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The Ph.D. in Systems Engineering is a College of Engineering degree program. Requirements for the degree include 18 hours of course credits in the general program core, at least 30 hours of course credits in a selected concentration area (Chemical, Civil, Electrical, Mechanical, or Petroleum), and 24 dissertation hours.

Both 500 and 600 level courses are allowed to be considered part of both the College and Department Cores. The college also offers numerous courses that are taught for both undergraduate and graduate credit (aka. 400G courses). These courses generally do not offer the rigor expected for courses making up a PhD level curriculum. As such, in terms of the PhD College Core, no more than one 400G course will be accepted as part of their formal College Core Curriculum. With regard to the student’s Department Core curriculum, no more than one 400G course will be allowed.

A college-wide PhD graduate seminar will be offered by the college. Attendance and a satisfactory score by the course instructor is required for all PhD students.

This program prepares its students for licensure or certification within the state of Louisiana. Please visit the list of licensure programs for important information if you plan to move out of state.

1. Advisory and Dissertation Committee

1.1 The major advisor/dissertation committee chair must come from the host department, where the host department is defined as the department of the student’s concentration area.

  •  Only faculty members with Level II graduate faculty standing within the College of Engineering may serve as committee chair.
  • Level II faculty members from departments in engineering other than the host department, or CACs graduate faculty members, may serve as the major advisor to a student in another department providing that they have standing as an adjunct graduate faculty member in the host department. Permission for an adjunct graduate faculty member in the host department to serve as committee chair will be considered and granted by the chair of the host department on a case by case basis.

1.2 Where appropriate, a Ph.D. student may have two co-major professors. One of the co-major professors must hold Level II graduate faculty standing in the host department. The other co-major professor must hold Level II graduate faculty standing in: the host department, another engineering department, CACs, or a department in the Authement College of Science. This provision enables Level II graduate faculty from biology, mathematics, physics, chemistry, geology, or renewable resources to participate in the Systems Engineering PhD. Program.

1.3 The dissertation committee must have a minimum of five voting members with a maximum of seven voting members. At least one of the voting members must be from outside of the host department.

  • If the host department has fewer than four graduate faculty, the minimum of five voting committee members may be composed of three graduate faculty members from the host department and two graduate faculty members from other departments in the college of engineering or CACs.
  • Regardless of the number of voting committee members (between 5 and 7), no more than two can be from outside of the host department.

1.4 A simple majority vote of the Ph.D. committee, including a positive vote from the major advisor, will determine a student’s successful completion of their exams, proposal defense, and dissertation defense.

  • Every committee member must cast a vote.
  • If a committee member is unable to attend a meeting, their vote may be submitted in writing.
  • No vote is considered official unless at least three voting members are physically present at the meeting.

1.5 Every committee will also have at least one industry mentor who is a non-voting member. Industry mentors may come from industry or government laboratories/agencies. The industry mentor must participate in the Ph.D. committee meetings and meeting one-on-one with the student at least once (preferably on a regular basis) during her/his program of study.

2. Industry Mentors

This position on the committee is intended to give the student an opportunity to interact with industry while at the same time stimulate dialog between the faculty and industry representatives.

2.1 An industry mentor is absolutely required in all PhD committees (no exceptions).

2.2 The mentor can be from industry, a non-profit, or government but not another academic entity (on or off campus).

2.3 The mentor is expected to serve as a full committee member, except he/she does not vote on student passing issues, but does participate in all committee meetings (open and closed). As with the faculty appointments to graduate committees, formal committee meeting participation via phone and email communication modes will frowned upon.

2.4 The same interaction and meeting attendance levels are expected of the industry mentor inclusive of physical attendance and student interaction.

2.5 The selection is done by the student’s major professor nominates a mentor to the departmental graduate coordinator which forwards the nominee to the program coordinator upon which they both have to approve this appointment.

3. Program of Study

The program of study represents the PhD curriculum constituting the required formal education experience of the student. It provides a roadmap of required courses that are designed to ensure that the student has a foundational knowledge of systems engineering, their engineering discipline, and the detailed topical area representing their targeted area of specialty. The program of study must address the systems engineering education and discipline specific components of the PhD curriculum at UL Engineering. The following details of the program of study:

3.1 The program of study is designed by the major professor in consultation with the student, program coordinator, and department graduate coordinator.

3.2 The program must be approved by the major professor, graduate committee, department graduate coordinator, department head, and program coordinator.

3.3 Approval by the department, graduate coordinator, department head, and program coordinator must be obtained prior to seeking graduate committee approval. Approval by the graduate committee is considered a majority vote of the committee.

3.4 If the major professor, department graduate coordinator, department head, and program coordinator cannot come to terms on program content, the dean will resolve the issue.

3.5 Any deviations from the approved program must be approved by the major professor, graduate committee, department graduate coordinator, department head, and program coordinator.

3.6 Note that the student is expected to provide input but not vote nor dictate content.

4. Comprehensive Exam

The intent of the comprehensive exam is to challenge the student to develop a sound research plan that is based on his/her PhD educational experience at UL Lafayette. This approach provides a quality check on the content and quality of the educational program along with the skills obtained by the student to apply this education to address a pressing research need within the field. But, the intent is also to pick a topic that is clearly outside that the dissertation topic and that the student develops the proposal without direct benefit of faculty input. Passing of the Comprehensive Exam is a requirement for the PhD program – no exceptions.

4.1 Comprehensive Exam Topic

Student must submit a topic proposal in the form of a white paper detailing (concisely) the topic and why it is not directly tied to their dissertation topic. The major professor and student sign this document as evidence that they both agree the topical area is not directly related to the dissertation topic and that the major professor supports this topical area. The white paper cannot exceed 2,000 words. The proposal must have a majority vote of acceptance by the graduate committee indicating that they accept the topic and that by accepting it is an appropriate topic. The Program coordinator must also approve the topic and indicates acceptance.

4.2 Sitting for Comprehensive Exam

The Comprehensive Exam is intended to challenge the student’s ability to use their formal education to set up a method to address a problem. This exam is a test of the student’s ability, as such, the student must work independently and not discuss nor consult with anyone (including the major professor). The exam cannot be taken until all courses within the student’s accepted program of study are completed.

The Comprehensive Exam is made up of two components: written and presentation. The student must pass both components to continue his/her education within the PhD program. Note that the student has two attempts to pass each component. Retesting can be done only after a minimum of two weeks have passed since receiving component scores.

The comprehensive exam will proceed as follows:

  • Student has one semester to complete the exam which is made up of two components: a written proposal and a PowerPoint presentation formally given to the graduate committee.
  • The student and the major professor declares to the program coordinator two weeks (14 calendar days) prior to the start of the testing semester of the exam.
  • The written proposal must exactly follow current NSF proposal guidelines and will be reviewed to ensure that these rules are followed.
  • The student must use PowerPoint for verbal component of the exam. The presentation cannot exceed 35 slides.
  • The first attempt on the written component must be submitted and graded by the graduate committee, prior to the grading of the verbal component. The grades are simply pass/fail votes given by each committee member. A simple majority of the votes provides the grade. Note that a student can pass the verbal component and not pass the first attempt of the written component.
  • The two exam components are graded by the graduate committee. They grading of these two components is considered two independent grades. For each component, a student has only two attempts to pass or he/she is removed from the program.
  • The grading period for both components are during the final three weeks of the semester (21 days) with one week (7 days) after the last semester exam day marking the beginning of the final week.

5. Dissertation

The college allows two formats for documentation of dissertation work: a formal, traditional dissertation (written comprehensive report) or three peer-reviewed papers published, submitted, or to be submitted within archival professional journals with the requirement for a formal summary report to also be drafted to provide some formal documentation.

5.1 Peer-Reviewed Paper Substitution in Place of a Formal Traditional Written Dissertation

Allowed peer-reviewed papers to replace all but the introduction, commercialization section, bibliography, and conclusion sections. The major professor is encouraged to require a raw data appendix for records keeping; however, this is a suggestion but not a requirement.

  • The major professor, graduate committee, department head, and program coordinator must all approve of the journal prior to paper submittal.
  • “Published” is defined as the authors providing to both the department graduate coordinator and the program coordinator written evidence that the paper has been fully accepted into an acceptable journal (defined later). Letters indicating “submitted”, “under review”, “rejection with encouragement to resubmit”, or “letters of invitation to submit” are not acceptable as evidence of meeting the accepted criterion.
  • The contents of at least two of the three papers must be exclusive taken from the body of research considered as part of the dissertation body of work and thus truly work done by the student. The third paper can be a “state of the art” summary paper (basically the literature search component of the dissertation) that directly related to the dissertation topic. The graduate committee all must sign the Dissertation Publication Substitution Form provided by the college indicating that they agree that the papers proposed as being part of the dissertation are indeed of appropriate content. A unanimous agreement of the committee is required with any issues pertaining to this requirement taken to the PhD grievance committee by the program coordinator.
  • The journal where the papers will be published must be approved by the graduate committee (via a formal majority vote), department head, and the program coordinator prior to submission of the paper to be considered as one of the three papers.
  • The journals are expected to be of high quality that are germaine to the dissertation topic. For the departments of civil, chemical, electrical and computer engineering, and mechanical engineering, the journal must have an impact factor of at least 1 to be considered acceptable. Petroleum engineering students can publish in journals from their field within journals having impact factors of at least 0.75 due to their relative size of their publication ecology as compared to the other engineering disciplines. Selected journals are expected to be of notable reputation, fully-peer reviewed by a “peer group” and not an editor, have recently or currently do print in paper format, and have been in existence over 5 years prior the time of submittal.
  • The student must be the primary or secondary author (in this case, the major professor must be the primary author and not another graduate student).
  • Approval for the targeted journal for potential submittal must go through the approval process. It is strongly suggested that approval by all required parties are obtained prior to paper submission.
  • The major professor must submit a signed memorandum to the program coordinator stating that the research constituting the basis for the paper is from the student’s research work and that the student did the majority of the work toward the drafting of the paper.

5.2 Commercialization Chapter

Every dissertation must have a chapter that takes the technological break-through of the student research and details how this advancement(s) is envisioned to impact the applied aspects of the engineering field. Hence, it will address both economic, market, and technical aspects of how the results should be incorporated into the overall engineering body of knowledge.

The Commercialization Chapter should be of at least 2,000 words in length. The chapter should address at least the following topics: market viability; envisioned market; impact to the engineering community; economic evaluation of product/process; market challenges; further development required to increase market viability; and potential competitors.

5.3 Submittal Deadlines

Submittal of the dissertation and components of the comprehensive exam (inclusive of the powerpoint presentation) must be submitted for review to the committee no later than 14 calendar days prior to the defense with no exceptions allowed. The documents and powerpoint presentation should not be significantly modified while they are under review. The intent of the formal submittal is that the document and/or presentation were ready for review and not submitted to meet deadlines.

6. Envisioned Schedule

6.1 Year 1 – Program of Study

  • Develop and officially complete the formal program of study
  • The graduate committee is formed by the major professor in consultation with the student
  • R&D topic is selected and approved by major professor
  • At least one committee meeting is held

6.2 Year 2 – Comprehensive Exam Topic

  • Develop the comprehensive exam topic
  • At least one committee meeting is held

6.3 Year 3 – Proposal Defense

  • 75% complete R&D activity report is presented to committee;
  • The comprehensive exam is taken
  • The leadership program is completed by this stage.

6.4 Year 4 – Dissertation defense

7. PhD Program Grievance Committee

This committee is organized to address all grievances relating to all aspects of the System Engineering PhD program. Grievances to be heard are submitted to the program coordinator who forwards the grievance to the dean of engineering. The committee composition is:

a. Dean of engineering (chairperson)
b. Dean of the graduate school
c. A department head appointed by the dean of engineering
d. Chairperson of the college’s peer review committee
e. A department graduate coordinator appointed by the program coordinator
f. PhD program coordinator

No one department can have more than three persons hailing from that department sit on the Grievance Committee; except that the dean of engineering does not fall into this counting. All grievance hearings are to be organized by the chairperson with support of the program coordinator. Decisions by the committee are considered final unless an appeal is made to the dean of the graduate school through their formal appeals process.