I am about to defend my PhD in materials engineering. My work is related to numerical modeling of an additive manufacturing process. When I joined for my PhD, I was offered a different topic which was rigorous and 100% in my interest. However, my research topic was changed after few months into something much simpler and less rigorous but still aligning 70% to my interest.

I have couple of papers and I am decently published at my particular field. But I feel that I am doing very simple work, something even a master's student could do in a year.

I was an experimentalist before my PhD. However, I was frustrated with carrying out experiments and thus opted for a completely computational research. I think it was a mistake. I used to find doing a good Experimental work much easier than a good computational work.

Even though I like them, I am objectively bad at mathematics and physics. I shouldn't have gone for computational studies. I am good with simple work but I will never be able to get published in computational mechanics and numerical methods intensive journals (Journal of solid and structures, Computer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering).

I publish in applied journals like additive manufacturing, surface and coatings technology, materials and design, where new numerical methods need not be developed or theories need not be implemented for successful simulations. Existing models can be repurposed for my work. I just use a open-source software to carry out my simulations without changing anything in the software's source code. I just write python and Matlab scripts to analyze the simulations.

I am worried about my future career. My work is too simple for academic or industrial positions. I don't know what to do after graduation.

  • 2
    I think industry likes people who can immediately apply the formula & give results like what you did though... Many of the people who talk about AI, big data data science also are mostly just shove data as input and using the software/library etc without changing much or anything..
    – kate
    Sep 24 '20 at 14:38

One reason that people like yourself see their own work as "simple" is just that they are the world's foremost expert in that narrow subfield. They (you) know it better than anyone and you've lived with it for a long time so you see how it fits together. This is related to Imposter Syndrome, of course.

Your dissertation and degree aren't the end of your career, but the beginning. You've crossed one "finish line", the degree, but that opens out into a world of opportunity. You aren't limited now to what you have done in the past but can start to move to adjacent areas if you wish. The degree process is a pretty narrow funnel, but, once through it, the opportunities open again.

Don't be discouraged. Leverage what you have into what you want.

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