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Daniel Cooper

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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 usually begin by providing students with close guidance as they embark on their academic journey. Subsequently, I actively foster independent exploration and emphasize the importance of making their own valuable insights. During the latter stages of the PhD program, my goal is to function as much as possible as a collaborator and mentor rather than as an advisor.

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

I use both slack and email. While I may send messages beyond regular working hours, I do not anticipate a response until the standard working hours, unless there is a mutual understanding that we are operating under a tight deadline.

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?

I meet one-on-one with PhD students for up to 1 hour each week. It is very helpful if students prepare a few slides to help pick-up from last time, describe progress and new ideas, and explain where there might be difficulties for us to work through together. I understands that sometimes there will be little present given classes and life outside of PhD research.

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

Most students are working on a project or at least topic area with other members of the lab (e.g., other students or postdocs). We have weekly sub-group meetings on the particular topic. In addition, we have monthly whole group lunches and a journal review club. We also have 1-2 whole group social events each semester; e.g., summer BBQ.

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.).

I send each student a letter at the start of the first semester with specific expectations for the PhD in general and the first semester in particular.

How do you decide authorship and/or authorship order?

In our publication process, students typically hold the position of first authors on all papers, followed by supporting students, and ultimately senior personnel who played a role in project planning and execution. I usually appear as the last author on the list.

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

I recommend students with a passion for teaching to consider a minimum of one semester as a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) and explore the possibility of participating in engaging workshops offered by the CRLT-E (Center for Research on Teaching and Learning in Engineering). However, becoming a GSI is not mandatory unless we encounter a funding shortage.

Do you have general expectations for graduation?

It will vary depending on the topic and the particular outputs we are generating. Typically though, a student should have published 3 journal articles in good journals. While there is no fixed time, this will likely take 4.5+ years.

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, but typically only after 3+ years in the PhD program.

Opportunities for Feedback

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

Typically through our weekly one-on-one meetings.

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

At least 2 weeks.

How do you solicit feedback from your students?

Yes, I give and receive feedback frequently.

Conference Attendance

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

The lab's research encompasses various facets of manufacturing and sustainability, delving into manufacturing and recycling processes, manufacturing systems, supply chain analysis, product design, and the development and application of environmental impact modeling tools. Typically, each student's work intersects with at least two of these areas, fostering a multidisciplinary approach. As a result, our lab members actively participate in a diverse array of conferences, such as the ASME/SME MSEC/NAMRC manufacturing conference, CIRP Life Cycle Engineering Conference, International Conference on the Technology of Plasticity, Esaform, International Symposium on Sustainable Systems and Technology, Conference of the International Society of Industrial Ecology, ASME's design IDETC conference, and TMS. Conference funding is typically integrated into our research project awards, and students also have the opportunity to seek additional support through Rackham.

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?

I ask students to send me their vacation plans a month ahead of time so that we can work around any deadlines/meetings with sponsors etc. The baseline is that students take around 4 weeks of vacation per year plus public holidays. The expectation is that the student should be on campus when not on vacation or travel for work. However, I understand that unexpected events occur so we can be flexible where possible.

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

It is up to the student. Most folks take 2 weeks during winter break and then another 2 weeks or so throughout the rest of the year.

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

I encourage students to take the 4 weeks of vacation per year.

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