Carnegie Mellon University

Project Option

Beginning Fall 2020, all MS in ECE programs at the Pittsburgh Campus (Standard, Applied, Advanced Study and Applied Advanced Study) have the option to work extensively on a single research project with a CMU faculty member. This is called the Project Option. In the Project Option, a student will take a total of 36 units of graduate-level research to count towards their degree in two separate phases. The first phase of the Project Option is 12 units that will be taken no sooner than the student’s second semester in the program. The second phase is 24 units that will be taken in the following semester. Please see below for a timeline of the Project Option.

*Note: All MS in ECE programs have a Course Option or Project Option to fulfill the degree. To learn more about the Course Option where you can take between 1 and 27 units of research, please view each individual program page here.

Phase I

Step 1: Registering for project units

Step 2: Conducting research

Step 3: Conclusion

  • Students will apply to research projects in SPT and elect the "Project Option". Note: This may or may not involve discussions with faculty prior to applying.
  • Students will then be accepted into the project by the faculty instructor in SPT.
  • This will alert ECE staff to add the first 12 units of 18-980 for the Project Option to your registration. Note: Students should be checking their registration to confirm the units have been successfully added.
  • Students will work with their faculty instructor on the research project for 12 units which equals approximately 160 hours.
  • Students will prepare a Phase I summary report of research findings.
  • Students will also prepare a project proposal for their work in Phase II.
  • Students will then present these at the ECE Student Symposium held at the end of each term.

 

  • Student work will be reviewed by a panel of ECE faculty judges at the ECE Student Symposium.
  • This panel will determine if the student's work is strong enough to move to Phase II of the Project Option.
  • If a student receives an invitation to continue in Phase II, they will register for 24 units in the following semester.
  • If a student does not receive an invitation to continue, they will complete the program under the "Course Option" and their 12 units of research will still count towards the degree.

Phase II

Step 1: Registering for project units

Step 2: Conducting research

Step 3: Conclusion

  • If invited to continue to Phase II, students will apply again to the same project in SPT and elect the "Project Option".
  • The faculty instructor will accept the student's application in SPT with a Phase II designation.
  • This will alert ECE staff to add the remaining 24 units of 18-980 for the Project Option to your registration. Note: Students should be checking their registration to confirm the units have been successfully added.
  • Students will work with their faculty instructor on the research project for 24 units which equals approximately 320 hours.
  • Students will prepare a Phase II summary report of research findings.
  • Students will then present this at the ECE Student Symposium held at the end of each term.

 

  • The student's final presentation will again be reviewed by a panel of ECE faculty judges at the ECE Student Symposium.
  • The evaluation by the panel will contribute to your final grade for Phase II.

 

Frequently asked questions

No, you cannot complete the Project Option in one semester. Central to the concept of the Project Option is a two-phase structure with an intermediate go/no-go evaluation point between semesters. You must complete the Project Option in no fewer than two semesters.

 

Yes, you can work on research with a faculty member from another department; however, you must have an ECE faculty member act as a co-instructor on the project to confirm that the research is relevant to your ECE degree.

You are not advised to begin the Project Option in your first semester. You should take your first semester to build relationships with faculty and understand your research interests and then apply for projects starting in your second semester.

Yes, you can enter the Project Option in either your second or third semester if your program length is 4 semesters long. You must have at least 2 semesters remaining in your program to complete the Project Option I.
Yes, as an IMB student you can participate in the Project Option, however you must have two semester remaining in your program to do so. This means that if you plan to finish both your BS and MS degrees at the same time, you must begin the Project Option in the first semester of your senior year. Please speak with your faculty advisor for more information about completing the Project Option.

If you are not invited to continue in the Project Option after Phase I, your 12 units of 18-980 will still count towards your degree. You will be finishing your degree under the “Course Option”. In the Course Option, you can count 12 units of 18-980 towards your core requirement and up to 15 units towards your CIT Elective requirement.

Yes, this is possible but you must meet with your faculty instructor(s) and faculty advisor to make sure you are still meeting all of the goals needed to complete the Project Option. This will be considered on a case-by-case basis, including situations involving change of faculty instructor(s), and may involve submitting a revised proposal for Phase II work.

Yes, however you must petition to receive approval to deviate from the standard configuration. Please note that the standard unit structure appropriately balances the effort a student dedicates to ideation, preliminary studies, and the core of the project work. Therefore, substantial deviation from this structure will risk an unsuccessful project and may not be approved.

Yes, this is possible. However, you must submit a petition to receive approval to deviate from the standard configuration.