Common Ground - Issue Three


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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 a welcome from ECE Graduate studies chair Professor Atilla Eryilmaz, 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.

We look forward to welcoming you to Ohio State!

Beth Bucher, MS Graduate Program Coordinator

Tricia Toothman, PhD 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. Request that your final official transcript be sent to the Ohio State Office of Graduate Admissions: Where to send official transcripts
  2. Begin reviewing ECE courses and registering for courses online.
  3. Mark your calendar: ECE Graduate Program Orientation: Available online in August!
  4. International students: Please refer to Pre-Arrival information.
  5. For students admitted to the MS or PhD graduate program, please visit ECE Graduate Student Information on
  6. Look at the New Student To Do List
  7. Refer to Off Campus and Commuter Student Services
  8. A Wellness Message from the Graduate School Dean

Greetings from the Graduate Studies Chair


Dear incoming graduate students, I welcome you whole-heartedly to our program. Despite the difficulties the world has been experiencing due to the pandemic, we are very glad to have you join our Ohio State family, and hope that you have some of the most enjoyable and memorable times of your lives during your education in our department.

Graduate school is the phase in your life when you get to deepen your understanding of topics to serve your interests, as well as develop new skills. Our goal, as the faculty and staff of ECE, is to provide you with the environment and the opportunities to develop your knowledge-base and skills toward a productive and successful professional career after your graduation. We are also committed to encouraging and helping you become responsible, diligent, ethical, and conscientious individuals, who make up the pillars of a happy and prosperous society.

Each of you joining this program has a unique background with particular interests and future goals. Consequently, you will each have a unique experience in the course of your studies. What matters is not only the absolute amount of knowledge you will possess as you leave our program, but also how much you grow between the beginning and the completion of your studies. Our program provides numerous opportunities to help you grow as capable, mature, hard-working, productive, and happy individuals. I encourage you to make the best of these opportunities, while building yourself toward a productive and happy future.

Ohio State ECE is a dynamic program with a commitment to academic excellence and the resources to provide a broad and diverse range of research opportunities. The ECE department is consistently ranked among the best in the nation, and is the top-rated ECE program in Ohio. We have world-class research labs housed in three buildings on campus, and faculty members who enjoy advising our graduate students and helping them to achieve their academic, research and professional goals.

Our graduates are recruited by major companies such as IBM, Google, Facebook, Texas Instruments, Microsoft, AT&T, Intel, Hewlett Packard, Qualcomm, Ford, and GM, just to name a few. Many of our PhD graduates hold faculty positions at other universities in the United States and overseas.

As we prepare for the 2021-22 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 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.

Atilla Eryilmaz
Professor and Graduate Studies Chair
Electrical and Computer Engineering

First-year advice from current graduate students

Katrina Tisdale, ECE PhD Student
Katrina Tisdale

Congratulations to all of you for choosing to embark on this journey! I’m sure this choice (to attend grad school in the first place and to specifically attend here) was not easy, especially with the uncertainty and turmoil the world has experienced over the past year. Yet, in spite of everything, you have made this amazing choice to invest in yourself and your future. In your first few weeks, you’ll be bombarded with information about your access to world-class resources, courses, research, etc. and all of the associated choices you must make in terms of those courses and research topics. The whole process though exciting, can also feel overwhelming, so take some time now to really set your compass for the journey aheadAside from taking some time over the next few weeks to recharge (whatever that means for you), I have two suggestions:  

1. Determine your “why” - that is why you chose to pursue higher education and why you chose Ohio State. The challenges, choices, and setbacks that you face over the next few weeks, months, and years may shake your confidence and instill doubt. Knowing why you made this choice can help guide you through these challenges while staying true to who you are. My overall “why” is wanting to challenge myself and to pursue a career in engineering novel solutions that directly help people lead better lives. These past three years have been challenging, but my “why” has served like a lighthouse or a compass for everything from course selection to when I’ve questioned my place here. Don’t worry if you can’t articulate your “why” right now, but I would recommend working to develop one. 

2. Engrain in your mind that you don’t and don’t have to know everything. You are coming to graduate school to learn and to be molded. You were not chosen because you already know everything. If you do, then you do not belong here. Rather, you were chosen because you show the ability to learn and apply your knowledge. Don’t be embarrassed to speak up and say you don’t know or understand a topic, and don’t be afraid to admit you were wrong. A question you can’t answer today is just something new to learn for tomorrow. You will encounter people who act like they know everything. Feel sorry for them because their minds are already closed to new knowledge and possibilities. Keep your mind open, and never let anyone make you feel ashamed of your current level of understanding. 

Had I known this advice three years ago, perhaps I wouldn’t have spent so much time and energy the summer before worrying about whether I actually belonged in grad school. If you’re like me (I already know that telling you not to worry won’t work, so I won't bother), know that if you remain true to who you are and you’re willing to learn (and willing to put in the work to do so) then you are in the right place, there is no question that you belong here. Also know that if even after you start, you’re struggling to realize this, Ohio State has plenty of people to help you thrive, as long as you’re willing to ask (I recommend you start with your peers, chances are they’re struggling right beside you). Your first year of graduate school is an amazing time. Make new mistakes, meet new people, learn new things, explore new places. Enjoy every moment of the journey, especially the challenging ones. 

Aditya Nechiyil, Ohio State ECE MS Continuing to PhD Student
Aditya Nechiyil

Welcome to The Ohio State University! You are probably feeling a whole spectrum of emotions at this point. I know that beginning graduate school can feel very intimidating to a lot of you. By now you are probably used to being bombarded with comments stating how challenging graduate school might be. Let me be one of the few people to assure you that it really isn’t as bad as you might think. For instance, compared to undergraduate school, the graduate school curriculum is more focused on your specific field, so you will be spending most of your time attending classes and doing research in an area that excites you. You will most likely be taking fewer classes per semester compared to undergraduate school as well. You will however be spending more time doing research. As a graduate student myself, there are a few tips that I would like to share with you. These are things that I think you would find useful as an incoming graduate student. 

Throughout your time in graduate school you will have two major points of contact, your program coordinator, and your faculty advisor. Your program coordinator will assist you with course scheduling and planning. Any questions you may have regarding the program can be directed towards them. They are always just an email away. Your faculty advisor will guide you throughout your time here as a graduate student. It is crucial that you build and maintain a strong and healthy relationship with your advisor. 

One of the first tasks you will be assigned to do once you start graduate school is to complete your plan of study. Your plan of study lists every course you will be taking up until you graduate. Your program coordinator and faculty advisor can help you with this by suggesting courses for you. I suggest completing the plan of study as soon as possible. Some courses are only offered every other semester or year. So, completing your plan of study will help you decide what classes you might need to take sooner rather than later. 

Always try to engage with students and faculty whenever you can. Asking for help from a peer or attending office hours can go a long way if you find yourself struggling in a course. If you’re a masters student looking to continue to the PhD program, be sure to express your interest to a faculty member sooner rather than later. Just be sure you understand what switching to a PhD program entails. 

Keep track of important dates. These dates can be found on the OSU registrar website. An important date that you want to keep track of is the last day you can drop a course with or without a “W” on your transcript. Knowing these dates beforehand can help you decide whether you might need to drop a course in case you find the amount of coursework you signed up for to be excessive. 

Graduate life can get hectic at times, so try to unwind and take a break from time to time. Whether you like to attend in-person or virtually, there are plenty of events to participate in. You can find these events via the Ohio Union Activities Board. We even have a Discord chat specifically for OSU ECE graduate students. The Discord chat allows students to just chat or play games with one another. 

Lastly, don’t get discouraged when you fail. You might not do too well on an exam or you might hit a wall when it comes to research. Failing is part of the experience in graduate school and its meant to help you grow. It happens to everyone. Trust me, it’s not just you. It’s not how you fall but how you get back up that matters. As long as you have the passion and determination for what you do, nothing can stop you from achieving your goals. Good luck on your first year here at OSU! 

ECE Graduate Program Orientation reminder

ECE Graduate Program Orientation: Virtual Orientation available in August
You will be able to register for classes when you arrive on campus if you have not enrolled



Who is your advisor?

Great question!

For master's students:
  • A faculty advisor will be assigned to you in early August.
  • You will receive an email with the name of your assigned faculty advisor.
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 maintain full-time graduate status in autumn and spring semesters for the duration of their degree program when on a student visa. Full-time status for graduate students is 8 credits of enrollment in each autumn and spring semesters. Summer is also considered a vacation semester for visa purposes. Funding may require higher enrollment levels.
  • ECE Graduate Associates (GRAs and GTAs): Enrollment in a minimum of 9 credit hours autumn and spring semesters, 4 credit hours in summer.
  • ECE/University Fellowship Recipients: Enrollment in a minimum of 12 credit hours autumn and spring semesters, 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: Please request that official, complete transcripts from all post secondary institutions attended be sent to Ohio State Graduate and Professional Admissions. 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.

US institutions: Transcripts must come directly to Ohio State from the issuing institution,

International institutions: Send copies of international transcripts, diplomas or degree certificates and English translations in sealed university envelopes to Graduate and Professional Admissions.

Special notes for international students are at this link.

Organizations for new graduate students

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. Current ECE 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)



As 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 Ohio State. 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 Athletics Site.

So, we’ve share some things to do on campus, but what about things to do 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. 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: Available online in August!