A lot of trying and failing have filled my first months as a PhD candidate, as well as a lot of paperwork, spending hours writing my project description and teaching duties – however, this means that no day is equal!
How does a typical day look like?
A typical day starts with spending too many minutes going through my mail, drinking some coffee and going over what has to be done that day. I have a four-year PhD, which means that I have teaching duties at the university, helping first and second year chemistry students with laboratory exercises in different chemistry courses.
This semester I am working with the students taking a laboratory course in Inorganic chemistry, so a typical day for me usually including spending one or more hours during my day, preparing for the next experiments that we are going to perform, correcting the reports from last time or spending my afternoon in the laboratory helping out with the experiments. This is a lot of fun, but also a bit challenging from time to time. However, I am learning a lot from my teaching duties and it makes my weeks more fun and interesting.
And the rest of the week?
The rest of my week will be spend on my own project. I can be all from trying to find new interesting articles, reading up on the literature or planning my next experiments. Last month we performed some initial compression tests of our aluminum and steel samples, in order to study how the aluminum and steel deforms compared to the deformation we have observed in the simulations. These samples needs to be metallographically prepared so that I can study them using light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy.
Some days I will spend in the laboratory, trying to find the optimal sample preparation method for the samples and to improve my own sample preparation skills. Other days, I spend more time on different tasks that we need to perform, such as risk assessment of our project, obligatory PhD courses or planning my semester abroad.
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment, we are soon ready to perform the first initial tests where we combine the compression already studied with rotation. The goal is to systematically vary the different process parameters and study how these affect the joining of the two metals. We have, based on simulations and guessing come up with a test plan, which I am putting the final touches on.
We have received the samples from the workshop and now we are waiting for everything to come together before we begin. These tests are very important for my work and will decide where to go from here, and what we should first of all focus on!