Readers often write in to create magazine to discuss issues affecting the engineering profession. Here, one reader writes in response to this article about engineers with PhDs.
I’ve just read “Doctoral Demand” (create, November–December 2021). Thank you for pointing out the misconceptions in the industrial sectors in relation to PhD graduates.
I absolutely agree with your points. Australian industry sees PhD graduates as over-qualified and only meant for academic fields. Industry would rather train a graduate engineer to gradually become a research and development (R&D) engineer instead of taking someone with PhD expertise. PhDs are seen as a dead-end.
I’m a University of New South Wales PhD graduate in the mechatronics engineering discipline. Though I have mixed experience in overseas engineering work, research and teaching, I’m still struggling to get a job in industrial sectors after my PhD.
My great dream to serve as a mechatronics engineering specialist service officer in the Australian Army was also shattered after a long pursuit. Though I am an Australian, the Officer Selection Board in the final stage sees my PhD as making me over-qualified and suitable for research sectors. No further appeal is accepted, sadly.
When I decided to turn to an academic position, there was a postdoctoral position barrier I had to complete.
I’m still finding it hard to get a potential supervisor without a postdoctoral fellowship scheme, though I’ve got an interesting proposal.
Again, a dead-end.
Some high-tech industries I applied to have no R&D here in Australia. They do research overseas — mainly in Europe and the US — while implementing projects here.
Billions of taxpayer dollars flow out of the country while there is very little R&D focus in Australia, preventing bright minds from serving our country.
We have a few research centres, like CSIRO, ANSTO, NICTA and the universities, but all impose extremely tough job selection processes on domestic PhD graduates due to the huge budget crisis. I’ve applied to the UNSW Scientia Program and am still hoping to get a position.
As many PhD graduates find it hard to get their dream jobs here, they don’t remain in Australia, which is a great intellectual loss.
In addition, domestic students’ interest in further pursuing a PhD is declining. G8 Universities must seriously address the issue and urge the government to take effective action.