CDT Fuel Cells and Their Fuels Alumni

Our alumni community provides our CDT students with a projection to the myriad career paths they can take once they complete the programme. The feedback and suggestions, we receive from the alumni, have been instrumental in shaping the continuous development of our CDT.

Below are excerpts of testimonial statements from our Alumni on their experience as part of the DTC.

On their overall experience, our Alumni wrote: "During my PhD, as a part of the DTC, I was able to develop as a young researcher in a supportive and nurturing environment, which encouraged and, indeed, welcomed ambition. There were regulars meetings with a cohort of peers, from not only my own field, but wide ranging and varied disciplinary fields. This interaction pushed all participants to embrace vastly different viewpoints, and certainly encouraged me to apply these and consider them in relation to my own work. I feel there were, personally, immense benefits over the traditional 3-year research PhD. The additional time given allowed me to gain a far broader knowledge of research in the energy field, both in the UK and internationally, through the excellent links the DTC had with key players globally... Without this support and training offered by the DTC, I find it hard to believe that I would have had the success, and been able to follow the career path which I have. Since completing my PhD and leaving the DTC I have remained in academia, within the field of energy research internationally. Firstly, at the Technical University of Denmark and currently at Stanford, in California..."

and another said: "During my time in the CDT I was able to produce 10 academic publications and present my research at 10 international conferences. I also completed a 4 months research visit to the University of California. Further to this I started a company with a fellow CDT student. The company, Blue Vine Consultants, is a spin out of the University of Birmingham. I continue to work here today with clients such as Lloyds Bank and Morgan Motor Company. The taught modules of the PhD and the mini projects contributed to helping me prepare for my career. The supervision I received during my program was always excellent and I was able to work with supervisors from different schools on campus to best suit my needs."

The benefit of being part of a cohort was highlighted here:

"In each cohort, individuals built strong working relations with each other because we all experienced the same benefits and challenges at that particular stage of the DTC. As most of us were attending modules regularly in the first year, we had the opportunity to meet and socialise with our colleagues from all three universities. This enhanced collaboration as we got to know each other’s projects and resources in detail. Having an interdisciplinary cohort furthermore encouraged conversation and debate of the bigger picture around our projects.We became close friends and were able to offer encouragement and support on a more personal level during stressful or challenging times."

On the different elements of the CDT programme, we find statements about the CDT multidisciplinary taught modules, such as, "Compared with a conventional PhD programme, the DTC provided more opportunity to develop breadth of knowledge, including taught modules on aspects of business and science which are not necessarily directly related to the individual’s area of research. Outreach activities and DTC conferences added to this by encouraging collaboration and sharing of experience with external bodies and fellow DTC members. The ability to use facilities across three universities was helpful."

About mini-projects, we received:

"The support for mini-projects enabled me to follow up on opportunities to work with various companies, including a research project I undertook at the university for DuPont,and a two month research placement in France working with SurveyCopter and Airbus.These interdisciplinary and industrial collaborations helped me to gain a deeper understanding of how various industries worked, and led to a job offer in addition to invaluable experience."

"The mini projects were helpful in providing breadth of experience. Outreach projects were a valuable addition to my CV and benefited the Universities and the DTC equally by providing publicity and third party engagement. I particularly enjoyed organising the University of Nottingham’s 2010 Christmas Lecture and presenting aspects of my research to a large group of local school children. This event was an opportunity to raise the profile of the University but also to promote STEM subjects as a whole."

"The engagement and education of the public about hydrogen and fuel cells brings a realisation and emphasis that the technology is ready to make a real impact in various applications globally. This activity as part of the DTC adds tremendous value to the research as a whole."

Finally, on how the CDT contributed to their career, we found:

"Without training as part of the CDT I wouldn't have easily been able to pursue a career within the low-carbon sector. My experience of working with fuel cells as part of my PhD landed me a job with Intelligent Energy, working on testing novel fuel cell components. In addition, my experience in academia coupled with my familiarity with several members of staff at UoN allowed me to gain my current role as part of the Energy Innovation and Collaboration team, fostering partnerships between the University and local SMEs to progress the development and uptake of low-carbon technologies."

 "After completing my PhD, I was awarded a post-doctoral fellowship at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, continuing the topics of my research. This position was a result of the extensive network of national and international networks that exist between the academics at UOB and the rest of the world. I also had the opportunity to work in Denmark and Japan during my PhD, where I could broaden my knowledge and made invaluable contacts for my future."