Transition from Industry to Academia

    Posted on Wednesday, Nov 07, 2018
    Working in an Industry and Academia can be two very different and very similar things. It depends on the person’s perspective and views.  Having worked in the Industry and now in the academia, I can say that it is difficult to explain the intricate differences in both.  I am sharing my experience with how my experience in the Industry has greatly helped me to be good in academia.

    If I were given a dollar each time when someone claimed academia and industry to be oceans apart, I would have been a millionaire by now.   I have my masters in civil engineering from National University of Singapore. Upon graduation, I started working for a leading civil engineering consultant (I had no prior experience in industry). The first few months in the industry is referred to as the “Honeymoon period” where everyone helps you to get acclimated to the culture and workflow. After that, the real responsibilities start kicking in. With additional responsibilities, opportunities arise for you to learn and grow. Since this was the first time in my life that I had to shoulder huge responsibilities, the stress piled up. I was fortunate to have a boss who helped in every step of the process. During 2.5 years in the industry, I was able to gain technical and practical knowledge of how a civil engineering design gets translated to an actual infrastructure. As a gained additional experience, I was able to perform my duties with maturity and efficacy. If I were to write down three most important points that I learnt, they would be as follows:

    1. Always be on time.
    2. Be a team player.
    3. Be precise and concise.

    Thereafter, I decided to work towards to my doctoral degree at TAMU. The three points played and still plays a critical role in my job as a researcher. First, in academia we have flexible working hours. As good as it may sound, I believe that it is better to stick to a rigid schedule. This makes sure that you get time to do other things and most importantly have a life other than class or research.

    Second, being a team player is always good as we share the responsibilities. Also, a good team player plays a significant role in directing the team for external and internal collaboration. This points has its own ups and downs and it may vary from person to person.

    Last, it is of utmost importance in academia and research to be precise and concise. This particular trait has helped me to make effective communications and prevent delays in projects and research. This also indicates that you respect the persons time and therefore it would help to build trust and respect.

    I have done by best to list some important aspects that can help aspiring engineers. Working in academia and industry has its own uniqueness and if we can adopt ourselves to the changing needs and objectives in both academia and research, we should be fine.

    Pavan Akula
    Pavan is a PhD student in the Department of Civil Engineering

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