Advice for new grads mae 2012


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Advice for new grads mae 2012

  1. 1. Grad Student Perspective Michael Gollner All images respectfully borrowed from, much thanks to Jorge Cham for creating them all.
  2. 2. • Coffee – Best coffee* is right next door – near “The Bear” (CUPS) – Late night coffee can be found at Earl’s place in Warren College or Sunshine Market• Parking at UCSD – Don’t do it! (if you can avoid it) – Bike (UCSD Pedal Club) or Bus (routes are online)• Parking/Driving/Biking Rules – Obey them – they love to give tickets – Stop at stop signs, don’t wear headphones, etc… – Be careful! Cars don’t look for pedestrians or cyclists*** In my personal opinion** In my personal EXPERIENCE
  3. 3.  Where to Study?  Office – good if you’re given one (Mostly PhD Students)  Lab – Good luck  Coffee Shop – My favorite  Home – Try to separate work and home life… But I haven’t succeeded yet.  Library – It used to be open late, but great place to work with a group. Computer Help?  For Research/Lab needs: – submit a request  For everything else, ACS ( has a help desk  Protected wireless is a pain for everyone…  Ask lab/department for printing access if available…
  4. 4. • Relaxing, Having Fun, Having a life? • Sport Clubs, outback adventures, etc. • Most clubs/opportunities open to grads too • Also many great resources – Career center, Center for Teaching Development, etc.
  5. 5. • YES – Department Qualifying Exam – PhD – Masters Exit Exam – Or Defend Masters Thesis• Masters Comp. & PhD DQE Exam Advice – Choose professors who taught your courses on the subjects you know well – not who you think might be easiest! (you can be surprised) – Ask what they want you to know for the exam Don’t forget to take care of yourself while studying! (eat/sleep/exercise)… you will pay for it later if you don’t
  6. 6. • 1 year Coursework/Comp. Exam Masters – Best option if your goal is to leave with a masters• 1-2 year Thesis Masters – Best if you are undecided about doing a PhD – It is better to spend 1 year sampling a life of scientific research and leave for a job then spend 4-7 years miserable in a PhD program.• Switching from Masters to PhD – Sometimes happens, usually doesn’t
  7. 7. • Picking an adviser – What is the research field YOU are interested, what are your potential advisers – do they match? – Ask Around – READ some of your adviser’s previous work BEFORE talking to them. Professors are busy, prove to them that you have worked hard first and will work hard with them.
  8. 8. • Librarians – by email ( or in person – very helpful and can find things that you can’t.• Avanti – Free article delivery from the library (
  9. 9.  Research is an iterative process. Expect ups and downs, but if you keep at it you will get there! One of the most important skills you will learn is WRITING! Use LaTeX and… PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE LaTeX is most important if you want to write a THESIS!
  10. 10. • Very rewarding and very time consuming• It is VERY HARD to get a TA position now.• If you’re looking for a position, the best way is to do well in professor’s courses or work with them• Talking to professors you do not know in advance of applications won’t help much.(Still apply too!)• Ask past TA’s for help on how to be more productive!
  11. 11. • YES!• NSF GRFP, NDSEG, DOE, SMART, etc.•
  12. 12. • Maintain a decent GPA but realize research is what really matters.
  13. 13. • I’ve lost days/weeks of time looking for things• Organize papers, data, and everything else!• Dropbox, Mendeley, Again
  14. 14. • Yes/no/kind of?• Always talk to your adviser, everyone’s rules are different – Just don’t assume you do or don’t. – Most value the work you produce, not the number of hours you’re in the lab/office.
  15. 15. • David Allen’s “Getting Things Done”• Google Tasks, Remember the Milk, etc.
  16. 16. • Keep your motivation high – Don’t overwork, pursue things that interest you • Don’t be afraid to find your own path – Again, pursue things that interest you (within reason and with the advisor’s approval) • Protect your time – Outreach, teaching and other projects are a necessity for academia, but should never be the majority of your time, that’s for research.We all go through this at some point!
  17. 17. I will post this on my website:
  18. 18. • Know when to “pull the plug” and publish and/or graduate• Keep communicating with your adviser. Don’t hide if you’re stuck. They might be able to help!