ProDEI @ FEUP
A PhD is an advanced degree bestowed on people who have demonstrated the ability to carry out, with some level of autonomy and in a team, research that advances the knowledge on one of more fields. Its holder is expected to have a high capability of abstract and analytical reasoning and understand various domains of knowledge not necessarily related to their specific field of expertise. They are expected to have critical and original thinking and make bridges between apparently disconnected problems and therefore develop original solutions to complex problems. Having a high degree of abstraction coupled with an uncanny ability to reason whilst adapting to different situations and problem contexts is extremely valued by organizations and companies in the current very dynamic business climate.
Completing a PhD requires a wide range of skills and characteristics beyond autonomy and resilience. Here are a few:
• Intellectual curiosity: You need a deep desire to explore, understand, and contribute to your field of study. You will spend years deeply immersed in a single topic, so a natural curiosity and genuine interest in the subject matter are crucial.
• Critical thinking and problem-solving skills: You need to be able to analyze complex problems and develop innovative solutions. This often involves questioning established knowledge and finding gaps or inconsistencies in previous research.
• Perseverance and determination: A PhD can be a long, grueling process. There will be challenges, obstacles, and setbacks. You must have the determination to keep going, even when things get tough.
• Self-discipline: The freedom and flexibility of a PhD program require a high level of self-discipline. You must be able to manage your time effectively and maintain a productive work schedule.
• Communication skills: You will need to communicate your ideas and findings clearly and effectively, both in writing and orally. This includes the ability to explain complex concepts in a way that is understandable to others.
• Organization skills: Conducting a research project requires careful planning and organization. You need to keep track of multiple tasks and deadlines, and to manage data and resources effectively.
• Creativity: A PhD is not about learning what is already known, but about contributing new knowledge. This requires original thinking and a creative approach to problem-solving.
• Patience: Research often involves a lot of trial and error, and progress can be slow. Patience is key in maintaining morale and continuing to strive for results.
• Collaboration skills: While a PhD is a very individual project, it still involves collaboration with your supervisor, other students, or researchers. The ability to work effectively as part of a team, to give and receive feedback, and to manage relationships is essential.
• Ethical Integrity: Honesty and ethics in research, including proper attribution, ensuring the welfare of any subjects in your study, and maintaining the integrity of data, is paramount.
• Passion: Perhaps most importantly, you need to have a passion for your field and for your research topic. This is what will drive you to keep going, even when the going gets tough.
Remember, these skills and traits are developed over time, and nobody embarks on a PhD with all of them already fully developed. The process of doing a PhD will help you to build and strengthen these skills.
The Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP) is one of the leading engineering schools in Portugal and has a reputation for offering a high-quality education and research opportunities. Here are a few reasons why you might consider pursuing a PhD at FEUP:
• Reputation for Excellence: FEUP has a long-standing tradition of excellence in engineering and technology. It is recognized as a center for research and innovation in various fields of engineering.
• Research Opportunities: A PhD program at FEUP offers you the opportunity to engage in cutting-edge research projects. The institution is involved in several national and international research collaborations, providing a rich environment for research and development.
• Expert Faculty: FEUP houses a number of experienced faculty members who are experts in their respective fields. Working under the guidance of a knowledgeable advisor can be a great asset during your PhD studies.
• Facilities and Resources: FEUP offers state-of-the-art facilities and resources for research and education. This includes modern laboratories, libraries, and technical support to facilitate your research work.
• Networking and Collaboration: Being a part of FEUP gives you access to a wide network of industry professionals, researchers, and academics. This can open doors to collaborations and partnerships that can be beneficial for your future career.
• Career Prospects: A PhD from FEUP can enhance your career prospects, opening doors to opportunities in academia, research institutions, and the industry. FEUP graduates are often sought after in the job market due to the quality of education and training they receive.
• Location and Culture: The University of Porto is located in the vibrant city of Porto, which offers a rich cultural heritage and a high quality of life. Pursuing a PhD in such an environment can be a rewarding experience, both personally and professionally.
• International Recognition: FEUP's programs are internationally recognized, and a degree from this institution can be a valuable asset if you are looking to pursue opportunities outside of Portugal.
• Personal Growth: Pursuing a PhD is not just about academic growth, but also personal growth. The experience of conducting deep research and contributing to the field can be incredibly fulfilling.
Pursuing a PhD is not for everybody. In order to advance the state-of-the-art, in any field, you need to understand very well the established approaches and their limitations. Then, you need to propose a new solution or approach to a specific problem or domains of problems and reason about the viability of your solution and approach, either in a theoretical framework or empirically, by demonstrating it in the field for a wide range of scenarios of interest. All of this requires many of the skills outlined about, and in particular, originality and perseverance. Typically, after an initial phase of your studies, there is what is called “the crossing of the desert” where you have to forge your own way against all adversity and not all will make it. Look to your advisor not as the person who will tell you what to do, but as the person who helps with constructive criticism. It is better to receive harsh critics from your advisor than at a conference when you are presenting your work in front of a wide audience. In addition, your advisor should guide you as to where not to go, so that you do not waste precious time with fruitless endeavors. Lastly, remember, the thesis is yours’s and nobody else’s. If you collaborate, make sure it is clear what is your intellectual contribution is.
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At ProDEI, and in addition to the base academic requirements, only applications with the following elements will be considered:
1. Curriculum Vitae. This document should only include information related to your academic or industrial experience and other information that is directly relevant to your pursuit.
2. Letter of motivation. This letter should clearly explain what are the domains of expertise you intend to pursue in your studies, why now and why at FEUP. It should already demonstrate some breadth of knowledge about the domain of interest and relation with some of your previous work, if possible and/or desirable.
3. Two letters of recommendation. These letters should speak to your ability to carry out independent work and have critical thinking. Ask people you have interacted with, not necessarily only in an academic setting.
directors, scientific committee and staff
Daniel Castro Silva
Assistant professor @ FEUP
Senior researcher @ Laboratory of Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science (LIACC)
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