Professor Heath Serves as Opponent for Defense in Norway

Sunday, August 14, 2011

In December, Prof. Robert W. Heath Jr. visited the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and served as the first opponent on a Ph.D. defense. The second opponent was Dr. Nadia Khaled from EPFL. The student, who passed with flying colors was Mariam Kaynia, advised by Prof. Geir Oien, who is also Faculty Dean of NTNU's Faculty of Information Technology, Mathematics, and Electrical Engineering. The dissertation topic was an Analysis and Improvement of Wireless ad hoc Network Performance Through MAC and PHY Layer Design. The structure of the Ph.D. defense at NTNU follows more of a European model and is quite different from the procedure at UT Austin. The defense proceeds in two parts. First, the Ph.D. candidate makes a 45 minute presentation on a research topic, not in her area of research, and chosen by the committee only two weeks in advance. This is intended to show the candidate's ability to teach and learn new material. Only cursory questions are asked in this phase. Second, the Ph.D. candidate overviews the research results in her dissertation for about 20 minutes. This is then followed by 1 hour of questioning by the first opponent and a similar amount of questioning by the second opponent, and finally questioning by the other committee members. All the presentations and questions are performed in a public venue, with the candidate's family observing in the front row. Prof. Heath immensely enjoyed the visit to NTNU including attending the Signal Processing Group's annual, and justifiably legendary, Christmas feast (JULEBORDET).