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The residency experience: an opportunity to connect

Nagi Mei, doctoral student at Capitol Tech

The McGowan Academic Center at Capitol Technology University is bustling with activity this weekend, as doctoral students and faculty gather for the fall residency. The twice-yearly event provide a status check for students at various stages in their degree programs, with faculty examining their projects-in-progress and delivering feedback as needed.

During the residency, each student takes a turn presenting his or her research before faculty assembled in a glass-lined room known as the “fishbowl.” They also attend workshops and have the chance to mingle socially with their peers.

“I came here with a number of goals,” says Eric Kareem, a student in the business analytics and decision sciences PhD program. “One is to meet the professors we’ve been working with online, in a virtual environment.  It’s also valuable to meet students in the program who are a little ahead of our cohort and learn about what they are doing, their strategies for success."

Residency students

“In addition, I’m interested in seeing where Capitol is headed as an institution. I did my master’s here back in 2003, and I’m really excited about some of the changes are going on,” Kareem said. “The doctoral program in business analytics and decision sciences has developed in ways that I think are very helpful. The courses are sequenced in a way that prepares us for later stages.”

Dr. Sondria Miller, who serves as a dissertation chair in the cybersecurity program, is among the faculty members who will be hearing students present their research in the “fishbowl.” She stresses that the process is meant to assist students.

“My objective is to help students move through the process. Even though the journey of working on your dissertation can be daunting, our hope is to show there is a family here – professors who really want to assist you. There may be things that you see as an obstacle, and we are here to help you find ways to get through.”

“There are times during the doctoral journey when students can feel very alone. I want students to know that I’m here for them, and I’m invested in what they are doing. When our students succeed, I succeed,” Dr. Miller said.

Capitol currently offers five doctoral programs. Two of the programs -- the DSc program in cybersecurity and the PhD program in business analytics and decision sciences -- include a residency component. Students in these programs attend three residencies during their doctoral studies, each designed to gauge progress at different stages of the dissertation process.

Three newer PhD programs – in critical infrastructure, technology, and unmanned systems applications – follow a European-style model that foregrounds research and publication.

The two models serve different kinds of students, says Capitol’s dean of doctoral programs. Dr. Ian McAndrew. For industry professionals with highly specialized interests, the European model allows a more concentrated focus on research. “If you are in industry – and we have a senior Boeing executive who is doing a PhD in technology at the moment – you will likely be interested in the use of technology to assist complex manufacturing processes: for instance, how Google Glass could be used to make sure complicated wiring looms are manufactured without fault. You’re focused on an actual industrial problem," McAndrew said.

The traditional models, by contrast, are well-suited to students who are seeking to cultivate broader expertise. “They will have had the chance to study the whole range of issues that drive their field at the moment,” he said.

Take your skills and expertise to the next level and earn a doctoral degree online! Capitol Tech offers doctoral programs in cybersecurity, business analytics and decision sciences, critical infrastructure, technology,and unmanned systems applications? Contact our admissions department at to find out more!