In the typical MS path, a student will be here for
four semesters. Depending on the department's staffing situation,
the student will be a teaching assistant (T.A.) for the first two
semesters, and a research assistant (R.A.) for the last two.
- Student will do background research in thesis area (either formally
as a directed research project, or informally).
- Typical background research might be for the student to
review a classical paper in the field related to the thesis area.
- Student will write a several-page summary of the paper
as related to their
thesis, and make an oral presentation to
convince advisor(s) that student understands the paper. (In the case of
a formal directed research project, the written summary and oral
presentation will form the basis of the grade assigned.)
- Student and advisor will also work together to develop a
schedule for remainder of project.
Note that describing the thesis work at this early stage also
for the student: since the thesis proposal will define the work that needs to
be finished, there will be a basis for the student and advisor(s)
to agree that the project is "done." This prevents the nightmare scenario of
advisor(s) always tacking on one more thing to at the end of the
- Continue background research. Student should register for 3 credits
of EE598, Directed Research.
- Start design of thesis chip/system: can be either
- top-level block design and behavioral simulation, or
- circuit-level design and SPICE simulation of a critical block.
- Student will write a thesis proposal (approximately 30 to 50 pages,
which will be the
introduction / background part of their thesis) AND make an oral presentation / defense
of the proposal. The proposal will also include a schedule for the remainder of the project.
The proposal / defense process has many benefits at this stage:
- The proposal will serve as the
introduction / background part of their thesis.
- The presentation / defense will be good practice for the thesis defense
at the end of the project.
- The process of developing the proposal will provide an indication of
the student's ability
to conduct research (e.g. find and cite references, and understand their
relevance to the project), and to demonstrate the student will do a good
job in finishing the project with R.A. support from the Center.
- Written proposal and oral presentation at defense form the basis
for the grade assigned.
- Full time center support of student as an R.A. begins. Student should
3 credits of EE 599, M.S. Thesis.
- Work full time on detailed design of thesis chip/system. Submit for
fabrication aproximately September 1.
- Student will present design reviews and IC layout reviews to the
Analog Lab staff before fabrication. The documentation packages and
presentation materials should fold almost direclty into the thesis
and/or thesis defense presentation.
- Student should also present a schedule for the remainder of
- The design reviews and documentation will form the basis for
the grade assigned for the 3 credits of thesis work.
- Full time center support of student as an R.A. continues. Student should
at least 3 (and possibly 6) credits of EE 599, M.S. Thesis.
- Detailed design finished. While chip is out for fabrication, design
of any required test circuitry (e.g. evaluation boards) should be
completed so that chips can be tested as soon as fabrication is
complete, and prototype chips are received at WPI.
- Continue process of writing thesis, leaving "blanks" to be filled
in where test results
will be inserted. This will be a good exercise to make sure that the
envisioned test plan is complete; that there aren't any "holes" in the
test data to be collected.
- At the end of the term, student should complete the following:
The thesis and paper drafts will form the basis for
the grade assigned for the 3 (or 6) credits of thesis work.
- Draft of complete thesis (as final as possible)
- Schedule / test plan for remainder of project
- Draft of a paper to be submitted to a conference or journal (as with
the thesis, as close to a final draft as possible).
- Full time center support of student as an R.A. will conclude at the end of this semester. Student should
register for 3 credits of EE 599, M.S. Thesis.
- Prototype chips back from fabrication.
- Complete final testing of prototype chips.
- Complete thesis.
- Complete and submit journal/conference paper.
- Defend thesis.
- The thesis, defense presentation, and paper will form the basis for
the grade assigned for the 3 credits of thesis work.
The outline shown above is just one possibility. The flexibility allowed
by WPI's graduate program allows for many other options depending on the
student's particular situation. Students entering the program with
some graduate credit may want to explore options such as
completion of the degree in less than two years, or working as a
at one of the Center sponsor companies.
- The student has a sequence of milestones to meet along the way,
rather than an amorphous "thesis" that's 2 years off in the distance
- There are many opportunities for the student to receive feedback
on their progress along the way
- The documentation milestones allow the student to write up the thesis
gradually, rather than in a frantic last-semester push
- Students have time to develop and demonstrate their research skills,
increasing confidence that they will do a good job with Center support as
- Potential M.S. students are more confident that their advisor(s)
a reasonable path to a well-defined thesis.