7 May 2015 ME field meeting minutes

An ME field meeting was held on 7 May 2015 at noon in 178 Rhodes. DGS Brian Kirby served as Speaker. Dr. Marcia Sawyer acted as Secretary. Professors Hernandez, Shepherd, Singh, Miller, Rand, Selva, Zhang, Phoenix, Desjardins, Donnelly, Silberstein, Campbell, Avedisian, Kress-Gazit, Erickson, Fisher, Kirby were in attendance.

  • by unanimous consent, the field formally adopted parliamentary procedures:
    • Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, 11th edition (RONR11) is the governing parliamentary authority.
    • As RONR11 requires that a deliberative body provide “equivalent conditions of opportunity for simultaneous aural communication among all participants” (RONR11 Chapter 1 Section 1 page 1), and electronic vote clearly does not satisfy this condition, all electronic votes proceed only with unanimous consent from the field. Electronic votes will always have not less than a seven-day window before votes are counted.
    • Faculty participating in meetings by teleconference and videoconference will be considered as attending, i.e., meetings with members participating by teleconference and/or videoconference will be deemed by the Field to constitute “equivalent conditions of opportunity for simultaneous aural communication among all participants”.
    • Absentee voting (i.e. notifying the DGS of one’s vote when one cannot attend the meeting), though not allowed by RONR11, is deemed critical by the Field to allow maximal participation by those with busy schedules and multiple commitments. Absentee voting will be allowed when unanimous consent exists. Faculty objecting to the validity of absentee voting on a motion should notify the DGS to object within 7 days of the vote.
    • The quorum for Field meetings is 12 field members.
    • The DGS will be the Speaker for Field meetings. The DGS will appoint a Secretary for each Field meeting.
  • an informal discussion regarding timing of A exams was held; the DGS notified the field that the Grad School plans to show less leniency with regards to scheduling A exams and that the DGS plans, similarly, to push students to complete A exams before end of 6th term. The Grad School claims that the field average A exam is 3.8 years after program start. Grad school requires before end of 3 years.
  • motions to admit Silvia Ferrari, Tobias Hanrath, and John Albertson to the ME field passed.
  • motions to admit Al George and Steve Pope as a Graduate School Professors of Mechanical Engineering, contingent upon each receiving the status of Professor Emeritus, passed.
  • DGS Kirby presented a draft set of requirements for a self-funded, terminal MS program and the faculty discussed this topic with plans to vote on a motion at the Aug 20 Field Meeting.

New Faculty in Sibley School

In case you are unaware, the Sibley School will have four new faculty that have just started or will start in the upcoming year:

Silvia Ferrari:  Started 1 July 2015.  Formerly Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Duke.  Neural networks, bayesian networks, feedback control.  http://www.mae.cornell.edu/mae/people/profile.cfm?netid=sf375

Nelly Andarawis-Puri: Starts 1 Jan 2016.  Currently Assistant Professor of Orthopaedics at Mount Sinai.  Tendon biomechanics.  http://www.mountsinai.org/profiles/nelly-a-andarawis-puri (hired through biomechanics search)

Greg Bewley: Starts 1 Jan 2016.  Currently at Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-organization.  Experimental fluid mechanics and turbulence.  http://www.lfpn.ds.mpg.de/turbulence/bewley.html (hired through fluids search)

Guy Hoffman: Starts 1 jan 2016.  Currently Assistant Professor at IDC Herzliya.  Human-robot interaction.  http://guyhoffman.com/ (hired through design/manufacturing search)

August 2015 Field Review of ME PhD Students: info and FAQ

this post is very similar to one I sent a year ago.

Some comments and FAQ re the ME field review of students that will happen on Aug 20.  AE and TAM students: you can ignore.  Students matriculating in August 2015: this doesn’t apply to you yet.  Those to which this applies have received individual emails from Dr. Sawyer, I believe yesterday.

We will, at our field meeting, go over the information you provide on the confluence web pages as a group.  I will lead the discussion.  Our Field rules in ME say we should do this every year. The goal is to provide a level of oversight that goes beyond the committee. It is designed to be a quick check to make sure everyone is on track. It is not detailed nor could it be given the number of students we will review. Our goal is to identify those cases where students appear to not be on track, so that we can help the students and/or help the committee. About 80-90% of applications are reviewed for 30 seconds–the materials looks fine, the advisor says things are fine, and we move on. In 10-20% of cases, there is something that makes us ask a question or two–why hasn’t this student published, why has this student not taken an A exam, why is he/she taking so many/so few classes, et cetera. In most of these cases, the advisor has a simple explanation that makes the field happy. In a very small number of cases, we make a suggestion to the advisor or committee. Theoretically, if something were really crazy, I could intervene as DGS. The last possiblity (intervention) has never happened to date.

Some questions I have received:

1. is this new?

No, it was approved by the field ~5 years ago. we have done this 4 times.

2. why are we doing this?

see above.

3. What am I supposed to write in the student comments section? It feels like a “justify your existence” section.

It is not meant to be a justify-your-existence sort of thing. It is more like we want to hear how you describe how things are going. If you say “I am miserable”, we will take note and be concerned. if you say “I think I am on track”, we will be happy. if you say you expect to graduate in 7 years, we will tell you it shouldn’t take that long. If you say you expect to graduate next month and your advisor thinks you are two years away, we will tell you advisor that he/she should probably discuss goals and timelines with you.

4. who sees this information? what is the audience?

I recommend you think of it as a short report to me as DGS. Marcia and I see this, and you should expect that I could show it to any field faculty if they ask to see it. I read them all, although of course I don’t remember every detail. In practice, the field faculty see a projection of the information during the field meeting. Usually, especially when things are going well, the review is cursory but illuminating.

5. couldn’t you get this information from cornell databases? my class grades for example.

for grades and committee, yes. but there is no easy way to do it and so we are asking you to each do a small bit of clerical work to make this all happen in a timely fashion

6. why don’t we do this in Aerospace Engineering or TAM?

TAM does do it, but is smaller and they do it without soliciting info from students. AE doesn’t have a field policy to do this (ME and AE share some policies but not all). if you want AE to do this, I recommend encouraging the AE DGS. If you don’t want AE to do this, I recommend not saying anything.

ME field PhD TA requirements

I have heard, from many students, a number of incorrect interpretations of the field TA requirements.

The field rules for ME are listed at http://blogs.cornell.edu/maeassocdirector/mech-eng-msphd-field-rules/.  I urge students to bookmark http://blogs.cornell.edu/maeassocdirector in your browser.

The part relevant to field TA requirements is copied below.

Teaching Experience
Two semesters of teaching experience are required of all Ph.D. students. This requirement is usually fulfilled through Teaching Assistantships (TAs). International students whose native language is not English are required to undergo screening by the International Teaching Assistant Development Program (ITADP) and may be required to take courses in English and pedagogy before assuming TA duties. The College of Engineering requires all teaching assistants to participate in TA Training offered by the College. In exceptional circumstances, students may petition the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) for a reduction in the required amount of teaching experience.

PhD students on a three-year (or longer) fellowship may satisfy the teaching requirement by serving one semester as a TA and performing an additional qualified teaching activity. A qualified teaching activity shall be approved by the DGS and Special Committee chair, and must involve teaching technical material to a group and involve at least 15 contact hours.

 

I have heard it said that anyone can get out of the TA requirement.  this is incorrect.  I have heard that those on fellowship have the requirement waived automatically–this is incorrect; you have to do an addtional qualified teaching activity.  I have heard that if your advisor wants you to get out of the requirement that it will be waived.  this is incorrect.

 

I have also had people speak to me informally about waiving this requirement, then had them assume that they were all set.  The rules require a formal petition. No one can get the TA requirement waived without a petition.

Field meeting and field review of ME PhD students: followup

thanks to ME PhD students who submitted information for the field review that we had last thursday. An informal summary of the joint AE/ME field meeting minutes from 21 Aug 2014 is below.

Professors Selva and Barthelmie were elected to become field members in ME and AE.

Professors Knepper, James, Warner, and Lammerding were elected to become field members in ME.

We passed a motion to have regular ME field meetings thrice yearly.

We passed a motion to set the Q exam format–in the past there was a recommended format but committees had license to do anything they wanted. I feared that this just led to unwanted uncertainty. Now what used to be the recommended format is set as the required Q exam format. Wording to describe this format was codified.

Two motions I brought–TA requirements and how we inform students of Q exam results–I tabled because discussion ensued about detailed wording and I deemed the field review more important than hammering out those motions. I will revisit those motions at the next field meeting, scheduled for January.

We held a field review of ME PhD students. This involved presenting the material that students prepared and discussing it amongst the faculty. 65 of 78 ME students were discussed; 13 were skipped because of incomplete info or faculty absence or both. In general the review was positive. In a small number of cases, action items were identified (e.g. professor X should talk to professor Y or professor A should talk to student B or the committee for student C should meet with him/her).

If you were part of the review and don’t hear anything, you should assume that no major issues came up with your progress. It is appropriate to follow up with your advisor or me if you have questions–I have had several people ask me if everything went ok with their review, and I am happy to field those questions.

On a personal note, one result of the field review that I actually hadn’t planned for was that it was an occasion for faculty to rattle off all the reasons why student X is great and why student Y is going to experience tons of success in the immediate and distant future. It was fun to have that be such a prominent part of the meeting. I often talk of the field review as an opportunity to sniff out problems proactively to address them, but most of what it entailed was my listening to faculty brag about their great students. I had a lot of fun with it.

Field review of PhD students: some comments and FAQ

Some comments and FAQ re the field review of students that will happen on thursday. Our Field rules in ME say we should do this every year. The goal is to provide a level of oversight that goes beyond the committee. It is designed to be a quick check to make sure everyone is on track. It is not detailed nor could it be given the number of students we will review. Our goal is to identify those cases where students appear to not be on track, so that we can help the students and/or help the committee. About 80-90% of applications are reviewed for 30 seconds–the materials looks fine, the advisor says things are fine, and we move on. In 10-20% of cases, there is something that makes us ask a question or two–why hasn’t this student published, why has this student not taken an A exam, why is he/she taking so many/so few classes, et cetera. In most of these cases, the advisor has a simple explanation that makes the field happy. In a very small number of cases, we make a suggestion to the advisor or committee. Theoretically, if something were really crazy, I could intervene as DGS. The last possiblity (intervention) has never happened to date.

Some questions I have received:

1. is this new?

No, it was approved by the field ~4 years ago. we have done this 3 times.

2. why are we doing this?

see above.

3. What am I supposed to write in the student comments section? It feels like a “justify your existence” section.

It is not meant to be a justify-your-existence sort of thing. It is more like we want to hear how you describe how things are going. If you say “I am miserable”, we will take note and be concerned. if you say “I think I am on track”, we will be happy. if you say you expect to gtraduate in 7 years, we will tell you it shouldn’t take that long. If you say you expect to graduate next month and your advisor thinks you are two years away, we will tell you advisor that he/she should probably discuss goals and timelines with you.

4. who sees this information? what is the audience?

I recommend you think of it as a short report to me as DGS. Marcia and I see this and you should expect that I could show it to any field faculty if they ask to see it. I read them all, although of course I don’t remember every detail. In practice the field faculty see a projection of the information during the field meeting. Usually, especially when things are going well, the review is cursory but illuminating.

5. couldn’t you get this information from cornell databases? my class grades for example.

for grades and committee, yes. but there is no easy way to do it and so we are asking you to each do a small bit of clerical work to make this all happen in a timely fashion

6. why don’t we do this in Aerospace Engineering or TAM?

TAM does do it, but is smaller and they do it without soliciting info from students. AE doesn’t have a field policy to do this (ME and AE share some policies but not all). if you want AE to do this, I recommend encouraging the AE DGS. If you don’t want AE to do this, I recommend not saying anything.

October 17 Faculty Meeting Minutes

Excerpts from the Oct 17 Faculty meeting that are (a) suitable for public disclosure and (b) perhaps of interest to the broad student community follow.
Unlike meeting minutes, which are official and approved by faculty vote, this summary is mine alone and has not been vetted or approved by the faculty.
***

A meeting of the Sibley School Faculty was called to order on October 17th, at 1:00pm by Zellman Warhaft, Acting Speaker.

Approval of the Minutes

The minutes of the faculty meeting on September 19, 2013 were approved as distributed to the faculty.

Remarks and Announcements from Director M. Campbell

Update on renovation: The director updated status and timelines for the mezzanine and Kimball Hall.

Faculty: There will be no faculty search this year.

Budget: The university has adopted a new budget model that changes what role the college plays in obtaining income and distributing funds. The role of the department is still being determined.

Report from Associate Director for Undergraduate Affairs, W. Sachse

Mid-semester course surveys were discussed, as was the proposed undergraduate program in biomedical engineering.

Report from Associate Director for Graduate Affairs, B. Kirby

An update on graduate recruiting was presented by Professor B. Kirby, DGS for Mech. Eng.  The graduate student matching process starts on October 18th. Both faculty and students should

provide lists by that date and matching will start immediately, to be completed as soon as possible.  Professor B. Kirby then provided a summary of what the first year Ph.D. students are doing in the  seminar series.

Reports from regular School, College and University committees.

Professor P. Dawson reported on events in the recent faculty senate meeting.

Motion for voting privileges

After discussion, a motion was passed granting department voting privileges to an out-of-department Cornell faculty member.

Other business

Linda Smiley, MAE research administrator, gave a talk on proposals and pre-awards in the department.

 

The acting speaker, Professor Z. Warhaft, adjourned the meeting at 2:15 pm.

 

Update from graduate school on effect of shutdown

I thought this was important enough to send along. The short version is that the grad school asserts that the shutdown is not expected to immediately effect disbursement for stipends for fellowships or federally-funded GRAs and similar in the vast majority of cases. Below is a note from Susan Wicker.

*****
Several graduate students have raised concerns about the impact of the government shut-down on graduate student stipends and access to research sites. While a serious issue for concern, the government shut-down currently is having a minimal impact on stipend disbursement to graduate students. Graduate students appointed as GRAs on federally-funded grants are not considered federal employees and are not impacted by the furlough unless a stop work order is placed on the award. At this time, across the university, five stop work orders have been issued and fewer than 10 individuals—individuals who do not receive their support through Cornell—have been impacted by the furlough.
The Division of Human Resources released a message on Thursday, October 3 to help departments consider options for individuals impacted by the furlough. That message is pasted below.
The Graduate School has an emergency grant fund that can be used to assist U.S. citizen and permanent resident graduate students impacted by the furlough. (International students impacted by the furlough should contact the International Students and Scholars Office. For additional information on how the government shutdown may impact international students, see: http://www.isso.cornell.edu/about/Govshutdown.php.) To apply for an emergency grant, the student should contact Kat Empson (kle6@cornell.edu, 255-7374) for an application form.
We ask that DGSs reach out to students whose research is hampered by inability to access federally-managed research sites or data sets, particularly if the lack of access occurs during a critical time for crop analysis or other field work. These students may need guidance on how to address their research issues and, in some cases, may require extra time to complete the degree if delays due to the shutdown result in missing a field season.
University leadership shares student and faculty concern about the impact of the shut down on research and our community and will do everything it can to maintain funding continuity. However the university will be required to continually reassess depending on the length of the shutdown. We ask that you forward this message to students in your graduate field as appropriate to help reduce anxiety. If you have additional questions or would like to share your perspective on the impact of the shutdown on your academic program, please contact me.
Thank you.
Sarah

Sarah S. Wicker

Associate Dean for Administration

The Graduate School

350 Caldwell Hall

Cornell University

Ithaca, NY 14853-2602