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no image Wednesday, February 07, 2018 by Berk meyra

Advice for PhD (Electri & Electro Engineering) please?


I am going to start my PhD in April however I still have to choose my topic and supervisor... 

In one side I can work with electric vehicles; meeting/minimizing energy consumption, controlling supply/demand/frequency/voltage.. other smart-grid based technologies also to be investigated (distributed generation, PV, solar, storage and more..) 

In other side I can work with Multiphase Induction Motor Drives or Distributed Generation using direct Torque Control techniques, fuzzy logic algorithms, neuro-fuzzy artificial intelligence stuff

My opinion: I don't know which side is easier, both sides sound really interesting (but difficult at the same time). I have no background with programming/coding in c++, c# or python, so I definitely don't want to learn it only for a PhD as I have no interest in it. MATLAB/SIMULINK is probably recommended for both sides, but I have a very little knowledge in it as well.

The main problem is, both supervisors for both sides are good, but they are strict with marking/helping so I can see myself being in big trouble. Also if any of these sides require coding or writing lines of codes, I know I will not enjoy and most likely fail my PhD due to stated reason above. Eventually I have to choose one of these topics and any advice is highly appreciated.

Thanks for reading.


  • by  Elizabeth Simon
    Hmm, with no knowledge or interest in programming you may have a hard time in either case. I suspect that the motor control is likely to involve coding at some point. It may be possible to investigate smart grid techniques without coding but even then you would be likely to require MATLAB.

    Is there recommended/required coursework for either path? If so, finding out the requirements for the course work should give you a good idea.

  • by  PeterTraneus Anderson

    What do you have strong interest in? Is there something in either side that fascinates you and draws you in? I agree with Elizabeth Simon that you should check out the recommended/required coursework for both sides. You should also read recent PhD dissertations from both sides. Also talk with other grad students about your concerns. Do both sides have good track records of getting students successfully through to their PhDs? A lot of success is sheer diligence and persistence.

    Microprocessors, programmable logic, and memory are so cheap and fast, that everything now has a software component. Learning some coding is now essential. Start with simple programs for your own education.

  • by  PeterTraneus Anderson (edited)

    Get in the habit of writing your thoughts up for yourself: This improves your thoughts and gives you external storage. Write in plain-text filennnn.txt format (replace nnnn with a serial number, incremented for each new file). DON'T use a word processor! Learn a programmer's text editor that is available on Unix and Linux systems (so your writing is not tied to Microsoft Windows; ask your CS people for recommendations), and write your text files using that editor. You will be writing a lot of files over the years (my average is 220 files/year), so serial-number them with four digits.

    Use a programmer's editor to write in plain ASCII or UTF-8 text, because ASCII and UTF-8 are permanent: You will have no trouble reading your files in the future. I can still read files I created over twenty years ago. Word processors are not suitable for editing plain-text files, as word processors tend to replace ASCII punctuation marks (dashes, apostrophes, quotes) with proprietary non-ASCII codes.

    If it's worth scribbling on the back of an envelope, it's worth writing up for yourself in a text file.

    If it's worth talking through with yourself or with a colleague, it's worth writing up.

    This is your diary, this is NOT a laboratory notebook. You should keep a lab notebook also. The lab notebook is an unalterable legal record for possible use in patent court proceedings. Your diary is alterable by you at any time, and is for your own use.

    You will quickly accumulate files. Learn basic HTML, and write an index.html file linking to your text files. Now you have your own website. You can organize your files in many ways at once (chronologically, by project, et cetera) by writing multiple HTML index files. Your HTML index files can link to anything, not just your text files, so you can include photos, schematics, drawings, datasheets, websites, et cetera in a project's HTML index file.

    If you want to write a formatted document, use LaTeX, not a word processor. You will need to know LaTeX to write your dissertation, so you might as well start learning LaTeX.

    Manually backup your files frequently, and keep your backups in a safe-deposit box at your bank.

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