Engineering Ph.D.


The engineering doctorate program will provide you with the disciplinary strength to accomplish technical research combined with industry-relevant context needed to solve daunting problems facing humanity. As a doctorate student, you may address both fundamental and applied research problems of global importance for the 21st century, centered on four key industries: transportation, energy, communications, and health care. Today, we face global challenges in these key areas, all of which demand highly trained engineers with deep disciplinary skills and a thorough contextual understanding for their research efforts. We expect graduates of this program to emerge as the next generation of engineering leaders who will tackle some of the most daunting and complex problems facing our society. Currently, all eight of the Kate Gleason College’s engineering BS programs (biomedical, chemical, computer, electrical, industrial, mechanical, and microelectronic engineering) and their faculty are aligned to support students from a variety of disciplines interested in cutting-edge basic and applied research.

The program is designed to educate world-class researchers who can capitalize on the most promising discoveries and innovations, regardless of their origin within the engineering field, to develop interdisciplinary solutions for real-world challenges. Graduates from the program are expected to build upon a foundation of strength in a traditional engineering discipline (biomedical, chemical, computer, electrical, industrial, mechanical, or microsystems) and embrace the interdisciplinary elements of the program of study to become application domain experts and engineering innovators in an open-architecture environment.

Program Outcomes and Goals

The engineering doctorate program has established the following goals and outcomes:

  • Conduct Impactful Research: Conduct independent interdisciplinary research to address compelling problems of national and global significance in four application domains of transportation, energy, communications, and health care.
  • Demonstrate Technical Strength: Demonstrate a strong foundation in engineering knowledge, as subject-matter experts within a traditional discipline of engineering, to pursue careers in engineering research or education.
  • Translate Discovery into Practice: Demonstrate the professional skills necessary to translate deep technical knowledge and scientific discoveries into practical application through careers in academe and industry.



The mission of the engineering doctorate program is to produce nimble professionals who can innovatively and collaboratively solve problems of global significance whose solution are beyond the scope of a single discipline.

Key Facts


Key research areas in communications, energy, health care, and transportation


Current students working toward their doctorates in engineering


The engineering doctorate is designed to address both fundamental and applied research problems of national and global importance for the 21st century, centered on four key industries: communication, energy, health care, and transportation. These industries impact every individual on the planet and are the focus areas doctoral candidates and faculty will contribute to through study and research.

The communications industry will continue to transform society in the 21st century. The proliferation of cyber and physical sensors in cell phones, smart homes, work environment, traffic monitoring, and other areas highlight the growing importance of efficiently transferring, processing, and interpreting vast amounts and diverse types of data. Emerging initiatives in the communications industry include cyber physical systems, the Internet of Things, and machine-to-machine communications.

This communications research focus area includes wireless communication, sensor systems and networks, embedded systems and electronics, satellite communications, signal processing and control, high performance and reliable architecture, resilient and secure systems and global networks, and emerging multimedia systems. Two cross-cutting and global societal issues that will be addressed within this focus area are intelligent home and personal networks and heterogeneous mission-critical surveillance infrastructure.

Communications research involves interdisciplinary training in sensing, communications, networking, computing, and signal processing of data in a secure and reliable manner to support diverse applications. National and international security systems solutions require contributions from disciplines including computer, electrical, industrial, and mechanical engineering. Pursuant to The President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, the National Science Foundation launched the Cyber-Physical Systems program jointly by the Directorates for Computer and Information Science and Engineering and Engineering.

Doctoral candidates in the energy focus area will be recognized leaders in the field through the solution of our global energy challenges. This goal will be achieved through relevant industry-inspired applied research and basic research in energy related fields.

The energy focus area will expand the ability of faculty and students to conduct basic and applied research including pilot scale demonstrations in the six functional areas necessary for sustainable solutions to the nation's energy needs: energy collection, conversion, storage, distribution, control, and consumption. There can be little doubt of the importance of both fundamental and applied research in renewable energy systems. Research efforts will range from the fundamental understanding of heat, mass, energy and momentum transport processes to pilot-scale testing and computer modeling of industrially-relevant sustainable energy systems.

As one example, course work from across the Kate Gleason College provides students with the background to improve reciprocating compressor technology under the direction of Dr. Jason Kolodziej, in cooperation with our industry partner Dresser Rand. Mechanical, industrial, and electrical engineering skills are complemented by expertise in statistics to solve this interdisciplinary problem associated with clean fuels and greenhouse gas management — one of several global energy problems being investigated in the energy focus area by faculty in the college. Engineering skills from a variety of disciplines are required to address the global issues of a sustainable energy system within the context of societal norms and expectations that vary widely around the globe. Leaders in this field need to be technically strong and also understand the socio-political context of their research in order for research endeavors to be effectively translated into real-world solutions.

Health care is one of the largest expenses in the entire U.S. economy, measured as a fraction of gross domestic product, second only to food. Concerns about access to high quality affordable health care are a global issue, prevalent in every society around the world.

Faculty and students working in the healthcare focus area apply the fundamental knowledge of their respective engineering disciplines to health-related areas, with research projects focused on the technological challenges inherent in developing enhanced imaging systems, assistive devices systems, methodologies to diagnose and treat diseases, physiological modeling, design of separation and bioanalytical systems for clinical applications, and optimization of the delivery and quality of health care processes and services. It is easy to envision such projects engaging an interdisciplinary team of students as healthcare encompasses research activities in all of the Kate Gleason College departments as well as other colleges at RIT.

The healthcare focus area aligns with RIT’s university-wide initiatives and supports our strategic alignment with Rochester Regional Health. Collaborative relationships have also been established with several faculty members from outside of the Kate Gleason College; in particular RIT’s colleges of Engineering Technology, Science, and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, the University of Rochester, and multiple industry sponsors. These partnerships have already resulted in joint proposal submissions, funded projects, and publications.

One example of the interdisciplinary health care research being conducted in the Kate Gleason College is the development of the Left Ventricle Assist Device (LVAD) by Dr. Steven Day’s team, with support from the NIH and in collaboration with the Utah Artificial Heart Institute. Future doctoral students who work on projects like this would be provided with a strong context for their research through the Healthcare Seminar course, focus area electives, and disciplinary studies as described in the program’s curriculum.

The goal of the transportation industry focus area is to produce graduates who will become recognized leaders in the field through the solution of problems including transportation infrastructure, manufacturing competitiveness, service economies, and global supply chain logistics. This goal will be achieved through relevant industry-inspired applied research and basic research in energy related fields. Transportation systems include ground-based vehicle systems; underwater vehicles; flight and space vehicles; robotic systems; micro vehicles; intelligent manned and unmanned vehicles; remotely operated vehicle systems; freight transport systems; transportation data gathering and fusion; sensor systems for estimation of vehicle state information; transportation infrastructure; and systems of vehicles acting cooperatively. Two cross-cutting societal issues that will be addressed within this area are next-generation personal transportation systems and optimal strategies for vehicle routing and logistics. The challenges of designing, manufacturing, and supporting modern vehicle systems and all of the associated infra-structure requires teams of professionals and expertise from multiple disciplines. Modern hybrid vehicles, for example, require a full understanding of multiple fields of engineering and technology including chemical, mechanical, electrical, and industrial engineering. These systems require a closer coupling of electrical (energy conversion), mechanical (power-train), and chemical (energy storage) engineering than traditional vehicles. Global supply chain logistics and international trade issues associated with the global supply of rare earth elements used in magnets create hugely complex research problems. Engineering skills from a variety of disciplines are required to address transportation issues and their accompanying societal challenges as the world becomes more flat, and people, as well as goods, become more mobile.

Latest News

  • July 23, 2020

    researcher wearing face mask in lab.

    Working together, but safely distant, in RIT’s research labs

    Several RIT research labs are ramping up work after several months of down time due to COVID-19. With the approval to reopen and prepare for fall classes, faculty-researchers have put in place some of the recommended guidelines for lab usage—from occupancy to cleaning protocols.

  • May 4, 2020

    four female engineering Ph.D. students.

    RIT doctoral students set to contribute to health care, imaging and space fields

    Alyssa Owens is contributing new ways to diagnose breast cancer and Poornima Kalyanram has discovered how fluorescent molecules might help to identify diseased cells. Karen Soule and Fatemeh Shah-Mohammadi are part of breakthrough work in developing carbon nanotubes and cognitive radio networks—advances in technology that will power tomorrow’s electronic devices. All four are on track to graduate with a Ph.D. in engineering.

Doctoral degree program

An engineering Ph.D. that prepares the next generation of engineering leaders to tackle some of the most daunting and complex problems facing health care, communications, energy, and transportation.  

Learn more about the Engineering Ph.D. program 

Student Resources

The Engineering Ph.D. program offers a variety of resources for our students that vary from academic support to handbooks and more. Visit our Student Resources page for more information.