So you wish to study or work under my supervision?

Heinz Schmidt, 2000, Last Rev. 7/2014

Please read this first, before you enquire about...


Summer Project

If you are a foreign student and looking for a summer project, note that the Australian summer break is Dec - Feb. Our summer projects typically run Jan-Feb. While some colleagues are interested in summer projects conducted during the Northern Hemisphere Summer I am not, sorry... mainly because the Australian Winter Break in June/July is very short time (2+ weeks), your internship time would overlap with our examination period in June or with our first two weeks of second semester in July/August, both very busy times. Moreover the very short break during this time, I am typically involved with overseas conferences in my discipline and may not be around for a critical period in a summer project.. Sorry, no Northern Hemisphere 'summer' projects!

Having written that: if you are asking for an internship during our semester(s) or during our summer break (Dec-Feb), please read on and direct your application to me by email and convince me that you have something unique to offer to one of my projects and my group has something to offer to you. Read below...

PhD Supervision: Contact

Already @ RMIT: If you are already at RMIT and just completing your Honours or Masters (Research) studies, please read these notes and then come by and talk with me!

Already in my network: If you are at another university and your professor already collaborates with me and supports your application, please let's meet when I visit your professor or vice versa, or, if that is not possible, please send me an email including the reference email provided by your professor.

PhD Supervision: Application

Whether at RMIT or external student, before you can be supervised by me, ultimately you will need to apply for PhD candidature (effectively a student place) and pass the selection threshold prior to working with me and my group. I cannot take you on without you being eligible and RMIT University offering you a place. Regardless, whether you are an Australian or international prospective PhD student, you will find application proformas and processes on the RMIT web at http://www.rmit.edu.au/study-with-us/levels-of-study/research-programs/phd/dr221/#pageId=overview including links to contacts, entrance requirements, application proformas, scholarships, living in Melbourne, etc. There is also more information on the research areas, current research student projects and lots more here: http://www.rmit.edu.au/about/our-education/academic-schools/science/research/ and www.rmit.edu.au/research/aicause.

If you are already at RMIT there are also plenty of information sessions that may help you with this process. Otherwise, please follow the above links and contact me once you have sighted the material and have your application ready. Read on to see what additional documents are required.

CS Process: Our School has a policy of requiring you to (1) identify a supervisor in your application and (2) enforcing a probation period of a year before finalising PhD candidatures. (Effectively you have the option of submitting a Masters Thesis and exiting - just in case a 3+ years PhD project turns out not to be right for you.) If you are admitted, based on the supervisor choice you will be affiliated with her/his department, but will be able to look around and change supervision without many problems (other than finding someone suitable for your topic, or finding a topic suitable for both you and the new supervisor).

Prospective international onshore candidates: Most of our international PhD students are international onshore PhD students. They study typically at RMIT in Melbourne. Occassionally they spend time in other labs as part of the socalled RIIERP program, which adds international, industrial and often multi-cultural experience to the PhD study.

Prospective international offshore candidates: RMIT has a number of international PhD students placed in labs around the world. International offshore PhD students spend most of their study in a foreign lab. This is based on close research collaboration between RMIT professors and professors at your lab, co-supervision by close collaborators and an agreed understanding between RMIT and the other institute or industry research lab, in this context. International offshore PhD students come to RMIT in Melbourne occassionally, for example when we organise workshops, and for a somewhat longer time in their last year when they write up their thesis.

Agreed topic: Before you list me as a supervisor, please contact me with a copy of your full application and an initial project brief (1/2 - 1 page) for the project you propose. Once again, please include a copy (preferably in pdf) of your full RMIT application proforma with copies of all required documents including undergraduate transcripts. Please look at my Research Centre AICAUSE and the somewhat outdated research bookmarks (will fix this some time :) ) pages to identify topics and supervisors of interest to you. I expect to see some papers referenced that are relevant to the area proposed including any of my papers that you think are relevant to your proposal and any of your papers and/or research theses (regardless of area proposed). It may be worthwhile looking at citations data, actually for any papers you cite. Providing me with this addtional copy and information serves two purposes,

  1. I will understand a little more about your research track record and writing skills and
  2. you will identify

Having written this, I am always interested in excellent students in my area of research and open to innovative research proposals. The proposal does not have to be in a project that I am already conducting, although sometimes we advertise specific PhD themes in the context of current research projects and may have special grant scholarships for these.

PhD Scholarship

Phd scholarships are very competitive (i.e. there are very many applications, despite the fact that they are not necessarily paying very highly). RMIT has a very good reputation internationally and the RMIT CS&IT School is a relatively large and nationally recognised group. CS&IT is a School in the Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) Portfolio (Faculty). Due to our size and breadth, we cover many application areas and can often provide excellent supervision and continuity in selected research strengths, including research strengths at the boundary of discipline groups in CS or between CS and Engineering etc. Several of our top researchers are involved with other disciplines and research centres.

Note that the bulk of scholarships is offered once a year with application deadline 31. October each year. A very small number of scholarships is available mid year. Sometimes special scholarships are offered by grant projects.

Depending on the type of scholarship, you will be able to take this with you if -- during the first probationary year -- supervisors change. However, grant (project) scholarships may not be transferable and the scholarship may be tied to a specific research area (not outcome). For example, Australian Postgraduate Award Industry (APAI) scholarships are in part funded by an industry partner and therefore tied to a specific research project.

Our school also has a policy of giving preference for paid tutoring, or, from time to time, paid programming tasks, to suitable PhD students. Note the word 'suitable'. Again the probation period will be the key to assessing suitability. There is no guarantee: of course you need to have excellent English skills and CS&SE knowledge to tutor a class, and you need to have excellent programming and systems skills to get casual programming or sysadmin work in the School or in a project. However, from experience, suitable students have had little difficulties in the past finding such casual work at the University and has often meant gaining access to interesting research projects and groups, sometimes close to their own PhD topic.

Postdoc Fellows

If you are at RMIT (PhD student close to completion or recently completed) come by and talk!

If you are elsewhere, and respond to an advertisement please make sure that you are including all the required information in your application.

Some postdoc positions are tied to grants and require a particular skill set and research direction. Others are more open. For example, each year, the University offers a very small (and competitive) number of RMIT Fellowships for researchers not currently at RMIT.

Visiting Scholars

If you are elsewhere, and would like to visit our Lab in connection with conference travel or similar, please have a look at the list of past seminars and visitors or our Facebook page where talks and visitors are announced since early 2015. Please do not hesitate to contact me for more information on visiting our lab at RMIT.

If you wish to spend a sabbatical visit or some time as a Visiting Scholar or Visiting Professor, we need to go through an application process within the university. Only when this is successful will we issue a formal invitation with clear project reference and addressing other issues such as visa, for example. Whether you are a well-established professor/researcher in my research community and have already worked with me or you are an early-career researcher (ECR) establishing yourself in the field, this application process is required beyond the dialog and selection within our lab.

Also for ECRs, I have high expectations regarding the application for a visiting researcher or shorter term postdoc position, and I am somewhat accomodating regarding research topics: If a potential candidate is brilliant and roughly in my area I will try to accomodate her/him. I am open for challenging research proposals.

Whether established or ECR, please include in your application:

Please note that there is a selection process within my lab. In addition, when this lab selection is positive, a formal application may have to be put to the university by us, subsequently. This may require a further selection at the university level. Only if both of these are successful can this process take to the next step.

Depending on the type of appointment, visa status and other factors, this process may require significant lead time. For example, if you are applying for a visiting scholar position from another country, we expect applications four to eight months in advance.

Software Skills Gap

If you want to study software engineering don't be fooled by the current downturn in IT student numbers in several Australian universities. If you start your IT studies today, in all likelihood there is still a skills shortage three to four years downtrack especially in software architecture, distributed and embedded systems, software engineering in science and engineering (e-Research), and in enterprise automation and information systems. Why are experts confident this is the case?