PhD Student Lands Dream Job After Completing NYUAD Fellowship

Pankaj Rajput talks about his journey from PhD student to employed in the US

Imagine going through a long, tedious job interview process while defending your final graduation thesis at the same time. Global PhD Fellow in Mechanical Engineering Pankaj Rajput will tell you he’s done just that, and it was a crazy rollercoaster ride.

“The silver lining is that within a week after my defense, I got the job offer that I was looking for,” Rajput said. 

After completing the five-year program at NYUAD, Rajput landed a position as a computational fluid dynamics engineer at ANSYS, a company that develops and markets engineering simulation software. His experience at NYUAD prepared him well for the job, he says.

Advice from advisors and networking at conferences helped "me to get my foot in the door," Rajput said. "I also participated in workshops organized by the NYUAD Graduate Programs office related to public speaking, teaching, and instruction." Rajput says it's NYUAD's global approach to learning and research that helps him and other students stand out as job candidates. 

A Day in the Life

At NYUAD, Rajput’s research deals with developing innovative noise reduction technology for jet engines used in civilian aircrafts. The team uses computational fluid dynamics and computational aeroacoustics to model and study the noise being emitted from jet engines. 

These simulations run on NYUAD’s supercomputer named Dalma — a high performance computing cluster on 700 cores, which takes approximately ten days per case. 

On a regular day, Rajput checks the status of simulations that are running, analyzes the results of those that have finished, and prepares new cases for the next upcoming set of simulations to be submitted to the computing cluster. At lunchtime he will often attend university seminars. Later in the afternoon, Rajput meets up with his advisor to discuss the results of the day’s findings, post processing strategies and future test cases. He also helps undergraduate students by designing experimental setups for related jet propulsion research. 

Research Mentorship

Guidance is crucial to Rajput’s research work, he says, helping him to shape amorphous research ideas and prepare for a career in research and development.

Professor Sunil Kumar was very patient with me ... he would always find time to discuss my research in detail with me,” Rajput said. Often, Rajput would knock on the professor's door requesting for five minutes of his time, but end up staying for at least an hour. 

Advice for Prospective Students to NYUAD

  1. Look up your prospective advisor’s background by checking their publications to see what research areas he or she is working on.

  2. Do not be shy about approaching faculty whose work interests you — go ahead and send an email to introduce yourself and express your interest. 

  3. There are many interdisciplinary research opportunities at NYUAD. If you are interested in an industry career after your PhD, start adding some width to your research portfolio. 

  4. If you already know what kind of job you would like after graduation, start including the skills that your ideal job position would need into your research work as soon as possible. 

  5. Don’t fall into the trap of brand names. Evaluate graduate programs based on how it can take you from where you are to where you’d like to be. “One of the biggest miscalculations I have seen my friends make is that they just consider the university’s name and reputation while making a decision. While it does carry some weight, research happens in a lab with colleagues and under a supervisor who should be on the same wavelength as you."