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Research as a graduate student

  1. Feb 4, 2013 #1
    I'm most probably going to opt for an MS degree in Mechanical Engineering with a specialization in Heat and Mass Transfer after a couple of months.

    There are some questions that I have in regard to research as a graduate students, both MS and PhD.

    1. Is it always possible to keep up with progress deadlines that are set by your professor? If not, then does the Professor usually get annoyed?

    2. Now that I'm only just finishing off as an undergraduate, I don't really have much confidence in myself....undergraduate studies(esp in India) required learning a lot of different
    things in little time....so I'm not sure if I really remember all the concepts very clearly, or if I can use the software that I learnt somewhere in sophomore year as effectively...is this the case with all the students?
    If so, is it likely for my professor to get annoyed with me?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 4, 2013 #2


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    1. This depends on your supervisor, although "always" is a pretty tight criterion. In general, when selecting an advisor and when starting out, it's good to have a two-way conversation about expectations. As a student it can be difficult to estimate what you're capable of. As a professor it can be difficult to remember what it's like not to be aware of many things that seem obvious.

    Something else to remember along these lines is that some deadlines are "hard" such as abstract submission dates for conferences, or the date you have to submit your thesis by to avoid paying fees for the following semester, while other deadlines are "soft" such as supervisory committee meetings or weekly progress updates.

    2. In the history of all physicists everywhere there have only been three that managed to remember perfectly everything they learned during their undergraduate work. I do not know which three or even if this number is correct to within a few orders of magnitude, but I know that the number of physicists who have to constantly review the material they've learned is vastly greater than the number who remember it all instantly and perfectly.

    3. At some point your supervisor is likely to be annoyed with you regardless of what you do. This is true of any relationship that lasts for 4-7 years.
  4. Feb 5, 2013 #3
    Thanks for the info Choppy, it's comforting to know that things are probably not going to be as tight as I imagined :-)
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