From undergraduate to academic: Marzena’s Derby journey

Marzena Pawlik is not one to shy away from a challenge. She took a leap when she went straight from her undergraduate degree to a PhD. Then, with that achievement under her belt, she secured a post-doctoral position to continue her research journey. And she has recently joined the University’s teaching team as a full-time lecturer, passing on her knowledge and passion for Mechanical Engineering to current students.

Enthusiasm for research

Marzena’s journey to academic success began when she transferred in to the third year of our BEng (Hons) Mechanical Engineering from Gdansk University of Technology in Poland. She made the big decision to relocate to the UK after being impressed with our facilities – and her prospects – during a promotional event.

And it was our academics who aroused her enthusiasm in innovative research. Throughout her final year project, she realised research in materials science and advanced manufacturing technologies was the direction that she wanted to pursue in her career.

After completing her degree, Marzena secured her fully funded PhD in Engineering at Derby, which came with a Graduate Teaching Assistant position. She thought it was a great opportunity.

“I enrolled straight away from undergraduate to PhD, so I had quite a lot to catch up on,” she says. “And it was sometimes challenging, but I do not regret any minute.”

Building skills

During her PhD, Marzena helped to teach many modules, which allowed her to acquire strong communications and presentation skills. And she was able to share her research at international conferences and communicate complex information with a diverse audience. She travelled to the prestigious composite conferences (ECCM19 in Australia, ICCS20 in France).

“It was a great experience to share my work and network with researchers around the world,” she says.

At the time she submitted her PhD thesis, a post-doctoral position in Advanced Composite Materials was advertised so she decided to continue her research journey. She explains: “The application process for most research positions is quite complex. In this case, the interview also required presentation delivery focusing on my research plans and outputs.”

Since then, Marzena has been working as a full-time researcher on several projects focusing on designing, manufacturing, simulating, and testing advanced materials. She has also started supporting local companies in Derbyshire through engineering projects such as De-Carbonise and Innovate for Rail.

Marzena Pawlik in the Engineering workshops
Marzena Pawlik

Passing on passion

And Marzena’s career at the University continues after she secured her full-time lectureship position at the University.

She is passionate about her subject. “Mechanical Engineers design and create solutions to many problems,” she says. “And it is a broad field. I found solving different problems exciting and rewarding.

“Mechanical engineering skills are transferable and useful across a range of industries. I was also looking for a career with excellent job prospects, high salaries, and possibilities of working abroad, all in the field that interests me.”

Marzena credits our lecturers for having a positive influence on her career. She believes they saw her hidden talents and encouraged her to develop her skills. She adds: “The facilities and equipment available at the University are of the highest quality and, most importantly, they are accessible to students, so you can get hands-on experience. And many pioneering engineering companies are in Derbyshire. There is a fantastic opportunity for internships, placements, and future careers.”

Kedleston Road, Derby Campus entrance

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