“The close relationship between advisor and PhD students makes you learn much more from your mentor”

Why, what, how and where: an alumnus takes stock of his experience as a predoctoral researcher at IMDEA Networks

07 July 2020

We interview one of the members of our Alumni Network, Dr. Arash Asadi. He obtained his PhD from IMDEA Networks and Universidad Carlos III de Madrid back in March 2016 and is now an independent group leader at Secure Mobile Networking Lab (SEEMOO) at TU Darmstadt, Germany. His research is focused broadly on wireless communications both in sub-6GHz and millimeter-wave bands. He is interested in the mathematical treatment of wireless communication problems, and experimental evaluation using software-defined radio (SDR) prototyping tools.

Why did you decide to pursue a PhD?

I was always interested in higher education but I was not sure if I could do it or not and after my master studies I worked on a small research project which I liked and then later I decided to give it a try and to do a PhD.

What would you highlight about your time as a PhD student at IMDEA Networks?

There were a couple of highlights, which I found at IMDEA networks that didn’t really see in other places to that extent. One was the fact that it was very international, that was very nice for us. I think we had people not only from different countries but also from continents. Especially for an Institute that is in a non-English speaking country, to me it matters a lot the way the whole Institute managed to create an environment where you could do your research and integrate with people just with the international language, that was really nice.

The other thing I liked a lot and I think is not particular to IMDEA, but it’s one of my favorite research environments, is that you as a PhD student work very closely with your advisor. So we did not have, at least to my knowledge, these big groups were there is a huge hierarchy and you barely meet your advisor. On the other hand, advisor and PhD students have a joint research project, they always work together very closely, that makes your progress much faster and then you also learn much more from your mentor. So I guess that’s another important point that I saw during my PhD.

Do you feel your time at IMDEA Networks prepared you well for your professional career?

It’s very hard in a span of four years to prepare someone for research and everything else you need afterwards, especially considering the fact that what comes afterwards branches out: you can go to industry, you can be in academia, you can do different things. You can do research in industrial, research in academia, so maybe you cannot prepare someone completely for what comes next, but I would say relatively I was well-prepared. But part of it is personal dedication, the other part is whether the environment provides what you need. To a great extent, most of the people that I know here would provide such an environment.

Have you moved into industry, academia or the research sector?

I ended up in academia. I did have an internship in industry but I do prefer the academic freedom and academic environment. I still work close with industry, to be honest, so we have a lot of collaboration with companies. Some of them are IMDEA alumnis, friends that are now in industry, but mostly I am staying in academia and I think I would like to pursue an academic career.

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