Preliminary Exams

The preliminary 2-part examination must be passed by students before they can continue in the Ph.D program. The exam consists of an academic written portion and a research oral portion.

The Ph.D. Preliminary Examination is designed to assess a student's potential to  complete a Ph.D in Mechanical Engineering successfully. It is designed to evaluate analytical skills, appraise knowledge of mechanical engineering fundamentals, and to gauge potential for creative independent research. The exam requires the student to consolidate his/her grasp of the fundamentals of mechanical engineering and to demonstrate an aptitude for conducting original research. The content of the examination reflects consensus across the department faculty. The examination is administered by the Graduate Committee, acting on behalf of the entire faculty.


Thesis Defense

Before completion of the doctoral degree, a doctoral candidate must have their dissertation accepted for defense by the student's committee.

The Ph.D candidate must then pass a dissertation defense, which is a final examination on the dissertation and related topics. In the defense, the student is expected to explain their research clearly and concisely, and discuss how it relates to other research in the field. This is an opportunity for recognition of completed doctoral work. It is also an opportunity for discussion and formal evaluation of the dissertation.


Comprehensive Exams

A Mechanical Engineering doctoral degree requires depth of knowledge in the dissertation/research area as well as breadth of knowledge across the Mechanical Engineering curriculum. Before becoming a candidate for the doctoral degree, students must pass a comprehensive examination.

The  exam is designed to test knowledge of the proposed research area, and any general knowledge in the field. It is also intended to evaluate whether the proposed research project is original and creative work, whether it will make a significant impact in the field, and if it will qualify for publication in quality peer-reviewed journals.

The exam is also an opportunity for the student to demonstrate his/her ability to present scientific concepts orally. The comprehensive exam serves as the gateway to the next phase of the doctoral program, completion of a dissertation.

Thesis Defense Comprehensive Exams