Rights: The University of Waikato Published 2 September 2010 Download

Adrian Jongenelen, a scientist and engineer, has been undertaking postgraduate research for a PhD at the School of Engineering and Computer Science at Victoria University. Adrian explains some of the challenges of PhD-level research.

Point of interest

Scientists and engineers both draw on scientific knowledge. Here, Adrian explains what he believes are the defining characteristics of each discipline.


The challenge is when you work on a PhD is you are expected to become the expert in your field. So before you really get any proper work done, you've got to do a whole lot of reading, and you've really got to figure out what is important and what is relevant to your work.

I consider myself equally a scientist as I would an engineer. I think a scientist is someone who would have a lab coat that would work in a lab and take lots of little measurements and do repeating tests and all that sort of thing. An engineer to me is someone who is a bit more of an inventor, so someone who is creating something to solve some sort of problem. At this level of engineering, we are really working on stuff that no one has actually worked on before. So you really need to understand the science behind things if you want to really advance.

The key science skills I'd say, I think it’s just having some really good common sense. I guess, with my work, I also do a lot of programming. So if you are good with computers, it’s a real help. Having a good maths background is also important, and I think the skills that I learn with my PhD aren't... they are not just specifically related to robots, they are quite broad, so anywhere from software design, electronic design. I could apply these skills to a whole lot of things.