Doctoral colloquium

Our engineering college does not have doctoral programs (none are allowed to grant doctorates in Germany). But there are some "friendly" universities that realize that a few of us actually are able to do some research, and have been reaching out to us. We even tried to get money together, but that was rejected because engineering colleges don't do Real Research (tm) by definition, so you can't be giving them money to start. They might get high and mighty.

Anyway, we decided to have a joint doctoral colloquium. We are from 5 institutions, 2 engineering colleges and 3 universites, and we had 7 doctoral students or prospective doctoral students speak about their work. Three called in sick at the last moment, so there was more time for the others. Some doctoral students showed up who were not presenting, just to see how this worked.

It was wonderful. It is something that I really, really miss. I have tried to re-create this situation in my thesis groups, but most students don't ask really hard questions, and not of each other. Each is just trying to make out the best they can for themselves.

Here the students presented - behind closed doors, so to say - their ideas, and got them shot full of holes, but by friendly fire. The discussions were delightful, with really interesting questions raised and not the pompous but-you-didn't-cite-me blather that goes on at conferences.

We decided that we want to do a repeat, even if we don't have funding. This is what I feel is real research: asking questions, looking for answers. I just wish it was easier to get funding for this.

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