Kshitij Tiwari Ph.D.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Most asked questions about PhD life & Robotics

If you are just getting started with academic research and/or robotics, there is a possibility that you might have some questions. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions pertaining to research, PhD and robotics. Still got a query you couldn’t find in these FAQs? Drop me an email about it and I’d be happy to help out. 

FAQs about PhD

Pursuing the Ph.D. requires unwavering determination and commitment for the next 3-6 years of your life. There is no magic formula to accurately measure your fit for the PhD, however, you can do an introspection exercise to find out if PhD is the right choice for you. Ideally, you would need to know if you can handle stress, tolerate uncertainty, deal with failure and having a PhD is crucial to unlocking the next phase in your career.

During the literature review phase, you will be reading numerous publications and it is crucial to have a system to plan and manage a literature review database. Doing this manually is tedious so you can use tools for bibliography management or utilize database managers like Google Sheets or even Notion.

If you have applied for a PhD position and have been invited for an interview, you want to take the time to really prepare yourself. Typically such interviews start with introductions and then move on to the “why?”. Basically, things like “why this position?”, “why now?”, “why you?”. Given the nature of the topic, the latter phase of the interview might get a bit technical too so familiarize yourself with the potential supervisor and their work so you can show how you fit with the group.

Towards the end of your PhD interview, time permitting, you will likely be given a brief slot to ask questions you may have. Often candidates let go of this chance by saying they don’t have anything to ask but here is how you can make the most of it. This is your golden chance to ask questions to your potential PhD adviser and understand their expectations and how they think. Also, you can use this chance to learn about the typical day in the life. 

If you are in the first year of your PhD, you should invest significant amount of time getting to know your supervisor, peers and other departments on campus. Like this you can be aware of the resources available locally and use this information when you are planning for the 1st year of PhD. Also, be sure to carefully understand any and all graduation requirements for your PhD set aside by the department or institute so you can plan your course and research workload accordingly.

When authors submit scholarly articles to publication venues such as conferences and journal for potential publication, they are subjected to peer review. Subject matter experts (peers) thoroughly examine the key contributions to determine the merit in publication of the proposed work. In some cases, especially when publishing peer-reviewed journals, manuscripts may be subject to multiple rounds of reviews until the high standards of publication are met and independently approved by multiple peers reviewing the manuscript.

FAQs about Robotics

Learning robotics is often considered very resource intensive given the robots can be quite expensive if you are to buy them out of pocket. However, there is no reason to break your bank and you can easily learn robotics at home on a budget. You can start by something like a simulated robot or DIY kits which are relatively inexpensive. Then, for a real platform you can either collaborate or signup for one of the remote labs that allow you to access physical robots, remotely, from across the globe. Learning by doing is the best way to learn robotics and budget should not be holding you back.

First you need to understand that robotics is a highly interdisciplinary field and in order to learn robotics, you would need to know which niche within robotics you want to specialize in. Aside from that, you would want to learn about the various robotic platforms and their modes of operation. Before you set you mind on a particular niche, you can always get your hands dirty by trying to build your own robot. Like this, you will learn a lot about robotics and will unknowingly uncover your interests. Then, work on the areas you struggled with while building your robot, rinse and repeat. 

The types of robots is governed by the nature of classification. The various robot platforms can be broadly classified either based on their mode of operation, application, and, autonomy. 

Based on the mode of operation one could think about aerial, ground and marine robots.

Based on applications, there are industrial, medical, consumer, educational, and entertainment robots.

Based on autonomy, there can fully autonomous, semi autonomous or fully teleoperated robots.

When it comes to deploying robots in the real world, there are numerous challenges to be tackled. Some of them are- fabrication, energy efficiency, operational range, real time data acquisition and processing, human robot interaction and privacy.