Had my last final paper on Tuesday. Hopefully this is really the last because during undergrad, I thought I had my last paper already, but then after about 3 years without any major examination, I had another one for PhD.
My last exam ticket
Anyway, the question for my exam last Tuesday was nothing technical. More of like asking your opinion on Ethics, on leadership in doing research, etc. Then write an essay about it.
One question caught my interest though. About whether you consider an academic achievement as the main requirement to undertake a research project.
Hmmmpphh... Tough question.
I answered yes but not the only requirement.
I personally think you must also have really strong determination, equally much (or maybe more) than your academic achievement.
I don't consider myself as a brilliant student during undergrad. I skipped classes whenever the lecturer bore me, I even skip classes now that I'm doing my PhD and a lecturer myself (not proud of it). I sat at the very end row, I hated exams and I only received my Dean's list once during my final semester which I believed my FYP project contributed much for that.
Truth is, you can't judge a student by his or her examination marks. I mean, our exam questions are too memorization-based. Which engineer in the world would still memorize that long equations once they are working, we still refer to Dr. Google anyway. Understanding the concept in a whole is more important, and hence you can't hundred percent judge a student by their marks.
And the ability to understand and analyze are so important in research; you have to consistently ask yourselves why this and why that. Many of my students seem to understand a concept just the way it is. Like the fact that wireless network is more fragile than wired network. But they never asked why. Hence, they just memorize the fact that way.
How are you going to do a research if like that? In research, curiosity helps.
Passion helps. The first time I started to do research, I was given two options; on RF and on Optical, I fell in love with the one in optical although my basic background is more to RF. Eventually, when you love something, you'll be curious about something and you always want to learn more.
Determination helps. You must want something that badly to have it. Because even if you're clueless about something, with determination, you can have the spirit to go on.
To end this, for me, academic achievement is not everything. What matters is your effort in everything pun. And doa pun termasuklah dalam part of the effort. :) Just my two cents.