Being a Research Student at RGU – Peter’s story

RGU’s research culture was voted “best in the country” by the annual Postgraduate Research Student Experience survey. Our research students are supported by dedicated staff to develop their skills and expertise and have access to state-of-the-art facilities and equipment. PhD student Peter Uloho Osame shares more about how he started his PhD and his experience studying at RGU.

The start of my journey as a PhD student in Engineering

I have a B.ENG degree in Mechanical Engineering with a special interest and involvement in fluid mechanics. Immediately after graduating, about twenty years ago, I spent a short time at RGU through the Shell Intensive Training Programme (SITP/1) in Nigeria.

The training was provided by RGU, and focused on Engineering, Geology and Information Technology. During that training programme, one of the staff at RGU entered the classroom to teach engineering drawing, and drew x, y, z axes on the board. Then, he made a statement: “they teach you to draw in 3-dimensions, but I will teach you to see in 4-dimensions”. Afterwards, he produced an object on the board that dazzled everybody. That day, I knew I wanted to study at RGU.

Later, I did a second degree in Industrial Engineering. I was also teaching Fluid Mechanics, Thermodynamics, Heat Transfer and Engineering Mathematics. When I picked up an application form for research, a staff member from my training programme, Prof James Asalor asked me:

“Peter, what happens to the volume of water that is added to the soil in a micro-irrigation system”?

We saw the question as a fluid flow problem that could be approached from the perspective of fluid mechanics. After our encounter, I decided to take up the problem to find out the flow scenarios in a micro-irrigation system.

I was enlightened by this and wondered about the subject matter. I wandered into the internet and searched RGU. Not long after, I started processing an application form for a research degree but got stuck somewhere and abandoned it.

Surprisingly, a year or two later, I got an email from RGU research degrees admissions office. They had my application and could assist me to complete it. I followed the guide, and that’s it! I found myself in the institution that I had always desired, to travel along the fluid flow route.

Support from staff as a research student at RGU

I want to start sharing my experience by talking about the staff at RGU. In addition to the courtesy and hospitality shown by staff, I was specially favoured.

The weekend I arrived at Aberdeen International Airport, I contacted my former Principal Supervisor, Dr Nazmi Sellami, whom I had previously met only once on skype. He drove to the airport to meet me, and helped me search for temporary accommodation. He found space at Cornhill and booked two nights for me with his own money before I ever arrived at RGU. I was to find out that he drove over seven miles for my sake! This reminded me of SITP/1’s slogan of capacity, achievement and relationship.

Every staff member – academic, administrative, and technical – that I have met has played a positive role since then. My former Principal Supervisor took me through module 1 (Fundamentals of Researcher Development) , module 2 (Enhancement of Researcher Development), a report, and helped my transfer to a PhD.

My new Principal Supervisor, Dr Taimoor Asim, is amiable, didactic, indefatigable, and epitomizes the CAR slogan.

Learning experience and facilities

In terms of learning experience and facilities, Dr Taimoor Asim has shown me that if you have a research problem to solve and you are willing to solve it, RGU will provide an enabling environment for you and try to remove all the external constraints and hinderances.

He has also enabled me to see everything in 4-dimensions, including literature review, the use of software such as Solidworks and Ansys fluent for design and simulations, data loggers, sensors involving heat transfer, and fluid flow experiments. This means seeing things in detail beyond the surface.

The School of Engineering has a research hub with an ergonomically compliant seating arrangement and fast browsing computers with 64 GB ram, 32 GB ram and 16 GB ram which are suitable for different levels of simulations. The school also parades a state-of-the-art workshop with functional equipment such as digital lathe machines, cutting machines, milling machines and different sets of hand tools. You only need to conceptualise something, and skilled engineering technicians will readily assist you in constructing it. RGU is a place to learn.

My future ambitions as a researcher

Now that I have gone through a research degree in engineering at RGU, I have developed a positive mindset and ambition for my future exploits in engineering with the spirit that if you scrutinize hard enough, you can find order from disorder. I believe that a better world is possible, and I will always aim at a better world.

Peter Uloho Osame

Some words from Andrew Lamb, Dean of Graduate School at RGU

As the Dean of Graduate School at RGU, it’s my responsibility and pleasure to work with all our postgraduate research students. 

We pride ourselves in providing an outstanding modern campus with state of the art facilities and a fulfilling learning experience for those who choose to come and study with us. We can evidence this from the most recent Advance HE Postgraduate Research Experience Survey that ranked RGU 5th overall nationally, where the excellent supervision provided by our staff that Peter referred to was ranked 2nd overall. 

Having as recently as 2015 being rated lowest in Scotland for research culture by our PGR students at that time, the last few years have been spent with the focus to fundamentally improve. We were therefore delighted that the PRES survey in 2022 not only placed us top in Scotland but top in the whole of the United Kingdom for both our research culture and our research skills. 

This has been the result of the huge efforts and considerable teamwork by all those involved in postgraduate research. This includes the PGR students themselves where their very helpful and constructive feedback has allowed us to work in partnership to achieve such success. 

Not only do we offer an excellent learning environment for our PGR students, we also offer research projects that address some of the fundamental challenges that we face on the world of today and in the future. The findings from these projects have a major impact in providing solutions to pressing needs of modern society, from sustainable energy, housing, and transportation, to cybersecurity, and to improvements in health and wellbeing. 

Research undertaken at RGU has real world impact. This why graduates from RGU, being very highly sought by employers, possess the skills that will shape the world to come for future generations. 

I am also delighted to announce that there is an opportunity to come join us at RGU to undertake world leading research! We will be shortly announcing details of a major strategic investment that will be supporting a substantial number of fully funded PhD studentships annually that will commence in 2023. 

We would encourage applications from everyone regardless of background, and particularly from those who might not realise how much they have to contribute. If you want enquire to learn a little more about these opportunities please feel free to get in touch with us.

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