Student views

Students who have completed a PhD in the IfM have found the experience has broadened them. These students have found their skills highly valued by various organisations and have been offered good positions in industry, academia or consultancy.  There is a large emphasis on engagement with industry either through interviews and case studies, or collaborating with a research and development department.


Below some current and former research students give their views on life as a PhD at the IfM and what it has led to next. 


Dr Dai Morgan




As an undergraduate I studied the Manufacturing Engineering Tripos (MET) at the IfM. I was considering applying for a PhD and found that my final year project (looking at the recycling of polymer waste) had the scope to be developed into a full research project. My supervisor found funding for a PhD and after the successful completion of the MET project, I applied and was accepted. The bulk of the work was experimental and was undertaken mostly at the IfM and the engineering department, but I also undertook a trip to North America to use specialized equipment and visit a research conference. Being at the IfM gave me great access to programs like I-Teams which helped with the commercial aspects of my research, and the place as a whole provided a stimulating environment with a diverse range of seminars, talks and social opportunities throughout the year. I now work with the IfM on projects relating to interests I developed during my PhD.



Leila Alinaghian




As an academic centre the IfM offers me a remarkable span and depth of business knowledge. We have unique multidisciplinary opportunities across IfM's 8 research centres and 7 inter-disciplinary research programmes providing the research students with discovering new multi-disciplinary research opportunities while gaining access to some of the best research resources. Connection between theory and practice is a key point to IfM’s approach. Students in all programmes benefit by learning from the people who are not only at the leading edge of their personal fields, but deeply connected with the needs and operational issues of business. At the same time, it provides a rapid dissemination route for new ideas and approaches developed here. IfM also teaches me all the things I want even the outside of academia. Offering a truly international perspective, with all the benefits of a unique Cambridge location, it is a great environment for networking, socialising and personal development.


My current research at IfM aims to look at the design and operation of the upstream supply network of major international manufacturing firms, exploring in particular how firms configure their procurement and supply systems to support improved innovation, cost efficiency, sustainability and particular manufacturing systems in order to understand and capture the distribution of activities and resources across procurement and supply systems of these firms. Accordingly, the drivers of the configuration and dispersion of the supply systems would be an issue of interest.



Dr Caren Weinberg




I chose the IfM because after 25 years in industry I was looking for a much more prescriptive type of research (not just theoretical) to really helps businesses do business better. I liked the fact that the IfM covers both research, industry and teaching… especially as I was then able to take part in the undergraduate teaching as well. I also found the eclectic assortment of centers that included both hard and soft sciences very attractive.


It was a fantastic place to be a part of during the PhD process and I hope to remain attached to it for a long time to come.



Keith Cotterill




I joined the IfM as a doctoral student in 2009, studying the role of setback and failure in early stage technology ventures and how this impacts the development of entrepreneurial cultures.


I chose the IfM due to the quality of people I met during the application process, its connections with (and appreciation for) industry, and a belief that multi-disciplined approaches are vital for the future of education. In my field (technology innovation and entrepreneurship), success and insight arise from a combination of disciples coming together – technology, strategy, design, management and operations.


Every day at the IfM, I talk with engineers, scientists and technologists working on highly innovative research: it stimulates my thinking about how this might be applied and commercialized. This multi-disciplinary, industrial context is a major benefit of studying at the IfM.



Dr Alexander Van de Putte




Studying for a PhD is all about channelling ideas into meaningful insights. The Cambridge University Institute for Manufacturing is an ideal place to conduct rigorous, yet meaningful research. Apart from the University's reputation, I found that the quality of research supervision and program flexibility has made my PhD a great experience so far. As a part-time PhD candidate, travelling the world, consulting and teaching to government agencies and companies, this has proven to be very important. The Cambridge University Institute for Manufacturing is an exciting community to be part of and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in conducting research at a world class institution.



Dr Sarah Lubik




The IfM provides a unique, supportive and comprehensive environment for PhD students. The mixture of researchers from technical and management backgrounds from around the world allows for exchange of diverse perspectives and ideas for an inimitable, broad and well-rounded understanding of the entire spectrum of manufacturing from advanced materials and systems engineering, process modeling and product design to sustainable manufacturing, business strategy and innovation policy. Industrial focus and involvement ensures that IfM students acquire not only world-class research skills but also invaluable transferrable skills for work with industry. For the social aspects of the PhD, IfM has an active and inclusive student community which organizes seminars and social gatherings to enhance the student experience.


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