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Predictive Science and Engineering Design (Cluster and Certificate)

The Predictive Science and Engineering Design (PSED) Cluster brings together dynamic faculty and graduate students conducting research in a variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives – including but not limited to: physical sciences, engineering, computer science and applied mathematics.

The program gives doctoral students training in core concepts of predictive science, verification & validation, and computational design of materials and products and the associated manufacturing processes, while guiding students to develop strong individual programs at the center of their interdisciplinary scholarship.  

This program is particularly useful for students who are willing to work on their doctoral research with faculty advisors from at least two different disciplines. The program will provide a mechanism to strengthen the links between faculty and graduate students from different departments and disciplines who share the common interest in PSED. It facilitates research collaborations in modeling, simulation, and design of emerging complex engineering systems.

Programs and events

The cluster program organizes social events, seminar series, and annual research symposium with Northwestern faculty, students, and researchers from other institutions. Graduate students also coach interdisciplinary undergraduate project teams in upper-level design courses of the Segal Design Institute.

It is our intent that these efforts will directly aid students in becoming successful applicants for faculty, national laboratory, and industrial positions, and thereby become tomorrow’s leaders in our expanding and increasingly diverse technical community. Career development workshops will be organized with invited speakers from university, research labs, and industry.

Who should apply?

Doctoral candidates from any field are eligible to apply to join this intellectual “home” outside their department. Past participants have come from the following programs:

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Materials Science and Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Industrial Engineering and Management Science
  • Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Theoretical & Applied Mechanics

How to apply

First-year students are invited to take part in the symposia, work groups, and colloquia offered by all of the clusters to see what may interest them later in their career. At the end of their first year, students will apply to a cluster.

Who to contact

Please contact the program directors, listed below, with questions about this program. Or, explore the PSED website for more information.

The following requirements are in addition to, or further elaborate upon, those requirements outlined in The Graduate School Policy Guide.


Educating graduate students in predictive science, V&V and Uncertainty Quantification (UQ), and computational design requires substantial, in-depth interdisciplinary training. To receive the fellowship, a Fellow is required to take the PSED seminar course (PSED 510) and participate PS&ED seminar and events.


To earn a graduate certificate in Predictive Science and Engineering Design, a student must enroll in at least 5 approved courses (three core courses plus two electives).

Core Area 1: PSED Seminar

This is a literature and project combined seminar course focusing on the common principles and techniques underlying Predictive Science and Engineering Design (PS&ED). In addition to learning the fundamental principles and techniques associated with PS&ED, students will work in teams on interdisciplinary projects related to the current design focus of PS&ED.

Available Course:
  • PSED Seminar 510-1, 510-2

Core Area 2: Modeling, Simulation, and High Performance Computing

This topic introduces the next generation of advanced computational methods for predictive simulation of multiscale, multiphysics phenomena. Topics include molecular dynamics, lattice mechanics, methods of thermodyanmics, statistical mechanics, multiscale modeling, bridging scale methods, supercomputing, etc. Students will also become proficient in computing technology, including numerical computation and the practical use of advanced computer architectures.

Available Courses:

  • CHE 451 Applied Molecular Modeling
  • CIV_ENG 426-1 or 2 Advanced Finite Element Methods, I or II
  • (same as MECH_ENG 426-1 or 2 Computational Mechanics I or II)
  • COMP_ENG 358 Introduction to Parallel Computing
  • IEMS 435 Introduction to Stochastic Simulation
  • MAT_SCI 510 Atomic-Scale Computational Materials Science
  • MECH_ENG 317 or 318 Simulation Techniques I, II

Core Area 3: Computational Design Methods

This topic provides students across all disciplines a view of using computational techniques (including topics like modeling, simulation, optimization, uncertainty quantification, risk-based decision making) and the simulation-based design paradigm for designing complex “engineered” systems based on predictive models.

Available Courses:
  • BMD_ENG 384 Biomedical Computing
  • IEMS 465 Simulation Experiment Design and Analysis
  • MAT_SCI 390 Materials Design
  • MECH_ENG 341 Computational Methods for Engineering Design
  • MECH_ENG 366 Finite Elements for Design and Optimization
  • MECH_ENG 441-1 Engineering Optimization for Product Design and Manufacturing

For full course descriptions, see the McCormick Predictive Science and Engineering Design website.