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Updated 9/7/16



The 2016 Graduate Institute consists of three separate tracks: the undergraduate (UG), early graduate (EG), and advanced graduate (AG) tracks. All conference attendees are invited to attend any of the workshops or panel presentations in any of the three tracks of the Graduate Institute.

The undergraduate track of the Graduate Institute consists of workshops and panel presentations that will guide undergraduate students in understanding the benefits of a graduate education, as well as the steps towards identifying graduate programs, developing a competitive application, and finding funding.

The early graduate student (EG) and advanced graduate student (AG) tracks of the Graduate Institute are aimed primarily for graduate students at different stages in their degree program. The tracks consist of a series of workshop and panel presentations that will provide graduate students with the tools that are needed to succeed in graduate school and plan for their careers after graduate school. The session topics range from those that are applicable to early-stage graduate students who have an interest in finding funding for their graduate programs, to those that are interested in obtaining an engineering license, improving their professional skills, or ultimately seeking a job in academia, industry, or government laboratories.


Graduate Institute Conference Schedule:



Abstracts for the Early and Advance Graduate (EG and AG) Tracks


  • UG-1 Workshop: What is Graduate School? Expectations vs. Reality

Highly valuable professions in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) become, and in some cases, are only available with an advanced degree. These professions are at the forefront of scientific and academic research, technological developments and entrepreneurship. The multi-faceted skill sets that a student has to gain and leverage to thrive in the graduate school environment will be presented, while the reality of graduate school expectations will be explained. By the end of the workshop, participants should have a strong and tangible understanding of the valuable opportunities available to them, should they pursue an advanced degree

  • UG-2 Panel: Selecting the Best Graduate Program: MS vs PhD

Deciding between a Master and a Doctoral degree is one of the most important decisions an applicant will make. Additionally, valuable factors such as location, funding availability and graduate resources (i.e. research, advisor, housing, etc.) must be considered during the decision process. Therefore, useful resources and opportunities at universities and networks that enable the student to identify the best graduate programs in their research field of choice will be presented. Key components of the different graduate programs will be addressed in detail during this workshop. By the end of the panel session, participants should be able to develop a systematic decision process on how to choose the best graduate program that best suits them and their career goals.


  • UG-3 Workshop: How to Prepare a Competitive Graduate Program Application

As graduate admissions become increasingly competitive, this workshop will provide insights on the quality and characteristics of the students that graduate departments in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) recruit and admit to their programs. STEM graduate program requirements vary from institution to institution. However, the high expectations regarding GRE scores, the statement of purpose essay, academics, experiences, etc. are very similar. Emphasis will be placed on sections of the application that make students the most competitive and distinguishable from their peers. Methods of how to manage multiple graduate school applications and requirements will also be discussed. By the end of the workshop, participants shall know how to become a competitive candidate as well as the multiple factors to consider when identifying the best graduate programs in their field.


  • UG-4 Workshop: How to Finance Your Graduate Education 

Various funding opportunities (fellowships, scholarships and assistantships) exist for students pursuing an advance degree in STEM. Successfully obtaining external and internal funding sources can influence the admission process and lifestyle during the graduate program, and vice-versa. Therefore, being aware of and taking advantage of financial opportunities is valuable when pursuing an advanced degree. Various internal and external funding opportunities will be discussed in detail during this workshop. By the end of the workshop, participants will be aware of and know how to apply to the various funding sources available in STEM graduate programs.


  • UG-5 Panel: Achieving Success in Graduate School

Successful admission to the STEM graduate program(s) of choice is a great milestone. If admitted to multiple programs, selecting the STEM graduate program can be a challenging decision. Upon selecting the program, the greater challenge becomes being aware of the necessary strategies and tactics needed to be successful in graduate school and obtaining the career path of choice. In addition, coping strategies, life-work balance, and other challenges faced by graduate students will be discussed. By the end of the workshop, participants will be aware of the necessary skill sets and knowledge they will need during their graduate education to be successfully finish their graduate program.


  • EG-1 Workshop: Obtaining Fellowships and Finding the Right Advisor

Funding is a critical aspect of pursuing a graduate degree for all graduate students. There are numerous resources to obtain fully financing a graduate education; fellowships are among the most prestigious. This session will focus on fellowships and training grants that can be obtained from a variety of government agencies, foundations, corporations, and universities. Methods of developing a competitive application will be discussed.  In addition, the methods and importance of identifying an appropriate faculty advisor will be discussed. By the end of this session, the graduate student will understand the key factors in earning graduate fellowships and identifying an ideal research advisor.


  • EG-2 Panel:  Valuable Strategies to Get the Most from Your Advanced Degree

Pursuing an advanced degree in graduate school is an exciting, valuable academic career path. The career opportunities available exclusively with an advanced degree are numerous. The paths that you can take to pursue your career of choice are even more plentiful. Early year graduate students are challenged to quickly adapt in a fast paced and rigorous learning environment. To successfully navigate the graduate school environment and pursue a valuable career path, developing strategies and putting them into place is vital. A panel of role models and mentors will present their strategies for success as well as the common skills that one must obtain to navigate through graduate school. By the end of the session, the attendees will have a strong understanding of the key characteristics, resources and useful strategies for achieving the most from an advanced degree.


  • EG-3 Workshop:  Professional Engineering Licensing

Becoming licensed as a professional engineer (P.E.) is an added credential that may distinguish one engineer from another, and is valuable whether a person is a professor, in industry, or in a government position. Although the PE license is not required for regular engineering practice, a PE license IS required in order to advertise services as a “professional” or “licensed” engineer, or to become the engineer of record in certain types of projects (e.g. public projects), among other instances. The workshop will cover the basic steps in professional engineering licensing, including the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam as well as the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam.  By the end of this session, the student will have an appreciation of the meaning, importance, and mechanics of obtaining a PE license.


  • AG-1 Workshop:  Call to Action!  The Need for Diverse STEM Faculty

There is a growing disparity between the percentage of the Hispanic population in the

U.S. and the percentage of Hispanic faculty members in STEM. A diverse faculty population is imperative for the prosperity of the U.S. and development and innovation of technologies for society. This session will serve as a motivational catalyst for graduate students to be aware of the value and service in being part of academia. By the end of the session, graduate students will be empowered to consider the professoriate as a career path.


  • AG-2 Workshop:  Applying for a Faculty Position:  Research, Teaching, Service

Entering the professoriate is a rigorous and competitive process. It is of key importance that applicants be knowledgeable of the mechanics and insights of the application process. A comprehensive overview of the faculty search process and application will be discussed in this workshop. In-depth details and guidance regarding preparing the research and teaching statements for the faculty application will be provided. Additionally, subsequent steps and processes after application submission (e.g. the faculty interview and start up package negotiations) will be discussed. By the end of the session, the graduate students will have a comprehensive understanding of the faculty application process, access to resources, and strategies for entering the professoriate.


  • AG-3.  Developing a Vision for Your Research Program

The research statement is a critical document in the faculty application package when applying to tenure-track faculty positions. Therefore, a competitive and well-developed statement must be crafted. The research statement provides the vision for the research laboratory. Thus, thematic areas of research and viable and fundable projects must be specifically detailed to demonstrate the applicant’s potential for success as a new faculty member. In this workshop, best strategies and practices will be presented on how to prepare the research statement. Moreover, the attending graduate students will gain in-depth insights on the departmental faculty search committees’ priorities when selecting a prospective faculty hire for an interview. By the end of the session, the graduate students will have gained valuable knowledge and strategies on how to prepare their research statement for applying to the professoriate.


  • EG/AG-4 Workshop:  Responsible and Ethical Conduct in Academia and Industry  

The purpose of this presentation is to introduce graduate students to the importance of being an ethical and responsible researcher, either in an academic, government, or industrial setting, and to the broad categories and areas in which ethical research conduct is often misunderstood or abused.  While most graduate researchers have vague understanding that the federal government mandates that all researchers that receive federal funding for research must be trained in Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR), there is widespread misunderstanding or complete lack of understanding as to what are the responsibilities of all researchers, including graduate researchers and those that are employed in industry.  The presenter will use a number of case studies to illustrate examples of research misconduct and situations in which ethical decisions and choices must be made.  By the end of the session, graduate students should have an enhanced understanding of ethical conduct in different settings, as well as RCR.


  • EG/AG-5 Workshop:  Effective Scientific Communication

Effectively communicating results to the general public and to the scientific community is critical in terms of enhancing the broader impacts and translation of research from the laboratory to a practical application. In addition, impactful publications, and, equally important, citations, are the currency in advanced degree STEM careers. This presentation will mentor and prepare graduate students to become the leading scholars in their respective fields and the scientific community by providing the tools necessary to building their scientific repertoire. The processes involved in crafting presentations that are accessible to the general public as well as impactful research publication, ranging from preparing and submitting a manuscript to corresponding with editors and reviewers, will be discussed. By the end of the session, the graduate students will have in-depth knowledge of the mechanics of effectively communicating their scientific results to different communities.


  • UG/EG/AG-6 Workshop:  Getting a Job!  Successfully Negotiating With Academia, Industry and National Labs

A panel of administrative leaders and scientist from academia, industry and national laboratories will discuss the attributes of successful applicants in securing positions within their respective sector. This session aims to mentor and empower graduate students on the importance of a productive correspondence with prospective employers in order to successfully enter their careers. Strategies on how to obtain employment and navigate the hiring process in a competitive and highly specialized market will be presented by the panelists. Emphasis will be placed on understanding the similarities and differences in each of these job markets.  By the end of the session, attendees will have an understanding of the career opportunities available in industry, national labs and government and how to leverage their educational training to become successful in gaining employment in these sectors.


  • Graduate Hospitality Suite (Graduate Students Only)

The Graduate Hospitality Suite increases awareness of available employment/career opportunities for Graduate students (Master’s and PhD) at the conference. This event provides a forum for Graduate students to explore various career paths through increased interaction with exhibitors/sponsors and academia representatives.


 Graduate Institute Sponsors: