I started the journey of blogging quite a while ago, thinking that it would be a good way to get the creative writing juices flowing as I progressed toward writing my dissertation and eventually defending it. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of blogging (and writing a dissertation!) is a simple thing called motivation. In both instances I’ve struggled to maintain consistency in getting thoughts down on paper. In the dissertation, the general discouragement of consistent head banging and the iterative process of ‘try, fail, try again, fail again’ really creates a set of emotions which limit one’s ability to stay focused and maintain a desire to continue updating the blogosphere about the process.
I write this post in an attempt to rebound from a really discouraging year of research (head banging) to put forth a better effort in both blogging with some consistency and also to become more active and articulate with where I am in my dissertation process. I hope that this attempt will be the start of something which will encourage not only myself to continue but also anyone who’s actively working in a research related field and perhaps struggling to articulate what they are going through as well.
For those of my audience who are thoroughly interested, I am finishing up my second (or third) annual ‘final year’ of PhD school. 😀 This is in response to everyone who’s asked me every PhD dissertation student’s favorite question ‘So when are you going to graduate?’ From what I’ve gathered in conversations with professors, friends and colleagues each PhD student has a slightly different journey but many parts of the story are the same. The similar parts of the story include selecting a ‘narrow’ topic to study related to your/your professor’s/your favorite funding institution’s area of interest and hitting the journals, realizing the ‘narrow’ topic is actually too broad, focusing the scope, presenting to the dissertation committee the ‘more focused topic’ and then beginning to understand both the state of the body of knowledge and then your specific contribution to said area of interest.
I’ve honestly spent the past year using a commercial code to create 2D and 3D models of the research problem thinking that it would be easier to learn an existing code than developing one independently. Of course this is a matter of preference. I’ve really been testing myself to see how well I can pick up a computational tool and learn it thoroughly without a priori knowledge with the intent of using it to study a specific research problem. I’ve had limited success and many failures!!
The ultimate goal in all of my labor under the sun during this dissertation process is essentially to demonstrate to the research community an ability to learn independently at the highest level of academics and to perform original research, making a (somewhat small) contribution to the general body of knowledge in ones field. It does take a while to achieve something that few people ever are brave (or foolish) to accomplish, all for three letters behind one’s own name! I’m still working at this goal, but I’m making strides towards it every day (and night)!
For now, I’ll just have to be content with spending hours at coffee shops reviewing grid generation techniques in literature, monitoring CFD simulations, making sure the residuals continue to drop while praying that the computer servers don’t crash while simulations are running. I was able to present initial research findings at a conference this past June; the results had mixed reviews. I anticipate more results to come through in the next few months. Happy researching!!!!