NanoEngineering Detailed Description

The NanoEngineering graduate degree program prepares students to enter the Nanotechnology workforce, as well as prepare students to enter a wider variety of engineering, science and/or medical career paths.  It is clear that Nanotechnology-based industries will play a major role in the future economy.  Our proposed curriculum is specifically intended to develop graduate students to be team leaders and innovators in corporations that have nanotechnology-centric applications, where our graduates will play the critical role to integrate across the varied disciplines involved, and help overcome the inherent challenges of engineering at the nanoscale.  Their unique training in NanoEngineering will enable them to naturally become these leaders.

Linkage between fundamental science and engineering disciplines and research focus areas for the NanoEngineering department.

As with all of the graduate engineering degrees in the Jacobs School of Engineering, a common set of educational principles and expectations will exist for our graduate students:

  • A capacity to understand and apply modern scientific principles
  • Skills in the retrieval and presentation of scientific information both orally and in writing to scientific and non-scientific audiences
  • Proficiency in critical analysis of information and capacity to solve problems
  • An ability to analyze and evaluate numerical data
  • Competence in the practical use of relevant computer and information technology
  • An ability to work effectively in a team
  • An appreciation of the role of science in society
  • An understanding of the ethical issues raised through the study of science, and its application in engineering.

In addition, the new NE curriculum will have the following course-specific outcomes:

  • Prepare students for nanotechnology by providing them with a sound grounding in multidisciplinary areas of nanoscience and nanoscale engineering
  • Increase students' understanding of materials and their properties at the atomic and nanometer level, including an understanding of the intimate relationship between material scale (nanostructure) and the properties/functionality of materials
  • Prepare graduates who, while skilled in areas of nanoscience and nanoengineering, will be qualified for jobs in traditional science-based industries and government laboratories and, as the nanotechnologies emerge and mature, will be positioned for jobs in these applied areas. This program will be anticipating trends and providing students with integrated, cross-disciplinary scientific knowledge and professional skills
  • Educate a new generation of engineers who can participate in, and indeed seed, new high-technology companies that will be the key to maintaining jobs, wealth and educational infrastructures as nanotechnology results in a new industrial revolution
  • Enable the students to develop a range of professional, scientific and computational skills that will enhance employment opportunities in a wide range of industrial and governmental institutions
  • Prepare students for the workplace through developing their ability to contribute constructively to multidisciplinary teams, learn team engineering principles and methods, to communicate both orally and in written form, and to be familiar with modern, computer-based communication technology. This will be achieved using non-traditional education techniques including group-based problem-based learning, flexible delivery and web-based interactive tutorials
  • Form strong multidisciplinary educational links through joint team projects that cross the traditional areas of science and engineering

All graduate students in NanoEngineering are required to take each of five core classes that have been carefully crafted to provide an in-depth understanding of the chemistry, physics, materials, and interface science germane to the nanoscale [courses NANO-201, 202, and 206].  In addition, NANO-203 focuses on the complex and innovative new technologies in place and being developed for the tailored synthesis of controlled, functional nanostructures and directed self-assembly of complex nanostructures and nanosystems. NANO-205 specifically addresses the challenge of nanoscale systems integration, focusing on making connections of scientific principles across physical boundaries between diverse materials to achieve new, unique, nanoscale functionality.

The additional courses required for completion of each graduate degree, beyond the 5 core classes, will come from a series of NE elective courses, sub-divided into the three research focus areas: Biomedical Nanotechnology, Molecular and Nanomaterials, or Nanotechnologies for Energy and the Environment.   Additional courses needed to develop team engineering, technology leadership, and entrepreneur skills will be made available to our graduate students through the new series of Engineering-wide courses [ENG-100, 101, and 101L] developed in collaboration with the UC San Diego Rady Management school, the UC San Diego von Liebig foundation, and engineering faculty.  None of the required courses that comprise the M.S. or Ph.D. programs in NanoEngineering rely upon teaching from faculty in any other department on campus.  However, at times, particularly with regard to the NE Affiliate Faculty, courses are offered by faculty in other departments of interest to NE graduate students, and these students may enroll in these courses as electives, upon consent of their advisor.

There are 3 different degree paths in the NanoEngineering Graduate Degree program:

  1. Master of Science – only [M.S.-only (terminal degree path)]
  2. Master of Science {M.S. degree leading to a Ph.D. program}
  3. Doctor of Philosophy {Ph.D. degree, either as direct admit or matriculation from M.S. degree program}.

Students wishing to pursue a Master of Science (M.S.) in NanoEngineering degree can be admitted into the program for either the ‘M.S.-only’ route (a terminal Masters degree) or the M.S. route, where the student intends to pursue a Ph.D. degree after completing the M.S. degree.  Irrespective of whether the student chooses the ‘M.S.-only’ route or the ‘M.S.’ route, the student has two other options for the pursuit of their M.S. degree: a Thesis Route and an Examination Route. Both routes require the completion of the same 5 core classes, with the Thesis Route requiring 1 additional elective course and the Examination Route requiring 4 additional elective courses.  Both routes require a total of thirty-six (36) units.

Additional details of the M.S. degree requirements are shown here:

  • Thesis Route: 6 courses (5 core + 1 course from any focus area) + research units + written thesis + thesis defense exam (presentation to 3 faculty) {faculty advisor + 2 additional faculty selected by advisor and candidate}
  • Examination Route: 9 courses (5 core + 4 courses from any focus areas) + Written exam (Based on the 5 core courses)
    1. One exam on one date for all students with no access to previous exam
    2. Pass at 60% = Get Masters degree, but don’t advance into Ph.D. program
    3. Pass at 70% = Get Masters degree and Advance into Ph.D. program

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in NanoEngineering requires the selection of a specific focus [Biomedical Nanotechnology, Molecular and Nanomaterials, or Nanotechnologies for Energy and the Environment], and consists of the successful completion of 10 courses --- the 5 required core courses, 3 electives from the student’s selected focus, and 2 electives from any of the two remaining focuses, the ENG-10X courses (for team engineering, leadership, and entrepreneur skills), or from a variety of electives from other engineering, sciences, or mathematics departments across campus, with advisor’s consent.  The non-NanoEngineering elective courses are all open for enrollment by our graduate students.  The additional degree details for the Ph.D. in NanoEngineering are discussed below.

  • 10 courses (5 core, 3 courses from one specific focus area, and 2 courses within any focus area)
  • Exams:
    1. Written Exit Exam: Based on the 5 core courses
      1. One exam on one date for all students with no access to previous exam
      2. Pass at 60% = Get Masters degree, but don’t advance into Ph.D. program
      3. Pass at 70% = Advance into Ph.D. program
    2. Literature Review Examination: literature presentation + dissertation work presentation; end of 1st year (after Masters), 45 minutes
      1. Oral Exam: on any Nanoengineering related research topic approved by committee, 30 minutes
      2. Preliminary dissertation research overview, 15 minutes
      3. 3 faculty members + advisor (can be additional silent observer)
    3. Senate (Candidacy) Exam (Advancement to Candidacy):
      1. Committee of 4 (effective Fall 2021, normal Senate rules apply)
    4. Dissertation Defense

Qualifying examinations—written and/or oral

Ph.D.: M.S. comprehensive examination used as Ph.D. entrance exam (passing grade of 70% required), literature review examination, senate (candidacy) exam.

Thesis and/or dissertation

Master of Science {Thesis Route requires the completion of a Thesis document and presentation of the thesis to a faculty thesis committee of 3 members, 2 of which need to be from Nano/Ceng}

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) requires the completion of a Dissertation and presentation of the research contained in the dissertation (See Final Examination below).

Final examination

Graduate students will defend their thesis or dissertation in a final oral examination.  The exam will consist of a) a presentation of the thesis or dissertation by the graduate student, b) questioning by the general audience, and c) closed door questioning by the thesis or dissertation committee.  The student will be informed of the exam result at the completion of the entire oral examination.  The final report of the doctoral committee will be signed by all members of the committee and the final version of the dissertation will conform to the procedures outlined in the publication, ‘Instructions for the Preparation and Submission of Doctoral and Masters Theses’.

Relationship of Master’s and Doctor’s programs

Both programs utilize the same 5 Core Courses

Sample program

All students will take 5 core courses and start a research project their first year.

End of Year 2 through 5

Spring of 1st or 2nd year – Qualifying Examination
One year after Qualifying exam - Literature Review 
By Spring of 3rd year or Fall of 4th year – Advance to Candidacy
By End of 5th year – Ph.D.

Normative time from matriculation to degree

Normative time is defined as that period of time in which students under normal circumstances are expected to complete their doctoral program.  Normative time for a Ph.D. in NanoEngineering is five years.  The maximum length of time that a student may remain a pre-candidate for the Ph.D. degree is three years.

Graduate student academic progress and policies are monitored by the NanoEngineering Department at UC San Diego and ensures that students make timely progress towards completion of their degree.  The policies include spring evaluations and annual substantive progress reviews as directed by the Graduate Council. The NanoEngineering Graduate Affairs Committee Chair, in coordination with the Office of Graduate Studies OGS and the NanoEngineering Dept. Chair, will implement these policies for the program.

  • Normative Timelines:
  • The Pre-Candidacy Time Limit is 3 years
  • The Normative Time to Degree is 5 years
  • The Support Time Limit is 6 years
  • The Total Registered Time Limit is 7 years