Students FAQ

Questions from prospective incoming graduate students

0) What are my chances of getting you to read my email and reply about graduate admission to our lab?

If you are working and/or you are interested in the research area that I don't work on, your chances are very slim. I might not reply at all. In general, in order to get my attention you need to know what is our research about and how you can extend our research results further with your ideas. Please take more time to study this since this will give you more realistic chance when it comes to being considered to join our group.

1) What are my chances of admission, can the application fee be waived?

These are all questions for the school of graduate studies, and most of them are answered on the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research web site. I am not in charge of admissions, and I do not keep track of admissions requirements. I am not an administrator, I am only a professor.

2) Will you recommend or secure my admission?

A: Yes. If I told you that I will accept you. Admission decisions are made by graduate advisor at our Dept., and then on the basis of his/her recommendation I consider your acceptance. If you presented a paper at a conference I attended and we talked about your presentation afterward and/or you talked to my on some other occasion about your or our work, let the graduate advisor know that you spoke with me.

3) Will you provide me with financial support?

A: Yes. If I told you that I will accept you, you will be provided a funding that will be guaranteed providing satisfactory performance in the graduate program and research activities.

4) How do I get financial support?

A: It is very difficult to get additional financial support beyond the package that we are providing and typically financial support comes from professors who have fundings. Professors give financial support to the best students, based on their experience with students in their classes and/or research performance.

5) What should I do to get off to a good start at University of Alberta?

A: First, treat this as your unique opportunity in life to get to the special learning environment, second, be responsible and professional as this is your employment and not a school. Third, do not wast time and don't engage into activities that are taking you away from your duties and studies.

Questions from currently enrolled graduate students

1) Do you have money for new students?

A: No. I am already working with accepted graduate students who need financial support and all resources are already committed to existing students in our program and lab.

2) Will you be my new advisor, I have been at U of Alberta and I want to change my advisor with you?

A: No in general, and you have to have a good reason if you want to switch advisors. If I am not convinced that your reason is good, then I will not agree to be your new advisor.

3) What courses should I take?

A: In general, if you want to study controls, you should start with Modern Control course in Electrical Engineering Department ECE590, System Identification Course in Chemical Engineering Department CHE662, Intermediate Process Control CHE576 and Control of Distributed Parameter Systems (MECE or CHE Dept). If you want more specific guidance, you’ll have to email me or meet me during office hours and tell me your goals and your background for me to help you.

4) Will you be on my thesis/dissertation committee?

A: Maybe. First you should discuss with your thesis advisor the choice of committee members. If your advisor suggests or agrees to my name, then the answer will likely be “yes.” Sometimes the answer will be “no” because (a) I’m swamped with teaching or other obligations, and/or (b) I’m not really a good choice to understand your topic. Please don’t take it personally if I need to turn you down.

5) If you’re on my thesis/dissertation committee, how involved do you want to be, and when should I contact you?

A: As a general rule I would like to hear about your thesis project at the time I agree to be on your committee, but typically after that I would not see you until the defence. In some cases, a committee member is actually helpful to the student in his/her work, in which case they meet as needed. “Pinging” your committee member, in person or email, every 6 months just to let them know you are still alive and making progress is a good idea to stay in touch.

6) How will you help me if you become my advisor?

A: I expect to give students a lot of freedom to define what they work on and how they proceed in the topic of research interest, but at the same time to redirect them if they are not making progress. I expect that students are active in contributing to the grants and other fundings applications. I may provide equipment, space, and some funding for travel, etc. I encourage meetings between students and collaborators.

7) As my thesis / dissertation committee member, what instructions do you have on the preparation of my thesis, and preparation for my thesis defense??

A: If I am on your committee (but not your advisor), and you have a thesis defense coming up in which I will participate, please help me do my job by following these guidelines, in roughly the order given: 

  1. Read and follow instructions posted by the graduate school and your department for theses, scheduling exams, etc. Be sure you are aware of graduate school deadlines, which are long before the end of the semester; also allow for the lead time the graduate school requires for scheduling exams. I do not keep track of administrative issues, so it is up to you to keep track of them.
  2. Get your thesis or proposal in good shape and approved by your advisor before giving it to me. The advisor is the first (and most important) person to give you feedback, and to satisfy. 
  3. Contact me (and other committee members) with 2 or 3 dates you prefer, and I’ll tell you my available times on those dates. When you find a compatible time for all committee members, notify me immediately. There is often a flurry of students trying to hold exams at approximately the same time (right before the grad school deadline). First one to nail down a date and a time wins! 
  4. Get your thesis copy edited for grammar, style, spelling, and consistency. 
  5. Give me a paper copy of your completed thesis or proposal at least one week before the defense date. Please do not send an copy by email. 
  6. The thesis or proposal should already have been proofread by a careful, qualified reader for spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors before I see it. Occasional minor errors are no problem, but if the thesis or proposal has serious readability problems I will return it for revisions. I will not be able to understand and appreciate the content if the writing is seriously deficient. 
  7. You should plan on some “revision time” following a defense. It is probable you will need to make some changes to your thesis, based on feedback from your committee. It is risky to expect no changes, and to schedule something major (like leaving town for a new job) immediately following an exam.

Questions from undergraduate students regarding research (summer or during the regular terms)

1) Do you have any research (summer and/or during the regular terms) project for my extra curricula?

A: Maybe. In general, there are many opportunities in our lab due to the various number of projects. Usually, it depends on your level of knowledge and/or your comittment to the some research.

2) Do you have any work for me in lab and/or office?

A: Maybe. In general, I don't take students just to fill up their CV requirements, however there are exceptions when students clearly demonstrate involvement with the tasks given and/or proposed to them.

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