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Wei Lu

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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?

Initially, I provide my students with extensive guidance to assist them in kickstarting their projects, before transitioning to a more observational role. I strongly promote student-led exploration of different research avenues and the development of unique ideas. Group collaboration is highly encouraged. I prioritize and value the creative and innovative abilities of students, and consider them the cornerstone behind cutting-edge and impactful results. My objective is to facilitate my students' growth into independent, creative researchers by the time they graduate from my group.

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

The best way for students to contact me is by email. Alternatively, I can also be contacted by phone or a visit to my office. Generally, students can expect a response from me within 24 hours, if not quicker.

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 carry out weekly individual meetings with each student, which span one hour. In addition, we organize group meetings on a weekly basis where students will present their findings to the entire group. My door is open for students who wish to visit at any time. I strongly support regular meetings to facilitate research discussions and answer any questions. Some students prefer nearly daily research discussions, while others who prefer a greater level of independence typically engage with me on a weekly basis. I also make frequent visits to my lab to interact with my students and initiate discussions.

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

We organize group meetings every week, where one member takes on the role of presenter while the rest of the group actively listens, raises questions, and shares insights. These meetings function as a medium for students to update the group on their progress, share their discoveries, and receive valuable feedback. In addition, we also set aside some time to discuss and manage broader lab logistics.

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.).

The students in my lab may choose to concentrate on either experimental or computational aspects. Some students opt for exposure to both areas. Those involved in experiments tend to spend most of their time on measurements, characterization, testing, and data interpretation. Similarly, students focusing on simulations devote the bulk of their time to model development and computations. All students, regardless of their specific focus, are involved in conducting literature reviews, analyzing data, creating scientific visualizations, drafting research papers, and preparing presentation materials.

How do you decide authorship and/or authorship order?

Generally, any student who contributes to the conceptualization or design of the article, the development of methodology, the performance of experiments, the execution of simulations, the analysis of results, or the drafting of sections of the paper is given authorship. The first author is typically the student who leads the project, makes significant contributions to the work, and creates the initial complete draft of the manuscript. I typically serve as the senior final author of the manuscript.

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

I highly recommend that students with a passion for teaching dedicate at least one academic term as a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI). This experience aids in cultivating the teaching skills that will be vital for their future academic endeavors.

Do you have general expectations for graduation?

Generally, the PhD students in my group are expected to have at least three first-author journal articles before they graduate.

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?

I support my students undertaking internships when there is a strong alignment between their research and the scope of the internship. These internships mostly occur during the final year before graduation.

Opportunities for Feedback

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

During one-on-one meetings, I offer my students constructive feedback.

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

It is generally expected that written work for feedback should be submitted at least two weeks prior to the deadline. The earlier, the better. 

How do you solicit feedback from your students?

Students are encouraged to share their feedback during individual meetings or via email communication with me.

Conference Attendance

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

The conferences attended include but are not limited to the International Mechanical Engineering Congress & Exposition (IMECE) by ASME; Society of Engineering Science Annual Technical Meeting; The Electrochemical Society conference; and SAE Congress and Exposition. Typically, travel expenses are covered by our research project funds. Additionally, students can apply for the Rackham Travel Grants.

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?

Students are anticipated to provide a three-week advance notice for any intended vacation or time away.

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

The timing largely depends on the students' requirements and schedules, but it usually falls during the winter break and sometime during the summer.  

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

I assist students in managing their time effectively, ensuring that all essential tasks and projects are handled during their planned time away.

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