Aakash Bansal

Current student

PhD student from India
Study area
Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

During my undergraduate days, it started to fascinate me how small pieces of conducting materials (antennas) have been able to connect the whole world wirelessly... reading more about it made me want to explore the area more and more.

What were you doing before you started your PhD?

I was working with CSIR-Central Electronics Engineering Research Institute (CEERI, Pilani), back in India as a project associate.

What influenced your decision to apply to (or stay on at) Loughborough?

The facilities provided by the University, support from the prospective supervisors and different services to support students and to ensure a good student experience were the biggest influences for me to decide to stay with Loughborough.

What did you find helpful when you were researching studying for a PhD at Loughborough?

I didn't attend any events - my research was totally online. The reviews for the universities on different portals such as the Complete University Guide and the QS rankings were the most helpful thing. The availability of people from Loughborough Students' Union, especially the doctoral student representative from Wolfson School, was the biggest help in understanding the University better.

Please describe your PhD project.

This research aims to meet the increasing demand for faster data-rates and reliable connectivity for everyone everywhere. To support new technologies such as the Internet of Things, millimeter waves have been identified as a suitable spectrum for developing fifth-generation technology. New types of antennas are needed that can dynamically focus the radiation in particular directions to minimise losses and interference.

Traditionally, complex phase shifters feeding antenna arrays are used to beamform radiation patterns in different directions. These can be cumbersome and are not ideal for small installations. This work is looking into developing cheaper and more compact active antenna array systems for electronic beam-steering at 28GHz.

Why did you choose your area of research?

During my undergraduate days, it started to fascinate me how small pieces of conducting materials (antennas) have been able to connect the whole world wirelessly, and investigating the same, reading more about it made me explore the area more and more.

Please describe a typical day for you.

It generally starts with a good cup of coffee on my desk, going through the mail and reviewing the previous day's work. Further, I spend the day continuing the work planned for the day (either reading, simulating, experimenting or writing).

After lunch with a couple of my colleagues, I go through the latest happenings in my area of research, along with a quick look at the latest world news. The day is planned based on the basis of any meetings and other assigned duties. The evening hours are spent on my volunteer work with STEM Action at LSU and finally, the day at the office ends with writing down a prospective plan for the next day.

How do you balance studying with day-to-day activities?

A calendar is the best tool to handle day-to-day activities along with studying. It is not necessary that you define specific hours for your studies in between your day-to-day activities. For me, it is the other way around. Along with my studies, I plan my day-to-day activities to be done in a set time-frame, so that none is harmed. It is important to prioritise tasks and plan your work accordingly.

How is a PhD different from any previous studying you have done?

A PhD here doesn't involve coursework and feels more like you are working in an organisation where you have taken up a project, and you have to plan your complete PhD programme with the support of your supervisors. It gives you a much better experience in the area of research and lets you explore outside the limits; hence, helping me grow.

What are you career goals?

I look forward to continuing in academia and contribute to the development of science and technology with my work.

What sort of support do you receive from Loughborough to help you achieve your goals?

The productive discussions with my supervisor, emotional support from colleagues and friends around the campus, and an infinite pool of resources from professional to personal support. Be it through the research group, department, library, doctoral college or LSU, Loughborough University has been providing all forms of support that I have been looking for.

How are you funding your studies?

My tuition fee is funded by the University, and I support my living expenses through my student ambassador role with the International Office and research associate roles with the Department.

What's your favourite thing about Loughborough?

The peaceful and pleasant environment, and the constant support offered by the staff members for students.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone considering doing a PhD, what would it be?

You don't have to be a total expert in the area to start a PhD. All you need is a good idea to work on, innovative thinking and a problem-solving approach, with a little patience for reading. Read as much as you can.