Saturday, October 25, 2014

Shell-FOM CSER (Computational Sciences for Energy Research) PhD 75 Programme 2014-15 [Part 5]

Click Here to Read Round 3 Details

Round 4: CSER Matching Phase

30 candidates were selected for the final round which was the CSER matching phase. In this phase the principle investigators of selected PhD project proposals (hereafter PI's) and the candidates for the resulting PhD positions who were pre-selected by Shell (hereafter candidates) had their very first interaction.

1. Some background information

Permanent staff at Dutch universities and academic institutes was invited to submit research proposals for PhD projects, from which a number of excellent proposals was selected.

In parallel, STCB selected a pool of approximately 30 'high potentials' who want to obtain their PhD in the Netherlands and to afterwards continue their career at Shell in Bangalore. The application process for PhD students included various interviews at selected locations in India.

2. Aim of the matching process

The aim of the matching process is to establish an optimal match between the selected project proposals and the pre-selected candidates from the aforementioned pool of 'high potentials'. A successful match will result in a granted research project for the PI, a signed employment contract between the PhD student and FOM in the Netherlands, and a letter of intent from Shell for a job in Bangalore after completion of the PhD. The first PhD students can start in their projects in the Netherlands early 2014.

3. The matching process

The matching process took place in November 2013 according to a tight time schedule with distinct steps:

Step 1. November 1: FOM will send candidates this document ('Rules of play'), as well as a link to the selected research proposals and the information form to be completed.

Step 2. November 7: the candidates will read these proposals and send FOM their ranking of at least five proposals by order of preference. Simultaneously, the candidates will return the completed information form and a copy of their passport.

Step 3. November 8: FOM will send the curriculum vitae and original motivation letters (that were sent to Shell at the original application step) of all candidates that indicated preference for a certain project proposal to the corresponding PI.

Step 4. November 12: the PI's will, by e-mail, invite a number of their candidates for an interview by Skype (or phone), providing a proposal for a date and time (taking into account the time difference) and a Skype name. These interviews will take place from November 12 to November 26. The PI's will also send a motivated rejection by e-mail to all candidates they do not wish to invite for an interview. The PI's will simultaneously inform FOM on this first selection. The candidates shall respond to the PI's invitation (accepting or declining) by 18 hours after receipt of the PI's e-mail.

Step 5. November 12 – November 26: interviews. These interviews will form the basis of the priority lists (rankings) that the PI's will make of the candidates interviewed. Please note: as there will be many combinations of projects and candidates to be considered it will NOT be possible at this stage that PI and candidate come to a final mutual agreement. The PI will not make comments to any of the candidates on his/her preferences.

Step 6. November 26: the PI's will inform FOM of their priority list by mail. PI's should also clearly indicate which candidates (if any) they do not deem suitable. Please note: including a candidate on the priority list implies the PI will accept this candidate even though he/she might not be the highest ranked candidate.

Step 7. November 26: the candidates will inform FOM about their preference of projects (in the form of a priority list). Candidates should also clearly indicate which projects (if any) they would not like to work in. Please note: including a project on the priority list means the candidate will accept this project to work in even though it might not have his/her highest preference.

Step 8. November 29: on the basis of the priority lists of both PI's and candidates FOM will decide on the final match and inform both PI's and candidates. Please note: FOM commits itself to make an optimal match based on mutual preferences as much as possible. In the case of concurring preferences by multiple candidates, in this phase of the matching process the preference of the PI precedes. In the case of concurring preferences by multiple PI's, the PI precedes of whom the project proposal obtained the highest priority during the proposal selection process.

Step 9. FOM will send the selected candidates a labour contract in duplicate for the selected PhD project under supervision of the selected PI/responsible team leader. The candidate should return one copy of the labour contract to FOM after signing for agreement by January 1st 2014. In addition Shell will draw up a letter of intent of Shell for a job at Shell Bangalore after a successful PhD.

Please note: by signing and returning the FOM labour contract the candidate sincerely commits him or herself to join the project of the PI in the Netherlands. Please make sure there are no obstacles to do so before signing the contract! FOM and Shell expect the candidate to turn down any (later) competing offers after signing a labour contract.

Step 10. Following acceptance of the job offer by the candidate, FOM will grant the research proposal and will send an official granting letter to the PI. This granting letter will be valid only for the matched candidate. FOM will replace candidates rejecting the offer 'automatically' by the next best match. If none of the ranking candidates accepts the job a suitable agreement will be worked out.

The list of projects selected by FOM were as follows:

1)    Prof. D. Lohse - Solar Steam Nanobubbles - Physics of Fluids Group, Fluid Dynamics
2)    Dr. M.F.M. Speetjens - GEOCHAOS – Geoscience meets chaos - Mechanical Engineering + Applied Physics
3)    Prof. D.M.J. Smeulders - Numerical modeling and validation of fracture network formation in anisentropic media - Mechanical Engineering + Geosciences
4) E.A.J.F. Peters - Simulation of proppant transport for shale gas production - Chemical Engineering and Chemistry (ST), Multiphase Reactors Group (SMR)
5) W.K. den Otter - Simulating semi-solid rechargeable flow batteries - Computational BioPhysics
6)    Dr. H.J. Bulten - Wireless Seismic-sensing networks - Nikhef(Geosciences) + Computational Science
7)    Prof. J.J.W. van der Vegt - Computing Seismic Waves with Minimal Pollution Error - Mathematics of Computational Science
8)    Prof.dr. W.A. Mulder - Fast elastic wave equation modelling and inversion - Computational geosciences
9)    Prof.dr. S. Luding - Computational science for gas/oil exploration production and processing - Multi Scale Mechanics
10)    Prof. Dr. B. de Bruin - Mechanistic Insights in Catalytic Energy Conversion Processes - Computational Chemistry
11)    Dr. M.A. van Huis - DFT simulation of photocatalytic hydrogen production using CdS/Au nanostructures - Soft Condensed Matter
12) M. Dijkstra - Plasmonic Supraparticles and Photonic Quasicrystals for enhanced light-trapping in solar cells - Nanomaterials Science
13)    Dr. P.A. Bobbert - Atomistic morphology of organic solar cells: key to efficient charge separation (ATOMORPH) - Theory of Polymers and Soft Matter (Applied Physics)
14)    Prof. P.J. Kelly - Wave propagation in layered materials - Computational Materials Science
15)    Prof.dr. M. van Hecke - Evolutionary Algorithms Designing Responsive Metamaterials - Applied Physics

I applied for the projects [1-9] and was selected for the projects [1-6] for the Personal Interview Rounds with the individual professors.

The next 6 interviews were woven around each project. The questions asked generally boiled down to these:

•    Tell us about yourself? Why do you want to pursue a PhD?
•    Did you find the proposal interesting? Why do you want to take up this project for your PhD?
•    Why do you want to join our group?
•    What are your expectations from the PhD project? There will be some managerial responsibility. Are you willing to take them up?
•    Why do you want to come to Netherlands for a PhD? Why not US?
•    Few questions to gauge your skills/competency.
•    Discussion on the proposed projects.
•    Do you suggest some improvements to the proposal? (Missing timeline for validation studies, experimental work, etc.)
•    Questions pertaining to your Master’s Thesis.

So after the process ended, we had to send a final priority list. I was selected for the project - Simulation of proppant transport for shale gas production. It was a very interesting project which had a lot of industrial scope.

Few weeks later I declined the offer.

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