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IGERT - Training and Education

The IGERT program enhances graduate education in materials chemistry and physics by integrating the traditional doctoral degree programs with:

1. a common core of courses in materials chemistry and physics
2. a core of materials engineering classes taught by visiting engineering faculty
3. a rotation program in which students spend three months working in each of three research groups including groups from both chemistry and physics, and
4. a program of three month internships in a local materials-based industry, at a national laboratory, in a research setting of a university engineering department, or in a college teaching environment.

A Program to Foster Excellence
We believe the internship will actually decrease the time-to-degree for IGERT students because "the best way to decrease time to a degree is to increase the employability of graduates" (Greene, Hardy, Smith, "Graduate Education: Adapting to Current Realities, Issues in Science and Technology", 1994 Oryx Press).
The program begins with one of two 10 week summer courses: the first, on semiconductors, is for those interested on the electronic and optical properties of materials; and the second, on polymers and coatings, is for those interested in soft materials, biological materials, or complex fluids. Students pursuing Physics degrees then have three weeks of preparation for the Physics Qualifying Exam which tests undergraduate and graduate physics. The results of this exam are used to recommend a curriculum tailored to each student's needs.

During the Fall, Winter, and Spring Quarters of the first year, most students take core courses in the physics, chemistry, and engineering approaches to materials. In addition to the core courses, students either fill out their background in other core subjects or begin taking advanced courses in their areas of interest. Students learn about research in the Institute by joining a different group each Quarter which ends with a talk on what has been accomplished and an exercise in the use of scientific literature.

At the end of the first year, students continuing in the program are considered for three-year Institute Studentships to support doctoral research in the student's chosen group. At this time advisory committees are formed for each student, and as preparation for the transition to postdoctoral employment, students take a three to nine-month internship in a company, government laboratory, or another academic institution.

In the second and succeeding academic years, students concentrate on their research projects together with the listening, speaking, and writing skills they will need to present and defend their results. Progress is monitored by each advisory committee, and this phase includes a seminar series in which students are frequent speakers, attendance at conferences to report work and to hear about related work, and finally writing and defending the Ph.D. thesis.

The timeline below shows the major education activities of this proposed program broken down by quarter and year.
First Year:

Summer Courses Research Rotation 1

Advising

Core Course work Research Rotations
Rotation Talks
Communications Course
Laboratory Teaching

Summer:
Annual Review
Selection of IGERT Teacher/scholars
Selection of Research Mentors
Second year:

Research
Annual Reviews
Literature Seminar
IGERT Teacher/Scholar Mentor Program
Advancement to Candidacy

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Interactive faculty/student evaluations

Third year:

Internship
Research
Annual Reviews
Research Seminar
IGERT Teacher/Scholar Mentor Program

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Interactive faculty/student evaluations

Fourth year:

Research
Annual Reviews
IGERT Teacher/Scholar Mentor Program

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Interactive faculty/student evaluations

Thesis Defense

Long-term career tracking


The emphasis of our program is to provide students with the comprehensive training and tailored career development required for them to excel in varied career paths. Our graduates will be well prepared to meet the need of industry for scientists that:

1. can collaborate across disciplines, in various settings, and learn in fields beyond their specialty,
2. can adapt quickly under changing conditions, and
3. can work well in teams and are able to assume leadership roles.