Despite that I am from Indonesia, I finished my bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral studies in Türkiye. Out of all the universities that I have been enrolled in, Koç University has given me the most rewarding experience for professional growth. At Koç University, I have been given ample opportunities to improve my research and pedagogical skills. The engagements I had with my academic advisor and the regular meetings with her research group, which was at least once per week, really stimulated the improvement of my inquiry and critical thinking skills through various paper and research discussions. In addition to these research-related meetings, I have also had chances to build up my pedagogical knowledge and skills through the teaching assistantship that I always did every semester.
During my doctoral study, I was supervised by Assistant Professor Didem Unat. She has provided me with financial and intellectual support in helping me work on my research. Under her patience and supportive guidance, I have learned valuable research skills in the field of computer science and engineering. I have learned how to identify a research problem, develop a functional tool that solves the problem, design experiments to verify its ability, and produce a scholarly publication from it. Under her tutelage, I could gain the amazing experience of presenting my paper in Supercomputing, which is the most prestigious conference in High Performance Computing (HPC), and got nominated for both Best Paper and Best Student Paper Awards.
In addition to a wonderful academic advisor, I have also been lucky to have joined a dynamic research group. We held a meeting every week to discuss a paper and have one of us present their research progress. In these meetings, we exchanged our thoughts about the paper that we read and gave each other feedback related to the presented research. All of this experience has been rewarding to me as it has given me insights into other research topics in HPC, and I have even gained some information and ideas from these meetings that are useful for my own research. Outside of these “serious” meetings, I also hung out with the other students in my research group. We chatted and talked about various things like movies, books, and food. Once in every semester, we also had an informal gathering such as going on a picnic or having lunch together.
Outside of the research activities, I have served as a teaching assistant in one course for every semester. This experience has also been very rewarding to me in terms of pedagogical knowledge. Through teaching assistantship, I have learned how to prepare assignments, quiz and exam questions, and grade them. I have also learned how to prepare slides and other course materials that can help students understand tough concepts more easily. Even though my teaching experience is from university-level courses, I imagine it will be handy one day when my daughter Sofia starts going to school.
All of these activities have granted me valuable research and pedagogical experience that surely will be useful for an academic career that I might pursue in the future. Currently, I continue my career with Dr. Unat as a postdoctoral researcher and work on an exciting research project.
Muhammad Aditya Sasongko
Graduate School of Sciences and Engineering, PhD in Computer Science and Engineering