Undergraduate Student Handbook

Table of Contents

Accreditation, History, Faculty & Staff

1. Accreditation

The Bachelor of Science in Materials Science and Engineering program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET - http://www.abet.org.

2. History

The School of Materials Engineering was formed in March of 1985 by combining the existing School of Ceramic Engineering and the graduate Metallurgy Program, formerly in the School of Chemical Engineering. During the 1989-90 academic year, we had our first MATE graduates and received ABET accreditation. In 1992, we changed our name to the School of Materials Science and Engineering to reflect the true integration of science and engineering in our course work and research.

3. Faculty

The School of Materials Science and Engineering has an energetic faculty whose interest and expertise cover the broad spectrum of materials science and engineering. The primary function of the faculty is the generation and dissemination of materials engineering knowledge in such a manner as to meet the educational needs of our students. It is the desire of the faculty to encourage student-faculty interaction and to improve the quality and diversity of the educational experience available to the students. For a complete list of our faculty click here.

4. Support Staff

The assistance and guidance students receive from the support staff are also important components of their educational experience. Staff members are friendly and go out of their way to help students; please call on them when you need assistance or advice. For a complete list of our staff click here.

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School Contact Info & Academic Advisement

5. Contact Information

Street Address:
School of Materials Science and Engineering
J. Erskine Love Manufacturing Building
771 Ferst Drive, NE
Atlanta, GA 30332-0245

Campus Mail Code: 0245

Fax  Number: 404.894.9140

Academic Offices:
Graduate Office, Room 297
Undergraduate Office, Room 296

Computer Cluster: Room 158

Conference Room:  Room 295 Love, 3510 MRDC, 3515 MRDC, 4404 MRDC

6. Academic Advisement

The School of Materials Science and Engineering places a "HOLD" on all undergraduate registration prior to Phase I registration. The "HOLD" is removed after the student has consulted with his or her academic advisor. Academic Advisement is held for three consecutive days each term before Phase I registration. Undergraduates make appointments with their advisors for advisement by signing up on their advisor's door. Students will be informed via e-mail of when they should schedule these appointments. Co-op students who cannot come in for advisement during their work terms must meet with their advisors each term they are in school. Their registration "HOLD" will be removed for the term after their next work term.

Dr. Realff is the Associate Chair for Undergraduate Programs. Each student is assigned an academic advisor, who will follow them through to graduation in most cases.

Transfer, dual degree, JEPHS and RETP students are assigned an academic advisor by the Associate Chair for Undergraduate Programs.

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Program Educational Objectives

7. Program Educational Objectives

The following Program Educational Objectives were established to assist in attaining the visions and missions of the Georgia Institute of Technology and its College of Engineering, and to be consistent with ABET Criteria for Accrediting Engineering Programs.

The Program Educational Objectives of the Bachelor of Science in Materials Science and Engineering program are:

    • Our graduates will rapidly rise to leadership roles in materials-related positions in industry, academia, government, and other career pursuits.
    • Our graduates will be global leaders, collaborating with diverse, multi-disciplinary teams while incorporating emerging materials developments and engineering technologies that are positively changing society and the human condition.
    • Our graduates will continue to grow their cumulative knowledge base by engaging in life-long learning via career-appropriate options, including post-graduate education and professional designations.
    • Our graduates will be entrepreneurs, continually discovering, designing and creating new materials of all types, building on the process-structure-properties-performance paradigm to exert positive economic and social impacts across the field and society.


    BSMSE General Info & Curriculum

    8. Program Information

    A program leading to the Bachelor of Science in Materials Science and Engineering (BSMSE) degree is offered by the School of Materials Science and Engineering. This chapter of the School of Materials Science and Engineering Undergraduate Student Handbook provides detailed information on the requirements for the BSMSE degree. This information is based on the Georgia Tech General Catalog. If you plan to graduate under an earlier edition of the catalog, refer to Chapter XIII of this handbook.

    9.Bachelor of Science in Materials Science and Engineering Curriculum

    Bachelor of Science in Materials Science and Engineering Curriculum – The BSMSE curriculum requirements can be found in the General Catalog.

    Descriptions of all courses are given in the General Catalog.

    Accreditation Statement

    Georgia Tech operates an accredited program in materials science and engineering. The undergraduate program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), an organization sanctioned by several professional engineering societies, including TMS. An accredited degree must satisfy both general and program-specific requirements defined by ABET. The materials science and engineering curriculum is designed to satisfy these requirements. To satisfy the ABET engineering design requirements, design is an integral part of several MSE courses. Additionally, the two course Designing with Materials sequence taken in the senior year (MSE 4410 and MSE 4220 or GT 4823) satisfies the ABET requirement that each accredited program contain a capstone engineering design experience.

    10. Curriculum Schedule

    Current semester schedule can be found online at OSCAR: https://oscar.gatech.edu/


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    Grades and Scholastic Requirements

    A. Scholastic Requirements
    The Institute rules state that “the minimum satisfactory academic average is 1.70 for freshmen and joint enrolled high school students; 1.80 for sophomores; 1.95 for juniors; 2.00 for seniors and special undergraduates.” This is interpreted to mean that by the time you achieve senior status your cumulative grade point average (GPA) must be equal to or greater than 2.00 and must be maintained at this level until graduation. Failure to meet these standards results in warning or probation status with specified time intervals to achieve the required GPA spelled out in the "Student Rules and Regulations" list in the Georgia Tech General Catalog. Failure to achieve the required GPA within the specified time intervals will result in the student being dropped from the Institute rolls.

    Students should recognize that academic dropping by the Institute can occur more rapidly than the three-term sequence implied by warning-probation-drop. The more general Institute policy is that " the Institute may drop from the rolls at any time a student whose record in scholarship is unsatisfactory." Thus, for example, any undergraduate student whose scholastic average for a term is 1.00 or below may be immediately placed on academic probation or dropped, regardless of the student's previous record. Juniors and seniors, as well as transfer students, should be particularly aware of this more general Institute policy.

    A student, particularly at the junior or senior level, may also be placed on review status by the Registrar's Office. Students placed on this status generally have a satisfactory overall GPA resulting from good previous performance, but their scholastic performance in recent terms has been less than satisfactory. A student on review will not be permitted to register without their major school’s approval.

    B. Incomplete Grades
    The "I" grade may only be assigned for non-academic reasons such as medical problems, jury duty, confinement, etc. Uncompleted assignments, quizzes, exams and lab reports, unless due to an acceptable and substantiated non-academic reason, are not grounds for the "I" grade being assigned. An incomplete in a course must be removed and the grade change reported to the Registrar's Office no later than the end of the student's next term in residence or, if the student has not been enrolled, by the end of the term one calendar year from the date the incomplete was assigned. If the "I" is not removed and the change of grade reported to the Registrar's office by the above deadline the grade will be changed to "F" on the students permanent record. Registering and repeating a course in which an "I" grade has previously been assigned will not remove the outstanding "I" grade. Deficiencies

    C. Pass/Fail Grade

    In order to encourage students to explore subjects of personal or professional interest without jeopardizing their GPA, the Institute has a limited Pass/Fail option. The policy of the School of Materials Science and Engineering regarding the use of Pass/Fail hours for credit is as follows: No course specifically required by name and number, nor any course used to satisfy a Concentration Specific requirement by the Materials Science and Engineering curriculum may be taken on a Pass/Fail basis, unless the course is offered only on that basis. Neither the technical electives nor the MSE electives may be taken Pass/Fail. Refer to the Georgia Tech General Catalog for additional details including maximum number of Pass/Fail hours allowed.

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    Readmission Policies, Graduation Requirements & Graduation Procedures

    11. Readmission Policies

    Please refer to the Georgia Tech General Catalog for complete readmission regulations, or visit www.registrar.gatech.edu.

    12. Graduation Requirements

    The catalog under which a student graduates will be determined by the student's advisor in consultation with the student. Normally, any single catalog issued or in force during a student's residence at Georgia Tech may be used to satisfy the graduation requirements. Students who transfer into the School from another University or another major may use any single catalog issued or in force after the transfer date. Students who are readmitted following an extended period of absence (over one year) may be required to follow a single catalog issued or in force after the date of return. Note that the "ten year" rule for credit hours naturally limits the length of time available to satisfy the requirements of earlier catalogs (See the Georgia Tech General Catalog for details regarding the "ten year" rule).

    In order to meet the requirements of earlier catalogs, course substitutions are sometimes necessary. Some of the courses that are replaced by new, equivalent courses are covered by "blanket substitution" approval by the Institute Undergraduate Curriculum Committee. All other course substitutions must be approved on a case-by-case basis by the Institute Undergraduate Curriculum Committee. Each student is responsible for submitting the necessary petitions for this type substitution (i.e.: Petition to the Faculty Form can be picked up in room 296 of the Love building, the academic office, but the student must get proper signatures then take the form to the Registrar's Office). All course substitutions must be listed on the degree petition. Because some of the courses required by the 1997-99 and earlier catalogs are no longer taught, it may be advantageous for students to use the curriculum that appears in the Georgia Tech General Catalog. This curriculum is listed earlier in this handbook.

    Important Links

    13. Graduation Procedures

    To become a degree candidate, a student must submit a formal degree petition to the Institute the semester prior to the semester of graduation. The procedure for filing your undergraduate degree petition is listed below.

    Fill out a Petition for Degree form at: http://www.registrar.gatech.edu/docs/pdf/UGRAD_PETITION_FOR_DEGREE.pdf and print out.

    Pick up the Graduation Exit Survey forms from room 296 Love and fill out.

    Make an appointment with the MSE Associate Chair for Undergraduate Programs, Dr. Mary Lynn Realff (marylynn.realff@mse.gatech.edu, room 4510 MRDC) to have the completed Degree Petition signed, turn in your Graduation Exit Survey and do your exit interview. This should be done at least three weeks prior to the Registrar's deadline. Deadlines can be found on the Registrar calendar at: http://www.registrar.gatech.edu/home/calendar.php. Failure to meet this deadline can result in the delay of all subsequent procedures, including graduation.

    Take the completed and signed Degree Petition to room 296 Love, so a copy can be made to put in your student file.

    Then turn in the Degree Petition to the Registrar's by their deadline

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    Engineering Certificate Programs & Post Graduate Opportunities

    14. Engineering Certificate Programs

    The College of Engineering provides opportunities for specialized study in engineering through its certificate programs. Any MSE student in good academic standing can participate in the following certificate programs, all of which are multidisciplinary except Nanomaterials:

    The "General Requirements of Undergraduate Multi-disciplinary Programs" and "Certificate Procedures" are listed in the Georgia Tech General Catalog. These procedures also apply to the Nanomaterials certificate. Upon graduation and satisfactory completion of a certificate program, the student receives both the degree in the major field of study and a certificate attesting to the successful completion of the particular related certificate program(s)."

    Please note that if the student specifies any of the listed Directed Electives in the three MSE curriculum Concentrations as counting towards his/her 15-6 hour Concentration requirement, then they cannot count those same course hours towards fulfillment of a Certificate’s requirements, i.e., they can’t “double dip” between the two.  However, if a student applies a MSE course towards the five hours of Free Electives in the curriculum and not towards a Concentration, then they can also count those hours towards fulfillment of a Certificate, i.e., they can “double dip” course hours between the Free Electives five hours and the Certificate requirements.    

    15. Post Graduate Opportunities

    Students wishing to become more attractive to industry or who are thinking about materials research as a career (university, government, consulting or industrial laboratory) may find it beneficial to their professional success to obtain an M.S. in Materials Science and Engineering and possibly continue for a Ph.D. It is increasingly valuable for materials/ceramic/metallurgical engineers to obtain an advanced degree in materials and the large amount of general courses which must be mastered, limits the amount of specialized knowledge an undergraduate may obtain during a bachelor's program.

    The reason for discussing this in the undergraduate handbook is students often ask, "What does it take to get admitted into graduate school for a materials-related discipline?" If you ignore your performance during your early years at Tech, you may find that several straight 3.8 terms are simply not enough to raise your GPA to the point where it will be competitive. A 3.0 may gain you admission into graduate school and an assistantship; things look much brighter with a 3.25. With a 3.5 GPA the top schools will be interested; above 3.75 one becomes very much in demand where you can probably pick your school, advisor and compete effectively for national fellowships. Remember to do your best, even at the freshman level so that you do not find doors closed in the future.

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    Professional and Honor Societies

    16. Professional and Honor Societies

    A. Student Branch of the American Ceramic Society

    The Student Branch of the American Ceramic Society was chartered by the American Ceramic Society in 1926. The purpose of this organization is to increase and broaden the knowledge of its members in the ceramic arts and sciences, to promote fellowship among its members and with personnel in the ceramics and non-metallic mineral fields. Undergraduate and graduate students of the Georgia Institute of Technology who are interested in ceramics are eligible for membership. Some of the activities it has sponsored in the past were: technical speakers, field trips, social events (pizza lunches and cookouts), printing T-shirts, and sports teams. The faculty advisor is Dr. Rosario Gerhardt.

    B. Materials Research Society

    Materials are essential to the Engineering enterprise, and this is why the Materials Research Society (MRS) has more than 11,000 member scientists and engineers in nearly 50 nations. The MRS members are engaged in the research and development of advanced materials, and nearly 20% of these members are undergraduate and graduate students. Unlike some other fields, research is a tremendously important component in Materials Science and Engineering, with more than one hundred faculty members on campus involved in materials-related interdisciplinary research. The MRS University Chapter at Georgia Tech serves to accelerate student interactions with engineers and scientists on campus and distinguished GT visitors. The MRS chapter helps students to see the applicability of classroom learning to real-life applications needed in a technology-oriented society. The faculty advisor is Dr. Mo Li.

    C. Alpha Sigma Mu

    Alpha Sigma Mu (AM) is the International Professional Honor Society for Materials Science and Engineering. AM promotes careers in materials engineering and maintains high professional standards within the field. Qualifications for membership not only include academic achievement, but the candidate must display integrity, leadership and initiative.

    D. ASM/TMS Joint Student Chapter

    The Georgia Tech ASM/TMS Joint Student Chapter of the School of Materials Science and Engineering is a dual chapter affiliated with both ASM International and TMS, the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society. The goals of each of the professional societies include promoting the field of materials science throughout the world through education and service. The primary purpose of the Georgia Tech chapter is to enhance the professional lives of its members by bringing the students closer to the industry through interactive programs such as field trips and guest seminars. The membership consists of about 50 students interested in various fields of Materials Science and Engineering. The faculty advisor is Dr. Naresh Thadhani.

    E. Keramos

    KERAMOS is a professional ceramic engineering fraternity, the stated purpose of which is:

    • To promote and emphasize scholarship and character in the thoughts of ceramic engineering students, to stimulate mental development, and to promote interest in the professional aspects of ceramic engineering, technology and science.
    • To bind alumni more closely to their Alma Mater and to the alumni of other universities and colleges' schools, departments, divisions, or options in ceramic science or engineering and to furnish an additional tie of college friendship.

    The name of the fraternity is derived from the Greek word for clay. Membership, as in most professional fraternities, is by invitation. Both graduate students in ceramic engineering and undergraduate students who specialize in the ceramic specialty track of the Materials Science & Engineering degree program are eligible for membership. You must be at least a junior and have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.2 (graduate students must have been enrolled for at least two quarters and have a 3.2 GPA).

    The chapter works with the other student organizations in MSE to plan social functions involving the entire MSE student body. Meetings are generally open only to members. A ceremony for the initiation of new members is usually held in the fall and spring quarters each year. Dr. Rosario Gerhardt is the faculty advisor.

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    Scholarships and Awards & FE Examination

    17. Scholarships and Awards

    Thanks to the support of individuals, foundations, industry and government, the School of Materials Science and Engineering has a number of scholarship opportunities available for students, including freshman and transfer students. We attempt to nominate exceptional students for these awards by matching their qualifications as closely as possible to the spirit and requirements of the awards. We also are often forced to make a nomination decision based solely on academic performance. Scholarships can be awarded much more intelligently and fairly when information about a student's background, goals, honors and personal interests are available.

    All scholarship opportunities and announcements are emailed to students who meet the minimum qualifications by the Academic office. These emails contain the requirements for applying. Occasionally, usually on short notice, we are asked to nominate a student for an award with very specific requirements; for example, a student must be a resident of a specific county in a given state. If you meet the requirements, please respond quickly to increase your probability of receiving an award. This is another reason for checking your e-mail messages on a regular basis.

    Please refer to the MSE scholarships page for details on available scholarships.


    18. Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Examination

    The Georgia State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers offers Georgia Tech students the opportunity to take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination (previously known as the Engineering-In-Training (EIT) before they graduate. Students who are within two terms of graduation are encouraged to obtain an application and submit it prior to the deadlines. You will need a recent picture to submit with the typed and notarized application. You will also need to obtain at least five personal references, three of whom must be registered professional engineers . Faculty members who are professional engineers can be identified by the "P.E." following their names at the end of the Georgia Tech General Catalog.  Because of their travel schedules it may be necessary to leave your application with the Dean's secretary for a few days to get signatures from the Dean’s office personnel. Tech Professional Engineers will serve as a reference, even if they do not know you personally, based on the fact that you are a Georgia Tech student.

    In the past, a high percentage of our students have passed the FE exam, the first required step to becoming a Registered Professional Engineer. You are most likely best prepared to pass the FE exam,

    without putting in a lot of time studying for it, just before you graduate from Tech.

    FE Application and Deadlines:  http://ncees.org/exams/fe-exam

    State of Georgia Application Instructions:  http://sos.ga.gov/index.php/licensing/plb/22

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    Foreign Language, Change of major & Maximum Schedule Load

    19. Foreign Language

    The School of Materials Science and Engineering does not require its undergraduates to take any foreign language courses. However, in this age of the international market place,  students with foreign language capabilities have a definite competitive advantage in the job market. By taking foreign language courses you can also satisfy some of your humanities courses.

    20. Change of Major

    If you wish to change majors to the School of Materials Science and Engineering you must fill out a change of major form http://www.registrar.gatech.edu/students/formlanding/changemajor.php. Take the form to Dr. Mary Lynn Realff, room 4510 in the MRDC building for her signature and then to the Director of Undergraduate  Programs/Undergraduate Coordinator of your old major for their signature. The completed form should then be turned in to the Registrar’s Office for processing.

    21. Maximum Schedule Load

    The maximum number of credit hours for which and undergraduate student may register  in fall or spring semester, based on his or her academic standing, is as follows: Good 21 semester hours Warning 16 semester hours Probation 14 semester hours

    The maximum number of credit hours for which an undergraduate student may register in a normal summer term, based on his or her academic standing, is as follows: Good 16 semester hours Warning 14 semester hours Probation 12 semester hours

    A graduate student may register for a maximum of 21 semester hours in fall or spring semester and a maximum of 16 semester hours during the normal summer term.
    Requests for schedule overloads must be recommended by the student's major school and approved by the Institute Undergraduate Curriculum Committee or Graduate Committee, as appropriate.

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    Seminars & Pre-Law/Pre-Med Programs

    22. Seminars

    The School of Materials Science and Engineering offers frequent seminars through the Materials Council Program and the general MSE Seminar series.  Undergraduates should give serious consideration to attending any seminar that sounds interesting to them. Even if some of the material is beyond your present comprehension, you will understand some of it, and begin picking up vocabulary so later seminars will be more understandable.  Visit the MSE online calendar for a list of upcoming seminars.

    23. Pre-Law and Pre-Med Programs

    By selecting appropriate free electives, the Materials Science and Engineering program can be adapted to meet pre-law and pre-med requirements. The Materials Engineering  program can be further tailored for pre-med students by taking biomaterials courses during the senior year.

    A materials-related pre-law program is an excellent background for students considering  entry into business, contract, international or patent law. With the increased use of man-made materials in the medical profession, Materials Engineering is an excellent choice for a pre-med background.

    Most pre-med programs require one year of physics, two years of chemistry with labs and one year of biology with labs. Biochemistry and microbiology courses are considered helpful but not required. Volunteer work (6-9 months minimum) in a hospital is also helpful in getting into most medical schools.

    Use of Ugrad Research Courses & Ugrad Research Assistantship courses

    24. Use of Undergraduate Research Courses (MSE 2699, MSE 4699) and Undergraduate Research Assistantship courses (MSE 2698 and MSE 4698)

    Students performing research with MSE faculty for academic credit must register for either MSE 2699 (Undergraduate Research for freshmen and sophomores) or MSE 4699 (Undergraduate Research for juniors and seniors). Students pay tuition for the course, as for any other course taken for academic credit. Students are not paid for their work.

    A student in one of these courses is expected to work an average of three hours per week in the lab over a 15 week semester for each hour of academic credit received. Weekly expectations over an 11 week summer session are increased proportionately.

    Students in Undergraduate Research courses must produce something to which a grade can be assigned such as a written report or presentation.

    MSE students may apply up to three credit hours of Undergraduate Research (MSE 2699 or MSE 4699) towards a Technical Elective and up to three credit hours towards the Free Elective. Thus, MSE students may apply up to six credit hours of Undergraduate Research towards graduation.

    Students performing research with MSE faculty for pay are encouraged to register for either MSE 2698 (Undergraduate Research Assistantship for freshmen and sophomores) or MSE 4698 (Undergraduate Research for juniors and seniors). Students pay no tuition for these audit only courses. Students may register for up to 12 hours of these courses in a single term.  Registering for 12 hours of Undergraduate Research Assistantship will cost no tuition and will qualify you as a full -time student. Some students may pursue this option in the summer if they find an advisor willing to pay them for, essentially, full-time work. These courses appear on the student's transcript providing evidence of having performed research as an undergrauate.

    If you are interested in taking one of these courses, perform the following steps:

    • Find a faculty member who is willing to serve as your research advisor and identify an appropriate research project.
    • Obtain Research Approval Form.
    • Fill out the form completely. Any forms turned in incomplete will not be processed, causing the student to be ineligible to register for the course.
    • Obtain your research advisor's signature on the approval form.
    • Take the completed and signed form to room 294 and a permit will be issued allowing you to register for the course. It is the student's responsibility to register for the class after the permit has been issued.

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    Travel & Checklist for Undergraduate Degree Petitions

    25. Travel

    Any student leaving Georgia Tech campus on Official Georgia Tech business must complete a Travel Authority Request (TAR).  The TAR must be completed, approved by your advisor, and submitted to the MSE Finance Office prior to departure.  This is required even if no cost is incurred by the traveler. If there are expenses to the traveler, failure to complete the TAR prior to departure could result in the denial of reimbursement of the travel expenses. It is your responsibility to be knowledgeable of all travel requirement prior to traveling.

    26. Checklist for Undergraduate Degree Petitions

    1.  Have the Georgia Tech physical education requirement, i.e., HPS 1040/APPH 1040/APPH 1050 been met?
    2. Have the legislative requirement been satisfied, by taking one of the following courses: HIST 2111, 2122; POL 1101, INTA 1200?
    3. Have the free elective requirement (3 hours) been satisfied?
    4. Have the MSE elective and technical electives been satisfied?
    5. For MSE, has a minimum of 132 hours total, not including remedial courses (i.e., ENGL 0012), been completed?
    6. Have ENGL 1101 and 1102 been completed?
    7. Have 6 hours of humanities and 12 hours of social science, from the approved list in the General Catalog, been completed?
    8. Have both parts of the Regents' Testing Program (reading and essay) been passed?
    9. Are the number of pass/fail hours limited to the maximum permitted in the General Catalog (9 hours for students who do all of their undergraduate work at Georgia Tech)?
    10. Have the MSE rules on pass/fail hours been followed? (See 10.C above)
    11. Have the minimum ROTC credits (4 hours of basic, 6 hours of advanced) toward the undergraduate degree been observed?
    12. Have the last 36 hours applied to the degree been taken in residence at Georgia Tech?
    13. Have all substitutions for required courses been shown on the degree petition?
    14. Have the Exit Questionnaire and Exit Interview been completed and has the Petition for Degree been signed by Dr. Realff
    15. Have the diploma fee been paid at the Bursar’s Office?
    16. Have the Petition for Degree been submitted in to the Registrar's Office by the deadline??

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    For additional information on the MSE Undergraduate Program contact:
    Associate Chair for Undergraduate Programs
    Enrollment Manager, Undergraduate Program
    FAX: 404-894-9140
    Additionally, you can complete the MSE Undergraduate program online information request form.