TRUSS aims to enhance career prospects in both industry and academia. A seminar on how to build a successful academic career was imparted by Prof. Eugene OBrien, supervisor in TRUSS with more than 25 years’ experience in academia. The local event was attended by UCD graduate and post graduate students, including TRUSS fellows Sofia Antonopoulou (ESR1), Daniel Martinez Otero (ESR12) and Siyuan Chen (ESR14). It was held in the UCD School of Civil Engineering in the afternoon of Wednesday 11th November 2015.
Prof. OBrien advised on the skills needed to succeed when seeking an academic career. He grouped these skills into three main categories commonly found in benchmarks for promotion:
- Research, Scholarship and Innovation. This includes qualifications, publications (journal and conference), postgraduate supervision, national/international research profile, funding, and innovation and knowledge transfer.
- OBrien highlighted the need for publishing and networking. He also advised to place publications freely available online through repositories. He gave researchers some tips about how to boost the impact of their research publications or H-Index (An H-index of “x” means that “x” of your papers have been cited “x” times) and encouraged them to attend conferences. Although a conference paper is less valuable than a journal paper, it is great experience to present the work to international peers, to get new ideas and to meet people. A successful collaboration is based on money or synergy, and some productive collaboration can lead to many high-impact publications.
- He reviewed sources of funding for research in civil engineering from an institutional, national and European perspectives, and also how to put a funding proposal together based on his experiences in 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th European Framework Programmes.
- Teaching and Learning. Prof. OBrien advised the audience to take any chance to get some lecturing experience and explore the best ways to engage students and get them to learn.
- Contribution to University/Profession/Society, including student affairs, boards of charity, guest appearances, engineering bodies and societies, engineering standards, etc.
Industrial Experience can fall into an additional category of skills for a successful academic career. Prof. OBrien pointed out that this is not typically a benchmark for promotion in the academic world, but it may help securing a lecturing position.