The conclusion of studies in Coronavirus times and future plans

In these days, according to original plans, I was supposed to be graduating on the court of Senate House in Cambridge and warmly giving my goodbye to the four-year long stage of my life, from which I will certainly be gaining knowledge and inspiration for years to come.

I would be enjoying the well-deserved break after demanding exams and final presentation of the Masters project in front of a large commission of professors and many fellow students. Instead, I was back in Prague by the end of March, the exam-based modules were finalised by submitting workings of examples papers rather than by actual exams, the remainder of the final project was done remotely and perhaps the only thing that remained were the long nights spent by writing up the final report. The final presentations were done in front of a smaller commission on Zoom – a program that almost nobody ever heard of before the Coronavirus crisis. The graduation, scheduled for the end of June, was substituted by a compilation of speeches and other videos from the university. I can edit this compilation to make a nice film to show to my grandmothers, but for me, it cannot fully substitute the vision of graduating together with my classmates and friends. It does not mean however, that I did not enjoy the graduation day at least as much as the circumstances allowed. I substituted the heat of the front court by a nice cool living room, and the formal dinner by a home-made tartare and chilled beer. After the end of the virtual graduation, we gathered with my friends from Cambridge for a very nice videocall lasting many hours. Some of them are currently in Japan, others in France, Ireland or different parts of the UK…and some are in the Czech Republic. From a realistic point of view, it may appear that there is little chance to be gathering altogether in person often or even ever. I hope however that the individual friendships and contacts will last, and we will certainly be looking for opportunities to compensate for the missed experience of graduating together by other joint enjoyments in future years.   

As the Masters studies are now successfully completed, there naturally appears the question – “What will come next?”. For an aviation geek, now with a diploma from Aeronautical Engineering, this period is really not ideal. Not only are many airlines going bankrupt or at least seriously struggling, but there are also people losing jobs in the construction and development aerospace industries and also research projects are having problems with financing. As it is the work in research & development that I am mostly interested in towards my future, I decided after many sleepless nights filled with analyzing options to continue for a PhD at the Czech Technical University in Prague, in particular at the Aircraft Technology Institute on the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. I am motivated to keep learning, and also I am interested in trying out the Czech university system and establishing contacts with fellow students, academics and professionals in the field here in Czech Republic. I am also confident that I can utilize my experience from abroad and perhaps get involved in a foreign cooperation. This choice gives me a stable and motivating place and goal for the next few years in these uncertain times. Also there is a good degree of flexibility in terms of cooperation with industrial partners or with other universities, as for example thanks to the Erasmus program. I will also continue to be involved in mentoring the CTM Online mathematical courses, possibly taking up a larger volume of these than I did before.

At the start of this article, I was mentioning that I am now at the end of one important stage of my life, and naturally, another stage now therefore awaits me. I hope that I will be able to continue being satisfied and proud of what I am doing. I would like to take this opportunity to give a warm Thank You to The Kellner Family Foundation for its support during my studies in Cambridge, and to wish the Foundation all the best for the upcoming years!   

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