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    I graduated with a Masters in Electrical & Electronic Engineering with a 1st class Hons from a Russel Group Uni and I have taken up a PhD in another Russel Group, where I was recommended by my Master's project supervisor to her friend who is now my current PhD supervisor.

    However, over the last month or so I feel like I have made very little progress. My task for the last 3-4 weeks has been trying to get this simulation of a vector control system of an induction machine working.

    To let me contextualise this: Vector control is perhaps the single most important and fundamental concept of modern motor control that I need to learn before I start doing something useful with my PhD. Now let me make this clear: this is not a really advanced concept I am trying to simulate. It would be quite advanced for an undergraduate - but not beyond one. And this probably makes the most fundamental building blocks of my PhD. But I still can't make the damn thing work and I am at my wit's end.

    I am really feeling like how on earth am I meant to come up with something new if I am taking so long to get to grips with the mere basics? For the last week and a half I have been seriously considering quitting because a decent PhD student surely shouldn't be taking so long to master such a basic concept in modern motor control theory. Though it has been building for a while leading up to the simulation, where I had been reading papers and not really understanding much.

    It's becoming a real effort just to come into uni, as I feel it's just going to be another day of disappointment and self deprecation - especially considering that I have to cycle a considerable distance just to get there. Whenever I feel like I should email my supervisor I just feel intense shame and don't end up contacting them.

    Any ideas as to what I should do?
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    (Original post by The Good Doctor)
    However, over the last month or so I feel like I have made very little progress. My task for the last 3-4 weeks has been trying to get this simulation of a vector control system of an induction machine working.

    Any ideas as to what I should do?
    I think you may find, if you ask around your peers and second/third year PhD students, that you are setting the bar too high. Generally the first year is spent getting it wrong, going down blind alleys, proving what won't work etc. The second year is more settled and about data collection, the third year is tidying up and writing up if things have gone well, or doing lots and lots of tidying up/re testing/revising if the second year hasn't been perfect and writing up in a fourth year.

    My PhD was in the humanities, so it might be slightly different, but the first year was all about refining the research question, mainly by working out what wouldn't work, ie a succession of dead ends. 3-4 weeks of reading around a subject and trying to frame a question, only to find it wouldn't work was repeated about 10 times in the first year!
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    (Original post by The Good Doctor)
    I graduated with a Masters in Electrical & Electronic Engineering with a 1st class Hons from a Russel Group Uni and I have taken up a PhD in another Russel Group, where I was recommended by my Master's project supervisor to her friend who is now my current PhD supervisor.

    However, over the last month or so I feel like I have made very little progress. My task for the last 3-4 weeks has been trying to get this simulation of a vector control system of an induction machine working.

    To let me contextualise this: Vector control is perhaps the single most important and fundamental concept of modern motor control that I need to learn before I start doing something useful with my PhD. Now let me make this clear: this is not a really advanced concept I am trying to simulate. It would be quite advanced for an undergraduate - but not beyond one. And this probably makes the most fundamental building blocks of my PhD. But I still can't make the damn thing work and I am at my wit's end.

    I am really feeling like how on earth am I meant to come up with something new if I am taking so long to get to grips with the mere basics? For the last week and a half I have been seriously considering quitting because a decent PhD student surely shouldn't be taking so long to master such a basic concept in modern motor control theory. Though it has been building for a while leading up to the simulation, where I had been reading papers and not really understanding much.

    It's becoming a real effort just to come into uni, as I feel it's just going to be another day of disappointment and self deprecation - especially considering that I have to cycle a considerable distance just to get there. Whenever I feel like I should email my supervisor I just feel intense shame and don't end up contacting them.

    Any ideas as to what I should do?
    Any more senior students to ask for help? Like what threeportdrift said, the first year is usually for learning the basics and getting a good grasp on them. You typically should have someone more senior to lean on, and learn some of the tips and tricks involved in getting a solid foundation down.

    If you are advanced (and by that I mean significant time in a research setting), you should be putting out some prelim data halfway through the first year.
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    (Original post by The Good Doctor)
    Whenever I feel like I should email my supervisor I just feel intense shame and don't end up contacting them.

    Any ideas as to what I should do?
    1) Cut yourself some slack. You've gone from being a top-flight undergraduate to a bottom rung apprentice researcher. Of course you don't 'get' the basics - if you did, you'd be wasting your time.

    2) Socialise with other PhD students. Chances are most of them feel this way. I felt this way for most of the first year. Get yourself some perspective.

    3) Contact your supervisor as a matter of urgency. It's their job to help you but they can't give it if they don't know you need it. You're stuck in a loop and you need someone from outside the situation to steer you out of it. If it's that basic a concept, chances are that your supervisor could probably suggest how to sort it out in ten minutes flat. By not speaking to them, you're cutting yourself off from your best source of help - and that could become critical as you advance through your research. Establishing an appropriate working relationship now will be crucial to the project.

    You need to get away from the notion that you're expected to know or be able to do stuff - you're back to being a novice, so act like it. Shame is irrelevant and unhelpful so switch it off. It's a luxury you can't afford. Lower your expectations of yourself, get real, and get your supervisor involved.
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    Thanks for the replies everyone. I met my supervisor and got it working. Turns out I was close anyway. I will take the advice to heart.
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    (Original post by The Good Doctor)
    Thanks for the replies everyone. I met my supervisor and got it working. Turns out I was close anyway. I will take the advice to heart.
    That's fantastic news - so glad you can move forward again.
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    YAY!
 
 
 
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