PhD Researching into Novel Radar Techniques, University of Birmingham
"The best point of the course is the practical labs where you can put what you learn into practice."
MSc Embedded Systems, 2013
How has your career developed since graduating from the University of Birmingham?
After graduating I went straight into research by enrolling on a PhD. Going into this I am learning to be critical about my work, how to research papers in my field, and how to manage my time more effectively. A PhD is all about independent research, so you have to be good at managing your time and documenting what you do. You will learn to do this as you go along or else you may find yourself lost in your research. In addition I am using the time to experience some Postgraduate Teaching Assistant (PGTA) work, assisting in labs and tutorials to get a feel for teaching as a possible future career.
What is the best thing about what you are doing now?
The best thing is working on a project that has real application. For my PhD I have an aim, but my journey involves a lot of research, experimentation and implementation. I can implement my ideas and actually see how they work for real. Also my PhD idea is novel that no one has suggested or tried before, that is the really exciting part.
Why did you originally apply to do your chosen course at Birmingham?
There were several reasons why I chose Birmingham for my MSc. Although my intention was always to do a PhD, I needed a backup plan just in case I could not get funding for my PhD. So I talked to various employers and asked what skill set they were looking for. The common answers I received were VHDL and PIC programming. I saw that this was offered as part of a course here, as well as a chance to learn other subjects of interest to me. These were object-oriented programming and image analysis.
What were the best points of your course and the University?
The best point of the course is the practical labs where you can put what you learn into practice. Also the large weighting of the coursework in the examinable component is good, as the course is really testing your practical knowledge. In addition the support staff in Electronic, Electrical and Systems Engineering are brilliant. This was much better than I experienced as an undergraduate elsewhere.
For me the best point of the University is the very active postgraduate community. When I initially joined the University I was very impressed by the welcome week activities for postgraduate students. The society for postgraduate students, Postgraduate and Mature Student Association (PGMSA) is also very active hosting events for its members throughout the year.
What advice would you give to current students studying on the course?
Get involved with your School's Student Staff Committee (SSC). This way you get to know the staff more and help the engagement of students within your year. You get to know more people, which will hopefully make your year more enjoyable. Networking may also alert you to opportunities that are not advertised; that is how I learned about my funded PhD position.