I studied for both my undergraduate degree and Masters in Pakistan and was working there as a lecturer when they offered to sponsor me to do further studies. Doing a PhD was important to me as I wanted to refine my skills and knowledge I felt it was needed to further my career in academia.
I decided to come to Leeds to do my research into materials engineering and in developing new materials, specifically looking at metastable formation in Ni-GE alloy, because of the facilities on offer they have some of most advanced, industry-standard equipment available so I knew coming here would enable me to put the technical knowledge that Id studied in Pakistan into practice. Leeds was also recommended to me by friends who were already studying here and had told me how excellent the resources are.
For my studies, I use characterisation technique facilities and a specialist technique that involves small batch preparation of alloys via an argon arc-melter and rapid solidification via a six meter drop tube for free-fall processing. This is quite a new research area and, as far as Im aware, Leeds is the only UK institution to have this equipment it is the same principle equipment that NASA use. As this equipment is highly sophisticated and complicated, my supervisor had to train me before I first used it and watched over me the first few times I conducted tests with it, but Im now at a level where I can use it by myself.
Ive been impressed with the library here not just for the books but also for the digital resources they offer; if I need some papers or a chapter from a book, I can easily download them. Thats really useful for when a new book or research paper comes out. Ive also attended a few of the training courses that the library offers, such as on how to collect data and referencing, which has been helpful for learning how things are done in the UK.
The University also provides all the software that I need free of charge; you can even have it installed on your laptop so that youre not restricted to just working on campus. I needed OriginPro, which is a scientific charting and data analysis package. It isnt a standard piece of software but all I had to do was put in a request with the IT department and within the day, they had given me the software.
I share an office with six other PhD students and its good to be able to have my own desk where I can put and store my stuff. Ive found sharing an office really supportive as if anyone is struggling with something or is new to using a piece of software, we can help each other out.