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Common Ground Newsletter: July 2019


Contents: | Welcome | Things to do | GreetingsFirst Year Advice from Current Graduate StudentsGraduate Orientation | General Information about Graduate School | Who is your advisor? | "How many hours do I register for?" |  Registration Fees and Deadlines Final Transcript Reminder | Assistance for Graduate Students New to Ohio State | Ohio Weather | Shopping | Recreation (on and off campus)Important Dates

Welcome to Common Ground!

In this issue of Common Ground, you will find some great advice from current ECE graduate students and review several items to remember before you arrive on campus. In addition, there is helpful information about Columbus and the Ohio State University campus.

Enjoy the rest of the summer and please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.

See you soon!

Tricia Toothman, PhD Graduate Program Coordinator
Beth Bucher, MS Graduate Program Coordinator

p.s. If you missed the first two editions of Common Ground, you can find them here.

Things to do

At the end of each newsletter, we will have a summary of things to do before arriving on campus. Here are a few things to do now:

  1. Submit your final offical transcript to the OSU Office of Graduate Admissions.
  2. Begin registering for courses.
  3. Register for ECE Graduate Orientation, Wednesday August 14, 2019 and Friday, August 16, 2019. ​​​​MS students contact your advisor if you are unable to attend. MS Faculty advisors are assigned in August.
  4. International students: Refer to Pre-Arrival information.
  5. Please visit ECE Graduate Student Information on

Greetings from the Graduate Studies Chair

Andrea SerraniWelcome to the Graduate Program at the Ohio State University’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. As Chair of Graduate Studies for the department, I can say with confidence that your choice to pursue your graduate degree at Ohio State is a sound decision.

ECE is a dynamic department  with a commitment to academic excellence and the resources to provide a broad and diverse range of research opportunities.

The department is consistently ranked among the best in the nation, and we are the top-rated program in Ohio. Our reputation for excellence is evidenced by the steady increase in enrollment we have enjoyed in both our graduate and undergraduate programs in the past decade. Our graduate program alone has increased from less than 300 students in 2007 to more than 400 in 2017.

We have world-class research labs housed in three buildings on campus, and faculty members who enjoy advising our graduate students and helping them achieve their academic, research and professional goals.

Our graduates are recruited by major companies such as IBM, Texas Instruments, Microsoft, AT&T, Intel, Hewlett Packard, Ford, and GM. Some of our best Master's students continue their studies in the PhD program at Ohio State and other top graduate programs. Many of our PhD graduates hold faculty positions at other universities in the United States and overseas.

As we prepare for the 2018-19 academic year, the department's faculty, staff, and your fellow graduate students look forward to welcoming you. We are here to help you navigate your academic paths and non-academic needs with a motivating, challenging, and highly rewarding graduate studies program that meets the individual needs of every student in our community.

I look forward to meeting you as you begin your graduate student experience, and wish you success in your academic endeavor.

Andrea Serrani
Professor and Graduate Studies Chair,
Electrical and Computer Engineering

First-year advice from current graduate students

Isabel Fernandez, ECE PhD student

Reflecting about my time at Ohio State, all that I can say is that it has been a roller coaster. From the beginning, when I decided to go to grad school, it was very overwhelming the idea of going to another country, to a new city, and to a new school. I had never been to Columbus before, did not know anybody that lived here, and the idea of taking classes (and being a Teaching Assistant) in a different language terrified me. It was hard at the beginning, I am not going to deny it, but I have learned to enjoy the process and to get the most out of it. 

There are three main things that I have learned which helped me tackle all new challenges and emotions that grad school may bring, and they may help you as well. First, find an equilibrium between school work and your well-being. It may sound obvious, but make sure you eat well-balanced meals. Having appropriate nutrition allows you to be healthy and to maintain enough energy to keep up with all your activities. Moreover, look for activities that take you out of your research lab. If you like to exercise, to paint, to dance, or have any other hobby, take some time each week to do so (even if you have to enroll in a class to make sure it is on your schedule every week). Sometimes your brain needs a break in order to keep going, so do not feel guilty about taking some time for yourself!

Second, look for opportunities that take you out of your comfort zone. A lot of the time, we are scared of trying new things because we are afraid of failure or criticisms. However, the best way to know yourself and what you are capable of doing is by putting yourself in “uncomfortable" situations. This may sound absurd, but doing things that you are not used to may help you learn more about yourself. You may feel insecure and uncomfortable in the beginning, but you will be surprised by your abilities, what you learn, what you experience, and the people that you will meet. Thus, look for opportunities to do new things and remember, life is short so take the risk!

And finally, know that you are not going through grad school alone. Talk with as many people as you can and make friends inside and outside of your department. Do not forget that there are many people experiencing the same things as yourself, and in several occasions, they may be your best confidant. Share your feelings and experiences with other grad students, connect with coworkers and friends, and together you will be able to overcome any obstacle that you face. Remember, “time and change will surely show, how firm thy friendship, O-HI-O!”

Grad school can be overwhelming, but there are a lot of resources that are offered in a big institution like the Ohio State University. There is a Writing Center, a University Center for the Advancement of Teaching (UCAT), a Student Wellness Center, free activities with the Ohio Union Activity Board (OUAB) and the Graduate Student Council (GSC), a Women in Engineering Graduate Council (WEGC), fitness classes at the Recreation and Physical Activity Center (RPAC), and a lot more. So use your resources, enjoy the process, and get the most out of this experience!

Welcome to the Buckeye family!


Om Prakash Bedant, ECE MS Student

Congratulations on your selection at The Ohio State University. A decision about graduate school, although very daunting, can be one of the most important you will have to make as it provides one of the life-changing opportunity for the student to expand their expertise and gain the necessary skill to pursue research. Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) department at OSU is one of the best in the nation. We have excellent faculty with a multitude of research involvements. The whole of ECE department spans over several buildings: Caldwell, Dreese and Electro Science Labs.

There are few points that I would like to stress here which, according to me, would lead us to have a delightful college experience. Firstly, choose your courses wisely but don't try to load yourself with too many of them. If you are willing, you can take courses in Statistics, Mathematics, Computer Science and other departments and many fun courses like Skydiving. I try to go to the initial few lectures of all the classes which I am interested in. This enables me to find the contents and syllabus for the class, instructor’s expectations from the students, and help me decide if it would be a good fit for me. There is always an option to drop the course if you do not like it but keep in mind the minimum credit requirements, if any, applicable for you.

Try to approach professors from your research interest, they would be more than happy to hear about your interests and drive in your research area. They will also be happy to provide you with reading materials and references for their on-going research areas. I also started engaging with professors in my first semester and now I will be continuing in ECE as a Ph.D. candidate.

Few days into the semester and you would be hard-pressed to find time to do everything. This can be avoided if you follow a disciplined routine and manage your time well. Graduate students are expected to have a certain level of maturity in their time management. Therefore, attending all the class lectures is not made mandatory by most of the instructors but it is my experience that going to the classes, participating in the discussion, and asking questions really help in the assignments. Create or join study groups. Try to do all your home assignments yourself, always reach out to the instructors or TAs in their office hours.

You would find almost all the relevant books available in the OSU library. Research Commons at the 18th Avenue Library is the place where most of the graduate students come to work on their assignments and prepare for the courses. If you are ever stuck in the lab well past the normal business hours try reaching out to Student Safety for a ride to your home. Get familiarized with Engineering Career Services (ECS) to be on a lookout for new jobs or internship opportunities.

Lastly, as a graduate student you will be required to spend most of the time in the lab and the library but don't let that define you. Try to be part of a fun student organization where students having similar cause and taste come together. We have student involvement fair in August where some 700 student organizations will be on display and you would get a chance to get to know about them and, if possible, join them. Get to know as many people as possible and try to make friends with everybody you meet. As an international student, making friends with a lot of people helped me get past my initial apprehensiveness about the foreign land. It has contributed positively to my studies, projects and with prospective job opportunities. Take your friends and try to join the fun events organized by the Ohio Union Activities Board(OUAB) round the semesters. We also have a number of events and student organizations specially curated for graduate students.

I also joined IEEE Graduate Student Body which is a group of ECE graduate students determined to help and destress the ECE graduate students. Studies should never come at the expense of your health, so try to make a habit to visit Recreation and Physical Activity Center(RPAC). With proper awareness and careful planning, you can achieve a fulfilling journey with your time here at OSU and you will start feeling close to home here.


ECE Graduate Program Orientation reminder


ECE Graduate Program Orientation Part 1 will take place on Wednesday August 14, 2019, 8:30am - 12:00pm. (MS students will meet 8:30am - 2:00pm). You will be able to register for classes on ECE orientation day if you are not already registered.

ECE Graduate Program Orientation Part 2 is Friday, August 16, 2019, 8:30am - 12:00pm

Orientation Registration

The registration deadline for ECE orientation is August 1, 2019. Registration is easy!

Register for ECE orientation events Part 1 and Part 2 here.

MS Faculty Advisors are assigned in early August. MS students that cannot attend orientation need to contact their Faculty Advisor.

General information about the OSU Graduate School

New graduate students will receive information from the OSU Graduate School, including:

  • Guide for New Graduate Students
  • New Student To Do List
  • Helpful Ohio State Resources for students

If you will be living off campus and driving to classes or labs, make sure you visit CampusParc to learn about parking passes. Students who are GTAs, GRAs, and Fellows will qualify for a “B” parking pass and can be entered in the parking garage lottery if they wish.

Who is your advisor?

Great question!

For master's students:

  • A faculty advisor will be assigned to you in early August based on the research interests you selected on the ECE admission application.
  • You will receive an email with the name of your assigned faculty advisor. MS advisors will meet with their advisees on orientation day.

For PhD students:

  • For PhD students, your faculty advisor is the faculty member who extended the financial aid offer to you.
  • If you do not have a faculty advisor, you should plan to actively seek out a faculty advisor by the end of the second semester of enrollment in the ECE PhD program.

“How many credits do I schedule each term?”

Below is information regarding the number of course credit hours required for graduate students:

  • Domestic students: Full-time enrollment is 8 credit hours per semester, 4 credit hours in summer. Funding may require higher enrollment levels. Domestic students are not required to be enrolled fulltime unless required for funding reasons. There is an enrollment minmum to purchase health insurance and may be a minimum for student loans. Contact BuckeyeLink if you have questions.
  • International students: Must be enrolled at full-time graduate status in autumn and spring semesters for the duration of their degree program. Full-time status for graduate students is 8 credits of enrollment in each autumn and spring semesters. Full-time enrollment in summer is 4 credits. Summer is also considered a vacation semester for visa purposes. Funding may require higher enrollment levels.
  • ECE Graduate Associates (GRAs and GTAs): Minimum of 9 credit hours each semester, 4 credit hours in summer.
  • ECE/University Fellowship Recipients: Minimum of 12 credit hours each semester, 6 credit hours in summer.

Registration fees and deadlines

Remember to pay attention to registration deadlines and tuition and fee payment deadlines each semester. Please note these deadlines to avoid unnecessary confusion, stress and financial penalties. Semester deadlines and registration fees

Final transcript reminder

Just a quick reminder for all students: If you have not submitted your final transcript from your current undergraduate or graduate institution, please do so as soon as possible. If you do not submit your final transcripts you could run into registration problems after your first semester. Taking care of this now will be one less thing for you to worry about before arriving in autumn.

After you arrive, you may also take your final transcripts to the first floor of the Student Academic Services building, 281 West Lane Ave.

Assistance for graduate students new to Ohio State

Ohio State happens to be the home of the first and only IEEE Graduate Student Body organization. This group is open to all Ohio State graduate students who are members of IEEE. These current graduate students are very interested in welcoming you to their group.

International Friendships is a registered Ohio State University student organization providing free services for all international students and visiting scholars.  If you need a ride from the airport to campus, temporary housing for a few days when you first arrive in Columbus, or if you are interested in meeting new people, we encourage you to sign up through their website, International Friendships,

Ohio weather

There is a saying about Ohio weather, “If you don’t like it, just wait 48 hours!” Ohio is a place where we do experience every season, sometimes in a very short period of time. For example, in the early spring, it is not uncommon to have one day of 30°F and snowing, and the next day 70°F and sunny. The average high temperature is 62°F (17°C), while the average low is 42°F (6°C). You can expect hot, humid summers and cold, dry winters.


For those of you who enjoy shopping, Columbus is a great place!  Most malls and shopping centers are along the COTA bus route so students can take a bus ride to the shopping location of their choice.  In addition to shopping, Columbus offers a variety of movie theaters, comedy clubs, vintage stores and much more. 

Kroger and Giant Eagle are two grocery stores that are close to campus and convenient for students.  In addition, World Market, Target and a local shopping area known as the North Market are also near campus.  During the spring, summer and autumn seasons, Columbus also offers a variety of farmer’s markets that you may enjoy visiting. Please speak with other students for suggestions about places to find food items that you would find at home.

Recreation (on and off campus)

RPACAs a part of one of the largest student bodies in the United States (52,000 strong!), there are many opportunities for you to participate in student clubs and organizations. A great place to start is the Office of Student Life student organization directory.

There are a number of campus recreation facilities as well. As a student, you can use the facilities at the Recreation and Physical Activity Center (RPAC), a state-of-the-art facility offering a variety of activities and services.

Of course, your studies will be of utmost importance while here at OSU. In addition to our main library (Thompson Library), you will also find the 18th Avenue Library to be a useful resource. Both are located near the ECE department. Each library offers a quiet place for students to relax and study.

If you didn’t already know, Ohio State takes its athletics teams pretty seriously. With more than 30 teams, students have a variety of sports they can choose to watch, with most tickets being offered at a discounted price to students. Some tickets are harder to purchase than others. Although we are a football town (Ohio Stadium holds more than 100,000 screaming fans), Ohio State also has champion wrestling, baseball, soccer, lacrosse, and swimming teams (among others) that we are proud to support. For more information about tickets and teams, check out Ohio State's Official Athletic Site.

So, we’ve hit on things to do on campus, but what about things off campus? Columbus is home to two professional franchises: the Columbus Crew soccer team and the Columbus Blue Jackets hockey team. Both teams offer an excellent night out on the town. We also have a minor league baseball team, the Columbus Clippers, which offers summertime fun at their downtown stadium, Huntington Park.

There are also a number of festivals held in and around Columbus throughout the year that may peak your interest. Here are a few: the African American Heritage Festival, Asian Festival, Columbus Arts Festival, Festival Latino, Jazz & Rib Fest, Dublin Irish Festival, India Festival and the Columbus International Festival. Other great places to visit while in Columbus include: COSI, the Columbus Museum of Art , the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium , the Wexner Center for the Arts  (located on campus), and the Franklin Park Conservatory. As you have time, we encourage you to explore all that Columbus has to offer because there is a lot to do and see. Experience Columbus is a great resource for all things to do in the area.

Important dates

  • ECE Department Orientation Part 1: Wednesday August 14, 2019 - 8:30 am to 12:00pm, (MS students: 8:30am - 2:00pm), 113 Dreese Laboratories
  • ECE Department Orientation Part 2: Friday, August 16, 2019, 8:30am - 12:00pm

Register for ECE orientation events Part 1 and Part 2 here


Helpful Resource

2018-2019 Off-Campus Living Guide:

This guide outlines the renting process, information on available rental properties, university and city of Columbus resources, safety information, and students’ rights and responsibilities as members of the off-campus community.