Students who participate in the AA2020CRC PhD student program walk away enriched with invaluable industry connections and an established foundation for a fruitful career.

Today we are lucky to have Kamil Zuber, who recently received his PhD from UniSA, share his insight with us. Last year, Kamil started working as a post-doctoral researcher at UniSA, on the research and development of adaptive camouflage devices for the Defence Science and Technology Organisation.  

What 3 secrets of success can you share with aspiring students?

For most students, a PhD project is the first project they have to take responsibility for. It’s a challenging task with so many unknowns and risks associated with research. One thing you have to realise early on in your PhD is that it is you who drives the project and its success relies on how you manage it. Your supervisors are there to mentor you and give advice, but you’re the one who has to come up with most of the ideas and manage the work. Having good supervisors helps a lot and I’ve been particularly lucky to have them on my project, however if you come across people with different personalities, good communication and a mutual understanding of expectations is important.

Another element which contributes to your success is how you manage your PhD project. I cannot reinforce enough the fact that research doesn’t always to plan. Plan your experiments so that any results you achieve are meaningful. Incorporate alternative options, should your Plan A fail.  And then, when you have some down time, work on this alternative as you may find something interesting.

Finally, look beyond your PhD. Completing your project on time is very important, but keep gaining knowledge and experience that will give you a head start in your career. It may not feel like it, but you really have more time to invest in your personal development during your PhD. Enrol in online courses and attend workshops – your home university might offer a few of them. Also, make sure that you meet people in your field. Keep networking on conferences and workshops – you never know, you might meet your future employer there.

What was your highlight of the AA2020CRC student program?

The best thing about the AA2020CRC student program is the ability to be part of an industry based project. Combining science and engineering is something I’ve always loved and enjoyed. You don’t only work on solving problems of fundamental science – you can put this knowledge into practice to make real world applications. Also, through the AA2020CRC conferences and meetings you meet many people from relevant industries which wouldn’t really happen at scientific conferences. I believe the AA2020CRC student program gives their graduates an invaluable experience that allows them to look into their future careers well beyond the academia.  

What do you hope to achieve in 5 years?

It is really hard to predict what will happen in this time period. I would like to keep working on the development of cutting-edge technologies that would benefit local industries and society. On a more personal level, I would like to balance my development between technical, science and leadership skills to be well prepared for any future roles.