MASTER OF ELECTRICAL AND COMPUTER ENGINEERING

Capstone & Courses

The Master of Electrical and Computer Engineering (MECE) degree is a non-thesis capstone-based degree program offered through the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rice. Central to the MECE program is the completion of a year-long capstone project which provides the opportunity for students to produce an advanced product or real-world data analysis that has societal impact. Overall, the MECE program is a bridge to industry, designed to provide advanced learning and training in the applied aspects of ECE technology beyond the typical undergraduate electrical and computer engineering degree program.

Students are admitted to the MECE degree program in the fall semester. The majority of MECE students complete the program in three semesters (fall, spring, fall) with the summer reserved for internship opportunities.

Upon joining the program, MECE students get to work with a faculty advisor. The advisor will counsel the student in developing a degree plan consistent with the student’s career objectives. The MECE may be pursued on a part-time or full-time basis.

Visit General Announcements for all up-to-date MECE requirements.


Capstone

Develop an Innovative Capstone Project

Capstone projects form the core of the MECE degree by engaging students in the design, assembly, and testing of a state-of-the-art product. Projects span the second and third semesters of the program and are performed in teams. To prepare, students take a foundations course that provides background on their particular focus area. General course requirements are illustrated below and more details can be found below.

Computer Engineering & Wireless Communications

Computer engineering and wireless communications capstone projects leverage Rice ECE expertise through faculty collaboration and result in a hardware and/or software product such as a PCB.

Data Science

Data science capstone projects are overseen by the Data to Knowledge (D2K) Lab and provide hands-on experience with real-world data generally provided by a company or other collaborator. These projects can result in a particular insight or in a model that may be used for continued insight.

Recent Capstone Projects

Hardware Accelerator for SHA-3 Cryptography

Cryptographic hashing algorithms, such as secure hash algorithm 3 (SHA-3), are a critical element of security in Internet of things (IoT) applications. The widespread usage of embedded devices means that many IoT scenarios are vulnerable to side-channel attacks (SCA). Importantly, SCA may pose a severe threat to cryptographic applications like SHA-3 in such devices. This project is focused on designing, manufacturing, and testing an ASIC that protects against differential power analysis (DPA), a specific type of SCA, via masking.


Class D Audio Amplifier with Feedback

Class D audio amplifiers are known for their efficiency, however it is possible to further increase efficiency by incorporating feedback. The goal of this project is to design, manufacture, and test a printed circuit board (PCB) implementation of such a class D audio amplifier with feedback that enables intelligent switching between different power rails to yield lower power usage.


CSI Predict

CSI Compressco, a company that provides natural gas compression services, operates a fleet of compressors that experience costly unexpected shutdowns on a regular basis. The goal of this project is to predict these shutdowns in advance using compressor sensor data in order to give CSI Compressco the opportunity to prevent the shutdowns before they occur.


Courses & Requirements

MECE Degree Requirements

  • A minimum of 10 courses (30 credit hours) to satisfy degree requirements.
  • A minimum of 30 credit hours of graduate-level study (coursework at the 500-level or above).
  • A minimum of 27 credit hours must be taken at Rice University.
  • A minimum residency enrollment of one fall or spring semester of part-time graduate study at Rice University.
  • A minimum of 3 courses (9 credit hours) from the core requirements.
  • A minimum of 3 courses (9 credit hours) for one area of specialization (see pp. 12-13 of this handbook.
  • A minimum of 4 courses (12 credit hours) from the elective requirements:
  • 2 courses (6 credit hours) from the General MECE requirement
  • 2 courses (6 credit hours) from the Free Elective requirement.
  • ELEC 698 each semester in residence at Rice University.
  • A maximum of 1 course (3 credit hours) of graduate-level coursework as transfer credit. For additional departmental guidelines regarding transfer credit, see the Policies tab.
  • A minimum overall GPA of 2.67.

MECE Research

ELEC 590 Electrical Engineering Research Projects is a course where MECE students can conduct theoretical and experimental investigations under ECE faculty direction. Students must complete the Independent Study Petition which requests a short one-paragraph abstract of the project at the start of the semester. This abstract should be discussed with the student's research advisor for approval. Once submitted it will be reviewed and subject to the approval of the ECE Professional Master's Committee.

About 3 hours of work per week per 15 week semester would translate to 1 credit hour. 30 hours of 500-level credits are required for the MECE. degree. No ELEC 590, 591, or 599 may count for the major or minor area (you may count 3 hours of ELEC 590, 591 or 599 as a Free Elective.) MECE students taking less than 3 credit hours of ELEC 590 per semester will not be able to have the course counted towards their degree. ELEC 590 projects do not count towards ECE specialization credit, and the maximum total ELEC 590 is limited to 6 hours. Students can petition if they have a special project. If a student is being paid to work on the research project, then ELEC 590 credit cannot also be earned.

The student is expected to prepare a final presentation and report for the research advisor by the end of the semester so that the research advisor can assess the student's performance and give the student a grade. (The student's level of effort should be comparable to that in a traditional lecture/lab course.) The student's research advisor should then contact Nyetta Meaux regarding grading.

ELEC 698 Seminar

The ELEC 698 seminar course broadens an MECE student’s exposure to activities and opportunities in all fields of electrical engineering, both in industry and research settings. All MECE students are required to take and successfully complete ELEC 698 for each semester in residence at Rice University. The course requires registered attendance at three (3) ECE sponsored or co-sponsored seminars per semester, and at the featured departmental events described in the following paragraph.

In addition to the attendance at three seminars, ELEC 698 requires that each student attend and sign in for the following events: ECE Corporate Affiliates Day, the Brice Distinguished Lecture, and the Chapman Distinguished Lecture in the years they are held. These featured departmental events provide each MECE student with excellent opportunities to expand their professional network by interacting with alumni and industrial affiliates of the ECE department.

Details of seminars are emailed and posted on the ECE website. Some seminars hosted by the Engineering Professional Master’s Program (EPMP) can count for one of the three seminars. Please check with the MECE Administrator for a list of approved seminars. Students are responsible for signing in during the first 10 minutes of the seminar. Attendance logged after that time will not be counted. If there are any difficulties with signing in, students should contact the MECE Administrator within 24 hours of the seminar.

Guidelines for Independent Study

ELEC 590 Graduate Non-Thesis Research Projects is intended for MECE students who wish to undertake specific research projects under the direction of a faculty member. The parameters of the research, as well as a brief abstract for the project and grade determination, should be discussed with the faculty member and submitted to the MECE Program Administrator prior to enrollment in the course. The form may be found on the ECE website. A maximum of three (3) credits of ELEC 590 can be applied to the MECE degree as an elective course.

ELEC 591 Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) at Rice University. This program unites graduates and undergraduate education and faculty research in a team-based context. Students interested in VIP should meet and consult with the faculty lead of that project. Visit vip.rice.edu for more information.


Timeline

Semester 1

Your first semester at Rice will begin with Orientation Week (or O-Week) where you will learn about Rice and ECE. The major events of this week will include presentations by several of the faculty with whom you will become familiar. You will meet your advisor, discuss your career objectives, and select your courses for your first semester.

In consultation with your advisor, you will determine a degree plan and timeline for completion. This must be submitted to the MECE Program Administrator.

MECE students are to consult with an academic advisor on the MECE Committee each semester in order to identify and clearly document their individual curricular requirements or degree plan to be followed. A degree plan must be submitted for each semester in residence, but degree plans may be revised, re-approved, and resubmitted at any time.

Semesters 2 and 3

Students should consult their Degree Works audit through ESTHER to evaluate how they are meeting the university and departmental degree requirements. In the final semester of MECE studies, an “Application for Degree” is completed. The pre-printed form can be found on ESTHER and is submitted to the Office of the Registrar.

The MECE program must be completed within 5 years.


Academic Advisors

Each incoming MECE student is assigned an academic advisor, usually a member of the Professional Master’s Committee, to help with course selection and other initial academic concerns. Final course selection does not need to be completed until after the start of classes but must be completed before the ADD deadline, typically the Friday of the second week of classes. Students should submit their approved degree plans to Nyetta Meaux at least two days before the deadline.

2021-22 Academic Year MECE Faculty Committee

  • Mike Orchard (Chair)
  • Joseph Young (Chair)
  • Taiyun Chi
  • Xaq Pitkow
  • Ray Simar
  • Thanh Tran
  • Gary Woods
  • Kaiyuan Yang

Staff: Nyetta Meaux, nyettameaux@rice.edu 713-348-3597

General questions that are not related to admissions decisions may be directed to ecemece@rice.edu.

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