First AIMMS PhD Introduction Course was a great success

The course was aimed to get new PhD students smoothly started.

04/03/2019 | 3:52 PM

Report by Rick Riemens

Thanks to the collective desire and collaborative efforts of both the AIMMS Institute and the PhD council, the first ever AIMMS PhD Introduction course took place on March 19-20th in Egmond aan Zee. The two-day course strived to get new PhD students smoothly started in their programs by taking them through the process of earning a PhD at the AIMMS Institute. By providing this guidance early on in the process, the course aimed to enable students to be as successful as possible during their time as a PhD student.

Following introductions to both the PhD program and fellow attendees, the day began with a soft skills course about pitching your research. Given the depth of knowledge required of a PhD student, summarising one’s work in a clear and concise manner can prove extremely difficult. The course attempted to address this challenge and help students to develop this invaluable skill by teaching them how to pitch their ideas and research in under one minute.

Beyond the academic components of the course, the environment facilitated social interactions between PhD students from different departments. During an organized beach walk, a good dinner, and a few beers later on in the evening, students had the opportunity to interact with each other; not only to discuss their research, but also to form connections with fellow PhDs.

In a recent external evaluation of  AIMMS,  the institute received very strong grades. However, one point of critique was that PhDs should be finished within four years whenever possible, and in cases where this is not possible, they should not be extended too long. The Introduction course addressed this critique by offering a workshop on how to plan your PhD. The Workshop was focused on both project management and on reaching your goals by ranking priorities. Through the workshop it became clear that most of your PhD work could be planned and executed on time by keeping a clear vision and oversight of all of the activities.

Overall the AIMMS PhD Introduction Course was a great success. The hard work and enthusiasm of Jurgen Haanstra and Bas Teusink created a harmonious and open atmosphere that I am confident will continue even now that the course is over. During these two days they made it clear what they expect from the PhD students, but they also emphasized that their door is always open for students facing challenges or uncertainties. In addition to an improved relationship with the institute itself, the course fostered connection and collaboration between attendees—as demonstrated by participants expressed intention to meet again as a group. This sort of bringing together of people fits clearly in the visions of AIMMS and will hopefully even result in collaborations between the PhD students.