2014 PhD Candidate - Yannis Karmpadakis
Yannis holds a Civil Engineering Diploma (MEng) from the National Technical University of Athens and a Master of Science (MSc) in Marine Engineering from the same university. Before coming to Imperial College, he was working as a civil engineer in Greece and was involved in the design and construction of a complex with beach side luxury villas in the south of Crete. Yannis is the youngest elected member of the board of the Technical Chamber of Greece. He spends his free time scuba-diving, practising photography and robotics.
Why did you decide to do a PhD in the Fluid Mechanics section of Imperial College?
There were two main factors I considered when choosing a university to continue my postgraduate studies in wave dynamics: the academic background of the research group in the field and their connections to industry. The Fluid Mechanics Section of Imperial College combined state-of-the-art theoretical expertise and direct input from industry on research projects. Therefore, taking advantage of the lecturers’ knowledge and experience while working on a subject with significant practical implications is for me the ideal mix. Moreover, an outstanding privilege of researchers in this section is access to unique experimental facilities. Imperial College has a set of flumes and basins that is very hard to find in other universities. Utilising these facilities is of utmost importance to validate the theoretical work that is being carried out.
How have you found your first 12 months?
Doing a PhD involves a lot of work, and it is mostly self-motivated work. But this is not something that you are not expecting when you start. Nonetheless, the attention and guidance I received from my supervisors was a pleasant surprise. Through weekly meetings the progress on the project is monitored, and useful input towards what to do next is provided. Another pleasant surprise is the knowledge transfer amongst the members of the group, students and academics. In addition to the day-to-day exchange of ideas and expertise within the group, seminars are given by students and visiting academics on their research areas.
How have your skills developed, both professional and personal?
Specialising in a single, very advanced topic can easily make your focus so narrow that you miss out on developing the other important qualities necessary to excel after the completion of your studies. Imperial College’s initiative to undertake skills development classes before graduating helps to create well-rounded professionals with the necessary set of capabilities to be competitive in the job market.
Furthermore, a series of social events amongst students in the section and the Department, guarantees that students develop people skills. Networking with the brightest minds in engineering, as well as the largest companies in the field is always beneficiary for one's later career.
What does a typical week look like for you?
Each week is very different from the next, so it is hardly possible to describe a typical one. One day’s achievements or failures drive the next day’s work; this is the beauty of doing a PhD. It is fairly easy to jump from developing an analytic model to carrying out a lab experiment, running numerical simulations, analysing field data or reading up on the latest research advancements. Spreading the knowledge to undergraduate students as a teaching assistant is always a stimulating task. Also, there is at least one very interesting seminar or talk taking place each week around the College that I like attending. The week usually ends on Friday evening with a group activity with the rest of the students in the lab.