Students who desire to take advantage of the unique opportunities available at one of the special laboratories (e.g., JPL) for Ph.D. thesis work may be allowed to do so provided that they maintain good contact with academic life on campus, the laboratory involved commits financial support for the duration of the thesis research, and all Caltech graduate thesis research carried out at a special laboratory is under the supervision of Caltech faculty members.
Students' requests to carry out thesis work at a special laboratory should be formally endorsed by the appropriate committee of their option and by the special laboratory, on a petition submitted through the option representative to the dean of graduate studies. The special laboratory should recognize its commitment of special equipment or any other resources required for the thesis work. Approval by the special laboratory should also indicate that the thesis topic is a sensible one, and that it is not likely to be preempted by the laboratory.
A student may take similar advantage of unique opportunities at a corporate or governmental research and development facility under the same conditions, providing that there exists a formal written agreement between the R&D facility and the student’s thesis adviser, and that advance written approval is obtained from the dean of graduate studies. Such training may in some cases involve full-time employment at the laboratory for a limited period of time for the purpose of engaging in the essential data collection that is integral to a student’s thesis. Typically, such students who are not in a local laboratory are placed on detached duty status.
Employment by a special laboratory of a graduate student for work not connected with the thesis should be regarded as equivalent to other outside employment.