Most students who undertake Independent Study do so in their Senior year, but qualified students can undertake Independent Study after Sophomore year. Students who anticipate Independent Study are encouraged to complete their foundation courses in mathematics, chemistry, physics, and engineering as early as possible, so that they will have the background to address challenging engineering problems in collaboration with their faculty study mentor.
Up to two Independent Study courses may be used as the ECE Electives in the ECE Program, but Independent Study courses may not be used in place of the other required courses in the ECE Program, except for the Free Electives. Students may take Independent Study courses as Free Electives, and all successfully completed Independent Study courses count toward the total of 34 courses required for a Duke degree. Many students find that Independent Study is a rewarding educational experience.
The Pratt Undergraduate Research Fellows Program provides engineering undergraduates with an opportunity to do intensive research in their engineering major for course credit and an opportunity to do summer research. This is a school-wide competitive program open to all qualified students of the Departments of Biomedical Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. The program is under the direction of Martha Absher, Associate Dean for Education and Outreach Programs for the Pratt School of Engineering.
Pratt Engineering Undergraduate Fellows work on research projects under the direction of Pratt-faculty advisers. Course credit is given in the student's major via a linked three-semester independent studies course sequence of ECE 392(192), 493(193) and 494(194) for ECE majors. Other course sequences can be approved for students in special programs such as dual majors.
Independent study (under ECE 197 or 198) is a central element of the department's awarding the honor of Graduation with Distinction. The criteria for that honor are described in the linked page. Recent projects for Graduation with Distinction are cited there.
All students taking the ECE independent-study courses, including Pratt Fellows and Graduation with Departmental Distinction candidates, must participate in ECE Independent Study Poster Session to present their research results and to answer questions from faculty and other students. Poster sessions are scheduled by the ECE Department late in each semester for the independent study done during that semester. The poster presentations are judged by the ECE faculty, and the top three are recognized with both honor and monetary compensation ($100 for 1st place, $75 for 2nd, and $50 for 3rd).
The following are poster-session examples from recent independent studies:
- Ronal Abraham - Spectral Subtraction-based Speech Enhancement
- Michael Bauer - Designing Process Variability Tolerant Computer Architectures
- Elan Bresslour - Microwave Imaging for Early Detection of Breast Cancer
- Lauren Cohen - Molecular Electronic Devices for Multi-Valued Logic Design
- Wade Cooper - Optical Index of Refraction of Sensor System
- Richard Curt Harting - Implementing Connectivity Models of Nano-Networks
- Jeffrey Hussmann - Architectural Considerations for Quantum Information Processing
- Danielle Hyatt - Examination of Current Consumption as it is Affected by Parameter Faults in Analogue Mixer Circuits, and its Application in BIST Development
- Melissa Levy - Surface Relief Optical Gratings Integrated with Waveguide Bio/Chemical Sensors
- Brian Lewis - Mode-locked Photonic Microcavity Nanolasers
- Isaac Nagiel - Digital Microfluidic Platform
- Serge Reshetnikov - Development of a Compact and Multifunctional Sensor Array
- Dan Roberts - Designs and Simulations in Transformation Optics
- Ram Nick Talwar - Coordinated Tandem Tracking of Moving Target by Unmanned Moving Vehicles (UAVs)
- Udoka Uzoka - Effect of Solvent Type on Optical and Structural Properties of CdSe Colloidal Quantum Dots/MEH-PPV
- Charles Wang - Coating Platinum Electrodes with Carbon Nanotubes