Student presenting research to ECE faculty member at poster session

Independent Study


Independent study courses are designed to allow Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors to work individually with a faculty member on a project or topic of mutual interest. Courses are arranged on an individual basis at the instigation of the student or faculty member.

Most students who undertake Independent Study do so in their Senior year, but qualified students can undertake Independent Study Sophomore year or later. Students who anticipate Independent Study are encouraged to complete their foundation courses in mathematics, chemistry, physics, and engineering as early as possible, so that they will have the background to address challenging engineering problems in collaboration with their faculty study mentor.

Up to two Independent Study courses may be used as an ECE Elective and/or ECE Extension Elective in the ECE Program, but Independent Study courses may not be used in place of the other required courses in the ECE Program, except for the Free Electives. Students may take Independent Study courses as Free Electives, and all successfully completed Independent Study courses count toward the total of 34 courses required for a Duke degree. Many students find that Independent Study is a rewarding educational experience.

The Pratt Undergraduate Research Fellows Program provides engineering undergraduates with an opportunity to do intensive research in their engineering major for course credit and an opportunity to do summer research. This is a school-wide competitive program open to all qualified students of the Departments of Biomedical Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. The program is under the direction of Carmen Rawls, Assitant Dean for Advising and Outreach for the Pratt School of Engineering.

Pratt Engineering Undergraduate Fellows work on research projects under the direction of Pratt-faculty advisers. Course credit is given in the student's major via a linked three-semester independent studies course sequence of ECE 392, 493 and 494 for ECE majors.  Other course sequences can be approved for students in special programs such as dual majors.

Independent study (under ECE 493 or 494) is a central element of the department's awarding the honor of Graduation with Distinction.  The criteria for that honor are described in the linked page.  Recent projects for Graduation with Distinction are cited there.

All students taking the ECE independent-study courses, including Pratt Fellows and Graduation with Departmental Distinction candidates, must participate in ECE Independent Study Poster Session to present their research results and to answer questions from faculty and other students.  Poster sessions are scheduled by the ECE Department late in each semester for the independent study done during that semester. The poster presentations are judged by the ECE faculty, and the top three are recognized with both honor and monetary compensation ($100 for 1st place, $75 for 2nd, and $50 for 3rd).

Fall 2023 Poster Session Winners
  • Nicholas Steinly and Allen Zhang, “3D Locomotion" (Advisor: Tyler Bletsch) – 1st place 
  • Aarzu Gupta, “Radiology Biomarker Discovery” (Advisor: Kyle Lafata) – 2nd place (tie) 
  • Ryan Chen, “Augmented Reality App Development for Misophonia” (Advisor: Maria Gorlatova) –     2nd place (tie)
  • Xushu (Andy) Wang, "Deep Learning Ultrasound Imaging" (Advisor: Leslie Collins) -   3rd place 
Spring 2023 Poster Session Prize Winners
  • Erin Liu, “EPP in Experiment" (Advisor: Ken Brown) – 1st place 
  • Naomi Patel, “Hardware Development for Quantum Computing” (Advisor: Crystal Noel) – 2nd place 
  • Anthony Fernando, “Ultrasound Microfluidic Driver” (Advisor: Jim Morizio) – 3rd place (tie)
  • Ritvik Janamsetty, "IoT-Based Dynamic Augmented Reality Maker" (Advisor: Maria Gorlatova) -          3rd place (tie)
Spring 2022 Poster Session Prize Winners
  • Quinn Edwards, “Robotic drivetrain development” (Advisor: Tyler Bletsch) – 1st place (tie)
  • Megan Richards, “Deep time series modeling” (Advisor: Ricardo Henao) – 1st place (tie)
  • Alex Xu, “Impact of the Environment on Eye Tracking Efficacy in Headset Augmented Reality” (Advisor: Maria Gorlatova) – 1st place (tie)
Fall 2021 Poster Session Prize Winners
  • Simon Gorbaty, "Developing a Fabrication Methodology for MoS_2 Nanodevices On Kapton Substrate" (Advisor: Aaron Franklin) - 1st place (tie)
  • Megan Richards, "Development of a Maternal Early Warning System with Machine Learning" (Advisor: Ricardo Henao) - 1st place (tie)
  • Guangyu Feng, "Bionic Robust Memristor-based Artificial Nociception System for Robotics" (Advisor: Hai Li) - 1st place (tie)