VCU Bulletins

Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Graduate program director
Karla M. Mossi, Ph.D.
Associate professor
kmmossi@vcu.edu
(804) 827-5275

Additional contact
Gary C. Tepper, Ph.D.
Professor and chair, Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering
gctepper@vcu.edu
(804) 827-7030

Program website: mechanical-and-nuclear.egr.vcu.edu/academics/graduate

Refer to the program search function of the online VCU Bulletins for a complete listing of all programs, concentrations and related curricular options.

Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering, Master of Science (M.S.) 

Apply online at graduate.admissions.vcu.edu.

Admission requirements

Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Degree:

Ph.D.
Semester(s)
of entry:

Fall



Spring
Deadline 
dates:

Jun 1 (Feb 15 for financial assistance)

Nov 15
Test
requirements:

GRE – General

International students require TOEFL

In addition to the general admission requirements of the VCU Graduate School, the following comprise the admissions requirements for the mechanical and nuclear engineering Ph.D. program:

  1. Proof of graduation from an accredited college or university with either a bachelor's or a master’s degree in mechanical engineering, nuclear engineering or a related discipline with a minimum grade point average of 3.0.
  2. Demonstration of proficiency in spoken and written English. For international students, satisfactory scores on the TOEFL exam are necessary. The University minimum TOEFL score is 550 (paper-based) and 213 (computer-based). The following qualifiers must be submitted to meet the English-language requisite: 100 iBT (graduate) or 6.5 IELTS academic band score.
  3. Submission of results of the Graduate Record Examination (minimum score for admission to be established annually by the MNE graduate committee).
  4. Submission of at least three letters of recommendation from former instructors or other individuals qualified to evaluate the applicant’s ability to engage in graduate study in mechanical and nuclear engineering.
  5. Submission of a written statement of purpose that clearly demonstrates commitment to a career in mechanical and nuclear engineering.

The MNE graduate committee may admit students unconditionally or provisionally. Provisional admission may be granted when deficiencies are identified; these deficiencies should be remedied by the time specified by the admissions committee. At the end of the provisional period, the student's progress is evaluated. Failure to meet the goals set forth by the MNE graduate committee at the time of admission results in a show-cause notice. A response to this notice that is deemed unsatisfactory results in a recommendation for dismissal. The student has the right to appeal the recommendation for dismissal following procedures set forth by the School of Engineering and the VCU Graduate School. Remedial courses, or those designed to remove deficiencies, will not be accepted for credit hours toward the fulfillment of the course requirements for the Ph.D.

VCU Graduate Bulletin, VCU Graduate School and general academic policies and regulations for all graduate students in all graduate programs

The VCU Graduate Bulletin website documents the official admission and academic rules and regulations that govern graduate education for all graduate programs at the university.  These policies are established by the graduate faculty of the university through their elected representatives to the University Graduate Council.

It is the responsibility of all graduate students, both on- and off-campus, to be familiar with the VCU Graduate Bulletin as well as the Graduate School website and academic regulations in individual school and department publications and on program websites. However, in all cases, the official policies and procedures of the University Graduate Council, as published on the VCU Graduate Bulletin and Graduate School websites, take precedence over individual program policies and guidelines.

General academic regulations for
all graduate students in all graduate programs at VCU

Program mission

The Ph.D. curriculum will provide graduate-level training in both mechanical and nuclear engineering. Graduates of the program will be prepared for research and teaching careers in areas such as energy production, nuclear waste transport, storage and disposal, and the development of new mechanical devices for use in nuclear medicine. A set of required interdisciplinary core courses will train students on the interaction of radiation with engineering materials, radiation in heat and mass transfer as well as mathematical modeling and control of mechanical systems incorporating radioactive elements. Technical electives in both mechanical and nuclear engineering will allow students to pursue in-depth study relevant to their selected research topics. Dissertation topics pursued as directed research credit hours will be devoted to open-ended research projects at the intersection of mechanical and nuclear engineering.

  1. Advanced technical skills: To produce graduates who possess the necessary advanced analytical and technical skills in engineering and sciences – responds directly to the higher goals of fulfilling the needs of industry for effective, productive engineers and of providing economic development for the region, state and nation
  2. Communication: To produce graduates who possess a facility with both written and oral communications – emanates from the requirement that engineers must be able to interact and share ideas with others in the work environment, and at a higher level, be capable of creative self-expression and leadership
  3. Advanced problem-solving: To produce graduates who demonstrate creativity and innovation in solving technological problems – stems from the realization that new knowledge and new solutions to existing problems are necessary to meet the needs of our changing society and to advance the quality of human life

Student learning outcomes

  1. Apply advanced knowledge of mathematics, science or engineering: Graduates will demonstrate an ability to apply advanced knowledge of mathematics, science or engineering.
  2. Communicate effectively: Graduates will demonstrate an ability to communicate effectively.
  3. Identify, formulate and solve engineering problems: Graduates will demonstrate an ability to identify, formulate and solve engineering problems.

Degree requirements

In addition to the VCU Graduate School graduation requirements, the Ph.D. degree will require a minimum of 68 credit hours beyond the B.S. degree or a minimum of 36 credit hours beyond the M.S. degree. Students may enter the Ph.D. program with either a B.S. or M.S. degree.

Transfer policy

Transfer courses must be approved by the MNE graduate committee and must fulfill all requirements of the VCU Graduate School as described in the student handbook. For students entering with a B.S. degree, a maximum of nine credit hours of technical electives may be transferred from another VCU program or outside institution and, if not applied previously toward another degree, may be applied toward the Ph.D.

Qualifying examination

Graduate students must pass a written qualifying exam consisting of five sections. Each section will consist of questions taken from the subject matter covered in one of the five core courses. The QE is to be taken after completion of the 15 credit hours of required core courses and, preferably, within 18 months of enrollment. To be eligible to take the QE exam, students must be accepted into the Ph.D. program and have an overall minimum GPA of 3.0 and the minimum GPA for courses within the MNE program must be 3.0 as well. The QE is held during the spring semester of each academic year, normally during the second week of May. In order to apply to take the QE, the student must complete Form MNE 104 by the first day of classes in the spring semester and submit the signed copies to the adviser and graduate program director, who will make the decision to allow the student to take the QE.

A student must pass all five sections of the QE. A course grade of A in one (and only one) of the core courses may be used to pass the corresponding section of the QE exam. Within two weeks of administration, the student will be notified of their results.

In the event that a student fails any section of the QE, they may retake the failed section(s) one time only. Failure to pass any section of the QE for the second time will result in dismissal from the Ph.D. program.

Research adviser and graduate dissertation committee

Students will be expected to select a research adviser and dissertation committee within 12 months of enrollment. The dissertation committee will consist of five faculty members, including the primary research adviser and at least two other faculty members from the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering. This committee reviews and votes to approve or disapprove the student’s dissertation research proposal, oral candidacy exam, and the final Ph.D. dissertation and oral defense. This committee also makes the final recommendation to award the Ph.D. degree. All voting members of the committee must be members of the graduate faculty. Additional, nonvoting members may serve on the committee with the approval of the MNE graduate program director.

Oral candidacy examination

Within nine months after passing the qualifying examination the student will submit one copy of an original dissertation research proposal based upon their proposed research project to each member of his or her dissertation committee. The proposal consists of the research topic and proposed research plan. The proposal should include a thorough literature review of the topic and contain information sufficient to judge the feasibility, scope and potential impact of the research. The dissertation committee will then administer an oral candidacy exam based on the material submitted in the dissertation research proposal. The format of the OCE is an oral presentation by the candidate with questions by the dissertation committee members. A favorable decision by the dissertation committee with no more than one negative vote (all members are required to vote) shall be required to pass the OCE. If a student fails the OCE, one re-examination may be given with the consent of the dissertation committee. Failure to pass the second OCE will result in dismissal from the program.

Dissertation defense

No earlier than six months after passing the oral candidacy examination, the student will defend the dissertation in an open forum administered by the dissertation committee. At least two weeks prior to the defense, the candidate will submit a written copy of the dissertation to each committee member and schedule a date for the defense. The defense will be advertised and faculty and student colleagues will be invited to attend. During the defense, the student will present a detailed summary of their research project, which should be the original problem presented and approved during the oral candidacy examination. If a solution of the original problem proves elusive for reasons beyond the student’s control, the student may be allowed to redirect the research with permission from the dissertation committee and find an alternate pathway to the solution of a redefined problem. The format of the dissertation defense will be a presentation by the student followed by questions from the dissertation committee and other attendees. After the first round of questions are completed, the non-committee members in attendance will be asked to leave and the dissertation committee members will hold a second round of questions in closed session. After the second round of questions is completed the student will be asked to leave and the committee members will deliberate privately. The problem presented and solved must be of sufficient importance and interest to warrant publication in a peer reviewed journal in the student’s area of specialization. A favorable decision by the dissertation committee with no more than one negative vote (all members are required to vote) shall be required to pass the dissertation defense. If a student fails the dissertation defense, one re-examination may be given. Failure to pass the second dissertation defense will result in dismissal from the program.

Students entering with a B.S. degree who are terminated from the Ph.D. program because of a failure to pass the QE, oral candidacy exam or dissertation defense (but not for other reasons such as academic dishonesty) will have the option to continue toward the M.S. in Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering.

Time limit

It is anticipated that students entering with a B.S. will complete the program in four years from the time the student passes the qualifying examination. Students must be continuously enrolled in the program (minimum of one credit hour per semester). All requirements for the Ph.D. degree must be completed within six years of passing the qualifying examination.

It is anticipated that students entering with an M.S. degree will complete the program in three years from the time the student passes the qualifying examination. Students must be continuously enrolled in the program (minimum of 1 credit hour per semester). All requirements for the Ph.D. must be completed within five years of passing the qualifying examination.

Any student may request a one-year extension of the maximum time for extenuating circumstances such as a medical situation. The graduate program committee will review and approve or deny all such requests. The maximum time cannot be extended longer than one year. Students who do not satisfy the degree requirements within the maximum time will be dismissed from the program.

Because of the maximum time limits imposed on students in the Ph.D. program, the program does not accept part-time students.

Preparing Future Faculty Program

Students enrolled in the program will have the option and are strongly encouraged to participate in the Preparing Future Faculty Program. The VCU Graduate School provides graduate students with ongoing opportunities for academic and professional development. The PFFP at VCU offers a series of short courses and professional development opportunities for graduate students interested in pursuing careers in higher education. The series is modeled on the national PFFP created by the Association of American Colleges and Universities. PFFP courses introduce graduate students to the roles and responsibilities of higher education; address teaching, learning and technology issues in the college classroom; and incorporate material on the academic job search and continued professional development. For those students who complete all course requirements, the capstone course is an internship/externship experience during which the student is mentored by a senior faculty member. The program offers access to resources and activities and service-learning experiences while providing networking opportunities with students and faculty from a wide range of disciplines as well as discipline-specific areas of study. Since most courses are one or two credit hours, students are able to add them easily into their academic program schedules.

Curriculum requirements

Requirements for students entering with a B.S. degree  
   
Courses Credit hours
   
Core courses 15
EGMN 503 Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering Continuum Mechanics* 3
EGMN 504 Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering Analysis* 3
EGMN 603 Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering Dynamic Systems 3
EGMN 604 Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering Materials 3
EGRN 610 Topics in Nuclear Engineering** 3
   
*Students entering the Ph.D. program with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from VCU who have taken EGMN 503 or EGMN 504 as undergraduate technical electives must take replacement courses approved by the MNE graduate program director.
**Not required for students entering with a B.S. in Nuclear Engineering. A replacement course approved by the MNE graduate program director must be taken and will count toward the required 15 credit hours of core courses.
 
   
Technical elective component 18
Mechanical and nuclear engineering students, with the aid of their dissertation adviser and dissertation committee, will select technical elective courses with the following requirements:  
   
At least six credit hours from courses under the mechanical engineering list  
At least three credit hours from courses under the nuclear engineering list  
Remaining nine credit hours selected from either list or other appropriate graduate-level courses approved by the dissertation adviser  
 
Mechanical engineering courses  
ENGR 565 Design Optimization 3
ENGR 630 Technology, Security and Preparedness 3
EGRM 510 Solid Mechanics and Materials Behavior 3
EGRM 515 Vibrations 3
EGRM 525 Feedback Control 3
EGRM 545 Energy Conversion Systems 3
EGRM 551 Experimental Methods for Engineers 3
EGRM 555 Smart Materials 3
EGRM 561 Advanced Fluid Mechanics 3
EGRM 568 Robot Manipulators 3
EGRM 570 Introduction to Computational Fluid Dynamics 3
EGRM 580 Flow Control 3
EGRM 609 Advanced Characterization of Materials 3
EGRM 630 Advanced Biofluid Mechanics 3
EGRM 661 Computational Fluid Dynamics 3
EGRM 662 Advanced Turbomachinery Systems 3
ENGR 591 Special Topics in Engineering 3
 
Nuclear engineering courses
EGRM 602 Convective Heat Transfer 3
EGRN 510 Probabilistic Risk Assessment 3
EGRN 530 System Analysis of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle 3
EGRN 620 Reactor Theory 3
EGRN 630 Nuclear Power Plants 3
EGRN 640 Nuclear Safety 3
EGRN 650 Nuclear Radiation and Shielding 3
   
Directed research component 27
This component consists of dissertation research directed toward completion of Ph.D. degree requirements under the direction of a dissertation adviser and dissertation committee. Students can register for 1 to 15 credit hours of directed research in mechanical and nuclear engineering.  
 
EGMN 697 Directed Research in Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering  
   
Seminar component 8
EGMN 690 Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering Seminar  
   
Total graduate credit hours required (minimum) 68

Notes:

  1. A total of 21 credit hours from the core courses, technical electives or seminar (not including directed research credit hours) must be at the 600 level or higher.
  2. In certain cases, independent study courses (ENGR 691) are offered by individual faculty members. Up to three credit hours of ENGR 691 may be taken as a technical elective course.
Requirements for students entering with an M.S. degree  
   
Courses Credit hours
   
Core courses 9
EGMN 603 Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering Dynamic Systems* 3
EGMN 604 Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering Materials* 3
EGRN 610 Topics in Nuclear Engineering* 3
   
*Not required for students entering with a B.S. or M.S. in Nuclear Engineering or Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering. A replacement course approved by the MNE graduate program director must be taken and will count toward the required nine credit hours of core courses.  
   
Directed research component 24
This component consists or dissertation research directed toward completion of Ph.D. degree requirements under the direction of a dissertation adviser and dissertation committee.  
   
EGMN 697 Directed Research in Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering  
   
Seminar component 3
EGMN 690 Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering Seminar  
   
Total graduate credit hours required (minimum) 36

Notes:

  1. A total of nine credit hours of core courses and seminar but not including directed research credit hours must be at the 600 level or higher.
  2. Students entering with an M.S. will follow the same curriculum as the students entering with a B.S. with the above noted reduction in required credit hours.

Degree candidacy requirements

A graduate student admitted to a program or concentration requiring a final research project, work of art, thesis or dissertation, must qualify for continuing master’s or doctoral status according to the degree candidacy requirements of the student’s graduate program. Admission to degree candidacy, if applicable, is a formal statement by the graduate student’s faculty regarding the student’s academic achievements and the student’s readiness to proceed to the final research phase of the degree program.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following degree candidacy policy as published in the VCU Graduate Bulletin for complete information and instructions.

Degree candidacy requirements

Graduation requirements

As graduate students approach the end of their academic programs and the final semester of matriculation, they must make formal application to graduate. No degrees will be conferred until the application to graduate has been finalized.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following graduation requirements as published in the Graduate Bulletin for a complete list of instructions and a graduation checklist.

Graduation requirements

Other information

Student handbook is available on the School of Engineering website.

 

 

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Last update: 12/19/2014

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