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An Interdisciplinary Program of Engineering and Science Ken Vickers Director, microEP Graduate Program Research Professor, Physics 501 575-2875. Program Scope Program History Philosophy Curriculum issues. PhD Candidacy Exam Student Results Implementation Barriers

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An Interdisciplinary Program of Engineering and Science

Ken Vickers

Director, microEP Graduate Program

Research Professor, Physics 501 575-2875

  • Program Scope
  • Program History
  • Philosophy
  • Curriculum issues
  • PhD Candidacy Exam
  • Student Results
  • Implementation Barriers
  • Summary








Scope of microEP Research

(also known as living in the boundary layers)

from Nanoscale

Quantum Dots and


…to 3-dimensional High

Temperature Superconducting

Electronic-Photonic Systems


History of microEP Program













09/00 12/00




NSF EPSCoR grant (Ultra-Fast Electronics/Interdisciplinary Ed)

Program Director hired (Ken Vickers, Engineering Manager, TI)

Cohort 1 formed: Eleven BS graduates

Cohort 2 formed: Eight BS graduates, four MS graduates

MS Microelectronics-Photonics (microEP) fully approved

microEP is educational base for UA 1999 NSF IGERT award

microEP Program Specialist hired (IGERT funding)

Cohort 3 formed: Nine BS graduates, seven MS graduates

PhD microEP fully approved

microEP is research/ed base for UA 2000 NSF MRSEC award

microEP is concentration area for UA 2000 NSF PFI award

Six Cohort 1 students enter industry

microEP is educational model for UA 2000 FIPSE (Physics)

Four Cohort 1 students enter industry, one continues for PhD

microEP Accountant hired (FIPSE funded)

microEP Education Outreach Director hired (MRSEC funded)

microEP Innovation Incubator Director hired (FPI/FIPSE funded)


Comparison of Industrial and Academic Research and Work Practices

  • Management aligned job goals support group goals/objectives.
  • Creative work is balanced between management assigned tasks and self defined tasks.
  • Work hours are set in a coordinated fashion to optimize group performance.
  • Technical organizations require staff to work at a common location to support ad-hoc work groups.
  • Compensation systems first reward group performance, then reward individual contribution.
  • Not collaborating in problem solving is viewed as a negative attribute in technical personnel.
  • Job goal alignment is voluntary to other departmental efforts.
  • Creative work is self defined, with possible voluntary collaborations on large projects.
  • Faculty work hours are self scheduled to meet personal goals and institutional assignments.
  • Faculty independently set hours between home and campus to meet needs and office hours.
  • Compensation systems reward individual accomplishments, not departmental success.
  • Student collaborations are not allowed in typical class room or research efforts.

Enhancement of Traditional Graduate Degrees through microEP Program Methods

Traditional Departmental Education

Supplemental microEP Elements

  • Technical Knowledge
  • Core classes in undergrad dept
  • Most electives in department
  • Few other technical electives
  • Technical Knowledge
  • Core of interdisciplinary classes
  • Applied technical electives
  • Business classes
  • Research Methods
  • Slow student initiated linkage to research prof
  • Professor’s group meetings
  • Research Methods
  • Design of Experiments class during summer
  • Quick assignment to research prof
  • Formal research project plan
  • Team Skills
  • Project teams in classes
  • Team Skills
  • Pseudo-industry engineering group
  • Weekly operations management seminars
  • Invention and innovation
  • Individual mentoring within research group
  • Invention and Innovation
  • Summer inventiveness workshops
  • Personality and learning methods mapping
  • Intro summer camp for all microEP students

Results in

  • Broadened technical knowledge
  • Rapid acclimation to first job
  • Early leadership roles
  • Earlier significant personal success

Sound technical graduate degree


microEP Program Curriculum Planning

  • Areas of Emphasis for curriculum definition
    • Photonics – The study of light and its interaction with matter
    • Microelectronics – The study of electronic devices and systems at the micro and nanoscopic level
    • Materials and Processing – The study of the science and engineering necessary to fabricate microelectronic-photonic devices and systems
  • Matrix of classes required by Area of Emphasis

PhD Candidacy Examination Practice

  • Traditional University of Arkansas Science/Engineering Process
    • Research proposal presented to committee for review.
    • Written exam based on content of specific undergraduate and graduate course knowledge content.
    • Oral examination by faculty of all subject matter.
  • Experimental microEP approach
    • To provide guidance to student and faculty on likelihood of student’s success in PhD studies.
    • Research proposal in NSF format submitted to committee, and presented in open forum for comments and approval.
    • Written exam is a scenario based complex technology problem
      • One week duration (spring break), answer limited to 15 pages
      • Open written resource, no discussion allowed
      • Includes technical solution, implementation method, etc.
      • Oral presentation may be required by committee if needed

microEP Cohort 3 (AY 2000-2001)

Career prior to microEP program application


Student Prior Degree vs Maj Prof Dept

IGERT Fellows/Total microEP Students


Careers of microEP Cohort 1 Graduates

Candita Meek BS EE/MS microEP Texas Instruments Product Eng

Jorge Vega BS EE/MS microEP Motorola, Device Eng

Muhammad Anser BS Physics/MS microEP Amer. Microsystems, Wafer Fab Eng

Alfred Estevez BS Physics/MS microEP Texas Instruments, DLP Product Eng

Brian Hart BS Physics/MS microEP Lucent, Optical Design Eng

Barry James BS Math/MS microEP Texas Instruments, Yield Engineer

Shi Yan BS EE/MS microEP Intel, IC Design Systems Eng

Roger Owings BS EE/MS microEP Entergy Corp, Systems Eng

Wee Lee Ng BS ChE/MS microEP Texas Instruments, IC Packaging Eng

Yue Fan BS Mat Sci/MS microEP Intel, IC Design Systems Eng

Clayton Workman BS EE/MS microEP PhD microEP student

  • Rick Wise, Texas Instruments Fellow
    • “This is the type of training that we need in Ph.D. graduates for them to be immediately successful in our advanced development facilities.”

microEP Style Program Institutional Barriers to Implementation

  • Barriers to success
    • Student academic metrics based on individual performance
    • Graduate research required to be individual effort
    • Faculty reward and recognition based on individual performance
    • Resources required for “extra” industrial experience are high
  • Requirements to overcome barriers
    • University-level administrators support general concepts
    • Program manager’s passionate belief in the program need
    • Program manager assigned only to program during startup phase
    • Program manager practiced in industrial teamwork atmosphere
    • Financial seed money support is critical
    • Customer feedback (industry) must be continuous

University of Arkansas Graduate Program in


An Interdisciplinary Program between Engineering and Science

Contact: Ken Vickers, Director

Co-PI’s Greg Salamo, Len Schaper Phone: 501 575-2875/3175


Sponsors: NSF IGERT & EPSCoR

Ark Science &Tech Auth.

Degrees: MS/PhD microEP


The educational objective of the microEP program is a graduate fully prepared to drive the advancement of the combination of microelectronics and photonics.

A rigorous interdisciplinary graduate technical education, including soft skills training, will be used to accomplish this mission.

New Tactics

  • Summer creativity
  • workshops
  • Interdisciplinary
  • curriculum
  • Entrepreneurial
  • methods seminars
  • Pseudo industrial work
  • group environment
  • Early research
  • internships
  • International
  • internships
  • Soft skills training and
  • practice