Category Archives: Graduate School

Where can I learn more about the NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates program?

The Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program, sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), is a set of summer research programs hosted at at many universities, including Michigan Tech.  These are competitive programs and an excellent way to check out if you are interested in graduate school.  A good time to do an REU is the summer after you have completed the spring junior classes in chemical engineering.  If you can get one earlier than that, that’s great too, but the best time is just before senior year.

The REU programs are the opportunity to participate in a funded research program at a research university.  You will work with other REU undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, and the professor in the program (0ften in a lab) on a real project that is aiming towards publication.  They are looking for bright students who may be interested in going to graduate school.  They will be showing you what graduate school and research is all about.  You will make friends and gain colleagues and you will gain research experience and skills. You will get the opportunity to live in a new place and in general check out the scene.  You may get to be on a publication.  If you are not sure about going to graduate school the REU experience will likely give you the experience you need to come to a decision.

The REU fellowships are well funded–you will have enough to live on and to enjoy your summer and to save up for college.  The deadlines for REU applications range from January to late March annually.  There may be some with later deadlines, but they are accepting people in February and March so if they fill up they fill up.

You may obtain more information about the REU program from the NSF website.  Undergraduate students sponsored with NSF funds must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States or its possessions.  NSF maintains a website that allows you to search by topic for REU programs throughout the country.  A contact person and contact information is listed for each site.

I highly recommend this program to students who are interested in research and/or graduate school.


Dow Chemical and MIT ACCESS program: Encouraging graduate study

This looks like a cool program; and we have an alum of this program in the Michigan Tech Chem Eng graduate program!  Spread the word.

Overview of program

The mission of the ACCESS program is to increase the diversity of qualified applicants to PHD programs in chemistry, chemical engineering and materials science throughout the United States. ACCESS is a weekend of educational and informative events that will introduce talented sophomores, juniors and seniors to the benefits of a graduate education in chemistry, chemical engineering, and materials science. The goal of ACCESS is not to prepare students for graduate school at MIT specifically, but rather to introduce them to the advantages of choosing a graduate career path at an institution that best meets each participant’s individual needs.

The weekend-long program offers students an overview of graduate education through seminars, faculty talks, and interactive sessions, all designed to give a greater understanding of the application process and an insight into the doors a graduate career can open.

ACCESS will give participants:

A broad exposure to the opportunities that can be gained from a graduate education in chemistry, chemical engineering, and materials science;

  • An introduction to the various career paths that can result from a graduate education in chemistry, chemical engineering, and materials science;
  • An opportunity to hear directly from faculty and students their reasons for choosing a graduate career;
  • An explanation of the funding structure for graduate education and information on graduate fellowships;
  • A chance to meet and socialize with fellow undergraduates from around the nation who are pursuing similar goals;
  • And a fun Cambridge/Boston experience!

Contact Info:

For more information about the ACCESS program, email mit-access@mit.edu.


Can I take graduate courses towards a graduate degree while still an undergrad?

Michigan Tech does allow this under Senior Rule (see the Registrar’s web page for up-to-date details).

As of 2015, these were the rules:

While finishing an undergraduate degree, students are allowed to take courses which could apply to a graduate degree. However, a course cannot be applied to both a graduate and an undergraduate degree.

A Senior Rule form must be completed and submitted to the Registrar’s Office by Wednesday of week 2 for the course semester. Upon submission, the student’s academic record will be changed to show graduate status for the course designated. Once the academic record has been changed to show graduate status for a particular course, it cannot be changed back to count toward an undergraduate degree.

Senior Rule Guidelines

  • A student so enrolled and carrying 6 credits or more in 5000 or 6000 level courses may carry no more than 16 credits of course work per semester.
  • The total number of Senior Rule credits may not exceed one-third of the required non-research course credits.
  • Courses taken under senior rule are not eligible for undergraduate Federal aid.
  • See Financial Aid enrollment requirements for additional requirements.

Note that the School of Business has set 6 credits as a maximum of Senior Rule credits that may be applied to the MBA (per Sonya Goltz, 2007).

 


May I minor in business?

Unfortunately, Michigan Tech does not offer a minor in business administration.  You may minor in economics (see the Registrar’s webpage), or you may prepare yourself for the masters in business administration (MBA).  Contact the MBA advisor to find out the current requirements for admission to the Michigan Tech MBA program. In recent times prerequisites have included having taken the following as an undergraduate:

  • Accounting Principles I (BA2300 or BA2330 or equivalent)
  • Economics Principles (EC2001 or equivalent)
  • Economic Decision Analysis (EC3400 or equivalent OR Finance (BA3400)
  • Statistics (BA2100 or MA2720 or equivalent)

Another way to pursue your interest in business is to double major (or become dual degree) in business.  For details, please contact the undergraduate advisor for the School of Business and Economics.


What should I do if I’m interested in graduate school?

If you are interested in graduate school, you should talk to professors in the research area that interests you.  Ask them to discuss graduate school with you and see if this is in fact the right path for you.  You could also come see an advisor.

You can get information about Michigan Tech’s graduate school on their website.

One final note: please fill out a FERPA permission form for anybody who writes you a letter of recommendation based on your academic record.


Continuous Enrollment Rules on BS/MS

The Dean of the Graduate School, Jackie Huntoon, sent an email updating the continuous enrollment rule as it applies to the BS/MS program.

Students must be continuously enrolled. The idea behind these is that students begin the MS immediately after completion of the BS. The way these programs are all set up is that as soon as students complete the BS they are considered to be enrolled in the MS and they therefore must adhere to the graduate level continuously enrollment policy – like all other graduate students. If they don’t remain continuously enrolled they will be dropped from the program and have to reapply – and if they reapply they can’t be in the “accelerated program” since the Senate policy requires that students apply prior to graduation with the BS. This could have financial implications for students (loss of ability to double count credits) so it is important that they understand this. Kristi Isaacson (kris@mtu.edu) is the point person for the accelerated master’s programs so if you have a question – feel free to contact her.

(by email 20Feb2014)


How do I apply for the new BS/MS in ChemE?

To apply for the BS/MS program you follow this procedure:

1.  Go to the Grad School website and go to the Admissions section and follow all instructions.
2.  In your “areas of interest” on the form, put “accelerated masters”.  This will signal that you’re applying for the BS/MS

All other application requirements for the BS/MS program are the same as for the MS program in general.  For more on the BS/MS in Chemical Engineering, go to the Advising website FAQ page.


How much does it cost to go to grad school in chemical engineering?

Ph.D. study in chemical engineering is often paid for by research funds obtained by your grad-school faculty advisor, and thus it will not cost you anything if you are able to obtain such support.  In addition to receiving a tuition award, you will typically receive an offer of financial support for your living expenses.

When you apply to graduate school, you will automatically be considered for support, either in the form of a research assistantship, a teaching assistantship, or a fellowship.  These assistantships will usually include full tuition and fees.  It’s a great deal for which good students will often qualify, and it is not usually based on need, rather is based on merit.  There are also very prestigious graduate research fellowships offered by the National Science Foundation for the best students in the country.  If you are able to obtain an NSF graduate research fellowship, you will be highly courted by all the top graduate schools.  You must apply directly to NSF for these fellowships.

M.S. study in chemical engineering can be done either in coursework mode (never supported; you are charged tuition and fees) or in thesis mode (may be supported; may include a living stipend).  The two-year coursework masters has the advantage of being straightforward to get:  you apply, are admitted, take for the necessary courses, get your degree.  There is no research project.  The M.S. thesis path also starts with you applying and taking courses, but students are working from the beginning on a masters thesis that must be completed before the degree is awarded.  There are funded research projects that lead to the M.S., and it is competitive to obtain this funding.

For more on graduate school, please visit the Department’s website on graduate studies.


What else can I do to prepare myself for graduate school in chemical engineering?

Attend the seminar series in the Chemical Engineering Department.  In all chemical engineering graduate programs, the weekly seminar series is an important element.  Speakers visit the department from all over the country and the world and present their work.  Graduate students are usually required to attend, since learning about the wide nature of chemical engineering research is one of the reasons for your studies.  Seminar announcements are posted on the department’s web page and across from the main office in Chem Sci.

Students may hesitate to attend seminars that they fear they will not understand.  Although the material may at times go over your head, will the situation be any different in a year or two when you start graduate school?  You can learn from attending seminars, even if they go over your head.  You can learn about effective presentation techniques (and ineffective techniques) and you can learn about research areas that you would never have had a chance to explore otherwise.  And you can learn what you need to study in order to understand.  If the visitor is a faculty member, he/she is probably interested in talking to juniors and seniors who are considering graduate school in the hopes that they can recruit you to their program.  If you are particularly interested in a speaker’s talk, you can ask to meet with him/her later in the day.

Participate in undergraduate research.  Click here for more on undergraduate research.

Improve your writing and presenting skills.  Writing and presenting well are really reflections of how logically you think.  If you can explain a topic well in writing or orally, you are displaying an important thinking skill you will need in graduate school.

Engineers sometimes distain writing as a soft skill that is less important than analytical skills.  It is not.  Writing well is an important skill that can make or break your graduate school experience.  That last task of writing your thesis or dissertation and writing up the publications from your work is critical – you will not graduate without your final thesis/dissertation being written and approved, and usually these documents are held to a very high standard of organization and grammar.  Do what you can now to improve your writing by taking writing-intensive courses, writing in your extracurricular activities, and availing yourself of the help provided by the Department of Humanities’ Writing Center.  I also recommend reading as an activity that promotes writing.  Read for pleasure – novels, literature, plays, quality magazines, and quality newspapers.  Reading is an excellent way to improve your recognition of good writing and of good grammar.

Oral communication is equally important.  Learn to make effective presentations and practice what you have learned.  Attend seminars and note down techniques that you find effective at getting the point across to you and then use those techniques in your own presentations.  Solicit feedback on your presentations so that you can improve.  Also, take the time to learn to present yourself well in day-to-day situations.  When you call someone on the phone, always identify yourself and find out right away if they have time for the discussion you would like to have with them.  The same goes for when you come to someone’s office door – identify yourself and make sure that they have time to see you.  In email, always start your messages with a greeting of some sort (Dear xxx or Good Morning or something equivalent) and state your point and sign off politely with your name and contact information.  These little habits can also be important in your graduate studies (as well as in life) since you will need to interact with many people to complete your graduate research, and if you do not interact well, your road will be very rough.

Don’t sell back your books.  You will be buying new books in graduate school, but you will often find that you need to refresh your memory of your undergraduate studies.


How can I prepare academically for graduate school in chemical engineering?

The first year of graduate school in chemical engineering typically involves taking advanced courses in transport, thermodynamics, kinetics, and mathematics (partial differential equations).  It may also involve specialty courses specific to your area of chosen specialization. Anything that makes those required courses easier is a good idea.  I feel that at Michigan Tech we do not go far enough in transport, so I recommend that you take the graduate transport class (CM5300 Advanced Transport Phenomena I, 3 credits, Spring, prereq=CM5100) or Polymer Rheology (CM4650, 3 credits), either of which will introduce you to the use of tensors in mathematical analysis.  After that I recommend taking our graduate math class (CM5100 Applied Mathematics for Chemical Engineers I, 3 credits, Fall) or any advanced mathematics course that interests you (some examples might be MA Continue reading