International Student Seeking Engineering PhD

<p>Hello Everyone. I am an international student in engineering. I obtained my master's in fluid mechanics at the Von Karman Institute of Fluid Dynamics in May 2013. I currently working at a fluid dynamics company, but I would like to get my PhD. I would like to inquire about PhDs at an American university and about my specific area. I just want to do fluid mechanics. I don't care about major. </p>

<p>Any advise/answers I will appreciate. </p>

<li>How long is American PhD program usuall?</li>
<li>What is typical monthly salary?</li>
<li>I do not know what to do after I obtain a PhD. I love research very much, but I not sure if I will become professor. Should I find answer to this before applying?</li>

<p>----regarding my research area---
4. Which schools are best for fluid dynamics?
5. I really want to work for the best of the best fluid dynamics professors. Are all of them in the national academy?</p>

<p>“I don’t care about major.” - I applaud you for this. Von Karman Institute is very well respected as an international institution, especially for fluid mechanists. </p>

<li>Depends mostly on your adviser, your expertise in the field, work ethic. You can expect 3-6 years with a maste’rs. </li>
<li>Depends on school. Highest internal stipend I’ve seen is 31k/year at Cornell.</li>
<li>Probably not since you know you like research.</li>

<p>4&5. I will combine these two questions. I want to speak at length about this since fluid dynamics is my field.
First things first. Fluid mechanics is broad, so you’ll have to determine what is it you want to study and what method you would like to apply. In my opinion you can approach this in two ways: choosing a method then the specific area or vise versa. By method, I mean you can choose to do experimental, computational, of theoretical research.
There’s so many specific areas you can choose from. Vortex dynamics, boundary layers, turbulence, laminar-turbulence transition, etc…the list goes on forever.
Some of these methods are limited, that is, it is nearly impossible to do with one method. For example, some turbulence experiments cannot be conducted because the equipment for measuring certain parameters do not exist. So this is where the computational researchers come, but computational turbulence is perhaps the hardest subject you will ever come across. It’s harder to publish if you are developing theory.</p>

<p>You can’t go wrong with a professor in the national academy of engineering in terms of working with a famous prof. Being a NAE member is the most prestigious title for an engineer. You have to have made some kind of substantial contribution to your field to become a member. Though, I should add most of these professors who are inducted into the NAE are old, so some of the younger superstars in the field are not in it. Unfortunately, many of the NAE members in fluids are retiring.</p>

<p>MIT - not the greatest place to go for fluid mechanics.</p>

<p>Stanford - fortunately, you can apply to their PhD since you have a master’s.
The biggest name at Stanford is Parviz Moin. I consider this guy to be one of the current gods of fluid mechanics, especially in computational turbulence, and numerical methods. Perhaps the most internationally and nationally renowned expert in fluids. Stanford is the best place to go for turbulence, they have a center for turbulence research (directed by Moin). Another renowned prof that comes to mind is Cantwell, another NAE member. There’s others I’m not as familiar with.</p>

<p>Princeton -
Alexander Smits, another amazing NAE professor. He does experimental turbulence, but I think he is retiring soon.
Howard Stone - I have never seen any professor (in and out of engineering) publish at his rate and in the most prestigious journals (e.g., nature, science, PNAS, etc…). He’s not in the NAE YET (I’m willing to bet he will be) and is relatively young (50s).
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Never seen anything like it.
I am most familiar with Princeton’s program (I’m a senior undergrad here).</p>

Stephen Pope - another god of computational turbulence. NAE member. Ridiculous brilliant. Wrote a whole book on turbulence (the large majority of the subjects in the book were discovered by him). I would say Moin slightly edges Pope in terms of just numerics, but Pope edges Moin in terms of physics of turbulent flows. He is retiring though, unfortunately.
Several new faculty in fluids.</p>

<p>Texas A&M
William Saric - NAE member. Not too familiar with him, but he does a lot of boundary layer stability&transition, hypresonics stuff. Retiring.</p>

Dale Pullin - computational turbulence. Highly renowned (not sure why he’s not in the NAE). Retiring.
John Dabiri - experimental fluid mechanics. He does a lot of things (from fluid mechanics to propulsion to evolutionary biology). The best youngest professor in his field. In his early 30s. Just brilliant (look at his CV and you’ll know what I mean). </p>

<p>So you probably shouldn’t only consider NAE members since most of them are retiring. I just included the names I was most familiar with (coincidentally most of them are retiring). I’m not too familiar with some of the other top 10 engineering schools and their fluid mechanics branch (Berkeley, UT, Purdue, UIUC, UMich, Gatech, etc…). I assume they’re not as strong as the above.</p>

<p>Thank you very much for the information!!
I am at this moment not so much interested in computational. I rather do experiments. Is Princeton the best place for experiments? Professor Stone seems like an excellent option.</p>

<p>I have a question about funding also. Is it hard for an international student like me to be funded? </p>

<p>If you are strong student with good academics, GRE and letters of reference, there is a good chance of funding. If you make a connection with a faculty member during the application process that might even improve your possibilities of getting an RA position. Frankly, there are lower numbers of applicants from Europe and therefore, they are usually of interest to U.S. universities so there is an advantage in getting funding.</p>

<p>However, I would suggest that you not apply solely to the highly selective programs listed above. They have so many applicants that there is always a chance that you won’t get in despite excellent credentials. Choose at least one other program where you think you would be happy to attend as a safety.</p>

<p>Finally, one other note about the time to degree. Unlike in Europe, there is no fixed time for the Ph.D. In the U.S., it is usually a question of when the dissertation research is completed. This is why the time to degree can vary from 3-6 years as @DoubleD noted (although 6 years after a Masters seems a bit long for most programs in engineering).</p>

<p>I would say Caltech, in general, is the best place to go for experimental fluids. The faculty are young, but they are all brilliant, and there are a bunch of them. Princeton’s experimental fluids is really made of 2 profs: Stone&Smits. The latter, imo, is a god of fluid mechanics and the former is publishing like no other. There’s a couple of young guys, but I don’t think they’ve proven themselves quite yet. </p>

<p>If you look at the schools mentioned, you will see that a number of them are members of the [url="&lt;a href=“”&gt;"]AITU[/url</a>]. If you look at those schools, you will probably find a number of them have solid Fluid mechanics programs and some are a bit less selective in admissions so you can use them as safety schools.</p>