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Purdue Graduate School ('11-'12) - Semester VIII

Another significant milestone passed this semester. I am now a Ph.D. candidate, which is a fancy way to say I am "all but dissertation" (ABD) in terms of official university requirements.

Prelim - Preliminary Examination

There are three relatively insurmountable hoops that one must jump through in order to obtain a Ph.D. in ECE here at Purdue. First is the qualifying examination (QE). The QE is a grueling "four-hour closed-book exam offered once a year." The goal of this exam is to ensure that one is properly prepared and has the necessary background to even begin serious research in the field of Electrical and Computer Engineering. This research serves as the largest component to a Ph.D., which is primarily a research degree. I passed this exam a while ago (on the first try, even).

After passing the QE and completing all necessary coursework, one is required to take the preliminary examination. The prelim is "given to determine whether a student is adequately prepared to conceive and undertake a suitable research topic. [...] During the Preliminary Examination, the student is typically expected to exhibit:
- A clear understanding of the research problem;
- An awareness of pertinent background literature and current efforts in the research area of interest;
- Some initial progress toward solving the research problem; and
- A plan to execute the remainder of the thesis research."

So, the general expectation is that you've made some progress on your research and you are now getting feedback and approval from your graduate committee to complete said research, after which you can try to clear the final and most difficult hoop: writing and defending a dissertation.

As of December 9, 2011 I have cleared all but this final hoop. Make no mistake, however, the first two hoops combined are far less challenging than writing and defending a dissertation. A lot of work remains to be done.

RCAC - HUBzero

My supervisor continues to allow me to focus primarily on my research, in part because it closely relates to a grant that we have. Having passed my prelim, the pressure continues to mount to bring the system to a state where we can deploy it as well as obtain publications. I have already co-authored two papers and submitted them to conferences for consideration, with more in the works. I'm hoping to graduate either December 2012 or, more likely, May 2013. We'll see how it goes, though.

"LIFE 302" - Newborn

While last semester we discovered the sex of our child, this semester we actually got to meet him. On August 17, Jefferson Edward Turkstra arrived in our lives. It's exciting to have a son, and it is also a lot of stress and work. Throw in the Ph.D. and full time job and things can get pretty crazy. I guess on the up side it provides even more motivation to graduate as soon as possible (like I needed any more). Pictures, video, and more information about Jefferson can be found on

BAND 110 - Marching Band

Year number twelve down. This season was fairly mellow, with no away trip (the band did go to the IU game, but there was nothing to video tape there so I didn't tag along). The team did "win the season," earning a spot in the Little Caesars Bowl in Detroit, though. So the AAMB went to the motor city once again and once again I stayed home - this time with my son and wife. Perhaps next year will be more interesting.