University of Virginia
The Rotunda at U.Va.
School of Graduate Engineering and Applied Science
General Information  |  Degree Programs  |  Admission Requirements  |  Financial Assistance  |  General Requirements  |  Program Descriptions  |  Course Descriptions  |  Faculty
Biomedical Engineering, Department of
Chemical Engineering, Department of
Civil Engineering, Department of
Computer Engineering, Department of
Computer Science, Department of
Electrical and Computer Engineering, Department of
Engineering Physics Program
Materials Science and Engineering, Department of
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Department of
Systems and Information Engineering, Department of

Program Descriptions

Department of Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical engineering deals with the interface between technology, biology, and medicine. It draws on the life sciences and medicine, as well as all the physical, mathematical, and engineering fields. Students from a variety of undergraduate disciplines, including biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, and computer science, enter this graduate program and work toward its goals of better health care and enhanced understanding of biological systems.

The Department of Biomedical Engineering offers an undergraduate major degree with courses in physiology, biomedical image analysis, cell and molecular biology, biomedical instrumentation, biomechanics, medical imaging, biomaterials, and bioelectricity. These students come from any undergraduate engineering field or from the physical or life sciences. Appropriate background preparation includes calculus, differential equations, circuit analysis, physics, chemistry, computer programming, and biology.

The Biomedical Engineering Graduate Program encompasses a core curriculum of engineering with an emphasis on instrumentation, mathematics, and life sciences with an emphasis on physiology, cell and molecular biology that reinforces and extends the diverse undergraduate bases of entering students.

Students seeking the Master of Engineering degree develop competence in a field of direct application of engineering to health care. Instrumentation, computer applications, biomechanics, cellular engineering, and image processing, are the chief areas of such specialization. Each M.E. student develops a practical project in his or her area of specialization. The project is a departmental requirement for the M.E. degree, applying beyond the 30-credit minimum course requirement. The M.E. degree requires from two to four academic semesters plus one summer.

Students planning careers in development and design, or teaching, usually pursue the Master of Science degree that requires a thesis based on an independent research project. Substantial emphasis is placed on the research project that will be the basis of their master’s thesis, which is expected to be of publishable caliber. The final M.S. exam (oral) focuses on the master’s thesis as well as on areas covered by the student’s program of study. The M.S. degree is designed to prepare students for careers in teaching, industry, and government organizations, and for entry into the Doctoral Program in Biomedical Engineering. Course work in the life sciences and engineering disciplines, completion of a research project under the guidance of a faculty advisor, and documentation of the research in a written thesis are required. Interaction with both the academic and professional scientific and engineering community is also encouraged through participation in seminars, scientific meetings, and publication of research results in scientific journals. Areas of research specialization include molecular bioengineering; magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy; image processing; ultrasound imaging; instrumentation; genetic engineering; theoretical and experimental study of cellular biomechanics, mechanotransduction, the cardiovascular, pulmonary, and neurological systems, leukocyte adhesion, and vascular remodeling. Twenty-four credits of graduate courses and a defense of the submitted thesis describing the student’s research are required.

The Ph.D. program is geared to students planning careers in research in either industry or academic institutions. Advanced courses are followed by dissertation research in vascular engineering, medical imaging, neural engineering, genetic engineering, cellular and molecular engineering, orthopedic engineering, biomechanics, biomaterials, or targeted drug delivery. Doctoral students extend the core program with courses in advanced physiology, cell and molecular biology, mathematics, and engineering. The Ph.D. normally requires three years beyond the master’s, or five beyond the baccalaureate, to achieve the necessary interdisciplinary competence. Exceptional students may choose a double-degree program that, after a minimum of six years, leads to a simultaneous Ph.D. and M.D. For this option, students must be formally admitted to both the School of Engineering and Applied Science and the School of Medicine (M.D./Ph.D. program, MSTP). In addition, a specialized and accelerated program is available for medical doctors who want to acquire a Ph.D. degree (M.D. to Ph.D. program).

M.S. and Ph.D. students may choose from a variety of laboratories to conduct their research. Active research projects in the department include engineering of blood vessel assembly and vascular pattern formation; in vivo leukocyte mechanics and molecular mechanisms; biophysics of cell adhesion; T-cell trafficking in chronic inflammation; atherosclerosis research, microvascular indicator transport for assessing exchange characteristics of endothelium; electron microprobe and patch clamp techniques for molecular and cellular transport; neuromuscular transmission in disease states; blood density measurements for blood volume distribution; fluorescence microscopic assessment of the effect of mechanical stresses on living cells; cellular mechanotransduction; tissue characterization by high-resolution ultrasound imaging and evaluation of ultrasonic contract agents; multidimensional visualization; rapid imaging of tissue metabolism and blood flow by magnetic resonance imaging techniques; magnetic resonance imaging for noninvasive characterization of atherosclerosis and cancer; development of hyperpolarized helium-3 and xenon-129 gas imaging for assessment of pulmonary ventilation and perfusion by magnetic resonance imaging; tissue characterization of neurological diseases by magnetic resonance spectroscopy; neurosurgical planning; mechanics of soft tissue trauma; and gait analysis. Students benefit from the facilities and collaborators in the Schools of Medicine, Engineering and Applied Science, and Graduate Arts and Sciences. These activities and resources bring the student into contact with the problems and methods typical of such diverse fields to achieve the breadth and judgment that are the goals of the Ph.D. program. A University-wide medical imaging program supports studies on picture archiving and communication systems, rapid MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) acquisition, image perception, MRI of atherosclerosis, image segmentation, MRI microscopy, high resolution ultrasound imaging, and ultrasound contrast agents.

Through a recent Development and Special Award from the Whitaker Foundation, the Department moved into 30,000 square feet of a brand new, state-of-the-art Biomedical Engineering and Medical Sciences Building in February 2002. The building is in the heart of the School of Medicine in close proximity to the hospital and basic medical science departments. It includes modern teaching facilities, laboratories for student projects, physiological and biochemical studies, animal surgery, cell culture, molecular biology, instrument development, and shops for instrument maintenance and fabrication. Equipment includes a variety of sensors and recorders, a cluster of IBM RS/6000 computers, UNIX-based systems, PCs, and MACs, some with A/D and D/A conversion facilities; video equipment; lasers, equipment for static and dynamic characterization of transducers; patch-clamp and intracellular recording facilities. The image-processing facility includes a microscope with a digital CCD camera, high-frequency and clinical ultrasound systems, and SGI and Sun Workstations. Electron microscopes, optical and mass spectrometers, flow cytometry, plasmon resonance, confocal and restoration microscopy systems, proteomics, gene array, ultrasonic, and magnetic resonance imaging equipment are available, as are other specialized equipment and consultation from collaborating departments.

Department of Chemical Engineering


The graduate programs in chemical engineering prepare men and women for advanced careers in the chemical, energy, environmental, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology industries as well as for careers in university teaching. Graduate study, which may lead to the Master of Science, Master of Engineering, and Doctor of Philosophy degrees, requires course work extending the fundamentals of chemical reactions, mass transfer, mathematics, thermodynamics and transport processes. Additional courses taken can include applied surface chemistry, biochemical engineering, polymer chemistry and engineering and process control and dynamics. The department also offers advanced graduate courses in selected areas. Study is encouraged in related disciplines such as applied mathematics, chemistry, materials science, mechanical engineering, systems engineering, environmental sciences, and life sciences.

The department’s research areas cover bioengineering/biotechnology; computer and molecular simulation; electrochemical engineering; environmental engineering; heterogeneous catalysis and reaction engineering; materials and interfacial phenomena; separations technology; and thermodynamic properties and phase equilibria. Collaborative research currently involves faculty in the Departments of Biomedical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Chemistry, Environmental Sciences, and Materials Science and Engineering, as well as in the School of Medicine. Students entering the graduate program are invited to discuss research projects with all faculty.

The chemical engineering research laboratories are located in the Chemical Engineering Building and in a renovated wing of Thornton Hall. Laboratories are grouped by specialty, but are open to all graduate students in order to encourage cooperation and the exchange of ideas and experiences among students. The University and the department provide extensive computing facilities in support of education and research.

In addition to the standard full-time programs designed for students entering with chemical engineering degrees, individualized programs can be developed for persons with prior degrees in other disciplines, such as chemistry, or in engineering fields other than chemical engineering.

The Master of Engineering degree can be obtained through part-time, off-grounds study of graduate courses offered in the Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program (CGEP).

Qualified doctoral students are admitted to doctoral study after completing the basic courses, passing the preliminary examination, beginning research and passing the research examination–usually within 12 months of entrance. Doctoral candidates in chemical engineering serve as teaching assistants for at least one semester. Doctoral dissertations are proposed in a proposal examination and defended in a final examination.

Department of Civil Engineering


The Department of Civil Engineering offers graduate degree programs in civil engineering. Civil engineering is one of the broadest engineering professions, encompassing such diverse areas as aerospace; construction; environmental, geotechnical, structural, and transportation engineering. Civil engineers are the fabricators of modern society and the protectors of our environment. They deal with people and their management, materials and their use, designs and their application, and the problems of interweaving these factors to serve society.

Graduate study provides opportunities for the development of professional engineering competence and scholarly achievement. Students are prepared for careers leading to management positions in research, development, and design that require creative abilities in solving engineering problems.

A variety of fellowships and assistantships provide financial assistance to qualified graduate students in civil engineering. Research assistantships are available through grants or contracts that support research projects conducted by the faculty. A number of research assistantships are also available through the Virginia Transportation Research Council, a research division of the Virginia Department of Transportation, located on the University Grounds. A limited number of teaching assistantships are available each year to provide tutorial assistance to faculty in several lecture and laboratory courses. In addition, a number of graduate engineering fellowships and tuition scholarships are sponsored by the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Students are also encouraged to apply for various national fellowship awards, including those offered through NSF, NASA, AFOSR, ONR, and DOT, among others.

Degrees offered in civil engineering include the Master of Engineering in Civil Engineering, the Master of Science in Civil Engineering, and the Doctor of Philosophy. The department also participates in the Virginia Cooperative Graduate Engineering Program and provides televised graduate-level courses leading to the Master of Engineering degree. These courses are broadcast live to a variety of locations within Virginia and to selected sites throughout the country.

The requirements for the conferring of the degrees of Master of Engineering in Civil Engineering, Master of Science in Civil Engineering, are the same as those for the School of Engineering and Applied Science given under ‘Degree Requirements.’

The requirements for the conferring of the Doctor of Philosophy in Civil Engineering include the requirements stipulated for the School of Engineering and Applied Science as indicated under ‘Degree Requirements’ with the following additional requirement: The program must include a minimum of 12 credits of formal course work beyond the minimum of 24 credits required for the M.S. degree by the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Within the Department of Civil Engineering, the principal programs of graduate study are environmental engineering, structural and solid mechanics, transportation engineering, and applied mechanics.

Environmental Engineering emphasizes environmental hydraulics, surface and ground water hydrology, water quality control, and water quality modeling. Research areas include storm water management, urban hydrology, fate and transport modeling of contaminants in estuaries and coastal waters, sediment-water interactions of contaminants, remediation of contaminated ground water, and sorption of organic pollutants to soil.

Structural and Solid Mechanics utilizes the fundamental principles of structural and solid mechanics, properties and uses of engineering materials toward the multiscale analysis and design of materials, structural components and systems. Research activities include analytical and computational mechanics, linear and nonlinear mechanics of advanced materials, including heterogeneous and functionally graded materials, thermomechanical response of nanostructured polymers, dynamic response of structures, field testing of structures, random vibration, and structural reliability.

Transportation Engineering and Planning Transportation interests in the department are concerned with the management and planning of urban, rural, and intercity facilities, and the need to improve the mobility and safety of existing systems and develop new projects. Research areas include decision support systems for intelligent vehicle highway systems, highway safety, geographic information systems, applications of artificial intelligence, public transportation operations, and transportation demand management.

Applied Mechanics: The faculty of the Civil Engineering Department, The Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and the Department of Material Sciences jointly participate in the program in Applied Mechanics within the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Areas of expertise include mechanics of advanced materials; nonlinear elasticity; fracture mechanics; structural mechanics; continuum mechanics; high temperature test methods; fluid mechanics; nonlinear dynamical systems and chaos; optimization; finite element analysis; anisotropic elasticity; vibrations; galactic dynamics; planetary systems; fatigue, micromechanics; and nanomechanics.

Computer Engineering Program


Computer engineering is an exciting field that spans topics across electrical engineering and computer science. Students learn, practice, and perform research related to the design and analysis of computer systems, including both hardware and software aspects and their integration. Careers in computer engineering are wide and varied, ranging from embedded computer systems found in consumer products or medical devices, to control systems for automobiles, aircraft and trains, to more wide-ranging applications in telecommunications, financial transactions and information systems.

Computer Engineering graduate degree programs, Master of Engineering, Master of Science, and Doctor of Philosophy, are jointly administered by the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. For details on facilities and resources available for these degree programs, please consult the sections corresponding to these departments in this graduate record. Students can choose advisors from either one of the departments. Also, students may receive financial assistance in the form of a teaching or research assistantship from either one of these departments.

Computer engineers design, produce, operate, program, and maintain computer and digital systems. They generally apply the theories and principles of science and mathematics to the design of hardware, software, networks, and processes to solve technical problems. Hence research in Computer Engineering covers a broad spectrum of topics, such as computer architecture, embedded systems, integrated circuit design, Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) systems, Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs), design automation, hardware/software codesign, software development and systems, software engineering, digital and computer systems design, computer networks, computer and network security, testing, fault-tolerant computing, dependable computing, real-time systems, algorithms, operating systems, middleware, compilers, database management, parallel computing and distributed systems, and computer graphics and vision.

Detailed requirements for these degrees are posted on the web site

Department of Computer Science


Computer science is that body of knowledge and research associated with the development and utilization of digital computers. It includes material associated with pure and applied mathematics as well as the more technological areas typical of engineering subjects. However, the existence and proliferation of computer systems has led to the development of programming languages, operating systems, and other areas of study that have no counterpart in more classical disciplines. For this reason, the department’s instructional and research programs are kept flexible in order to accommodate new areas of importance as they develop.

Programs of study and research through the doctoral level are offered by the department. A suitable background for admission to the graduate program is a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a minor in computer science with a major in physics, engineering, or mathematics. Applicants for this program should have a strong interest in empirical research.

Research in computer science includes algorithms, parallel processing, computer vision, operating systems, system security, performance evaluation, programming languages and environments, software engineering, distributed computing, real-time systems, critical systems and survivability, computer networks and electronic commerce, computer graphics and human-computer interfaces, and databases. A major emphasis is in the development of parallel and distributed computing systems.

The department’s computer core infrastructure is run primarily on Sun Solaris systems, while the desktop computing is dominated by Linux and Windows XP. The infrastructure is linked within the department and to the University’s backbone on Gigabit Ethernet, with 100MB switched Ethernet to the desktop. The department fileservers provide over 3 Terabytes of RAID 5 storage available transparently across all systems. The central infrastructure provides support for distributed, parallel and compute intensive jobs on both Sun E280 (UltraSparc-III/8GB RAM) and on dual-cpu AMD (XP2400/2GB RAM) Linux compute servers. On the desktop the department provides the full suite of Microsoft software, including Visual Studio and the .NET compilers and Microsoft Office; most desktop systems are configured to dual-boot RedHat Linux as well. The department also provides a number of high-quality software engineering tools, including commercial development, debugging and version control tools for both the Windows and the Solaris environments.

The department has a number of highly visible research projects that are building innovative, cutting-edge systems. Virginia Embedded Systems Toolkit (VEST) is an integrated environment for constructing and analyzing component-based embedded and real-time systems. Other major projects with national exposure include LEGION, a world-wide virtual computer linking major super-computer centers across the country; Chromium, a system for scalable interactive graphics on clusters of workstations; POP, or package-oriented programming for large-scale software reuse and integration; BEEHIVE, a global, virtual, real-time database; ZEPHYR, a major component of the National Compiler Infrastructure; and SURVIVE which addresses the vulnerabilities of the information systems embedded in our national infrastructures.

The department offers the Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, Master of Computer Science, and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. Regardless of the degree track all graduate students are expected to engage in serious research. To this end, the department keeps its graduate classes small and fosters a one-to-one relationship with the faculty.

All graduate students are expected to demonstrate breadth of knowledge equivalent to that found in the department’s core courses: Computer Organization (CS 654), Building Complex Software (CS 650), and Theory of Computation (CS 660). In addition, they must demonstrate competence in at least one of the following: Programming Languages (CS 655), Operating Systems (CS 656), Analysis of Algorithms (CS 661), Computer Networks (CS 757), or Compilers (CS 771).

Graduate students are also expected to master one area of computer science in depth. To this end, each new student should choose a research advisor within the first semester, take several advanced seminars, and should submit at least one academic publication during their tenure here. Participation in professional conferences is expected.

Although specific course requirements are minimal for the Ph.D. degree, students in the program are expected to develop the mathematical skills necessary for serious scientific research and to participate in the ongoing intellectual life of the department by regular attendance at colloquia and seminars.

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering


The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering offers the Master of Engineering, Master of Science, and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in electrical engineering. Programs of study and research opportunities are available in the areas of automatic controls, digital systems, design automation, solid state devices, microsystems, microfabrication, nanotechnology, communications, network analysis and synthesis, microwave systems, computer engineering, signal processing, and reliable system design and analysis. The selection of a degree program depends upon the interest and background of each individual. The Electrical Engineering Graduate Handbook, describing requirements of the graduate program, is available from the department or online at Financial aid is available to qualified graduate students in the form of graduate research or teaching assistantships and fellowships.

The department, in conjunction with the Computer Science Department, offers the Master of Engineering, Master of Science, and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in computer engineering. See the specific section in this catalog that describes these programs.

The department also offers a part-time program in which an employed engineer is able to work toward a masters degree in electrical engineering with a minimum of absence from work. A minimum of two-thirds (and possibly all) of the master’s degree requirements can be completed through courses offered by the University of Virginia Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program (CGEP). These courses are also available to those who wish to increase their knowledge of electrical engineering but do not wish to enroll in a formal degree program.

Research within the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering is conducted primarily in the areas of applied electrophysics (solid state, microsystems, nanotechnology, and microwave systems); communications; controls; signal processing; and computer engineering.

Research in computer engineering within the department is being conducted primarily by a collection of faculty and professional staff conducting research on the design and implementation of complex electronic systems. The research activities within computer engineering are highly interdisciplinary and includes expertise in the areas of analog and digital integrated circuit design, fault tolerance, safety-critical systems, reliability engineering, embedded systems (design, applications, and security) test technology, distributed processing, computer architecture, simulation, design automation, and networks. The disciplines currently represented within the computer engineering research efforts include electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science, and systems engineering.

Research in computer engineering typically includes the development of computer-based systems. Dedicated equipment available for the hardware and software development efforts includes Sun and PC-based workstations, and special purpose hardware for designing and testing full-custom integrated circuits as well as programmable logic devices and field programmable gate arrays. State-of-the-art bench equipment is also available for printed circuit board development and evaluation, including high-speed logic analysis, signal analysis, and microprocessor development. Numerous software systems are available for design description, simulation, test pattern generation, reliability analysis, and system analysis. Examples of such software include the Cadence and Mentor Graphics EDA software. Faculty includes: Professors Aylor, Blalock, Dugan, Giras, Johnson, Lach, Stan, Veeraraghavan, and Williams.

A multidisciplinary center called the Center for Safety-Critical Systems is the home for numerous research projects. The overall goal of the center is to create new knowledge that can be used by industry to create safer systems, by regulators to write regulations, for evaluators to compare the safety aspects of complex systems, and by labor to educate the workforce. Although the center grew out of the needs of the railway industry, the general area of systems where safety is a matter of life and death will be addressed. The Center currently receives generous support from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Federal Railroad Administration, New York City Transit System, Mag Lev, Inc., and Lockheed-Martin. In addition, the results of the work conducted for the Federal Railroad Administration was a part of the FRA report to Congress on safety. Finally, representation on the center’s advisory board consists of most of the significant players in the safety field, including the National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Railroad Administration, the Federal Transit Authority, the American Association of Railroads, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Intermodal Passenger Transportation Institute.

Communications and signal processing continues to provide exciting research opportunities. New developments in communications and signal processing science and engineering, as well as advances in device technologies continue to take place especially in the areas of wireless and optical communications and medical imaging. The faculty brings expertise spanning the full range of communication and signal processing theory and engineering to the next generation of communications challenges. Areas of expertise include digital modulation and error control coding; wireless communication, including smart antenna technology; statistical signal processing; optical communications, including fiber and wireless infrared systems; multi-user spread spectrum system analysis; detection and estimation; resource-efficient multiuser communication; and medical imaging. Faculty includes Professors Acton, Brandt-Pearce, Guess, Silverstein, Wilson, and Zheng.

Research in control systems includes several areas in systems and control theory and their applications. The theoretical work spans the areas of adaptive control, nonlinear control, and robust control. Specific topics of interest include control design for systems with nonlinearities, such as backlash, deadzone, failures, hysteresis and saturation, stabilization of nonlinear systems, feedback linearization, sliding mode control, and multivariable adaptive control. Some of the applications of this theoretical work are artificial heart pumps, flight control systems, robotics, high speed rotors suspended on magnetic bearings, unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV). Faculty includes Professors Lin and Tao.

The focus of research in the area of applied electrophysics is in novel solid-state electronic materials, devices, and circuits for microelectronic, optoelectronic, and millimeter-wave applications. Much of the research in this area includes the development of novel devices and systems and is conducted in the Semiconductor Device Laboratories. These laboratories share major fabrication, test, and computing resources, including a 3,500 square foot clean room facility for microelectronic fabrication equipped with molecular beam epitaxy systems for epitaxial growth, lithography with nanometer capability, reactive ion etching, evaporation and sputter deposition of metals, insulators, and superconducting films. Equipment available for material and device evaluation includes a field emission scanning electron microscope with one nanometer resolution, a photoluminescence system, a semiconductor parameter analyzer, a surface profiler, and a variety of optical microscopes, curve tracers, and other equipment. Microwave equipment includes network analyzers, sweep oscillators, and a variety of waveguide components, sources, and detectors for millimeter- and submillimeter-wave applications. Faculty includes: Professors Barker, Bean, Crowe, Gelmont, Globus, Harriott, Hesler, Lichtenberger, Reed, and Weikle, as well as Professor Hull from Materials Science.

The department and the University provide a wide range of computing facilities that support both research and education. The Unix Lab provides Sun Solaris workstations, X terminals, and access to Unix computer-servers, including a high performance parallel processing cluster of IBM/RS6000’s. In addition, our facilities provide access to the Web, email, printers, and Engineering software packages, such as Mentor Graphics, Cadence, LabVIEW, Matlab, PSPICE, as well as advanced circuit and device simulation packages. Various software development tools and programming languages are also available.

Engineering Physics Program


The graduate program in engineering physics was the first Ph.D. granting program in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. It is a research-oriented program in which students apply the principles of physics to the solution of technical problems. The student prepares for research in a chosen field by selecting appropriate courses in mathematics, engineering, physics, and other sciences. Other than the requirement of a minimum of 2 courses in graduate physics courses, 2 courses in graduate engineering courses, and 1 course in graduate mathematics, the master’s student has a wide range of courses from which to select. The Master’s of Science degree requires a total of 8 courses and a Master’s Thesis and the Master’s of Engineering (ME) Degree requires 10 courses with one course in engineering design. The ME degree is also offered remotely as part of the distance learning program (

The Ph.D. student must satisfy these same course requirements, with an additional 2 courses in physics, 2 in engineering and 1 in mathematics. If the student by-passes the Master’s degree, then the total course requirement for the Ph.D. is 4 courses in physics, 4 in engineering and 2 in mathematics. Thus, the Engineering Physics Program is extremely flexible, offering students the opportunity to formulate a program of study that closely supports their research activity.

Faculty research advisors for engineering physics students reside in a variety of departments within the University, depending on the student’s research area. Engineering physics research has been directed by faculty members from the Departments of Materials Science and Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Physics, Chemistry and the School of Medicine.

Current research areas include nano-technology; photonics; materials properties; planetary science; atomic collisions; surface science; electronic devices; medical physics; computational fluid mechanics; space plasma physics; and nonlinear dynamical systems and chaos. Students oriented towards experimental research may work in a number of facilities, such as the Laboratory for Nano-technology Institute; Laser Interactions Institute; Atomic and Surface Physics Laboratory, the Semiconductor Device Laboratory, the Medical Imaging Laboratory, the Aerospace Research Laboratory, and the Jefferson National Laboratory.

Financial assistance to qualified engineering physics graduate students is available in several forms. Numerous graduate research assistantships are available in sponsored research programs. Furthermore, a number of graduate engineering fellowships and teaching assistantships are sponsored by the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Students should also apply for National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy, and U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) fellowships.

Visit the online site at for more information.

Department of Materials Science and Engineering


The Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) at UVa offers graduate education and research programs in the structure, properties, processing, and performance of materials. The study of materials may be pursued according to their technical importance, as in ceramic or metallurgical engineering, or by considering the general principles that govern their properties. At the University of Virginia, the latter course has been adopted, leading to an understanding of materials through the study of both macroscopic and microscopic viewpoints.

The department provides a broad-based graduate education in materials, one component of which emphasizes the commonality among the various classes of engineering solids. Thus thermodynamics, kinetics, structural analysis and crystallography, defect theory, and principles of the solid state are strong features of the program. In addition, other courses relative to the application of materials and the relationships among materials properties, structure, and the manner in which materials have been processed are also offered. Extensive research programs complement formal course work. Active recent programs on metallurgy, environmental effects on material behavior, electronic materials, fatigue and fracture, tribology, composite materials, and materials processing reflect the diversity of the faculty’s research interests. In addition, the department houses the Center for Light Metals, which oversees a variety of research on A1, Mg, and Ti alloys and composites containing these metals. The Center for Electrochemical Sciences and Engineering conducts interdisciplinary research involving five departments. The Surface Science Laboratory conducts fundamental studies of the surfaces of materials and provides surface analysis services. The Electron Microscope and Image Processing Facility contains a number of electron and ion microscopes used for materials analysis by researchers throughout the Department and School. The newly established NSF-sponsored MRSEC for Nanoscopic Materials Design spearheads department efforts in the emerging field of nanotechnology.

The department offers the degrees of Master of Materials Science and Engineering (MMSE), Master of Science (MS) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). The MS and PhD degrees involve extensive-advised research, leading to a thesis or dissertation, respectively. The MMSE degree does not include a thesis and is most often achieved by graduate students enrolled in the SEAS distance-learning program. The program of study for each of these degrees has been developed consistent with the principles of academic excellence as a foundation for cutting-edge research and cross-disciplinary learning. Several courses are considered fundamental and constitute a required core for all graduate degrees in MSE. There is, however, great flexibility that enables the graduate student to adapt his or her choice of classes to particular fields of interest and specialization. The graduate program is structured to emphasize acquisition of knowledge and development of critical thinking skills.

MS Degree The MS degree in MSE intends for the successful student to demonstrate both academic achievement and the ability to do independent research in engineering-science, with close faculty guidance. This degree program requires 25-course credits beyond the BS level. All entering-MS graduate students are enrolled in a 4-course, 12-credit core that includes:

  1. Thermodynamics of Materials
  2. Materials Structures and Defects
  3. One Prescribed Elective selected from:

    Materials Characterization

    Deformation and Fracture of Materials During Processing and Service

    Chemical and Electrochemical Properties of Solid Materials

    Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Properties of Materials

  4. Kinetics of Solid-state Reactions

The MS program of study includes 1 credit of MSE seminar, as well as 4 electives beyond the MSE core. These electives are at the 5xx, 6xx and 7xx levels, approved by the graduate student’s advisor and the MSE Curriculum Committee, and selected from all SEAS-course offerings or other UVa Science/Mathematics courses. Up to 6 credits of 5xx MSE courses, and up to 9 credits of 5xx SEAS or UVa courses are permitted. No more than 6 elective credits may be earned in faculty-supervised independent study or advanced-topics courses. One of these 4 electives should be math intensive, consistent with a list established by the MSE faculty. The MS degree requires at least 6 credits of research, under the supervision of a faculty advisor, and culminating in a written thesis that is presented and defended in a public forum.

MMSE Degree The MMSE degree in MSE emphasizes classroom and perhaps laboratory learning, and requires that the student achieve satisfactorily 30 course credits beyond the BS level. The MMSE program follows the MS degree requirements except that the 1-credit seminar course is not required for students enrolled in the distance learning program. This program of study includes 2 additional electives at the 5xx, 6xx and 7xx level, selected from all SEAS-course offerings or other UVa Science/Mathematics courses and subject to approval. Up to 6 credits of electives may be earned in faculty-supervised independent study or advanced topics courses.

PhD Degree The PhD degree program in MSE aims to produce tangible-intellectual achievements from independent research at a frontier in the engineering-science of materials. This degree requires that the student achieve satisfactorily 47 course credits, beyond the BS level and beginning with a required 7-course, 21 credit core that includes:

  1. Thermodynamics of Materials
  2. Materials Structures and Defects
  3. Materials Characterization
  4. Kinetics of Solid-state Reactions
  5. Deformation and Fracture of Materials During Processing and Service
  6. Chemical and Electrochemical Properties of Solid Materials
  7. Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Properties of Materials

The PhD program includes 2 credits of MSE seminar and eight 3-credit electives beyond the core. These electives are at the 5xx, 6xx and 7xx levels, approved by the graduate student’s advisor and PhD-Advisory Committee as well as the MSE Curriculum Committee, and selected from all SEAS-course offerings or other UVa Science/Mathematics courses. One of these 8 elective courses must be math intensive, consistent with a list established by the MSE faculty. At least 15 credits of electives must be at the 7xx or 8xx level. No more than 6 elective credits may be earned in faculty-supervised independent study or advanced-topics courses. Independent study credits will not count as the 15 credits of electives at the 7xx or 8xx level. A maximum of 24 credits may be applied from an MS program in another department, school or university, as approved by the MSE Curriculum Committee, and to achieve any part of the core requirement. The PhD candidate’s advisory committee will tailor the program of courses to reflect the importance of both depth and breadth in MSE. Breadth may be cross disciplinary.

The PhD candidate must pass written and oral examinations that include both general and comprehensive elements. These examinations are taken concurrently and within 8-12 months after achieving the MS degree. The PhD candidate must write and defend publicly a proposed research plan that is the foundation for his/her dissertation. This proposal must be completed 12 months or more before the defense of the PhD dissertation. The PhD degree requires at least 24 credits of research, under the supervision of a faculty advisor, culminating in a written dissertation that is presented and defended in a public forum. The exceptional graduate student may petition the MSE faculty to bypass the MS degree and to follow this PhD program of study. This petition may only be submitted after the core courses for the PhD degree are completed.

The Department of Materials Science and Engineering also participates in the Virginia Cooperative Graduate Engineering Program by presenting televised graduate-level courses that lead to the Master of Materials Science and Engineering degree. These courses are broadcast via satellite to locations both in- and out- of-state in the late afternoon and early evening hours. In addition, the department participates in the Virginia Consortium of Engineering and Science universities program which can lead to the Ph.D. degree.

Department laboratories are well equipped with extensive instrumentation for the investigation of all aspects of materials structure and properties. A modern electron microscope facility includes a 200 kV field-emission gun (FEG) high-resolution transmission electron microscope (HRTEM) equipped with a Gatan imaging filter (GIF) and energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometer (EDXS); a 400 kV dedicated HRTEM with a point-to-point resolution of 0.17 nm; a 200 kV scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM) with EDXS and heating, cooling, and straining specimen holders; two scanning electron microscopes with EDXS, electron-beam lithography, cathodoluminescence and electron backscattered pattern (EBSP) attachments; and a focused ion beam (FIB) microscope equipped with a secondary ion mass spectrometer (SIMS). All microscopes are connected to computers for digital imaging and analysis. X-ray diffraction units provide facilities for a wide variety of single crystal and powder techniques. The polymer science laboratory offers facilities for infrared spectroscopy, viscosity, differential thermal analysis, automatic osmometry, and for the measurement of thermal, electrical, and optical properties of polymers and other macromolecules. Chemical vapor deposition facilities include equipment for the preparation of electronic materials from metal-organic compounds. The ion beam laboratory has a 110 kV heavy ion accelerator and a 300 kV ion implanter with multiple ultrahigh vacuum experimental chambers. Additional research is conducted in the area of advanced laser processing for nano-scale materials. The facilities include high-power pulsed ultra violet excimer and solid state lasers, time resolved mass spectroscopy and imaging, and in-situ diagnostics. Material research areas range from deposition of thin films (electronic, metallic, polymer) and surface modification to biological thin film processing and particulate coatings.

Other laboratories are equipped for research in physical metallurgy, fatigue and fracture, electrochemistry, surface studies, thin film properties, and materials processing. Their facilities include mass spectrometers; ultra-high vacuum deposition units; electron beam and vacuum furnaces; heat treating equipment; a rolling mill; numerous mechanical testing machines; a hot isostatic press; an X-ray texture gonimeter; optical metallographs; interference, polarizing, and hot stage microscopes; and sophisticated image analysis and processing facilities. A fully equipped machine shop and instrument shop are adjacent to the research laboratories.

Computational facilities within the department include a variety of workstations (SUN, DEC, SGI, and IBM) and personal computers. High performance computing is available through the University’s affiliations with National Computing Centers, and on the University’s 14-node IBM SP2 system housed in the Department of Information Technology and Communication (ITC).

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


The department offers graduate programs in mechanical and aerospace engineering. In addition to approximately 80 part-time students, about 65 full-time graduate students are currently enrolled in the department, with approximately 50 percent pursuing the Ph.D.

Financial assistance to qualified mechanical and aerospace engineering graduate students is available in several forms. Graduate research assistantships are available for work on sponsored research. In addition, a number of graduate engineering fellowships and teaching assistantships are sponsored by the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Research and teaching assistantships often are supplemented by department or school fellowship awards.

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering This combined graduate program offers the degrees of Master of Science, Master of Engineering, and Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

Graduate students in this program may specialize in either (1) continuum and fluid mechanics, (2) thermomechanics, or (3) dynamical systems and control. The particular focus areas range in scales from macro to micro and nano, and in scope from highly theoretical to quite applied, and utilize state-of-the-art analytical, computational, and experimental tools. A large selection of courses is offered covering the above areas. These courses deal with fundamental principles, analytical methods, computational techniques, design methodologies, and practical applications.

Research in the continuum mechanics area includes studies in fluid mechanics and nano mechanics. Current research in fluid mechanics addresses low speed unsteady aerodynamic flows, atmospheric re-entry flows, supersonic mixing, flows in liquid centrifuges, flow in centrifugal pumps, turbomachinery flows, bio-fluid mechanics, hydrodynamic stability, microgravity fluid mechanics, multi free-surface flows, non-Newtonian fluid mechanics, flow/structure interactions, flows transporting fibers, compressional behavior of fiber assemblies, and free and forced convection. Current research in nano mechanics involves nano-scale mechanical properties measurements and applications of atomic force microscopy in metrology and mechanical evaluation of MEMS and thin films. Work on transportation safety includes studies of collision/injury mechanics, complex nonlinear simulation, and restraint optimization. This work is primarily applied to injury mitigation/prevention in automobiles and light aircraft as well as specific work directed at the transportation needs of the disabled.

Research in dynamical systems and control covers a wide range of problems of practical interest including control of machining chatter, vibration control, mechatronics, fluid control, neurodynamic control mechanisms for autonomous mobile robots and biological information processing, intelligent control, and the use of periodicity to enhance the achievable performance of controlled systems. Further, there is substantial work in development and application of modern synthesis techniques to the control of industrial machinery, especially rotating machines with magnetic bearings. Finally, the department hosts a strong activity in rotordynamics research which includes interest in hydrodynamic bearings and seals, turbomachinery, artificial heart pumps, model identification techniques, and experimental stability margin assessment.

Research in the thermomechanics includes topics from micro-scale and non-Fourier heat transfer, combustion (including supersonic), reduced-order chemical kinetics, thermoacoustics, aerogels, remote chemical-agents sensing, remote biological-agents sensing.

The department’s mechanical and aerospace research facilities include a rotating machinery and control industrial laboratory; a turbomachinery flows laboratory; several subsonic wind tunnel laboratories; a supersonic combustion laboratory; a supersonic wind tunnel laboratory; a structural dynamics laboratory, including an auto crash worthiness laboratory; a nano-scale mechanics and materials characterization laboratory; an atomic-force-microscopy laboratory; a bio thermo fluids laboratory; a micro-scale heat-transfer laboratory; a control systems laboratory; and an aerogel laboratory. Several of these laboratories are unique among all universities in the world. For more detailed, up-to-date information about the department’s research programs, and degree requirements, visit the Web site at

Department of Systems and Information Engineering


Systems engineers design and implement process, product, and operational improvements in large-scale, complex collections of humans and machines. These collections are systems organized around a central purpose, such as communication, transportation, manufacturing, and environmental protection. The improvements to these systems can target any phase of the life-cycle, from requirements analysis through forecasting, design, development, testing, operation, maintenance, to retirement or replacement.

The central insight in systems engineering is that the analytical techniques for process and product improvement extend across applications. For example, the techniques used to improve communications routing also apply to transportation routing and material handling in manufacturing. The formal disciplines that underlie these techniques constitute the basis for education and training in systems engineering.

The Department of Systems and Information Engineering provides instruction and conducts research in two domains: methodologies for systems analysis, design, and integration; and analytical techniques for making decisions and turning data into information.

Degree Programs The department offers three graduate degrees: Master of Engineering, Master of Science, and Doctor of Philosophy. The plan of study is always tailored to the individual needs and interests of the student; however, each student must gain the knowledge of the fundamental methodologies and techniques of systems engineering.

The M.E. student first learns the fundamentals of systems analysis, design, and integration, and next studies either additional techniques or an application area.

The M.S. student first learns the fundamentals of systems, decision, and information sciences, and next applies this knowledge to a more focused research project leading to a master’s thesis.

Both the M.E. and M.S. students have opportunities for specializing in one of several areas: intelligent decision systems, communication systems, control systems, manufacturing systems, transportation systems, environmental systems, urban systems, health care systems, energy systems, economic systems, financial systems, management systems, risk assessment and management, and information technology.

The Ph.D. student first acquires the advanced knowledge in one area of systems, decision, and information sciences, and next contributes to knowledge through research leading to a doctoral dissertation.

Current basic research in the department explores theoretical and methodological issues in the following areas: systems performance evaluation, capacity assurance, and resource allocation; multivariate systems monitoring, discrete event simulation; probabilistic modeling, empirical model building, data fusion, and data mining; risk assessment and management; financial engineering; learning algorithms and dynamic games; optimization, dynamic programming, and Markov decision processes; Bayesian forecasting and decision theories; cognitive systems engineering, human-computer interaction and decision support.

Research Projects Both M.S. and Ph.D. students typically associate with an ongoing research project in the department. These projects involve both theoretical and applied elements and allow students to work closely with faculty on challenging, contemporary problems. Examples of current research projects include complex networks optimization, intelligent transportation system, air traffic prediction system, probabilistic forecasting of weather, flood warning system, semiconductor operational modeling, spatial knowledge discovery, regional crime data analysis, clinical and biological data integration, critical safety data analysis, mitigation of risk to cyber and physical infrastructure, credit scoring and credit portfolio management, valuation of intellectual property.

Televised M.E. Program A part-time degree program is available through the Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program. Regular courses are televised, which offers employed engineers the opportunity to earn credits toward the M.E. degree while requiring a minimum of absence from work. The program is designed so that over a three-year period all of the M.E. degree requirements may be completed through courses taken in the late afternoon or early evening. These courses are also available to those who wish to increase their knowledge of systems engineering but do not wish to enroll in a degree program.

For more detailed information about the department, degree programs, and research areas, visit the website at

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