Merci d'avoir accepté l'interview
Could you give us an overview of your academic background?
Before starting my PhD, I did all my studies in my home country: Tunisia. After getting my baccalaureate, I had two intensive years of studies at the Preparatory Institute for Engineering Studies of Monastir. This curriculum offers training in mathematics and physics and prepares for the national exams allowing to register in engineering schools. During my first year I was ranked first at the institute level and I was rewarded by the Tunisian Association of Physics. In the second year, I was ranked 29th on the national level in the national exams for engineering cycles entrance. This rank allowed me to pursue my studies at Tunisia Polytechnic School, the leading engineering school in Tunisia. I had a multidisciplinary training where I studied mechanics, economics and informatics. During my last two years, I focused on the major mechanics and structures and did my graduation internship at ArcelorMittal Global R&D, OCAS NV in Gent, Belgium. This was the trigger for another chapter after my graduation. I decided to do my PhD at MINES ParisTech (Centre des Matériaux) and the PhD was in collaboration with ArcelorMittal Global R&D.
What were your expectations from the PhD?
When I started my PhD, I thought of it as if I am working and at the same time I am preparing a worldwide renowned degree from MINES ParisTech. So it was ideal. The quality of training offered by MINES ParisTech relies on training and education by research. Meaning that you discover and learn new things while doing research activities. I was supervised by a team with high skills and qualities and this allowed me to learn many things in three years. Besides, a PhD that is funded by an industrial partner is always a good deal. This offers possibilities for recruitment after PhD, which was my case. At the end of my PhD, I was offered a full-time position as a Research Engineer at ArcelorMittal Global R&D, OCAS NV and I am extremely lucky to have the chance to continue working on the subject I dealt with during my PhD. So when I started my PhD, I was expecting a good atmosphere, a golden chance to learn new things from the best teachers in their fields, an opportunity to share my research work and an introduction to industrial research. And all of that was achieved.
What would be you advice for fresh PhD students?
I think that a PhD is a commitment to hard work. Therefore, in my opinion, those who want to do a PhD need to make sure that they have the skills and the ability to work full time for 3 years on the same subject and have the ability to manage their stress. I also think that they should profit from the experience as much as possible: you can do several training, attend summer schools, and go to conferences. This will allow to sharpen your technical as well as soft skills and give your opportunities for networking. This kind of connections can be important not only during your PhD but also after your graduation when you will be looking for jobs.
Besides, if you want to start a PhD, make sure that the subject matches your skills and your profile. If you will start a PhD, just to do a PhD, it will be very challenging. You will have to be really interested and passionate by the topic. The team that will be supervising you is also an important factor. A PhD is full of moments of ups and downs. And you will need moral support. Therefore, you have to make sure that all conditions of success are present, and that starts with your team.