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How can I get hands-on skills?

  1. Jul 19, 2011 #1
    I'm about a year away from finishing my PhD in Nuclear Engineering with a focus on irradiation damage to materials. I have an undergraduate degree in physics, and another in printmaking.

    Currently, I do only computer simulations. Though my degree will technically be engineering, my simulations are basic science, really. So, I really don't have a lot of experience with engineering, per se. I would really love to do something more hands-on... like, with 3D printers, textiles... actually making something, while using my materials knowledge! When I started my graduate career and picked an advisor, he said there would be opportunity for experimental work, but it just never panned out. Now that I'm about to graduate, I feel like I'm losing the opportunity to learn that kind of thing.

    I just don't want to sit behind a computer everyday for the rest of my life, although I'm certainly willing to do some of that! Is it possible to get hands-on kind of experience once I find a job somewhere? I see a lot of interesting postings, but I don't have the mechanical skills needed. Where do people get these skills if they weren't directly part of one's undergraduate/graduate research?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 19, 2011 #2
    How about doing a postdoc in an area you want to work in?

    My PhD involved almost completely doing Monte Carlo simulations and data analysis. As an experimentalists I knew my hands-on knowledge was weak but I was lucky enough to find a postdoctoral position where I spent the first two years building the experiment up from scratch. It was a great.
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