Graduation with Departmental Distinction

Laura Monson studied DNA nanomechanics with atomic force spectroscopy.Students wishing to satisfy the requirements for Graduation with Departmental Distinction (GWDD) in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science must satisfy the following requirements. Students are encouraged to pursue both Graduate with Distinction and participate in the Pratt Undergraduate Research Fellows program.


  • Maintain a minimum Duke QPR of 3.5
  • Complete an Independent study course (note, Pratt Fellows requirements can be satisfied concurrently.)
  • Complete a 500-level technical course in engineering, science, or mathematics
  • Present a 15-minute oral reports at mid-semester, and a 30-minute final project oral report.
  • Prepare a written report describing the project.
  • The project supervision and the course grade are the responsibility of the faculty supervisor. The grade for the ME 492(198) project does not depend on approval for GWDD.

The project supervision and the course grade are the responsibility of the faculty supervisor. The grade for the ME 198 project does not depend on approval for GWDD. Conferring of the honor Graduation with Distinction will be made by the whole faculty upon recommendation of the GWDD committee.

There will be a meeting during the first week of classes each semester for the students and their advisors. During this meeting, the schedule for oral presentations and deadline for written reports will be given to the students and their advisors. Any questions regarding exceptional circumstances should be raised at that time, or earlier.

Independent Study Courses:

The independent study phase (project) is satisfied with a minimum one course registration in ME 491(197) or 492(198) (for Pratt Fellows, course numbers are ME 394(172), ME 493(173), ME 494(174). The approval form should be completed and submitted to the Director of Undergraduate Studies at the time of pre-registration for the appropriate semester. These forms are available in the MEMS Departmental Office (Room 144). Except in truly exceptional circumstances, only independent project work performed at Duke University will be accepted for GWDD (no transfer credit). Projects that are part of a larger group effort will require special permission of the GWDD Committee, in particular, the student and his advisor will be asked to address the issue of independence.

Oral and Written Reports:

A student enrolled in the special projects course must give a 15-minute oral progress report to the GWDD committee at mid-semester, for each semester that the student is participating in the project. The first of these reports constitutes the qualifying presentation, at which time the Committee will approve the scope of the project and make recommendations if needed to revise the scope in accordance with the expectations of a GWDD project. At the end of each semester, an additional oral progress report will be made. If the student is continuing with the project for an additional semester, progress-to-date will be reported. If the student is terminating his or her work on the project, a 30-minute final oral report will be made. In addition to the oral presentations, a final written report is required. The written report should describe the student's efforts and the important results of the project. Note that the written report must satisfy a specific set of guidelines that are given to each student well in advance.

500-Level Technical Course:

Any student wishing to obtain Graduation with Distinction must also successfully complete a 500-level technical course in Engineering, Science, or Mathematics. If possible, the course should be on a subject relevant to the independent study component. The 500-level course may be taken prior to, concurrent with, or subsequent to the project. Except under unusual circumstances, the course may not be an independent study taken concurrently with the GWDD project. If the 500-level course is a 490(264) numbered course (i.e., Special Topics), then the course must be approved by the GWDD committee in order for it to fulfill this requirement.