During their PhD studies, enrolled graduate students are required to attend a set of advanced courses to help them develop a foundation of technical knowledge in Chemical Engineering. This knowledge is obtained in a way that the student develops an understanding of basic principles, while at the same time providing depth in a specific area. These advanced courses have been structured in the form of three blocks as follows:
Block A. Physical Sciences (students should attend the following 3 courses)
Block B. Chemical Sciences (students should attend the following 3 courses)
Block C. Mixed Scheme (students should attend 3 courses from the following)
Enrolled PhD students should choose one of the three Blocks (preferably after discussing with their advisors) and must complete the three core courses in that Block during the first year (prior to the oral presentation) of their studies. Performance in each course is evaluated in the scale from A to D, with: A = excellent, B = above average, C = below average, D = poor.
In addition, every second or third year, several electives are offered in the Department by its faculty, research associates and visiting professors or researchers in the form of Special Topics. The curriculum of these elective courses is reviewed each year and updated often. Enrolled PhD students are also encouraged to attend suitable courses offered from other graduate programs at the University of Patras outside our Department.
It is emphasized though that in the evaluation of the student’s performance in courses by the Faculty at the end of the first year of their PhD studies in our Department, only performance in the 3 core courses is considered.
THESIS RESEARCH TOPIC SELECTION, THESIS ADVISOR SELECTION
Research is a key component of our graduate program, thus we give our new graduate students time to gather information about the available projects, clarify their own personal research interests, and think carefully about their own long-term objectives. To better help them make the right choice of their thesis topic and thesis advisor, twice a year (toward the beginning of the Fall and the beginning of the Spring semesters), a set of written descriptions of available projects prepared by the faculty offering them is provided to the students. Following this, graduate students in the next few weeks are expected to meet the faculty offering these projects and talk to them as well as to other graduate students in order to gain a more thorough understanding of the topics offered. This will also help them get exposed to the entire range of the Department’s research activities. It is recommended that students speak with several faculty members before reaching the final decision for their PhD Thesis Research Topic and Advisor. The entire procedure should have been completed by mid-December for those students that were enrolled in the Fall semester and by mid-May for those enrolled in the Spring semester.
Following the selection of the Thesis Advisor, each graduate student is encouraged to choose two more faculty members who will form his/her thesis committee. The committee members are chosen in consultation with the thesis advisor and can be from the Chemical Engineering department or outside it.
Every year, the graduate student should provide the committee with a written progress report, based on which the thesis committee members can provide, in turn, feedback to the student. The thesis committee members are committed to providing advisement to the student throughout the course of his/her thesis research work.
The deadline for the PhD student to submit the written yearly progress report to the Thesis Committee is July 1st for those who entered the PhD program in the Fall semester, and February 1st for those who entered the PhD program in the Spring semester.
At the end of their second semester in the PhD program, PhD students are required to present the progress in their own research work over the course of their first year of studies in our Department. This oral presentation gives the faculty an opportunity to evaluate the student’s analytical skills and ability to think critically and generate original ideas. They give the students the chance to practice their communication skills and the faculty the chance to evaluate them. The oral presentation is given towards the end of the student’s first year (after completion of the core courses). This is typically the last week in August or the last week in April of the student’s first year in our Department. The oral presentation evaluates student’s abilities in several areas: creative thinking, progress in understanding and formulating a research project, mastery of the relevant underlying Chemical Engineering fundamentals, effective communication of ideas in both oral and written forms, and so on.
Graduate students should also attend all departmental seminars from the department’s faculty members or the department’s visitors. These seminars provide them with a unique opportunity to get informed about different research areas or alternative approaches to their research, and expand their knowledge and scientific horizons as well as their potential for original research.
FINAL THESIS DEFENSE
The final PhD Thesis oral defense is a presentation to the department, the PhD exam committee, and the public research community of the student’s summary of research. The defense committee includes seven members: the three members of the thesis committee discussed above plus four other members either from the department or outside it.
The ability to communicate ideas, concepts, and information in a teaching environment effectively and factually is an essential skill for all PhD graduates, even those who have no interest in an academic position. In recognition of this, all PhD students are required to fulfill a teaching requirement, which consists of serving as a teaching assistant (TA) for three courses, one of which must be in a lecture course. All the TAs are expected to continue to be actively involved in their research while serving as a TA. Although the exact timing of the TA positions is flexible, it is highly desirable to complete TA responsibilities relatively rapidly (by the end of the third year if possible) to allow students to focus more strongly on research as they are approaching the end of their graduate studies.
PhD candidates are generally admitted with a salary from competitive research projects which is typically provided from 3 up to 5 years. Funding will be available on a continuing basis if the student maintains satisfactory progress toward completion of his/her PhD degree. During the first year, evaluation is solely based on the student’s performance is the three core courses and the oral presentation. After the first year, performance is evaluated primarily by the advisor and the 3-member thesis committee and is based mostly on progress in research.