So this was the nail-biting make-or-break moment that I had been dreading upon the commencement of my PhD. That moment of being under the firing line of 3 academic veterans equipped with countless years of knowledge and experience promptly after my exodus from research boot camp. Leading up to the review panel of my research proposal, I tried my utmost to not think about it let alone utter it to another being as the mere thought of it would send chills down my brittle bones; but as time progressed, reality dawned upon me and I knew that I actually had to prepare for what I genuinely thought would render me more exposed than a construction worker’s crack. 😛
I had a little over 2 weeks to prepare for this panel but given the fact that I have no sense of urgency about me and my attention span lasts longer tha…oh look a fly :P. In that time, I was constantly being tempted to procrastinate which I hypnotically succumbed to and before you know it, those unvalued couple of weeks rapidly deteriorated to a handful of days. This was when I decided to march up to my desk with the ‘work hard, play hard mentality’, chain myself to the desk chair, bury myself under the desk lamp only to find myself playing games on the desktop ;-). Revisiting my research proposal, I diligently placed every word under rigorous scrutiny so much so that I found myself looking at the etymology of common words like ‘efficiency’ in extreme cases to cover all potential angles of attack by the panel reviewers.
On the day of the review, a lot of things were going through my mind; such were along the lines of ‘How hysterical would it be if I went from zealously showcasing the future of solar cells to presenting the history of my employment over at the job centre on the same day should I fail this review’:D. And so the time came for me to have a ‘sit-down’ with the Godfathers of academic research and for my knowledge and expertise to be questioned. Will I be ‘made’ or will I be sleeping with the fishes? 🙂
Although it was far from a plain sailing process by any stretch of the imagination, to my pleasant surprise the review wasn’t as rocky a ride as I regarded it to be. I was asked to explain what my proposal was about by the panel which I tried to in as a clear and concise manner as my abilities would allow me to. The next set of questions put forth around the round table left me dumbfounded because of how elementary they were. Here’s me sweating out a bucket load in distress thinking that I’ll be bombarded with brain-tickling questions such as ‘Explain the photovoltaic effect in the language that it was discovered’; Instead I get quizzed with questions like ‘What’s a solar cell? 😮 Well, who was I to complain about the complexity (or lack thereof) of their questions and enquiries but suffice to say, I did go over the top in preparing for this review.
To conclude, I’ve managed to successfully pass the review imposed by the dons of academia and thus, my research proposal got approved and now I am part of the academic family. I guess I can surge forward and go full steam ahead with the research project now until I inevitably am faced with another Fort Knox of a fortress to overcome. Only time will tell as to whether I can devise a fail-safe method to bypass this security and move one step closer to the finishing line.