Course Study

MAT E 580X Advancing Professional Skills for Thesis Research

1 credit (co-list at IE, CBE, and will open to other departments including ECpE, AerE, CCEE )

Prerequisites: NA

Instructor Email Office Phone
Shan Jiang (Lead) sjiang1@iastate.edu 2220BD Hoover 515-294-1445
Gül Okudan-Kremer gkremer@iastate.edu 3031 Black Engineering 515-294-0127
Nigel Reuel reuel@iastate.edu 3051 Sweeney 515-294-4592
Qing Li qlijane@iastate.edu 3031 Black Engineering 515-294-4867

Course Description

The objective of this course is to train students with the tools adapted from project management (PM) skills and help them to implement the skills to their thesis research. The students will learn to use tools and software to initiate a project charter, set up timelines, manage expectations from their advisor, and communicate the challenges in their research. In addition, the students will learn skills of teamwork and time management.

The class will be delivered in a blended lecturing and team-based learning approach. At the end, students will be able to present a project charter on their thesis, demonstrate knowledge of related PM skills and how to utilize these for their thesis research. The students will also present their learning experience and the PM plan for the thesis. This 1 credit class is offered on a satisfactory-fail basis only.

Learning Outcomes

The goal of this course is to educate students with the fundamental PM skills geared towards thesis research. The course will adapt active learning and inductive teaching approaches. Students will practise their learning through group discussion and in-class activities under the guidance of the instructors. Beyond the PM skills, students will also learn and practise team building and communication skills. The graduate students will benefit from the course in terms of contents, knowledge and professional skill sets, to improve their efficiency in design and execution of thesis research, and eventually increase their job readiness and placement upon graduation. More specifically the course will train students with the following:

  1. An ability to develop a project charter for the thesis research
  2. An ability to set up a communication plan and use scheduling software (Microsoft Project (MSP))
  3. An ability to make Gantt charts
  4. An ability to utilize the Critical Path Method (CPM) for the thesis research
  5. Achieve an understanding of challenges and opportunities associated with PM in thesis research.

Topics Covered

Topic Week Instructor Readings (Meredith’s book)
Introduction: manage thesis like a project 1 Shan Jiang Chapter 1
Graduate student – the manager of your thesis 2 Shan Jiang Chapter 2
Team build and character test 3 Gül Okudan-Kremer
Never too late to plan: Project charter, Sorting Out the Project—The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) 4-5 Shan Jiang Chapter 3
Special lecture on academia experience 6 Gül Okudan-Kremer
Scheduling the project, finding the critical path, Gantt charts and PERT/CPM networks
Software: Microsoft Project (MSP)
7-8 Nigel Reuel Chapter 5
Case study 1 9 Michael Helwig
Allocating resources to the project: The Critical Path Method 10-11 Qing Li Chapter 6
Monitoring and controlling 12 Shan Jiang Chapter 7
Special lecture on R&D in industry 13 Nigel Reuel
Thanksgiving break
Class presentation 14-15