The four pioneering students in the Research Associate Programme
​The four pioneering students in the Research Associate Programme, from left: Priska Herzog, Adis Imsirovic, Hasnain Thathia and Shankar Paramasivam.​​

First harvest from the seed-bed programme

​​Earlier this year we reported about the launch of a new Research Associate Programme in the Production Area of Advance. Four students from four different master programs were appointed as the pioneering research associates in this seed-bed programme. Having just presented their research results, what did the students think about the programme?
Inspired by US universities, the Production Area of Advance earlier this year launched a new Research Associate Programme to enable talented students from the master programs to obtain some experience from research activities. In the first round, four project applications by students from four different master programs was granted. 

The projects have been reported mid-term and the final reports have recently been held. We are now curious to hear how the students have experienced this period as researchers. Priska Herzog is the first to answer and she starts with the very beginning.

“It was nice to be able to choose ourselves what we wanted to do”, says Priska Herzog.

She decided on a project connected to her burning interest in sports. The project was about involving sports technology in product development with the aim to improve the offering of sports projects for students. Priska did a survey among her fellow students to investigate the interest for sports related studies. The result was very positive and Priska now recommends Chalmers to motivate lecturers to use sports technology in courses. As for trying out as a researcher, she made an observation during the project. 

“It was good to have a project to refer to when contacting professors. It was easier to get their attention than usual”, says Priska. On that comment, the other students nods and Adis Imsirovic says:

“I got good help from my mentor MariAnne (professor MariAnne Karlsson, editor’s note) to narrow the scope of my research”. 

In Adis project he wanted to compare the view of design between Scandinavian and Balkan designers and based his research on several interviews with both academic and industrial representatives in Sweden and Bosnia-Herzegovina. At the beginning of the project he got a bit overwhelmed about the task. 

“It would have been nice to have an introduction to research work in the beginning, in order to get a good start”, says Adis and continues “the research turned out to be a lot more work than expected”. 

During the project accounts, Adis Imsirovic presented a thick research report and Professor Johan Malmqvist, who is responsible for the Research Associate Programme, suggested that Adis should use the report as a basis and submit it to a scientific conference. Being a student with a published scientific article in his CV would be unusual and a benefit to him. By publishing the material, all Adis hard work during the spring would provide him additional bonus effects.

Also Assistant Professor Mélanie Despeisse thought that publishing the student’s results would be a good idea. Her protégé Hasnain Thathia studied how digital technologies can support the conversion towards sustainable production. 

Both Adis and Hasnain used interviews in their research and came across one of the challenges this research method brings. 

“It was very time consuming to listen to all the recorded material afterwards”, says Adis. Hasnain smiled in recognition and agrees but also says that he appreciates the Research Associate Programme. 

“I am grateful for this opportunity. It has been a good experience to get insights about what research is and helps me to make a good decision about whether or not I want to pursue with research”, says Hasnain.

The forth student is Shankar Paramasivam. Unlike the others, he used physical experiments, modelling and analysis in his research. For example he used a single fibre pull-out test to see what force was needed before the bio composite cellulose fibre broke and how the force affected the fibre.

“I’ve learn a lot about time management and taking up responsibilities. In student projects we usually work in groups and take common responsibility. In this project it was down to me alone and that was a new educative experience”, says Shankar.

However, the responsibility does not seem to have scared him off. Shankar definitely sees research as a future career path.

“Yes, I would like to work as a researcher in the future”, says Shankar.

Adis Imsirovic says that he wants to work in industry first but might come back to research later on. Priska Herzog shares Shankar’s view.

“I will definitely want to work either as a PhD student or with product development in an innovation driven company”, says Priska.

The person behind the idea of the Research Associate Programme is Professor Johan Malmqvist who initially had the ambition to show students some of the benefits of being a researcher. How does he think the program has worked out?

“I am very pleased with outcome of the programme. It was the first time that is was operated, but it seems that we got the basic design right. Many students applied to the programme. The ones selected worked very hard and, with the engaged guidance from their faculty sponsors, produced very interesting results. In addition, the students expressed that the programme enabled them to develop personally in a way that is not possible in a regular course. The first round of the programme was a clear success”, says Johan Malmqvist.

So the final question is, will there be a continuation?

“Yes, the programme will be offered in a similar form the next academic year. Further ahead, we expect the programme to become a regular component of the master’s programmes within the Production Area of Advance, with recognized importance for attracting potential student to Chalmers, for encouraging personal student-faculty interaction, and for stimulating talents students to pursue a research career”, concludes Johan Malmqvist.

For more information, please contact:
Professor Johan Malmqvist, Educational Officer of the Production Area of Advance.

  • Priska Herzog is studying Product Development and her mentor was Professor Ola Isaksson.
  • Adis Imsirovic is a student in Industrial Design Engineering with Professor MariAnne Karlsson as his mentor. 
  • Hasnain Thathia is a student in Production Engineering mentored by Assistant Professor Mélanie Despeisse.
  • Shankar Paramasivam is a student in Applied Mechanics with Associate Professor Martin Fagerström and Professor Gunnar Westman as his mentors.

Text and photo: Nina Silow

Page manager Published: Wed 27 Jun 2018.