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Working Effectively With Graduate Students

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Women, Minorities and the New Engineering Educator

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1615.1 - 12.1615.13



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Paper Authors


Noel Schulz Mississippi State University

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Noel N. Schulz received her B.S.E.E. and M.S.E.E. degrees from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1988 and 1990, respectively. She received her Ph.D. in EE from the University of Minnesota in 1995. She has been an associate professor in the ECE department at Mississippi State University since July 2001 and holds the TVA Endowed Professorship in Power Systems Engineering. Prior to that she spent six years on the faculty of Michigan Tech. Her research interests are in computer applications in power system operations including artificial intelligence techniques. She is a NSF CAREER award recipient. She has been active in ASEE and is currently the Women in Engineering Division Chair. She is also active in the IEEE Power Engineering Society and is serving as Secretary for 2004-2007. Dr. Schulz is a member of Eta Kappa Nu and Tau Beta Pi.

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Kirk Schulz Mississippi State University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Working Effectively with Graduate Students


You have started your faculty position and you have your first graduate student. You have not had much management experience, you are writing proposals and trying to get results. How do you effectively manage graduate students? What size group is right for you? What should be the mixture of Ph.D./M.S. students? Can you use undergraduates in a research program?

This paper will address tips for working with graduate students individually and in groups. Advice on building and maintaining your group will be discussed. Additional advice on getting the most potential out of different types of students will also be included. Some scenarios and sample examples of challenges and solutions will be provided. The authors share over 15 years of experience of dos and don’ts with graduate students.


Working with graduate students is part of the expectation for faculty members at any research university. However, many new faculty members find working with graduate students to be both bewildering and highly rewarding – and sometimes the most stressful part of starting their careers as academic faculty members.

The co-authors have advised over 40 graduate students during the past decade, and have learned several valuable lessons on working with graduate students. The comments and suggestions in this paper are not gleaned from formal research, but instead are common themes we have used in working and mentoring our students. References [1-5] also provide suggestions and additional ideas related to working with graduate students.

General Tips for Working with Graduate Students

Be selective but not picky in selecting your students

Many times, new faculty members start looking for the ideal graduate student – who had a 4.0 GPA from a top 10 engineering program, with exceptional oral and written communication skills and experience doing undergraduate research. They will then pass up very strong students who have a significant amount of desire, but may not possess all of the desired characteristics. Clearly, there are some basic level skills that graduate students will need to do a particular research project, but a significant number of these skills can be made up for by hard work and enthusiasm for a research project.

Treat the graduate students as a junior colleague

It is important to set clear standards and expectations for your students. We have both tried to treat our students as colleagues, which includes things like allowing them to choose when they come and go from work, when they take vacations and breaks, ensuring that they have everything they need to do their jobs successfully, and in general developing a relationship in

Schulz, N., & Schulz, K. (2007, June), Working Effectively With Graduate Students Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2386

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2007 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015