For Applicants - What to Expect

Training Program for Successful Careers of Researchers

The PDS Lab has developed a unique training program for graduate students and PDFs. The program has shown to increase the chances of success for these researchers after their graduation.

The first component of the program is the traditional training that runs throughout the program and uses standard training methods for undergraduate and graduate students. It includes advanced technical courses, research topic selection, proposal writing, research execution, and thesis defense etc. This training step also involves hands-on research activities in the PDS lab and fields. In addition, the researchers will interact with local industries through participating in the activities organized by the Alberta Power Industry Consortium. One of the activities is an annual APIC Innovation Forum that will invite practicing engineers and managers of the Consortium companies to share their technical problems and solutions and, in the meantime, encourage researchers exchange their research results with industry for feedback and collaboration. It is important to note that the PDS lab is not interested in pure academic research just for the sake of publishing papers. Our research activities focus on generating new knowledge on one hand and creating intellectual properties on the other. Publications are the results, not the goals, of such activities.

The second component of training focuses on improving the leadership, teamwork and communication skills for the trainees. The PDS lab operates on the principle that the success of one researcher is the success of the team. Each researcher is encouraged and awarded for participating in the activities for the common good of the lab. We organize Task Forces and group retreats. The Task Forces consist of a group of researchers working on a difficult thesis problem identified by one of them. The group retreats normally take place in Banff in conjunction with the iCORE Summit. All researchers are invited to attend and to have some fun. During the retreat, researchers including Dr. Xu brainstorm ideas on how to make our research program more efficiently and more supportive to the researchers.

The third component of training is based on a finding of Dr. Xu through years of graduate supervision. It was found most of the researchers have one of the following three potential career goals:

  • Technology entrepreneurs,
  • Academic/industry researchers
  • Industry practioners and leaders.

As a result, each researcher in the PDS lab is also offered with opportunities that foster his/her career aspirations. The entrepreneur students will be given opportunities to attend courses and events on technology commercialization and business startups. We also invite entrepreneurs to give presentations. The academic/industry researchers will be channeled to NSERC events, faculty hiring presentations, and proposal writing workshops etc. The future industry leaders are encouraged to work with industry through field tests and industry project meetings and solve practical industry problems using thesis findings.

Because of this training program and our close interactions with power industry. PDS Lab graduate students and researchers have been well received by Canadian power industry. Almost all students have found highly relevant and rewarding professional jobs upon graduation.

At present, PDS Lab has excellent students from all over the world. So new students shall be prepared to accept the fact there are some "smarter" people around.