02 Dec 2019
Life at ÉTS
Recharge and Move Forward
Alain Youmbi, a Master’s student at ÉTS, shares his thoughts after participating in the 2019 Journées de la relève en recherche, held on October 24 and 25 in Montreal.
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I had the honour and privilege of attending the Journées de la relève en recherche hosted by Acfas at Concordia University, thanks to a scholarship from ÉTS. These days are above all an opportunity to meet with key players in the research field. They provide a place to share both the difficulties of being a researcher and the prospects and opportunities open to us.
Breaking the Isolation of Student Researchers
To better understand the importance of these days, I must explain the context in which I arrived in Montreal to pursue my studies. I am an international student—from France—so I find myself in a completely new environment. I don’t know anyone and, what is more, my research project is an individual one. In addition, I have to adapt to a framework that requires more autonomy than what I experienced in France in terms of course choices or work management. The Journées de la relève en recherche made me realize that I was not alone in this situation and that there were solutions for all the challenges I would be facing in my journey.
Indeed, during that time I came to realize that research was quite an intense period in the life of a student. Ultimately, conducting research requires giving the best of yourself in order to participate in the advancement of society, while learning how to become a solution engineer. Although the difficulties (social, financial, etc.) may sometimes seem overwhelming, activities are organized to help researchers find their way, but especially to feel supported. I was impressed to see that the participants had a lot in common and experienced similar difficulties, each in their own way.
Workshops on the Difficulties Encountered in Higher Education
The workshops were very interesting, presented by qualified speakers, experts in their field. Many solutions were presented to address problems frequently encountered in graduate studies, including a workshop on managing stress during studies, which was very helpful. Indeed, defining what is problematic is not as easy as it may seem, especially when it comes to feelings. Understanding stress, its function and the different types (subjective or objective) were among the topics discussed in this workshop.
I learned that research work includes a host of factors that can increase stress: high expectations for results in the research projects, the constant supervision of your work, the lack of funding and resulting challenges. Also, student researchers, often obsessed by their project, face further challenges in relation to their family members and add to this the sometimes daunting prospect of the post-graduation job search. In short, during the workshop, I realized how important it was to get to know one another, and especially to search, find and implement solutions for success. Life continues during the research project and it is important to recharge our batteries. A project moves forward when the drive is there; it must be cultivated.
The workshop on understanding how scholarships are evaluated, from theory to practice showed me how scholarships are awarded. I had felt that the process was unnecessarily long, but now I understand that this is justified. Indeed, the established mechanisms are necessary to do things right and they take time.
There also were discussions on career opportunities after our respective training courses. It was very interesting to see how PhD graduates could find themselves, after their education, in positions of responsibility that sometimes had nothing to do with their scientific environment. A PhD can open unexpected doors.
Finally, thanks to these workshops I realized that I was not alone in this situation. My motivation to move forward has increased, and I am confident that I will be able to complete my project and that I will do a good job.
Alain Youmbi is a Master’s student in research in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. He is working at the Optimization of Aerospace Manufacturing Processes Laboratory (LOPFA).
Program : Mechanical Engineering
Research laboratories : LOPFA – Optimization of Aerospace Manufacturing Processes Laboratory