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UDPATED OCTOBER 7, 2020

The purpose of this page is to document temporary policy changes, best practices, and resources during COVID-19 social distancing measures. 

Have questions? Contact Lacy White for program related requirements or contact Jim Pollard for IT related questions. We are all in this together and you have a large support network at BME committed to your success. 


DocuSign

The Graduate Coordinator can assist you with launching forms in DocuSign for easier signature collection. Please contact lacy.white@utexas.edu if you want to launch a form in DocuSign. 

Programs of Work for Courses Taken in Spring 2020

The BME graduate program will approve CR courses taken during the spring 2020 semester toward the PhD program of work, including both core and elective requirements. 

The Graduate School has also approved the use of additional CR credits earned in the spring 2020 semester toward the master's program of work. More information on the master's degree program of work can be found on the Graduate School's COVID FAQ page

If you are considering changing a course to the CR/NC grading status, the Graduate Coordinator can help you determine how this might affect your program of work. 

Qualifying Exams

All qualifying exams in fall 2020 must be held virtually. Please refer to the Virtual Qualifying Exam Best Practices info sheet. All qualifying exam paperwork is submitted directly to the Graduate Coordinator. 

Dissertation Proposals

All students who intend to propose before the end of fall 2020 must hold a virtual proposal. Many of the tips and best practices in the Virtual Qualifying Exam Best Practices info sheet also apply to proposals. Many resources exist online, including other students' experiences from holding virtual proposals. Check out this thread and this article for more practical tips. All proposal paperwork is submitted directly to the Graduate Coordinator. 

IMPORTANT: By default, all Zoom meetings now require UT authentication to join. If you have non-UT Austin committee members, you must change the settings on the meeting to allow them access. Non-UT affiliates will not be able to access your meeting if you skip this step. In the desktop app, go to Advanced Options and select 'Only Authenticated Users Can Join: Sign in too Zoom.' This means that all participants (whether UT affiliated or not) need to have a Zoom account before trying to access your meeting. Please ensure your non-UT committee members create a free Zoom account at https://zoom.us/signup. UT affiliates can create a Zoom account at https://utexas.zoom.us.  

See the Dissertation Proposal page for step-by-step instructions for completing your proposal.  

Dissertation Defense/Final Oral Exam

All students who intend to defend before the end of fall 2020 must hold a virtual defense. Review best practices and articles mentioned in the Qualifying Exam section and the Proposal section.

Do not publicize your defense Zoom link on Twitter or on the web. Zoom links must be shared in a controlled manner.

IMPORTANT: By default, all Zoom meetings now require UT authentication to join. If you have non-UT Austin users who want to join your defense meeting, you must change the settings on a per-meeting basis. Non-UT affiliates will not be able to access your meeting if you skip this step. In the desktop app, go to Advanced Options and select 'Only Authenticated Users Can Join: Sign in too Zoom.' This means that all participants (whether UT affiliated or not) need to have a Zoom account before trying to access your meeting. This will be explained in the defense invitation if you opt for a public defense. If you are holding a closed defense, please ensure your committee members know to create a Zoom account ahead of time. Non-UT committee members can create a free Zoom account at https://zoom.us/signup. UT affiliates can create a Zoom account at https://utexas.zoom.us.  

Paperwork: Learning outcomes should be submitted to the Graduate Coordinator via email. The Report of Dissertation Committee must be signed by your committee members and the GSC Chair (Dr. Yeh) and submitted to GradStudentSvcs@austin.utexas.edu. The Graduate School strongly prefers that all signatures are on one page, but will accept multiple pages if needed. Note that the Graduate School's submission deadline for summer is August 14. Upload your dissertation to the Texas Digital Library and submit all final paperwork by 3 PM on August 14

Download a fillable version of the BME MSE and PhD Learning Outcomes fillable.pdf for your committee members. As a reminder, the Report of Dissertation Committee form will be emailed to you approximately one week prior to your defense.

Will your defense be open or closed? The Graduate School is not mandating public defenses during this time. It is the student's decision to hold a public or closed defense. 

    • Closed Defense
      • You are responsible to create a Zoom meeting and distribute the details to your committee. 
      • If you have non-UT affiliates joining the meeting: in the meeting Advanced Options under 'Only authenticated users can join', choose 'Sign into Zoom guest'. 
      • We strongly recommend using a password to prevent "zoombombing." 
      • You may also send the link to lab mates, family members or others who wish to join even if you choose a closed defense. 
      • We recommend designating at least one other person as an alternate host to serve as the room moderator to attend to technical issues and let people in from the waiting room. All guests (or non-UT Zoom users) will automatically be placed in the waiting room. 
      • Consider how the committee will break into a closed session after your presentation. A co-host cannot place a host in the waiting room. For this reason, we strongly suggest the meeting host be your committee chair so they can place you in the waiting room during the closed committee session. 
      • Practice! Take some time before the date of your proposal to practice using the software with other people. 
    • Public Defense:
      • You are responsible to create a Zoom meeting and distribute the details to your committee and the Graduate Coordinator. 
      • If you have non-UT affiliates joining the meeting: in the meeting Advanced Options under 'Only authenticated users can join', choose 'Sign into Zoom guest'. 
      • We strongly recommend using a password to prevent "zoombombing."
      • We recommend designating at least two other people as alternate hosts to serve as room moderators to attend to technical issues and let people in from the waiting room. All guests (or non-UT users) will automatically be placed in the waiting room. Having trouble adding your alternate host? Try using EID@eid.utexas.edu (e.g., abc123@eid.utexas.edu) with the person's actual EID. Look up EIDs using the UT Directory
      • The Graduate Coordinator will create an RSVP survey in Qualtrics, the link to which will be distributed via the regular defense notice to the full Graduate Studies Committee and BME graduate student list serv. The notice will go out about one week prior to your defense. You will be given collaborator access to the survey so you have access to the RSVPs. Feel free to send the RSVP link to others who may want to attend that are not included on the Graduate Student or GSC email list.
      • Within 24 hours before your defense, the Graduate Coordinator will forward the Zoom link and password to everyone who submitted an RSVP. 
      • When you begin your defense, consider taking a minute to speak to the technology and your expectations (e.g., ask everyone except your committee members to disable video if it is a large group). Your meeting co-hosts can also control this manually. 
      • The breakout rooms and waiting room have proven not to be a good practice with large external audiences. For this reason, we suggest having a second meeting link, hosted by your committee chair, that can be used just for the closed session after the public presentation. It is not possible for a co-host to place a host in a waiting room. For this reason, your committee chair should be the host so they can place you in the waiting room during the committee's closed session. 
      • Practice! Take some time before the date of your proposal to practice using the software with other people. 
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