Joining the Advanced Numerical Simulation Laboratory

If you're interested in joining ANSLab as a researcher, make it a point to read this entire page before taking any action.

Studentship Opportunities

Fall, 2016

At this point, our admission cycle for fall 2016 has ended.

Fall, 2017

I expect to accept one or two new students for fall 2017. I have projects planned for mesh-solution interaction and unstructured mesh adaptation.

One project will be in the area of error estimation and correction. Two current PhD students have made great strides in error estimation for output functionals and on solving the error transport equation, for problems as complex as the laminar Navier-Stokes equations. The next step will be to extend this work to turbulent flows, including any challenges that arise because of highly anisotropic meshes.

The second project aims to extend our recent work on anisotropic adaptation. In addition to adaptation capabilities, we have the ability to insert arbitrary surfaces into an existing mesh and to construct anisotropic meshes using an advancing front-like method. The combination of these tools should be quite powerful for anisotropic adaptation.

Research Life in ANSLab

I firmly believe that the most important thing a grad student learns is how to do research independently, in the sense that when they're done, they should be able to successfully complete a research project of comparable complexity to their thesis without direct supervision. Not too surprisingly, this means I'm not a micro-manager. Obviously in the early stages, supervising a grad student includes a lot of one-on-one tutoring to get a student to the point where they understand the background well enough to proceed effectively. As time goes on, I try to transition from telling students what to do, to helping identify what directions to work in next, to offering advice to improve the plans that students have already formed. By that last stage, the main learning objective of the thesis is over, and it's a matter of getting to that satisfying result that you can communicate to the world (another important objective, obviously). I run a very informal group, in no small part because I consider grad students to be junior colleagues rather than minions. Besides, frequently a student will do something clever that I hadn't thought of (or thought was impossible), so crushing creativity would be a bad idea.

Depending on their projects, my students also tend to collaborate with each other. For example, a recent student who was working on mesh adaptation was working both with a student working on mesh generation (to fix bugs he'd discovered in the insertion code) and a student working on flow solver stuff (who was a "customer" for him).

General Info about Graduate Programs in UBC Mechanical Engineering

All students accepted into the group are hired as research assistants. MASc students receive a stipend of Can$21,000, guaranteed for two years, subject to satisfactory academic progress. PhD students receive a stipend of Can$23,000, guaranteed for four years, subject to satisfactory academic progress. The primary duty of research assistants is research work aimed towards their thesis, though other related small projects may be assigned occasionally.

Students with reasonable knowledge and English skills can easily supplement that by about $2K/semester with teaching assistantships, which typically require 56-84 hours/semester. (For reference, in my second year fluids class, the TAs are responsible for running the tutorials and marking the midterms for a class of 130-140 students; that and a few minor add-ons works out to about the full 70 hours. Other faculty no doubt have different expectations....)

As for time requirements, for a MASc, a typical time to completion is about two years + one semester (28 months). In terms of actual degree requirements, our current course requirement is 18 credits (six courses) beyond the BASc, plus a 12-credit thesis.

PhD students typically require three-four years after the MASc. The course requirement (in practice) is 15 credits (five courses) beyond the MASc.

How Not to Apply

This is actually good general advice, not just advice for students who are interested in working in ANSLab: Find out enough about a research group to get a good sense of whether your interests really match up well with what's going on there before you bother to show interest.

Don't just send email to every prof who Google turns up from a cursory keyword search. This past year, I got in excess of 500 emails from students expressing interest in joining ANSLab. While that's very flattering, over half were from prospective students whose interests matched up with mine only in the sense that "fluid dynamics" appears in both, or even worse. Someone whose interests are solely in experimental two-phase flows, for instance, is wasting their time and mine, as well as my patience, by sending me an email about graduate study: that's not even close to what my group does.

As a result of this signal-to-noise ratio, most emails get only a quick scan and then get filed away in case I need info about a potential student later.

How to Apply

Interested students must apply for graduate admission to the UBC Department of Mechanical Engineering (or, if you're an applied mathematician or computer scientist, to that department and the Institute for Applied Mathematics). Simply contacting Dr. Ollivier-Gooch isn't sufficient, as candidates can not be accepted without completing the full UBC graduate application. While I will occasionally specifically encourage an applicant whose record catches my attention, I can't make any promises about admission based solely on email exchanges, not least because I can't know what the applicant pool will look like until all the applications are in.

Despite this, qualified students whose research interests fit will with ANSLab are also strongly encouraged to contact Dr. Ollivier-Gooch, providing a cover letter, a recent CV, and electronic copies of unofficial transcripts. This gives you a chance to provide information in addition to what the formal application asks for

Also, candidates should answer the questions found here; these are intended to provide information that is very useful in making admissions decisions that doesn't ordinarily appear on a typical CV. I read thoroughly all emails with answers to these questions attached to them, because these are from students who have done the proper advance work.

Finally, candidates for whom English is not their native language should where possible submit evidence of English language proficiency, either by confirming that they have a degree from a university whose language of instruction is English or by providing a score on one of the standardized tests of English proficiency (TOEFL, IELTS, etc).

If you'd like confirmation that I've gotten your email, request a return receipt when you send your email. For obvious reasons, I don't reply to every admissions-related email that's sent to me, and sending me the same email again and again because you've not heard back isn't good etiquette.

About UBC

The University of British Columbia is located in beautiful Vancouver, a culturally rich and diverse city on Canada's west coast. Both mountain and ocean activities are easily accessible, as well as the amenities and attractions of Canada's third-largest city. Unlike most of Canada, Vancouver has a mild, though wet, climate.

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