineering Program.

The examination is scheduled in consultation with the advisor and the members of the student's Final Examination Committee.

 

Ph.D. Program

Plan of Study

Ph.D. students shall complete a Plan of Study in consultation with their faculty advisor. A formal Plan of Study Summary must be completed by the student, approved by the advisor and the Department Chair, and filed with the Graduate College prior to taking the Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination. Plan of Study forms may be obtained from the Graduate College web page.

Qualifying Examination

To be admitted formally to the Ph.D. program, the student must pass the Qualifying Examination. This examination is administered by the Graduate Committee and consists of a written exam during the first three weeks of courses of the spring semester. Students entering the Ph.D. program upon receiving the M.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Iowa must take the Qualifying Examination at its first offering following receipt of that degree. Students entering with a M.S. degree from another institution must take this examination within three semesters (excluding summer session).

The Qualifying Examination comprises mathematics and the following components: dynamics, fluid mechanics, mechanics of deformable bodies, thermodynamics and heat transfer, and a special topic (see later discussion on the Special Component Examination). Students are required to pass the mathematics component and two other component tests, chosen in consultation with their advisor. Each component test, including mathematics, allows for some freedom in choosing problems to solve and is graded independently, with a score of 70% or higher required for an unconditional pass. Students scoring below 70% will have their performance reviewed by the Graduate Committee. The Graduate Committee will determine whether a subsequent oral examination is needed, or if additional coursework is appropriate, or if the test has been failed and must be retaken. The review will take into consideration the overall results of the Qualifying Examination, the student's academic record, and comments from the component examiners and the student’s advisor.

If an oral exam is required, an oral exam committee will be assembled consisting of the exam coordinator (or a designate) and one of the contributors to the written exam. The student’s advisor is also permitted to attend the exam as an observer. Following the exam, the two examiners will each submit a report to the Graduate Committee, summarizing the student’s performance, and will recommend that the student pass or fail. The graduate committee will subsequently make the final decision on the outcome of the component exam, taking into account the examiners’ recommendations, the student’s academic record, and comments from the student’s advisor. Possible outcomes of the oral exam include pass, fail, supplementary coursework, or an alternative course of action that the Graduate Committee deems appropriate. If the Qualifying Examination has only been taken once by the student, he or she also has the option of accepting failure on a given component rather than undertaking the course of action specified by the Graduate Committee.

Special Component Examination

The objective of the Special Component of the Qualifying Examination is to test the capabilities of a student who has taken substantial coursework and plans to do research within an area of mechanical engineering that is not covered by the current five discipline components or who is participating in an interdisciplinary graduate degree program involving another department. Administration of the Special Component Examination is subject to the same guidelines and regulations as those established for the other six components. If the Special Component Examination is selected, the student is required to take the mathematics component plus one of the other five discipline components.

Admission to the Special Component Examination requires the student, in consultation with the faculty advisor, to submit an acceptable petition to the Graduate Committee. The petition must include the student and advisor signatures, the objective of the student's Ph.D. program and research including a brief description of the focus area, the need for the Special Component Examination, a listing of previous courses associated with the Special Component area, and the names of on-campus faculty who are qualified and willing to provide written questions, evaluate the student's performance including grading of questions and, if necessary, give an oral examination. The petition should be submitted to the Graduate Committee at least eight weeks prior to the administration of the Qualifying Examination. The Graduate Committee will review the petition and notify the student and advisor of its decision. If a student takes and fails the Special Component Examination, a resubmission of the petition is not necessary provided the subject matter of the Special Component Examination remains the same.

Comprehensive Examination

The Comprehensive Examination is intended to establish the appropriateness of the student's proposed dissertation research and the adequacy of the student's background to undertake the research. The exam is an oral exam that focuses on the dissertation prospectus and related areas. Copies of the prospectus shall be submitted to the Comprehensive Examination Committee not later than two weeks before the date of the examination.

The Comprehensive Examination is taken after the student has passed the Qualifying Examination and when the course work specified in the Plan of Study is nearly completed but in any case, no later than 28 months after the first registration in the Ph.D. program. To be admitted to the Comprehensive Examination, the student must be in good academic standing, and must be recommended by her/his advisor. Admission to Ph.D. degree candidacy is recognized upon successful completion of the Comprehensive Examination.

The dissertation proposal should clearly state the research objectives and the approach to be used in the project. The proposal is expected to provide a complete review of related literature and to use this review to motivate the need for the proposed research. The proposal should provide sufficient information, in the form of preliminary research or reference to previously published research, to convince the Comprehensive Examination Committee that the proposed research is achievable in a reasonable amount of time and that the student is knowledgeable about the methods to be used in the project. It is intended that the Comprehensive Examination be taken near the beginning stages of the dissertation research, so that the Committee can provide input before too much work has been invested in the proposed project.

The Comprehensive Examination Committee shall consist of at least five faculty members, including at least two who have primary appointments in the Department of Mechanical Engineering & Industrial Engineering and are affiliated with the Mechanical Engineering Program, and at least one from outside the Department. The appointment of the Ph.D. committee becomes formal after approval of the Dean of the Graduate College. The Comprehensive Examination may be repeated only once.

Students are encouraged to consult sections IX and XII of the Manual of Rules and Regulations of the Graduate College for further details. In particular, section XII.P defines qualifications for exam committee members.

Final Examination (Defense)

This is an examination to be taken upon completion of the dissertation. This examination is an oral defense of the dissertation and related subjects as determined by the members of the student's Examination Committee. As stated in the Manual of Rules and Regulations of the Graduate College, the final exam may not be held until the next session after satisfactorily completing the comprehensive examination, but no later than five years after successfully completing the comprehensive examination.

In most situations, the same faculty members serve on the Comprehensive and Final Examination Committees.