Electrical and Computer Engineering Doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree

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A Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering makes you an information age explorer. You'll lead research that expands knowledge and brings transformative advances to the world.


Overview

These are exciting times in electrical and computer engineering. Humanity is in the midst of a revolution that started with the harnessing of electric energy and has evolved to today’s ubiquitous access and use of information. Electrical and computer engineering occupies the leading role in driving this revolution.

Electrical and computer engineering provides the devices and methods to collect, process, communicate and store information. These fields of engineering also contribute fundamental technology to solve our society’s most pressing problems as the evolution towards electrification of infrastructure to address environmental challenges. Researchers in electrical and computer engineering have provided such advances as wireless access to the internet, super-fast communications across the world, control systems that deliver man to the moon, portable computing devices, self-driving vehicles, robotics, the smart grid powered from renewable energy, and so much more.

The mission of the doctorate in electrical and computer engineering is to form the next generation of leaders in today's information age. You will become a successful independent researcher that thrives and enjoys a successful career in academia, industry, or government. Graduates of the program become members of the selected group of global experts pushing the  boundaries of knowledge in electrical and computer engineering in order to bring the next wave of transformational advances to society.

We form researchers. Research is a craft that requires intellectual dexterity and an educated creativity. As is the case with all crafts, where a student learns by working side-by-side with an expert in the craft, to become independent researchers students in the Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering do research under the tutelage of the world-class researchers that make up our faculty. This research is often associated with some of the many centers and laboratories across RIT, including the Center for Human-aware AI and the Global Cybersecurity Institute.

Plan of Study

André Gide, the 1947 Nobel Prize laureate in Literature, once said that “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.“ This is a poetical but nonetheless true thought on the process of discovery. Yet, with our engineer’s pragmatic thinking, we would add that to succeed in the discovery process we not only need courage, but we also need knowledge (after all, a sailor needs to know navigation to venture beyond the sight of the shore!) The curriculum for the Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering provides the knowledge and skills to develop successful independent researchers by providing disciplinary and interdisciplinary courses, research mentorship, and seminars.

Core courses: Core courses are usually completed during the first two semesters of the program since they serve as foundational preparation for elective courses, developing core competency skills for research, introducing the research landscape in electrical and computer engineering, and helping prepare for the qualifying exam.

Discipline Concentration Elective Courses: The discipline concentration elective courses provide rigorous education in a student’s field of research in electrical and computer engineering. Students may choose elective courses in consultation with the dissertation and research advisor, and from courses offered by the department of electrical and microelectronic engineering or the department of computer engineering.

Focus Area Elective Courses: Focus area elective courses provide the curriculum flexibility for students to engage in trans-disciplinary learning. Students, in consultation with the dissertation and research advisor, graduate courses offered by any of the departments in the Kate Gleason College of Engineering. In addition, and subject to the program director’s approval, students can choose graduate courses offered by any of the RIT colleges.

Qualifying Exam: Students complete a qualifying exam at the end of their first year of study. The exam evaluates the student's aptitude, potential, and competency in conducting Ph.D. level research.

Dissertation Proposal and Candidacy Exam: Students must present a dissertation proposal to their dissertation committee no sooner than six months after the qualifying exam and at least twelve months prior to the dissertation defense exam. The proposal provides the opportunity for the student to elaborate on their research plans and to obtain feedback on the direction and approach to their research from his/her dissertation committee.

Research Review Meetings: Research review meetings provide comprehensive feedback to the student regarding their dissertation research progress and expected outcomes prior to the defense of their full dissertation. Research review meetings must be held at least every six months following the conclusion of the dissertation proposal and candidacy exam until the dissertation defense.

Dissertation Presentation and Defense: Each doctoral candidate prepares an original, technically rigorous, and well-written dissertation that describes the candidates’ research body of work and novel contributions that have resulted from their doctoral studies in the discipline of electrical and computer engineering. Each doctoral candidate presents and defends their dissertation and its accompanying research to their dissertation committee.

Research

Advancement of world-class impactful research is the ethos of the Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering. Our faculty and students work every day to bring the next wave of transformational advances for our information age society by doing research in any of the following four areas:

  • Architectures and Devices for Computing
  • Communications, Networking, and Security
  • Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
  • Cyber-physical and Embedded Systems

Curriculum for Electrical and Computer Engineering Ph.D.

Electrical and Computer Engineering, Ph.D. degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
ENGR-701
Inter-disciplinary Research Methods
This course emphasizes collaboration in modern research environment and consists of five modules. Students will introduced to the concepts of inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary research conducted from both a scientific and an engineering perspective. Students will learn how to write a dissertation proposal, statement of work, timeline for their program of study and the elements of an effective literature review. Students will develop skills related to reviewing and annotating technical papers, conducting a literature search and proper citation. Students will demonstrate an understanding of (a) ethics as it relates to the responsible conduct of research, (b) ethical responsibility in the context of the engineering professions, (c) ethics as it relates to authorship and plagiarism, (d) basic criteria for ethical decision making and (e) identify professional standards and code of ethics relevant to their discipline. Students demonstrate an ability to identify and explain the potential benefits of their research discoveries to a range of stakeholders, including policy makers and the general public. Lecture 3 (Fall).
3
ENGR-702
Translating Discovery into Practice
This course provides graduate students with the professional skills needed by PhD graduates within their major research focus area to move the results of their research from the lab into practice. Students will demonstrate a strong contextual understanding for their research efforts. Students will learn professional skills related to Teamwork; Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Commercialization; Research Management; Policy and Societal Context; and Technical Writing. (This class is restricted to degree-seeking graduate students or those with permission from instructor.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
3
ENGR-795
Doctoral Seminar
This seminar course presents topics of contemporary interest to graduate students enrolled in the program. Presentations include off campus speakers, and assistance with progressing on your research. Selected students and faculty may make presentations on current research under way in the department. All doctoral engineering students enrolled full time are required to attend each semester they are on campus. (Graduate standing in a technical discipline) (This class is restricted to degree-seeking graduate students or those with permission from instructor.) Seminar 1 (Fall, Spring).
2
ENGR-892
Graduate Research
Doctoral-level research by the candidate on an appropriate topic as arranged between the candidate and the research advisor. Students may count a maximum of 9 credits of ENGR-892 towards degree requirements. If the student enrolls cumulatively in more than 9 credits of ENGR-892, the additional credits above 9 will not be counted towards the degree. Research 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
3
 
Engineering Foundation 1, 2*
6
 
Discipline Concentration 1, 2†
6
SecondYear
 
ENGR-795
Doctoral Seminar
This seminar course presents topics of contemporary interest to graduate students enrolled in the program. Presentations include off campus speakers, and assistance with progressing on your research. Selected students and faculty may make presentations on current research under way in the department. All doctoral engineering students enrolled full time are required to attend each semester they are on campus. (Graduate standing in a technical discipline) (This class is restricted to degree-seeking graduate students or those with permission from instructor.) Seminar 1 (Fall, Spring).
1
ENGR-892
Graduate Research
Doctoral-level research by the candidate on an appropriate topic as arranged between the candidate and the research advisor. Students may count a maximum of 9 credits of ENGR-892 towards degree requirements. If the student enrolls cumulatively in more than 9 credits of ENGR-892, the additional credits above 9 will not be counted towards the degree. Research 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
6
 
Discipline Concentration 3†
3
 
Focus Area Elective 1, 2, 3, 4‡
12
ThirdYear
 
ENGR-890
Dissertation and Research
Doctoral-level research by the candidate on an appropriate topic as arranged between the candidate and the research advisor. Students must successfully pass the PhD Candidacy examination prior to enrolling in this course Research 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
21
Total Semester Credit Hours
66

 

*Engineering Foundation Electives:

EEEE-707/ENGR-707
Engineering Analysis
EEEE-709/ENGR-709
Advanced Engineering Mathematics
CMPE-610
Analytical Topics in Computer Engineering
This course begins by reviewing signal and system analysis techniques for analyzing linear systems. It includes Fourier techniques and moves on to present fundamental computational techniques appropriate for a number of applications areas of computer engineering. Other topics include symbolic logic and optimization techniques. (Prerequisites: CMPE-480 and (MATH-251 or 1016-345) or graduate standing in the CMPE-MS program.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).

 

† Discipline Concentration: Any graduate level course offered by the departments of Electrical and Microelectronic Engineering of Computer Engineering, exclusive of capstones.

‡ Focus Area Elective: Any graduate level course offered by the Kate Gleason College of Engineering, exclusive of capstones.

Admission Requirements

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

  • Complete a graduate application.
  • Hold a baccalaureate degree (or equivalent) from an accredited university or college in electrical or computer engineering or in related field in science, engineering, or computing.
  • Submit official transcripts (in English) for all previously completed undergraduate and graduate course work.
  • Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (or equivalent).
  • Submit scores from the GRE.
  • Submit a Statement of Purpose for Research.
  • Submit a current resume or curriculum vitae highlighting educational background and experiences.
  • Submit at least two letters of academic and/or professional recommendation. Letters for doctoral candidates must be confidential and must be submitted directly from the referee to RIT.
  • Participate in an on-campus or teleconference interview (when applicable).
  • International applicants whose native language is not English must submit scores from the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE. A minimum TOEFL score of 94 (internet-based) is required. A minimum IELTS score of 7.0 is required.

Learn about admissions, cost, and financial aid 

Research

Architectures and Devices for Computing

Our information age is built on the foundation of the devices that process and store information. Our faculty and students conduct research into computer architecture and computing devices that will bring the next technological advances to our information age. Research projects in this area include energy efficient device architecture, optoelectronic devices, reconfigurable hardware, networks-on-chips, heterogeneous computing, future computing devices for late and post silicon technologies, and computing devices based on the emergent revolutionary computing paradigms of quantum computing and neuromorphic computing. In addition, research in this area include emergent paradigms that blend computing and networking architectures together, as is the case with Edge Computing.

Faculty working in this area include:

Communications, Networking, and Security

It is no accident that our digital world’s currency, the “bit”, originated with the “Theory of Communication,” the work from Claude Shannon that gave birth to the field of information theory. Our information age depends on the ability to communicate information securely. At RIT, our faculty and students are dedicated to researching multiple aspects of communications and networking technology. Research projects in this area involve the study of such diverse issues as 5G and B5G (beyond 5G) communications, electromagnetics of wireless networks-on-chips, theoretical modeling and measurement of microstrip antennas and integrated microwave circuits, Wearables and Wireless Body Area Networks (WBAN), cognitive radios and networks, dynamic spectrum sharing, MIMO wireless communications, and advanced fiber-optics networks.

The exchange of information leads to the need to secure the communication links, the networks, and the computing systems they interconnect. As such, our faculty and students also conduct research into Wireless Physical Layer Security (WPLS), modulation obfuscation, cryptographic engineering, connected vehicles (V2V) security, IoT security, and predictive cyber situation awareness.

Faculty working in this area include:

Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence

Within the past decade, advances in computer architecture and computing power have led to giant strides in the development of computers that are capable to learn by themselves how to solve a problem and of applications that make use of this ability. These technologies, collectively known as machine learning or artificial intelligence, are engendering new revolutionary technologies and new approaches to solve difficult contemporary problems. Our faculty and students are actively involved in this process of revolutionary creation with projects in areas that include:

  • Neuromorphic devices and circuits, and brain-inspired architectures and algorithms for energy-efficient AI
  • Tensor-methods for deep learning and tensor analysis of big and multi-modal data
  • Applications of machine learning to wireless communications, network management, and dynamic spectrum access, sharing and sensing
  • Reliable learning in adversarial environments and trustworthy AI hardware
  • Deep fake detection
  • Self-driving vehicles
  • Smart warehouses
  • Computer vision, object recognition and tracking
  • Human-Robots interaction and collaboration
  • Deep learning algorithms for machine intelligence and AI applications
  • Biologically inspired learning models for multi-agent and complex systems
  • Object classification and localization via quantized neural networks

Faculty working in this area include:

Cyber-Physical and Embedded Systems

One of the most revolutionary applications of electrical and computer engineering technology is when it is coupled to a physical system, forming a close loop with sensors, computing elements and electrically operated actuators to control the operation of the physical system. Examples of these cyber-physical systems are everywhere, as a part of the Internet-of-Things, with the computing elements being embedded in everyday objects, from coffee machines to cars. Some of the research being conducted in this area is at the scale of the very small, where micro electromechanical systems (MEMS) are being investigated for integrated sensing, control, energy harvesting and multi-sensor networks. At the scale of large physical systems, they may encompass complete infrastructures. In this area, our faculty and students are researching technology for smart warehouses and Industry 4.0. 

An important element in this area of research is that of energy systems. Ongoing research in this area includes power system optimization, grid integration of renewables (wind and solar), operation optimization of microgrids and distributed energy systems, and scheduling of manufacturing systems. Other research projects investigate the interdependency between the smart grid and other infrastructures (as, for example, telecommunications or computing infrastructure).

Faculty working in this area include:

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