January 30, 2020

Short Course on How to Approach Engineering Research


PES University conducted a 2-day workshop on the approaches to Engineering Research on January 4th & 5th, 2020. The workshop was conducted by Prof. Perumal Nithiarasu, the Director of Research at the College of Engineering, Swansea University, UK. 

The workshop contained eight lectures spread across two days and included two tutorial sessions. It was attended by around 50 academicians consisting of PhD students and lecturers from various Engineering disciplines, and also included a few Under-Graduate and PostGraduate students. 

The workshop started with a brief introduction by Dean of Research, Dr. Sudarshan T.S.B about the workshop, followed by an inaugural address of Registrar, Dr. V Krishnamurthy. Dr. Krishna V and Prof. K N Seetharamulu OF Dept. of Mechanical Engineering also were present on the occasion. 

Day 1 

The first day of the workshop focussed on challenges commonly faced by inexperienced research scholars. After an introduction to general terminologies in research and underlining the need for research that ultimately benefits society, Prof. Nithiarasu built a strong case for the importance of underpinning fundamental research, and highlighted the significance of high-risk-high-reward research. This was followed by examples of a few common pitfalls faced by new researchers and how to identify early symptoms of such pitfalls. 

The next session discussed visionary vs incremental research, the importance of both, and how incremental research should be designed in order to make progress towards a larger, more ambitious goal i.e. the vision. The last lecture for the day gave several pointers on identifying rewarding research areas and prioritizing them. The first day concluded with a group activity, with each group identifying one example of visionary research, and two examples of incremental research, which were then presented to the audience. A total of five groups presented their ideas, and a good discussion of each idea followed, concluding with some excellent insight provided on each idea by distinguished guest attendee Dr. Ramachandra, Director at ADA (DRDO). 

Day 2 

The second day of the workshop built upon the foundations laid before, and progressed towards the importance of planning in research, and contained several examples of three and five year research plans, and how to break up the work into appropriate sized chunks. This was followed by a comprehensive discussion of dissemination in research, covering important topics like selecting the correct conference or journal, the relevance of conference papers in today’s world, identifying and avoiding predatory or fraudulent journals and some pointers on writing a good journal paper. The day ended the proceedings by discussing the importance of supervisors in the duration of PhD research, and finding the correct research group for postdocs and building connections with industry and organizations for collaborative research. 

There were several mentions of general do’s and don’ts for research scholars who plan to pursue research as a career post conclusion of their doctoral studies. 

Both days of the workshop were littered with examples from Prof. Nithiarasu’s past experiences which helped the audience relate better to the topics under consideration. The sessions was largely interactive with each lecture consisting of a Q&A session encouraging the audience to narrate relevant examples from their own research work. 

The workshop was unique in that it contained a fine balance of both sides involved in research - student and supervisor, and enriched the audience with a holistic view of research in engineering domains.