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Research Proposal

MS and PhD students must submit a research proposal. Masters students should submit the proposal at the end of their first year, while PhD students should submit it after taking their preliminary Exam. Students should submit their proposal to their Advisory Committee and allow an appropriate amount of time for their review. Once the Committee has approved, students should prepare a Proposal Approval Page form located on the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies website. Students should collect signatures for all committee members and the form should be submitted to the Graduate Office along with a hard copy of the research proposal. The Graduate Office will obtain the Department Head’s signature and submit to the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies.

All research proposals are routed to the Office of Research Compliance and Biosafety for review and approval by the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies prior to final approval.

Theses and Dissertations

Theses and dissertations must be submitted in a format acceptable to the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies. The Thesis Office determines the acceptability of the document submitted as a PDF file. Please refer to the Graduate Catalog to obtain additional information, but note in particular the following information:

Format Instructions are available online at the TAMU Office for Graduate and Professional Studies website.

CHEN 695 and 696 – Graduate Mentoring Seminars

Another goal of the graduate program is to mentor students. This is primarily achieved through the advisor-student relationship. The Department also contributes to this by facilitating student professional development. This not only helps enable the research mission of the Department, but also helps students develop skills as educators. To facilitate this, the Department has developed two graduate mentoring classes (CHEN 695 and 696) that all graduate students seeking PhD degrees are expected to take. The Graduate Program Director is responsible for coordinating this class, along with help from various faculty members, as appropriate.

CHEN 695 will introduce students to teaching methodologies and concepts, as all advanced degree holders will find themselves in the role of an educator either formally or informally. Students will be assigned to a class and will work with the Graduate Program Director to develop a teaching module for the class that they have been assigned. The faculty member teaching the course will evaluate the graduate student’s performance in developing the teaching module. In addition, the students will be expected to spend approximately 10 hours per week to assist the course they are assigned. The responsibilities include:

  1. Attend class (~3 hours per week)
  2. Hold formal office hours (~2 hours per week)
  3. Coordinate grading of homework (~5 hours per week)

CHEN 696 will cover a broad range of topics/skills. The goal of this class is to help graduate students develop/refine skills that will enable them to successfully interact with other professionals, augment formal training students receive from their advisors, and broadening student perspectives. Possible topics include: Oral (Elevator talks, technical seminars) and written communication (abstracts) skill development, research and scientific methods, hypothesis testing, and research ethics.

Some other points of note:

  • PhD students will enroll in CHEN 696 during their 2nd year and CHEN 695 during their 3rd year. MS and MEng students will enroll only in CHEN 696 during their 2nd semester.
  • The course will be graded as pass/fail. Student performance (i.e. whether they get an S or U grade) will be assessed by the course instructor and students enrolled in the CHEN course the student is involved with, and the CHEN 695/696 instructor.
  • University centers/resources (e.g. Center for Teaching Excellence) would be utilized where appropriate.

Registration Requirements

Texas A&M University requires that fellowship holders and graduate assistants register for a minimum number of hours for credit. The Department of Chemical Engineering has additional registration requirements:

  1. All students funded by the department through a teaching/research assistantship or by a departmental fellowship must register for a minimum of 9 hours for the fall and spring semesters, and 6 hours for the ten-week summer session. Students who register for more than 9 or 6 hours should obtain approval from their PI. New students may consult with the Graduate Office for approval.
  2. Students funded by the department through a teaching/research assistantship should seek approval for electives from their PI. Students may be required to pay for courses on their own if they are not approved. New students may consult with the Graduate Office for approval.
  3. Students not funded by the department, who either take courses or who have completed their coursework and are working on their research, must register for the minimum load of 9 hours in the fall and spring semesters and 1 hour for the ten week summer session. These students can take the summer off (not register for the summer semester), however in this case they cannot be on the campus working on their projects.
  4. Students not funded by the department, who have completed all their required coursework and research, but have not defended their theses or dissertations and are in the process of writing their theses or dissertations, must register for a minimum of 4 hours of CHEN 691 in absentia or for one hour of CHEN 691 in residence. “In absentia” means off campus. Students in absentia are not assigned office space and desks and cannot use the laboratories. Special arrangements must be made with the Graduate Program Director to use departmental computers. In absentia registration cannot be extended; students registering in absentia must complete all their degree requirements that semester.
  5. Students who have completed all their required course work, written their theses or dissertations, and passed their oral defenses, but not cleared their theses with the Thesis Office before the beginning of a semester, or students that completed everything after the deadline for no registration to receive a degree, can register for one hour of CHEN 691. These students will not be assigned office space and desk and they cannot use the laboratories or departmental facilities such as the computers, etc. One hour of CHEN 691 registration cannot be extended, and the students registering under this category must complete all their degree requirements that semester.

Internships

All graduate students should register for internship (CHEN 684) under their Advisory Chair while off campus completing an internship. International students who wish to complete an internship during any semester, must submit a CPT form to ISS as soon as an offer has been made. Students who complete an internship during the Fall or Spring, must submit a request to the Graduate Office to be certified as full time. Students who do not complete this step will be out of status.

eCampus Access

All Graduate Students will be given access to “CHEN Graduate Student” folder in eCampus. In here students should expect to find the most up to date forms and information from the Graduate Office.

Student Responsibilities

The ultimate responsibility for meeting the requirements for a graduate degree rests with the student and his/her Advisory Committee. Regular communication between the student and his/her Advisory Committee Chair is conducive to successfully completing the graduate program requirements. Until a student selects an Advisory Committee chair, the Graduate Program Director of the Department of Chemical Engineering serves as the academic advisor for that student.

The objectives and scope of the dissertation or thesis research should be defined as clearly as possible as early in the student's program as possible. This definition should result from a joint activity of at least the student and research advisor and may involve all or part of the Advisory Committee. However, defining the objectives and scope are an important part of the research project and of the student's educational experience. Because of the unpredictable nature of research activities, the scope and objectives may require refinement or significant alteration during the research project.

Students are expected to make progress towards their research, under the supervision of the Research Advisor and the advice of their committee. If progress is not being made, then the student and Advisor should document both the corrective plan and progress being made on the plan; the department Graduate Director should be briefed

on this progress. If the student continues to show no progress in research, then the student may be asked to leave the program.

Financial Assistance

Financial assistance to graduate students within the Department of Chemical Engineering falls into two principal categories: fellowships and assistantships. Payment for each month usually becomes available on the first working day of the following month. The University considers the fellowships to be scholarships, and they are processed through the Student Financial Aid Office. Assistantships are considered to be part-time employment (up to 50% time) and the appropriate payroll office processes the paperwork. Currently, assistantship income is reported to the Internal Revenue Service on W-2 Forms but fellowship income is not reported on any form, even though both are taxable income. Fellowships and assistantships are treated differently with respect to tuition waivers and registration requirements the student should consult the chair of his/her Advisory Committee to determine the type of support that he/she receives.

Tuition Exemption

Holders of fellowships and assistantships qualify for Texas resident tuition rates. In addition, spouses and children of graduate assistants also qualify for the resident rates, but spouses and children of fellowship holders do not. Tuition exemption forms for fellowship holders must be submitted directly by the department to the Student Financial Aid Office. Graduate Assistants (includes Graduate Assistants Teaching (GAT), Graduate Assistants Non-Teaching (GANT), Graduate Assistants-Research (GAR)) receive the tuition exemption, by notifying the Administrative Payroll Assistant or the Graduate Program Specialist that registration for the current semester is completed. The tuition exemption granted to the student’s spouse and children, will be applied electronically in the department. The student should ask the Administrative Payroll Coordinator or Graduate Program Specialist to enter the exemption. Questions about the tuition exemption should be directed to the Graduate Program Specialist

Duration of Financial Assistance

Students who receive financial aid normally are supported continuously on a 12-month basis as long as they demonstrate satisfactory progress in a degree program. Continued financial aid is contingent upon the availability of sufficient funds to provide the stipend and satisfactory academic/research performance.

The Department of Chemical Engineering has established guidelines for the number of terms for which support will be provided. In these guidelines, the fall and spring semesters and the entire 10-week summer session are considered as “terms.” MS or MEng students normally do not receive financial aid.

Health Insurance

Under the policies of the Texas A&M University System, any person employed at least half time in a benefit eligible position is eligible for group insurance. Graduate assistants who receive financial aid as graduate assistant research, graduate assistant non-teaching, or graduate assistant teaching are eligible for this coverage. Benefits include

group health, group life insurance, long-term disability, accidental death and dismemberment, and optional life. If a student is married, dependent coverage is also available. Graduate students who are not employed by the Texas A&M University System are not eligible for this coverage. Texas A&M University does provide free care to all registered students on a walk-in basis through the A. P. Beutel Health Center, but it does not provide for hospitalization or care for serious illness. Because the United States has a private health care system, and because health services can be extremely expensive, the Department of Chemical Engineering strongly recommends that all students be covered by some type of medical insurance. A group health insurance policy for students not on financial assistance is available through the A. P. Beutel Health Center. Contact the A. P. Beutel Health Center for more information about this policy. This policy will be purchased by the Department of Chemical Engineering for Chemical Engineering graduate students holding fellowships.

The Texas A&M University system health insurance (Texas A&M employee health benefits) is subject to a 60-day waiting period before the state contribution is provided for an employee. The effective date of medical coverage can begin immediately, but the student is financially responsible for full payment of the monthly premium; otherwise, the effective date of coverage begins on the first day of the month following the 60th day of employment. The state contribution is then provided based on eligibility as a part-time employee.

Work Requirements

As stated previously, graduate assistants are part-time salaried employees. The regular schedule of work for employment is set by agreement between student and supervisor. In addition to the effort required in return for financial compensation, the level and schedule of effort for CHEN 691 credits is set by agreement between the student and the Advisory Committee Chair. Students working outside their group must inform their research advisors.

Petitions

Should a situation arise that is not covered by the procedures described in this handbook then the student can file a written petition with the Graduate Program Director. All petitions will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Absence from Workstation

According to present university policy, graduate assistantships neither accrue leave of any kind (such as sick leave or annual (vacation) leave) nor qualify for paid official university holidays. As a result, graduate assistants must be placed on Leave Without Pay for absences from campus. Students must request Leave Without Pay in Workday prior to leaving campus. These absences should not amount to more than two weeks per year and should be approved by the student’s Advisory Committee Chair. The responsibility for monitoring absences lies with the Advisory Committee Chair; therefore, all absences must be approved in advance with the Chair.

Absences for official university business (for example, travel to a scientific or engineering conference) should be submitted through Concur. Help may be obtained from the Business Office.

Academic Dishonesty

Texas A&M University is dedicated to the discovery, development, communication and application of knowledge in a wide range of academic and professional fields and assumes as its historic trust the maintenance of freedom of inquiry and an intellectual environment nurturing the human mind and spirit. Living in accordance with the Aggie Code of Honor is critical to these ideals, to the goal of assuming a place of preeminence in higher education, and to the development of the whole student.

Texas A&M University, this program, department and faculty take seriously allegations of academic misconduct. Academic and research misconduct by any stakeholder, including students, jeopardizes that work this program pursues. The University has defined academic misconduct on its website at http://aggiehonor.tamu.edu.

A student who is suspected of academic misconduct shall be reported to the Aggie Honor System Office to proceed through the established University process. A student may be found responsible for academic misconduct as part of their coursework, in research affiliated with their academic program, or through non-course related milestones (I.E. Comprehensive Exams, Qualifying Exams, Oral Exams). Anytime a student in this program is found responsible for academic misconduct, their status in the program will be evaluated by departmental and program leadership.

The University and this program, out of a desire to see students succeed, has resources on the Aggie Honor System Office website to help clarify common questions about the process and academic integrity. Any questions may also be referred directly to aggiehonor@tamu.edu, departmental leadership or your Advisor.

Consensual Relationships

Section 3 of SR 07.05.01, Consensual Relationships, provides that a Texas A&M employee is prohibited from pursuing or having a consensual relationship with an undergraduate student of Texas A&M University. Under this regulation, Graduate Students who receive compensation from the University are considered employees. An employee may request an exemption from the prohibition from the President or designee. Exemptions may be granted only in exceptional circumstances.

The President has delegated the approval of exemptions to the Provost and Vice Presidents. Requests for exemptions from employees of colleges and non-college units under the Provost’s purview submitted pursuant to Section 3 of SR 07.05.01, Consensual Relationships will be handled as follows:

On behalf of the Provost, the Dean of the college or division head of the non-college unit may review and approve/deny exemptions when an employee, is requesting permission

to continue a pre-existing consensual relationship with an undergraduate student if the situation meets all of the following:

  • The employee and the undergraduate have both submitted the request for an exemption;
  • The relationship which is the subject of the exemption request existed prior to one or both of the requesters becoming an employee or undergraduate student;
  • A power differential does not exist under any of the following scenarios:
    • The undergraduate is taking a class or active in a student group that the employee teaches or advises;
    • The employee is in the same college as the undergraduate’s major;
    • The undergraduate is serving in a student-employee capacity and the employee is within the same college;
  • The employee is provided a copy of the regulation which outlines the risks the regulation is designed to address.

Any requests that do not meet all of the requirements above may be forwarded to the Provost for review and decision if the Dean or division head recommends approval.

All approved exemptions will be forwarded to the Provost and placed in the employee’s personnel file. When a graduate assistant is requesting an exemption, the requirement for the relationship existing prior to the one or both of the requesters becoming an employee or undergraduate student is waived.

Resignation

During their last semester, all graduate students receiving financial aid must notify the departmental Payroll Coordinator by email of their last day of work. In this letter, the student should provide a permanent forwarding address. Students should also complete the Departmental Checkout process before the graduate. The checkout process includes, completing an exit interview with the Graduate Program Director, returning office keys, etc.

Departmental Office Information

The Graduate Program Specialist should be the first point of contact within the departmental offices for most graduate students. The principal exceptions relate to documents concerned with financial aid and payroll, and then the student should see the Payroll Coordinator. Appointments to see the Department Head should be made through the Administrative Assistant. All graduate students should check their mailboxes located in 113 Brown Building regular for delivered mail. Also, check your email on a regular basis because all important announcements are sent to the student’s TAMU email.

Keys

The departmental keys and visitor scan cards are maintained in room 117 E. in a secured cabinet. When an individual needs to obtain a key to an office/lab, a key form request must be signed by the employee’s supervisor. This key request authorization is kept on file along with a log detailing which individual has what key and the date it was checked out. Keys should be returned before graduation.

Supplies

The Department of Chemical Engineering does not provide office supplies for graduate students. If the student’s advisor approves, the student may place an order with the main office staff and provide an account number. The items will be delivered to the main office and placed with all other incoming packages. Again, the student’s group will be notified via email.

Repairs

If you have any mechanical repairs needed in your lab or office, please contact the Facility Coordinator by email or phone.

Safety Procedures and Requirements

The Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering is strongly committed to providing a safe environment for everyone associated with it, including faculty, staff, students and visitors. The department has adopted a safety policy that appears in detail in the Department of Chemical Engineering Safety Manual. Violations of the safety regulations may result in reduction or complete termination of financial assistance. Therefore, every student should obtain a copy of this manual and become thoroughly familiar with its contents. A few excerpts from the safety manual are presented here, but the coverage is by no means complete. Every graduate student pursuing a PhD or MS is required to complete CHEN 601, Chemical Engineering Laboratory Safety and Health, as soon as possible during their graduate program.

The Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering endorses the rules and regulations of the Texas A&M University Environmental, Health, and Safety Department (EHSD) and the Texas Engineering and Experiment Station (TEES) and Dwight Look College of Engineering Safety Policy. All persons studying, working or visiting any area assigned to the chemical engineering department must follow the aforementioned rules, regulations, and policy, and the safety regulations of the department. Compliance with these rules and regulations is a condition of employment, visitation, and/or study. Research directors, instructors of laboratory courses, and supervisors of staff workers have the ultimate responsibility for safety.

The Department Head assigns the duties of Safety Officer to a faculty member. The Safety Officer is chairman of the Safety Committee, (also appointed by the Department Head). Both the Safety Officer and the Safety Committee have the authority to stop any procedure any time they consider it unsafe. Any such cease order issued remains in effect until a safety analysis determines it is prudent to continue operations. The Safety Committee investigates reports of safety violations, all accidents, and any incident with a potential for damage or injury. The results of the investigations, including recommendations for corrective action and penalties when applicable, are forwarded to the Department Head for final disposition.

Any researcher (faculty, graduate student, undergraduate student, or research associate) engaged in experimental work must submit a written Project Safety Analysis (PSA) to the

Safety Officer giving a detailed description of the safety aspects of each project. The PSA describes all the hazards involved and details the design and operating precautions taken to protect the investigator, the occupants of the building, and the environment. The PSA must be submitted before construction begins on new projects or before a new researcher begins to operate existing apparatus. For any procedure that cannot strictly comply with some Safety Policy or Regulation, a variance from the policy or regulation must be requested by the P.I. and approved by the Department Head. The P.I. shall request approval, in writing, detailing the reasons for the exceptions and the precautions being taken. The Department Head shall act with the advice of the Safety Committee to approve or reject the variance request.

Anyone with doubts about the safety of any apparatus, practice or procedure has the right and the responsibility to report such concerns directly to the Department Head or the Safety Officer as soon as possible. The report may be anonymous, if desired. There shall be no reprisals for reports concerning safety.

Computer Laboratory Information

The Department of Chemical Engineering maintains a Computer Laboratory for the use of graduate students majoring in chemical engineering. In addition to the computers owned and maintained by the department, this facility provides access through the campus-wide network to other computer systems operated by the University. The Computer Laboratory Supervisor is responsible for operation of the Computer Laboratories and assisting with its use. The Computer Systems Manager handles hardware installations and repairs for systems within the Computer Laboratory and in individual research groups when requested.

The Computer Laboratory for Graduate Students is located in room 115 of the Brown Engineering Building. The lab is accessible 24 hours a day via a security system. The Computer Laboratory contains both Macintosh and Windows PCs and a laser printer. Additional details are available in a separate document, Computer Systems Laboratory Information.

Students can access the Graduate Lab by remote access by following the instructions located at: https://vlabs.engr.tamu.edu/.

Graduate Student Accounts

To receive an account on the Department of Chemical Engineering Computer system, go to room 117E, obtain and complete an account application form, and leave the form with the Computer Systems Manager or the Computer Laboratory Supervisor.

Shipping and Receiving

All shipments will be received at the Jack E. Brown Building Loading Dock. When a delivery service arrives, they will use the phone located at the dock to notify the main office that a delivery has arrived. A CHEN Staff member will meet the delivery service to sign in the shipment. Direct CHEN Phone Number is 845-3361. In the case of large equipment deliveries, the Facilities Coordinator will be notified to meet the shipment.

Once the shipment is signed in, each shipment will be logged in to the CHEN receiving manual. The shipment will be initialed and dated by the receiver. The boxes are opened and inspected to obtain the packing slip. In cases where the packing slip is fix to the outside of the shipment, the item will not be opened. The original packing slip is delivered to the CHEN Business Office and filled. Copies of the packing slips will be made, and placed in the professor’s mail box in 247. All items received will be sorted and stored in a secure room off of the loading dock. Research groups will be called if they have received a package, and will be able to pick them up at 11am or 3pm. If the shipment received is perishable, individuals will be notified immediately. Any flat mail that is deemed to be paper documents will not be opened. The research group representative will verify all items received before signing for the package.

Mail

Students who wish to receive mail to the department, must request a Graduate Student Mailbox. Graduate Student mail is distributed to the mailboxes located on the first floor of the JEB Building. Unclaimed Graduate Mail is recycled every six weeks. The mail is sorted by name and placed in mailboxes. If a recipient has left the department, the mail is forwarded on to that person. Monthly billing statements and checks go to the Business Office for processing. If an individual is receiving an item that is labeled confidential, that the item will be placed directly in the individual’s office.

Campus mail items, if they come in with a name on them, go into the individual’s mailbox, but if addressed to Chemical Engineering only, they are opened to see to whom they should go. Federal Express, UPS and other delivery company items are received at the CHEN Receiving area as stated above Overnight Mail Service – Please work with the front desk in the administrative receiving area to assist you with any overnight mail needs. If you are preparing the service for yourself, please make sure that the senders name and the account number is clearly written on the form. The receipt should be given to the CHEN Business Office.

Purchasing

The Department of Chemical Engineering manages its finances under the guidelines of the Texas A&M University Financial Management System and the Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES). The procedures outlined in this document are a combination of TAMU/TEES guidelines and internal departmental procedures to assist the department in accurately processing fiscal matters. Ultimately, the P.I. is responsible for spending and budgeting of his/her projects. The Departmental Business Administrator can provide assistance in reviewing accounts.

Per SAP 25.99.99.E0.02 Non-payroll costs and transfers to should be submitted within 90-days of the original transaction (i.e. goods received date or invoice received date, travel end date, service provided date). Requests made more than 90-days from the date of the original transaction goods received date will only be considered if appropriately justified.

All purchases made by Chemical Engineering personnel will require a departmental purchase order. This purchase order (P.O.) must be completed in detail by the individual ordering the item and must be signed off by the primary account holder. Any additional information that can accompany the purchase order, such as a quote, or email from a vendor, should be provided when making the order. Purchase order forms are available in the CHEN Business Office and completed forms should be returned to the CHEN Business office and placed in the drop box. When the purchase requisition is approved, an email notification will go out to the individual making the purchase to notify him/her that he/she can precede with the purchase.

Purchases costing between $0 and $4,999.00 are processed directly by the individual completing the purchase order, or by the CHEN Business Office. If the individual is making the order, please make sure that all documentation regarding the order is turned in immediately to the CHEN Business Office (i.e. receipts, emails concerning orders, quotes). Purchases costing over $5,000.00 are processed by the CHEN Business Office and all “good faith” efforts are made to utilize HUB vendors when possible on all purchases.

Student Disability Services

Disability Resources offers accommodations coordination, evaluation referral, disability-related information, assistive technology services, sign language interpreting and transcription services for academically related purposes. For help with the accommodations process, please refer to their website at https://disability.tamu.edu/electronicletters/ Although Disability Resources does not offer disability evaluation and/or testing, tutoring, personal expenses, attendants or scholarships, Disability Resources will provide resources and referral information.

Students should coordinate with instructors for accommodations each semester for their courses. For help with accommodations for non-course requirements a copy of their letter should be provided to the Graduate Office.

Ombudsperson

An ombudsperson is a neutral advocate to support the work of graduate students in the handling of issues pertaining to Diversity and Inclusion. Students who would like to speak with the ombudsperson can contact Dr. Mahmoud El-Halwagi (El-halwagi@tamu.edu) or Dr. Jodie Lutkenhaus (jodie.lutkenhaus@tamu.edu) directly.