Tracks and Certificate Programs

Graduate

A Ph.D. track in robotics is available in the MEMS and ECE programs. Graduate students will belong to their respective departments, but will follow the robotics track course of study with consultation of the faculty and graduate advisors. 

Prospective graduate students should apply directly to their desired home department.

MEMS PhD track

The robotics Ph.D. track consists of the following requirements:

  • 10 classes (30 credits) including three robotics core classes and seven electives.  The robotics core must be completed with a  B+ or better before the end of the student's second year. The three core classes must consist of one course from EACH of the following areas:
    • Intelligent Robotics: ECE 590, Robot Perception, Planning, and Control;
    • Robot Control and Automation: ME 627, Linear Systems Theory; ME 555, Advanced Robot Systems Design;
    • Robotic Systems: ME 555, Autonomous Systems Engineering; ME 555, Advanced Robot Systems Design;
  • Students must TA a course for at least two semesters.
  • Qualifying Exam:
    • A Research Initiation Project (RIP), on a topic chosen in consultation with the student's advisor, will be proposed and defended by the end of the first year. The proposal consists of an oral presentation to an advisory committee, which is normally composed of the same members as the qualifying exam committee. The committee will assess and advise on the student's preparedness for conducting high-impact research, and appropriateness of the goals and scope of the RIP project.
    • A written and oral presentation of the RIP will be presented to a qualifying exam committee by the end of the second year.  The written report must be presented to the committee two weeks in advance of the oral defense date. The committee may recommend a pass or failure.
    • Failure of either the RIP proposal or written/oral presentation will result in probation status for a semester, with one retake allowed by the end of the following semester.
  • Preliminary Exam:
    • A thesis proposal shall be completed and passed by the end of the third year.
    •  Should the student fail, he or she may apply, with the consent of the examining committee and the Associate Dean of the Graduate School, for the privilege of a second examination to be taken no sooner than three months and no later than six months after the date of the first. Successful passage of the examination must still occur by the end of the third year. Students are thus encouraged to schedule their initial attempt to allow time for a retake if necessary. A second failure will render the student ineligible to continue in the doctoral program.
  • Thesis and PhD defense

Elective courses include (but not are not limited to) the following options:

  • ME 555, Human Factors Engineering
  • ME 555, Advanced Robot Systems Design
  • ME 555, Autonomous Systems Engineering
  • ME 627, Linear Systems Theory
  • CS 527.01, Computer Vision
  • CS 570.01, Artificial Intelligence
  • CS 571.01, Machine Learning
  • STA 621.01, Advanced Stochastic Processes
  • STA 611 Intro to Mathematical Statistics
  • STA 561D.03D Probabilistic Machine Learning
  • STA 790.01 Statistical Decision Theory
  • STA 643 Modern Design of Experiments

ECE PhD track

Robotics students in the ECE department will follow the standard ECE guidelines as described here. It is recommended that a majority of core courses should be chosen from the list of courses above.

  • In ECE, a minimum of 12 graduate courses beyond the Bachelor’s degree are required, distributed as follows: 

    • Six (6) ECE graduate-level* courses that reflect breadth of study in ECE ( ECE 899 courses may not be used as part of this requirement)
    • Two (2) approved graduate-level* technical electives
    • Four (4) courses in approved elective+
  • Qualifying Exam:

    • The PhD Qualifying Examination consists of completion of a first-year research project with a written report and oral presentation.
    • Selection of an appropriate first-year research topic should be made with the approval of the student's advisor. The project may be started at any time after matriculation.
    • Completion of the project must be accompanied by a written report of approximately 20 pages in length, roughly half of which reviews the field (with appropriate references) and half of which describes the student's own progress to date.
    • The examination committee will consist of four ECE faculty members, including the student's advisor. The three other members of the exam committee will be nominated by the student and approved by the student's advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies. All committee members must be on the faculty of the Graduate School.
    • Any student failing the qualifying exam on the initial attempt will have one additional attempt by the end of the semester immediately following. Failure of the exam on the second attempt will disqualify the student from further doctoral studies in the Duke ECE program.
  • Preliminary Exam:

    • A thesis proposal shall be completed and passed by the end of the third year.
    •  Should the student fail, he or she may apply, with the consent of the examining committee and the Associate Dean of the Graduate School, for the privilege of a second examination to be taken no sooner than three months and no later than six months after the date of the first. Successful passage of the examination must still occur by the end of the third year. Students are thus encouraged to schedule their initial attempt to allow time for a retake if necessary. A second failure will render the student ineligible to continue in the doctoral program.
  • Final Exam:

    • Normally administered by the same committee as the preliminary exam, and successful defense of the dissertation requires at least four affirmative votes. A negative vote by the dissertation advisor means that the student fails.

CS PhD track

The proposed Ph.D. track for Doctor of Philosophy Program:

  • Qualifying Exam:

    • A Research Initiation Project  (RIP), chosen in consultation with the student's advisor, will be proposed and defended during the first two years.
    • A written and oral presentation of the RIP will be presented to a qualifying exam committee by the end of the second year.  The committee may recommend a pass or failure.
    • Failure of either the RIP proposal or written/oral presentation will result in probation status for a semester, with one retake allowed by the end of the following semester.
  • Breadth Requirement: 

    • The Breadth Requirement can be fulfilled by passing a qualifying exam or receiving a grade of B+ or better in the corresponding course in Four (4) in Six (6) core areas of subject knowledge.
  • Preliminary Exam:

    • A thesis proposal shall be completed and passed by the end of the third year.
    •  Should the student fail, he or she may apply, with the consent of the examining committee and the Associate Dean of the Graduate School, for the privilege of a second examination to be taken no sooner than three months and no later than six months after the date of the first. Successful passage of the examination must still occur by the end of the third year. Students are thus encouraged to schedule their initial attempt to allow time for a retake if necessary. A second failure will render the student ineligible to continue in the doctoral program.
  • Teaching

    • Teaching is a vital part of the Ph.D. experience. Students are required to have at least one semester of teaching experience, most commonly in the form of a teaching assistantship.
    • The Department awards Certificated of Distinction of Teaching for graduating PhD students who have demonstrated excellence in and commitment to teaching and mentoring.

The anticipated time to earn the Doctor of Philosophy degree is five years.

 

Undergraduate

As of AY 2015-16 we offer a robotics sequence for ECE majors. Taken as part of the Signal Processing, Communications, and Controls concentration, it consists of two courses typically taken in the student's senior year:

  • ECE 383: Intro to Robotics and Automation (offered in fall)

  • ECE 496.XX: Advanced Robot Systems Design (offered in spring)

ECE 496 fulfills the senior design course graduation requirement.