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 - no final exam required.

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 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

All PhD students must pass the qualifying examination by successfully completing two qualifying exam (QE) courses. They must take ME 5113: Mathematical Method in Engineering and a focus area course to obtain a grade of A- or higher in each. The focus area course should be selected from the following list, and should be chosen in consultation with students’ advisor.

  • ME:5179 Continuum Mechanics
  • ME:5145 Intermediate Heat Transfer
  • ME:5160 Intermediate Mechanics of Fluids
  • ME:5150 Intermediate Mechanics of Deformable Bodies
  • ME:5154 Intermediate Kinematics and Dynamics
  • ME:4120 Advanced Linear Control Systems
  • ME:4116 Manufacturing Processes, Simulations and Automation

The QE courses should be taken in the first two semesters. The Graduate Committee will review the students’ grade reports in January and September to decide the outcome. For students who have taken a QE course at the University of Iowa before entering the PhD program, their prior course work will be considered toward the QE requirement. Students who have taken an equivalent course elsewhere may petition for a waiver. The petition must be signed by the student’s advisor. The Graduate Committee will review the petition and decide whether to accept, deny, or require alternative course work. Students must fill a QE registration form or submit a petition in the first semester.   

Students who scored below A- in a QE course will have their performance evaluated by the Graduate Committee. The Graduate Committee will determine whether an oral examination is needed, or if additional coursework is appropriate, or if a student has failed and must retake the course. The evaluation will take into consideration the student’s score, his/her academic record, and comments from the course instructor and the student’s advisor.

If an oral exam is required, an oral exam committee will be assembled consisting of the course instructor and a faculty member designated by the Graduate Committee. The student’s advisor is also permitted to attend the exam as an observer. Following the exam, the examiners will 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, taking into account the examiners’ recommendations, the student’s academic record, and comments from the student’s advisor. Possible outcomes include pass, supplementary coursework, or fail.

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 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.