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Andre Boehman

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Mentoring Plan for PhD Students

Communication and Meetings

How would you describe your advising style? Does your approach vary over the course of a student's progress within their degree?

I tend to work closely with students at first to get them started on a path, but then give the students the room to explore, fail, succeed and learn.  This hands off approach has proven to give students the opportunity to grow as independent researchers, so that after they graduate they are well prepared to lead major research activities of their own.

What is the best way/technology for students to contact you? Are there time frames in which students should expect to hear from you?

Email is best, but a phone call is fine too.  We meet as a group weekly, and then individually or in small teams as often as circumstances require.

How often do you plan to meet with students one-on-one (be as specific as possible, it's okay to describe multiple styles that may vary with student needs)? Is an agenda required? How long are meetings?

Weekly or bi-weekly when research activities are ongoing, perhaps less frequently during periods of writing papers and report preparation.

Do you have regular group meetings? What does student participation look like in a group meeting?

In our weekly group meetings, we generally have a "round the horn" discussion of needs, challenges and progress on all projects.  Some meetings are devoted to dry runs of presentations for technical conferences, dissertation proposal exams or thesis defenses, so that the group can give the presenter feedback on their slides and presentation of the material.

Research and Teaching Expectations

Describe your students' primary area(s) of responsibility and expectations (e.g., reading peer-reviewed literature, in-lab working hours, etc.).

Time demands vary widely during the course of a student's thesis research.  There may be a lot of "hurry up and wait" periods while experiments are being prepared, built, serviced for periodic maintenance or repaired if a component or instrument has failed.  During experiments, work may be anywhere from 20-40 hours a week in the lab.  After that, data analysis and writing generally involved blocks of focused time, but with a less demanding schedule.

How do you decide authorship and/or authorship order?

Students are generally first authors on all papers, with supporting students listed next and finally senior personnel who contributed to the planning and execution of the project.  I generally will be the last author in the list, if the week is by our group alone.  If the paper is the outcome of a collaboration with another group, then the lead student is first author, and that student's advisor will be the final author.  All students and faculty who contributed to the planning, execution and writing would be included in the author listing.

Do you ask students in your group to serve as a GSI over the course of their program?

I encourage students who have an interest in teaching to spend at least one term as a GSI, and to potentially seek out interesting workshops held by the CRLT-E (center for research on teaching and learning in engineering).  But serving as a GSI is not required, unless we experience a gap in funding.

Do you have general expectations for graduation?

This varies substantially between students based on the rate of progress in the research toward the dissertation. The minimum for a graduate student, post BS, including direct-to-Ph.D. has been four years. Some students enrich their graduate experience by interning with industry partners, or with researchers at national labs, or expanding into broader impacts (e.g., in one case attending global climate conferences and interning with people studying climate and society), which will increase the time to graduation.  That has extended some student's graduation time, but added greatly to their experience during grad school.

Are you supportive of your students going on internships? If so, is there a time of year that is best? How many internships can they do?

Yes, and this depends on the level of experience when entering the graduate program.  It has frequently been of great use to pursue an internship after 3 years in the doctoral program.  There is no limit of internships, especially if the internship is contributing to content that will appear in the dissertation.

Opportunities for Feedback

How do you provide students with feedback regarding overall progress, research activities, etc.?

Through frequent meetings, verbally and one-on-one, and potentially when students present progress on their research to the group.

How far in advance of a deadline should a student expect to provide written work for feedback, such as publication drafts?

I generally need at least two weeks for a paper and maybe 3 or 4 for a dissertation.  I try to not be the "rate limiting step."

How do you solicit feedback from your students?

Communication, open and frequent.

Conference Attendance

Which meetings do your students generally attend? What funding is available to attend these meetings?

American Chemical Society National Meetings, ASME IC Engines and other conferences, SAE Congress and Exposition, International Combustion Symposium.  Sometimes we will travel to visit sponsors or partners at companies, other universities or national labs.  Funds are generally built into our research budgets to support travel, and there are Rackham travel Grants that can be applied for.

Time Away from Campus

Discuss expectations regarding vacations and time away from campus and how best to plan for them. What is the time-frame for notification regarding anticipated absences?

More warning is better, but generally timing is not a big concern.  We just need to be aware of deadlines for milestones and reporting.

Are there specific standard times that students in your group generally take vacation?

This is dependent on student needs and plans. I am very flexible.

What do you do to facilitate students taking time off (e.g., do you proactively encourage people to take vacation after major deadlines)?

I listen to how students are doing, and try to model healthy behavior and work-life balance.

Additional Information

Are there any additional points that you would like to share?

We have a great dynamic in our group, supporting each other in our research and helping each other whenever needed.

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