Tips for my

Graduate Students



Below is a list of tips that I have compiled over the years that you will find useful in your graduate program here at OSU. Please let me know if you have any questions and feel free to stop by my office at 416 Dreese Labs, or send me email to set up an appointment any time.

Prof. Passino

Web page:

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When You First Arrive:

Welcome to OSU! Below is a list of things that you should be sure to do soon after your arrival:

  1. If you have not already done so, get a compter account on the ECE computers. To do this, simply ask me and I can send an email to site.
  2. Ask me about getting keys and an office, and I then request an office and send an email to Mr. Bill Thalgott to approve your getting the keys. You then go see Mr. Thalgott to get the keys (he is in Rm. 015 CL).
  3. Get registered for classes and buy books (ask graduate students where the best place is for a good deal and perhaps consider purchasing them off the web).

Get to Know the Group and Department:

Get to know the group of graduate students. Also, see the following web sites:

But, do not be narrow in your thinking. Get to know the myriad other groups/departments at OSU.

Your Academic Program: Requirements, What Classes to Take:

Early on you should come see me to discuss what classes to take. Note the following:

Matlab and C (for people planning on going to graduate school):

Word Processing: Latex

While Microsoft Word may be useful for writing simple letters, it is quite substandard when it comes to writing nice looking technical reports that have lots of mathematical equations. The preferred package is Latex. It is therefore important that you learn Latex as soon as possible, and one good approach to do this is to use it to type in a few homework problem solutions just to get started. It is quite helpul when getting started with Latex to keep a few things in mind:

The Latex software is free (or it is shareware, but there are also commercial versions) and there are many helpful web-based resources for it. Some of these are (but I am sure that you can find others):

Next, note that as you build a bibliographic data base you should use Bibtex for automating the referencing process. To get started, the following is a .bib file of some books in the control systems area: refs.bib To use this file you set a bibliographic style, and use the \cite command in the Latex document. You should share your .bib files with other graduate students to save time typing the bibliographic information into the proper format. Try to use a standard method for the labeling of the references (note that one that is commonly used can be seen in the file refs.bib above). Also, note that there are ways of downloading bibliographic information from search sites (e.g., IEEEXplore or Compandex) and converting that to a .bib format for use with Bibtex then Latex: See

Latex, Equations, and Powerpoint:

While the above "beamer" approach coupled with the ability to embed movies in .pdf files (see above) provides an ability to present very nice presentations, there are additional features and reasons (sometimes ridiculous ones) to use MS Powerpoint. A problem, however that typically arises is that you have to use mathematical formulas, ones that you already have in Latex. One solution to this problem is "TexPoint":

where the approach is to allow for the using Latex-style syntax for equations directly in Powerpoint.

If you are a Mac person the solution is easy: Use "Latex Equation Editor" (search and download from the web); it converts Latex equations to, for instance, .pdf that can be directly included in Keynote or PowerPoint (and thankfully with fully included fonts so they are not large bit-mapped files as they are for TexPoint above). BUT see below in the discussion on figures for information on IPE. Lately, I have been using LaTeXIT since it can be used as a "service", does color matching, and works very nicely with Keynote.

Drawing Figures/Equations for Reports/Publications:

Style/Conventions/Recommendations for Technical Writing:

You should regularly use Strunk and White's "The Elements of Style," 4th edition, Allyn and Bacon, Boston, 2000 (I recommend that you purchase it since it is only about $5). There are certain stylistic standards and conventions for writing technical reports and papers that you should follow at all times; those are given in Strunk and White's book, but a few, especially ones specific to our field, are the following:

There are many other issues involved in writing a good technical paper and it is recommended that you pay careful attention to the process of writing and try to improve your writing (afterall, we are judged by what we communicate, in written form, or orally, so your abilities to write and speak clearly are very important). Some ideas on writing technical papers are given in Bernstein's paper listed below under research methodology.

Compose and Post a Web Page for Yourself:

Join Linkedin

Research Methodology / Working Effectively:

It is useful for you to think about research methodology before and during your research. To assist you along these lines I would recommend that you see some nice essays on the web page of M. Loui at the Univ. of Illinois and read: D. S. Bernstein, "A Student's Guide to Research," IEEE Contr. Sys. Mag., Vol. 19, pp. 102-108, February 1999. There are lots of self-help books out there, some that focus on how to be a good manager, team-player, etc. A book that focuses on how to help make you work effectively, no matter what job you get, that you should consider reading is: Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Simon and Schuster, NY 1989

Library Research:

Get to know the Science and Engineering library early, but try to use electronic searches via the web to help with your research. Some useful web sites that have search facilities are (some may ask for username and password):

Reviewing Papers:

During your program you may receive some papers to review that are under consideration for publication at a conference or journal. I will discuss with you how to review papers, but it is also useful if you read: D. S. Bernstein, "Peer Review," IEEE Contr. Sys. Mag., Vol. 20, pp. 8-11, June 2000.

Technical Presentations:

The technical presentations that you give (e.g., seminars, conference talks, thesis defense) are very important (in some ways they define how others view you). It is recommended that you:

Get to Know Your Professional Community:

It is very important that you get to know your professional community. You should certainly be a member of IEEE and IEEE Control Systems Society. The "E-LETTER on Systems, Control, and Signal Processing" is a useful electronic newsletter. Some useful sites are:

Teaching as a Career:

If you are considering being a professor a good book to read is: P. Wankat and F. Oreovicz, "Teaching Engineering", McGraw-Hill, NY, 1993. You might be interested in: "How People Learn". This highly acclaimed work was published by the National Research Council in 2000. (It is available online at if you want to check it out.) You might find the article: "Landing and academic job: the process and the pitfalls" by J.A. Dantzig useful (however, I do not agree with quite all of his recommendations).

Information for Graduate Students Nearing Completion of their Degree:

Well, I hope that it was fun! After you leave do not forget us here at OSU. Please stay in touch and come back and visit. Below is a list of things that you should be sure to do before you leave OSU.

  1. Make sure that you meet all the requirements for your degree and that the graduate school is satisfied with the form of your thesis (if you completed one). Be sure to consult the Graduate Student Handbook to check that you meet all requirements and have filled out all the necessary paperwork.
  2. Organize your computer account into subdirectories containing your thesis, and perhaps publications. Make the names for the directories clear and put a "readme.yourlastname" in your root directory explaining what is in each directory and what is in each file. Also, see me about getting your files backed up - this is important!
  3. Make sure that you get me a master copy of your thesis (if you completed one) in .pdf format (I do not want paper).
  4. Make sure that you return any books that you have borrowed from me.
  5. Be sure to return all of your keys to Mr. Bill Thalgott (he is in Rm. 015 CL).

Please let me know if you have any questions about any of these items. Good luck!!!


By: K. Passino, with the help of several past and current graduate students and colleagues, on either the above links and writing, or on the files that are linked to this page (in particular, A. Kwong, J. Spooner, V. Gazi, M. Maggiore, Y. Diao, Y. Liu, H. Nounou, M. Baum, J. Finke, A. Serrani, Ted Pavlic).

Last updated: 3/16/13

 Of course, this page is continually under construction - if you have ideas please email me! Keep in mind, however, I do not want lots of links. I want a few of the best ones, and brief to-the-point discussion.

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