PhD student organises technical workshop for young professionals

Making great industry contacts and learning new skills - Kafil Ahmed has gained so much from putting forward his idea for a technical event for young professionals.

Microwave Metamaterials and their applications technical workshop Kafil Ahmed is a PhD student at London Metropolitan University. Having joined the RF and Microwave Technical Professional Network (TPN) executive committee he was keen to give young researchers and professionals more opportunities to network, as he felt that many local events were aimed at more established individuals.

“We have massive conferences and workshops but we didn’t have anything that young people could really get involved in and get in touch with young experts,” he explains.

Putting forward his idea

So he decided to make something happen himself and came up with an idea of developing a series of workshops where young professionals could make strong links with industry experts in their specialist areas. He took the idea to his TPN committee, which approved the concept and left him to plan his first event. He chose to focus on metamaterials - an area he knows well as it is his research specialism. 

Through his contacts across TPNs including the Antennas and Propagation Network and Radar, Sonar and Navigation Network - as well as his university - Kafil put out feelers to find the most attractive speakers that would pull in attendees. He ended up bringing on board four renowned speakers from both academia and industry, which he was hugely proud of.

Support networks

Kafil wanted the workshop to be a success in every way, including staying in budget. With that in mind he used his resources in the best possible way, liaising with his university department - the Centre for Comtech, London Metropolitan University - to hold the event there, saving the committee money.

“I got support from the other TPNs, used their platforms to get as much publicity as possible,” he says. “I can’t express the time and effort people put into this, we linked everywhere we could - Facebook, LinkedIn etc.”

In order to get more participation Kafil also came up with the idea of having a poster competition, with the winners (all students) presenting at the event. This garnered much interest and also helped to promote the event itself.

Got an idea? Tell us!

In the end Kafil’s technical workshop - entitled Microwave Metamaterials and their applications - was a great success and plans are already underway for the next workshop, which hopefully take place in February 2013 at Queen Mary University. He is keen to recommend that students get involved in IET communities, as it’s a great platform for sharing ideas as well as gaining a number of skills that will make you more employable on completion of your course.

“I’m in the final year of my PhD which is a lot of work, but I think getting involved in things like this help take you to the next stage in your career,” he explains. “The fact that the workshop’s focus was on metamaterials also meant that it was helping my career a lot too.

How getting involved can help your future career

“Young professionals should really come forward and get involved as it benefits you too. When you’re working on this you get to share knowledge with experts - something hugely beneficial when you work in a specialised area like me. Not only did I gain knowledge, I got to network with experts and people from industry. Networks are very important and these may be useful future contacts for my career.

“I’m gaining new skills and experience for my CV too,” he continues. “When you consider your future career you have to manage staff, projects, work in teams, convince people, present, and manage time well. I used all these skills during the organisation of this event. I think doing this will really help my future career,” he enthuses.