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Microsystems Engineering Ph.D.

Semester Requirements

Bruce Smith, Director
(585) 475-2295, bruce.smith@rit.edu

http://www.rit.edu/kgcoe/program/microsystems-engineering

Program overview

The multidisciplinary doctorate degree in microsystems engineering builds on the fundamentals of traditional engineering and science combined with curriculum and research activities addressing the numerous technical challenges of micro- and nano-systems. These include the manipulation of electrical, photonic, optical, mechanical, chemical, and biological functionality to process, sense, and interface with the world at a nanometer scale. The program provides a foundation to explore future technology through research in nano-engineering, design methods, and technologies and their integration into micro- and nano-scaled systems. Some of the program’s areas of exploration include:

  • Next-generation nanoelectronics including:
    • development of new techniques, processes and architectures for nanoelectronic and nano-optoelectronic devices
    • exploration into new materials research including germanium, III-V materials, carbon annotubes, and spintronics
  • Photovoltaic research in silicon, compound semiconductor, and organic solar cells
  • Photonics and nanophotonics imaging, communications, and sensing research including couplers, micro-lasers, microdetectors, integrated silicon waveguides, silicon spectrometers, and biosensors
  • MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems). MEOMS (micro-electro-optical-mechanical systems), and NEMS (nano-electro-mechanical systems) device, processing, and materials research for smart sensors, actuators, biochips, and micro-implantable appliances
  • Scaled micro- and nano- electronics for integration into biomedical systems
  • New and improved technologies in organic electronic components and devices
  • Anaomaterials research including carbon nanotubes, nanoparticles, quantum dots, self-assembly materials and their applications in electronics, optics, and materials science
  • Microfluidics research on the behavior, control, and manipulation of fluids at the micro-scale

Mission

The program fulfills a critical need for an expanded knowledge base and expertise in the innovation, design, fabrication, and application of micro- and nano-scale materials, process, devices, components, and systems. RIT is an internationally recognized leader in education and research in the fields of microsystems and nanoscale engineering.

The curriculum is structured to provide a sound background and a thorough foundation in engineering and science through world-class education in the innovative application of educational technologies and research experiences.

Program highlights

The program is designed for students with a strong background in engineering and the physical sciences, and with an interest in hands on exploration into new fields of micro- and nano-systems.

  • The program has a renowned, multidisciplinary faculty that shares resources and expertise over a wide variety of micro- and nao-scale tehcnologies. The program is administered by core faculty from RIT’s colleges of engineering and science.
  • Unique state-of-the art research laboratories have been developed to provide a focus for microsystems and nanoscale engineering research across traditional disciplinary boundaries. A semiconductor and microsystems fabrication clean-room constitute part of the research facilities, providing students access to the most advanced micro- and nano-electronic processing capabilities.
  • Students explore applications of microsystems and nanotechnology through close collaboration with industry and government laboratories.
  • Graduates have discovered exciting opportunities in new technology frontiers.

Curriculum

A total of 66 credit hours of combined graduate course work and research are required for completion of the program. The course work requires a combination of foundation courses, major and minor technical area courses, and electives. The student must pass the Qualifying Exam, the Candidacy Exam, the Candidacy Exam, and the Dissertation Defense Exam to complete the degree requirements.

Phase 1: The first phase prepares students with the foundation in science and engineering required for the program as well as to determine the student's ability to do independent research. This includes the foundation and specialization courses taken during the first year together with the successful completion of the Qualifying Exam. The Qualifying Exam tests the student’s ability to think and learn independently, to critically evaluate current research work in microsystems engineering, and to use good judgment and creativity to determine appropriate directions for future research work.

Phase 2: The second phase continues students course work and preliminary dissertation research. Much of this course work will support the dissertation research to be conducted in the third phase. This phase is completed when the student has finished most of the formal course work as prescribed in the program of study, has prepared the Dissertation Proposal, and has passed the Candidacy Examination.

Phase 3: The third phase includes the completion of the experimental and/or theoretical work needed to complete the student’s dissertation along with the required publication of results. The Research Review Milestone is held as a meeting during this phase, as is the Defense of the Dissertation, which consists of a public oral presentation and examination.

The course work requirements are divided into four parts to ensure that students complete a well-rounded program of study with the necessary concentration in their specialized field.

Foundation courses

Students complete the following foundation courses: Microelectronics I (MCEE-601), Introduction to Nanotechnology and Microsystems (MCSE-702), Material Science for Microsystems Engineering (MCSE-703), and Theoretical Methods in Materials Science and Engineering (MTSE-704).

Major technical interest area

Students complete a sequence of three courses (9 credit hours) in the major technical research area and a sequence of two courses (6 credit hours) in a support area.

Minor technical interest areas

Students complete a two-course sequence in a minor technical area which should be outside of the student's undergraduate degree major (6 credit hours).

Elective courses

Students complete at least two elective courses, in addition to the foundation and technical interest courses (6 credit hours).

General course requirements

The total number of credit hours required for the degree depends upon the highest degree level completed by the student before entering the program. Students entering without prior graduate work must complete a minimum of 39 credit hours of course work as outlined above. A minimum of 18 research credits and a total of 66 total credits are required. Credits beyond the minimum of 39 course and 18 research requirements can be taken from either category to reach the 66 credit total.

Students entering the program with a master’s degree may be permitted up to 18 course credit hours toward those required for the degree, based on the approval of the program director.

All students are required to maintain a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) to remain in good standing in the program.

Microsystems engineering, Ph.D. degree, typical course sequence (semesters), effective fall 2013

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
MCSE-702 Introduction to Nanotechnology and Microsystems 3
MCEE-601 Microelectronics I 3
  Major Technical Area Elective A 3
MCSE-703 Material Science for Microsystems Engineering 3
MTSE-704 Theoretical Methods in Materials Science and Engineering 3
  Major Technical Area Elective A 3
Second Year
  Major Technical Area Elective A 3
  Minor Technical Area Elective 3
MCSE-890 Doctoral Dissertation (Research and Thesis) 1
  Minor Technical Area Elective 3
  Technical Elective 3
MCSE-890 Doctoral Dissertation (Research and Thesis) 1
Third Year
  Technical Elective 3
  Major Technical Area Elective B 3
MCSE-890 Doctoral Dissertation (Research and Thesis) 2
MCSE-890 Doctoral Dissertation (Research and Thesis) 5
  Major Technical Area Elective B 3
Fourth Year
MCSE-890 Doctoral Dissertation (Research and Thesis) 6
MCSE-890 Doctoral Dissertation (Research and Thesis) 12
Total Semester Credit Hours 66

Advising

Doctoral students’ work is overseen by an adviser, the advisory committee, and the program’s director.

Program of study

Students should prepare a program of study after passing the Qualifying Exam and no later than the spring semester of the second year. The program of study should be reviewed periodically by the student and the adviser, and modifications should be made as necessary. Leading up to or upon completion of the Candidacy exam, the student’s adviser and advisory committee may add additional course work requirements to ensure the student is sufficiently prepared to carry out and complete their dissertation research.

Qualifying examination

Every student must take the Qualifying Examination, which tests student’s ability to think and learn independently, to critically evaluate current research work in the field of microsystems engineering, and to use good judgment and creativity to determine appropriate directions for future research work. The exam must be completed successfully before a student can submit a thesis proposal and attempt the Candidacy Examination.

Research proposal

A research topic chosen by the student and their research adviser becomes the basis for the dissertation. The research proposal sets forth both the exact nature of the matter to be investigated and a detailed account of the methods to be employed. In addition, the proposal usually contains material supporting the importance of the topic selected and the appropriateness of the research methods to be employed.

Candidacy examination

The Candidacy Examination is an oral examination based on the dissertation research proposal and allows the advising committee to judge the student's ability to execute a research task and to communicate the results. The exam also serves to evaluate the proposed topic to ensure that if completed as posed it constitutes an original contribution to knowledge.

Research review milestone

The Research Review Milestone is administered by the student's adviser and the advisory committee between the time the student passes the Candidacy Exam and registers for the Dissertation Defense. This normally occurs approximately six months prior to the Dissertation Defense.

Dissertation defense and examination

The culmination of a student’s work toward the doctorate degree is the publication of their research. In addition to developing experimental and technical skills during the creation of research, a student needs to acquire the necessary literary skills to communicate results to others. The preparation of the proposal and the dissertation manuscripts will demonstrate these skills. It is also expected that these skills are developed through the publication of technical papers and communications. The Dissertation Defense and examination is scheduled after all course requirements for the degree have been successfully completed.

Admission requirements

To be considered for admission to the doctorate program in microsystems engineering, candidates must completer a graduate application and fulfill the following requirements:

  • Hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited university in the physical sciences or engineering,
  • Submit official transcripts (in English) from all previously completed undergraduate and graduate course work,
  • Have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher, and (if applicable) a graduate GPA of 3.5 or higher,
  • Submit Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores, with minimum requirements of 156 (verbal), 156 (quantitative) and 3.5 (writing),
  • Submit at least two letters of academic and/or professional recommendation. Referees should send recommendation letters by email to gradinfo@rit.edu or via postal service directly to Graduate Enrollment Services.
  • International applicants whose native language is not English are required to submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

[arrow] Click to view program requirements in the Quarter Calendar

Quarter Curriculum - For Reference Only

Effective fall 2013, RIT will convert its academic calendar from quarters to semesters. The following content has been made available as reference only. Currently matriculated students who began their academic programs in quarters should consult their academic adviser for guidance and course selection.

Program overview

The multidisciplinary doctorate degree in microsystems engineering builds on the fundamentals of traditional engineering and science combined with curriculum and research activities addressing the numerous technical challenges of micro- and nano-systems. These include the manipulation of electrical, photonic, optical, mechanical, chemical, and biological functionality to process, sense, and interface with the world at a nanometer scale. The goal of the program is to provide a foundation to explore future technology through research in nano-engineering, design methods, and technologies and their integration into micro- and nano-scaled systems. Some of the program’s areas of exploration include:

  • Scaling-driven nanoelectronics including:
    • new materials, techniques, and architectures for next generation semiconductor devices
    • innovations in device patterning and nanolithography
    • new materials research including germanium, III-V materials, carbon nanotubes, and spintronics
  • MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems), MEOMS (micro-electro-optical-mechanical systems) and NEMS (nano-electro-mechanical systems) device, processing and materials research for smart sensors, actuators, biochips, and micro-implantable appliances
  • Photonics and nanophotonics imaging, communications, and sensing research including couplers, micro-lasers, microdetectors, integrated silicon waveguides, silicon spectrometers, and biosensors
  • Photovoltaic research in silicon, organic, and stacked solar cells and thermophotovoltaics
  • Scaled micro- and nano- electronics for integration into biomedical systems
  • New and improved technologies in organic electronic components and devices
  • Microfluidics research on the behavior, control, and manipulation of fluids at the micro-scale

Mission

The program fulfills a critical need for an expanded knowledge base and expertise in the innovation, design, fabrication, and application of micro- and nano-scale devices, components, and systems. RIT is becoming an internationally recognized leader in education, research, and economic development in the fields of microsystems and nanoscale engineering.

The curriculum of this multidisciplinary program is structured to provide each student with a sound background and a thorough foundation in engineering and science. The curriculum provides world-class education through the innovative application of educational technologies and partnerships.

Program highlights

The program is designed for students with a strong background in engineering and the physical sciences, and with an interest in hands on exploration into new fields of micro- and nano-systems.

  • The program has a world-renowned, multidisciplinary faculty that shares resources and expertise ranging from nanoelectronics to nanopower research to MEMS and NEMS. The program is administered by core faculty from RIT’s colleges of engineering and science.
  • Unique state-of-the art research laboratories have been designed to provide a focus for microsystems and nanoscale engineering research across traditional disciplinary boundaries. An industrial scale semiconductor and microsystems clean-room is at the heart of the research facilities, providing students access to the most advanced micro- and nano-electronic processing capabilities.
  • Students explore applications of microsystems and nanotechnology through close collaboration with industry and government laboratories.
  • Graduates from the program have discovered exciting opportunities in new technology frontiers.

Curriculum

A total of 99 quarter credit hours of combined graduate course work and research are required for completion of the program. This includes a minimum of 60 quarter credit hours of course work and a minimum of 27 quarter credit hours of research toward the dissertation. The course work requires a combination of 16 quarter credit hours of foundation courses, 36 quarter credit hours of major and minor technical area courses, and 8 quarter credit hours of elective courses. The student must pass the Comprehensive Exam, the Qualifying Exam, the Candidacy Exam, and the Dissertation Defense Exam for completion of degree requirements.

Phase 1: The first phase prepares students with a foundation in science and engineering and determines the student’s ability to conduct independent research. This includes foundation and specialization courses taken during the first year together with the successful completion of the Comprehensive Exam. The Comprehensive Exam tests the student’s ability to think and learn independently, to critically evaluate current research work in a field of microsystems engineering, and to use good judgment and creativity to determine appropriate directions for future research work.

Phase 2: The second phase consists of course work in the program of study along with preliminary research. Much of this course work will support the dissertation research to be conducted in the third phase. This second phase is completed when the student has finished most of the formal course work as prescribed in the program of study, has prepared the Dissertation Proposal, and has passed the Qualifying Examination.

Phase 3: The third phase consists of the completion of the experimental and/or theoretical work needed to complete the student’s dissertation along with the required publication of results. The Candidacy Exam is taken and a defense of the dissertation is completed. The defense consists of a public oral presentation and examination.

The course work requirements for the doctorate are divided into four parts to ensure that students complete a well-rounded program of study with the necessary concentration in their specialized field.

Foundation courses

Students complete the following foundation courses: Microelectronics I (0305-701), Introduction to Nanotechnology and Microsystems (0308-702), Material Science for Microsystems Engineering (0308-703), and Introduction to Theoretical Methods (1028-704).

Major technical interest area

Students will complete a sequence of three courses (12 quarter credit hours) in the major technical research area and a sequence of two courses (8 quarter credit hours) in a support area.

Minor technical interest areas

Two course sequences in each minor technical area are completed. At least one sequence must be outside of the student’s undergraduate degree major.

Electives

 

General course requirements

The total number of credit hours taken toward the doctorate depends upon the highest degree completed by the student before entering the program. Students entering the program without prior graduate work must complete a minimum of 60 quarter credit hours of course work as outlined. The course work should consist primarily of graduate level (700 and 800) courses with no more than three upper level undergraduate (600) courses.

Students entering the program with a master’s degree may be permitted to use up to 32 quarter credit hours toward the minimum 60 quarter credit hours of course work required for the degree, based on the approval of the program director.

All students are required to maintain a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) to remain in good standing in the program.

Microsystems engineering, Ph.D. degree, typical course sequence (quarters)

CourseQtr. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
0305-701 Microelectronics 4
0308-702 Introduction to Nantechnology and Microsystems 4
0308-703 Material Science for Microsystems Engineering 4
1028-704 Introduction to Theroetical Methods 4
  Major Technical Interest Area Elective 1, 2, 3 12
  Major Technical Interest Support Area Course 1, 2 8
  Minor Technical Interest Area Course 1, 2, 3 12
Second Year
  Minor Technical Interest Area Course 4 4
  Electives 8
  Research and Dissertation 9
Third Year
  Research and Dissertation 9
Fourth Year
  Research and Dissertation 9
Total Quarter Credit Hours* 99

* Total quarter credit hours will depend on the highest degree completed by the student before entering the program and how many courses from previously completed graduate course work can be counted toward the program.

Examples of course sequences

Course
MEMS
0308-786 MEMS Design
0308-811 Microsystems Design and Packaging
Microelectronics
0305-702 Microelectronics II, Lab
0305-703 Microelectronics III, Lab
0305-707 Nanoscale CMOS and Beyond
Nanopatterning
0305-721 Microlithography Materials, Lab
0305-722 Microlithography Systems, Lab
1051-733 Optics
Electronics
0301-726 Mixed Signal IC Design
0301-730 Advanced Analog IC Design
0301-814 RF Integrated Circuit Design
Photonics
0308-721 Micro-optics
0308-831 Micro and Nano-Photonics
0308-841 Advanced Micro-Photonics
Microfluidics
0301-798 Microfluidic MEMS
0304-847 Microscale Heat and Mass Transfer

Advising

Doctoral students’ work is overseen by an adviser, the advisory committee, and the program’s director.

Program of study

Based on the requirements of the program, students should prepare a program of study after passing the Comprehensive Exam and no later than the winter quarter of the second year. The program of study should be reviewed periodically by the student and the adviser, and modifications should be made as necessary. Upon completion of the Qualifying and Candidacy exams, the student’s adviser and advisory committee may add additional course work requirements so that the student is sufficiently prepared to carry out and complete their dissertation research.

Comprehensive examination

Every student enrolled in the program must take the Comprehensive Examination, which tests student’s ability to think and learn independently, to critically evaluate current research work in the field of microsystems engineering, and to use good judgment and creativity to determine appropriate directions for future research work. The exam must be completed successfully before a student can submit a thesis proposal and attempt the Qualifying Examination.

Research proposal

A research topic chosen by the student and his or her research adviser becomes the basis for the dissertation. The research proposal sets forth both the exact nature of the matter to be investigated and a detailed account of the methods to be employed. In addition, the proposal usually contains material supporting the importance of the topic selected and the appropriateness of the research methods to be employed.

Qualifying examination

The Qualifying Examination is an oral examination based on the dissertation research proposal and allows the advising committee to judge the student's ability to execute a research task and to communicate the results. The exam also serves to evaluate the proposed topic to ensure that if completed as posed it constitutes an original contribution to knowledge.

Candidacy exam

The Candidacy Exam is administered by the student’s adviser and the advisory committee between the time the student passes the Qualifying Exam and registers for the Dissertation Defense. This normally occurs approximately six months prior to the dissertation defense.

Dissertation exam

The culmination of a student’s work toward the doctorate degree is the publication of their research. In addition to developing experimental and technical skills during the creation of research, a student needs to acquire the necessary literary skills to communicate results to others. The preparation of the proposal and the dissertation manuscripts will demonstrate these skills. It is also expected that these skills are developed through the publication of technical papers and communications. The dissertation defense and examination is scheduled after all course requirements for the degree have been successfully completed.

Admission requirements

To be considered for admission to the doctorate program in microsystems engineering, candidates must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited university in the physical sciences or engineering,
  • Submit official transcripts (in English) from all previously completed undergraduate and graduate course work,
  • Have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher, or a graduate GPA of 3.5 or higher,
  • Submit scores from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). Minimum scores of 1200 (V&Q) and 3.0 (writing) are required,
  • Submit three letters of reference from individuals well qualified to judge the candidate's ability for graduate study, and
  • Complete a graduate application.
  • International applicants whose native language is not English must submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).