Advice for PhD (Electrical & Elect. Engineering) please?

Thread Starter

berk94

Joined Feb 7, 2018
6
Hi,

I am going to start my PhD in April however I still have to choose my topic and supervisor...

In one side I can work with electric vehicles; meeting/minimizing energy consumption, controlling supply/demand/frequency/voltage.. other smart-grid based technologies also to be investigated (distributed generation, PV, solar, storage and more..)

In other side I can work with Multiphase Induction Motor Drives or Distributed Generation using direct Torque Control techniques, fuzzy logic algorithms, neuro-fuzzy artificial intelligence stuff

My opinion: I don't know which side is easier, both sides sound really interesting (but difficult at the same time). I have no background with programming/coding in c++, c# or python, so I definitely don't want to learn it only for a PhD as I have no interest in it. MATLAB/SIMULINK is probably recommended for both sides, but I have a very little knowledge in it as well.

The main problem is, both supervisors for both sides are good, but they are strict with marking/helping so I can see myself being in big trouble. Also if any of these sides require coding or writing lines of codes, I know I will not enjoy and most likely fail my PhD due to stated reason above. Eventually I have to choose one of these topics and any advice is highly appreciated.

Thanks for reading.
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
23,121
Honestly, how did you get through engineering and not learn programming?
Quite frankly, you are already at a disadvantage. Go back to school and take a programming course.
 

Lyonspride

Joined Jan 6, 2014
137
Hi,

I am going to start my PhD in April however I still have to choose my topic and supervisor...

In one side I can work with electric vehicles; meeting/minimizing energy consumption, controlling supply/demand/frequency/voltage.. other smart-grid based technologies also to be investigated (distributed generation, PV, solar, storage and more..)

In other side I can work with Multiphase Induction Motor Drives or Distributed Generation using direct Torque Control techniques, fuzzy logic algorithms, neuro-fuzzy artificial intelligence stuff

My opinion: I don't know which side is easier, both sides sound really interesting (but difficult at the same time). I have no background with programming/coding in c++, c# or python, so I definitely don't want to learn it only for a PhD as I have no interest in it. MATLAB/SIMULINK is probably recommended for both sides, but I have a very little knowledge in it as well.

The main problem is, both supervisors for both sides are good, but they are strict with marking/helping so I can see myself being in big trouble. Also if any of these sides require coding or writing lines of codes, I know I will not enjoy and most likely fail my PhD due to stated reason above. Eventually I have to choose one of these topics and any advice is highly appreciated.

Thanks for reading.
Honestly, how did you get through engineering and not learn programming?
Quite frankly, you are already at a disadvantage. Go back to school and take a programming course.
He's just about to start by the sound of it, I agree that programming is important though, it wasn't really a thing when I was getting into electronics 20 years ago, but now it's vital.
 

Thread Starter

berk94

Joined Feb 7, 2018
6
U got me wrong, i did learn programming but most of my courses were electrical based subjects and i know a bit of programming but I dont want to do it as i have no interest in it. I will not work as a coder in the future.

Coming back to my question your replies are appreciated but dont really help me.
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
23,121
We're not asking you to be a coder.

Sooner or later you have to apply computer knowledge in electrical theory, design, simulation, testing, analysis, algorithms, etc.
Sooner or later you will be part of a team, or team leader, or educator. How are you going to communicate with other colleagues if you do not understand that computer systems are integral to all modern electrical installations and operations.
 

Thread Starter

berk94

Joined Feb 7, 2018
6
@MrChips I understand, actually I have used 4-5 design/simulation/testing/analysis tools in my entire bachelors and masters, and I can say I am fairly alright with majority of them. I am good with computer systems and fundamentals of most simulation package out there, but I have never needed to use assembly language or coding language in my courseworks, final year project or MSc dissertation. I have met many people in the field with limited or no coding background, but they still managed their PhD dissertations without the need to learn it. I also have many colleagues who are currently working for big Scottish/English electrical engineering companies and neither of them deal with coding in their jobs.

Btw what I mean by coding is writing hundreds lines of codes (e.g. codes such as when you are building a drone or a robot you want to control it remotely). I personally don't think coding is a very big requirement for Electrical Engineers. Probably more for electronic or software engineers. I might as well switch to Software engineer or Computer engineer if I want to do a PhD where writing thousands of codes is required.
 

WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
26,398
U got me wrong, i did learn programming but most of my courses were electrical based subjects and i know a bit of programming but I dont want to do it as i have no interest in it. I will not work as a coder in the future.

Coming back to my question your replies are appreciated but dont really help me.
One thing you are very likely to discover is that with a PhD, companies and other prospective employers are going to tend to put quite a bit of emphasis on what your research area was. They figure if they are going to pay for a PhD, they want a subject matter expert walking in the door.

So with that in mind, if your PhD work is going to involve things that you are interested in and don't want to learn and don't want to do afterward, then it's probably time to find a different PhD program (research area) even if it means going to a different school.
 

Thread Starter

berk94

Joined Feb 7, 2018
6
One thing you are very likely to discover is that with a PhD, companies and other prospective employers are going to tend to put quite a bit of emphasis on what your research area was. They figure if they are going to pay for a PhD, they want a subject matter expert walking in the door.

So with that in mind, if your PhD work is going to involve things that you are interested in and don't want to learn and don't want to do afterward, then it's probably time to find a different PhD program (research area) even if it means going to a different school.
Yea good point that's why i dont want to do something which i don't have interest in such as coding or programming. I want to do sonethinh to enjoy and specialise in, otherwise why waste money with thinhs i hate.
 

WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
26,398
Yea good point that's why i dont want to do something which i don't have interest in such as coding or programming. I want to do sonethinh to enjoy and specialise in, otherwise why waste money with thinhs i hate.
You say that those are the only two topics available and you have to choose one of them. But look at the descriptions you gave. What makes a grid "smart"? Programs! What are fuzzy logic algorithms and neuro-fuzzy artificial intelligence stuff? Programs!

So it sounds like you need to be looking at other schools.
 

Thread Starter

berk94

Joined Feb 7, 2018
6
You say that those are the only two topics available and you have to choose one of them. But look at the descriptions you gave. What makes a grid "smart"? Programs! What are fuzzy logic algorithms and neuro-fuzzy artificial intelligence stuff? Programs!

So it sounds like you need to be looking at other schools.
I think my descriptions are confusing people as they are unclear. I tried to briefly summarise from my posts but i should have written more detailed.

I am trying to say, I do not mind using PROGRAMs. In programs you can either model/develop simulate analyse and calculate stuff (e.g. NEPLAN, MATLAB/SIMULINK, PSCAD, EXCEL, Transient/electromagnetic Software tools) OR you can use programs like "Microsoft Visual Studio" or "JavaScript" or "Phyton" or "C++, C#, Pascal" where you only write hundreds/thousands of codes and debug it.

The main problem is, in the project descriptions it doesn't specify which program tools you can use and if you are required to write many lines of CODES for the project. FOR EXAMPLE, in my Bachelor's and Master's dissertations, I used PSS SINCAL and PSCAD/EMTP but it was just modelling/developing/analysing/simulating/calculating HEAT/ELECTRICITY/WATER NETWORKs and PARAMETERs. Thus I didn't need to write "codes" to control these networks and parameters. And here is my weakness, I do not want to write codes (C++, C#, ObjectsOriented) because it is not of my interest.

And, technically there are some other topics with other supervisors but their PhDs are for 2019 start which is too far away.
 

bogosort

Joined Sep 24, 2011
619
It sounds to me like you need to re-evaluate why you want to do the PhD, which is a research degree. If you are not 100% committed to the research (and, if you're looking for the "easier" path, it doesn't seem that you are), you will be very unhappy and more likely to drop out. With your MSEE, you can start working now and figure out what you actually want to specialize in. Even if your ultimate goal is a tenure-track professor position, you can start now as an adjunct and see if you enjoy academia from that side of the desk.

The coding aspect is a secondary concern. If you're truly passionate about the research topic, you'll likely find that coding becomes much more interesting when its in the furtherance of your research. Even if not, you'll find other ways to be a valuable member of your supervisor's team. But none of that will happen if you're just going through the motions to get the PhD credentials.

Best of luck.
 
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