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I'm a second year industrial PhD student in Europe with a PhD contract of 3yrs.

Due to certain reasons, our strategic partners have left the project. As a consequence, we are not able to smoothly continue with the current prototype tests and validation.

I have been discussing this with my supervisor and her suggestion is to build a new prototype. That would be OK if I was offered a contract extension (just to compensate for the fact that the partners have abandoned us). To make the new prototype will take approx 1 year. Basically, I'm not able to perform any research before such prototype is in place. For this reason I'm thinking of abandoning the program and applying to another PhD position. It is hard to give 100% if thing look gray and mentor is not flexible.

I'm not afraid to start from scratch. However, I'm wonder if new prospective groups will understand my situation and give me a new chance or will my application be rejected? What kind of perception might I expect?

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    Can you clarify if you are working for a company, or if you are in a university and had funding from that company? Also, the sentence 'It is hard to give 100% if thing look gray and mentor is not flexible.' is somewhat obscure to me. – Cape Code May 12 '14 at 16:03
  • I'm working for a company. Additonal details: the suggestion to use help from extern partner(s) came from my suprevisor(s). Somwhere in the middle, I signaled that our partners are not showing enough "eagerness", but I was easily tagged as just being "negative". The "100%" related part means that one is loosing motivation when hitting the issues outside of her/his control. Flexibility - I suggested following: extending contract, freezing PhD and working on new prototype as intern, getting help from other employees to speed-up new development and even changing the PhD scope. I was refused. – qoobit May 12 '14 at 17:23
  • I understand how you feel, when factors you don't control get in the way it's very frustrating. Is it an option for you to start looking for another position while keeping the current? And switch only if you are sure of getting another, fully funded, position? – Cape Code May 12 '14 at 17:28
  • Yes. I'm all for that option. My worry is just how I'm going to be percepted by other players, that are to provide funding. – qoobit May 12 '14 at 17:35
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Although such a decision depends usually on personal factors, here are some points on the subject:

I think it depends of what you want to do afterwards. PhD inside companies are usually intended for people who have an interest in finding a job in the R&D department of that company or a competing one. (It's also a great way for companies to hire highly educated people for a fraction of the usual salary, but that is out of the topic).

If this is the case, I would recommend trying to salvage the project, maybe by negotiating a contract extension, adding another aspect (analysis of the data, modeling?) while you wait for the new prototype, etc. As a PhD student it is normally not your job to secure funding, your advisor should be the one concerned about that now.

If your goal is to work in academic research I would recommend switching to another PhD program (preferably in a university). It wouldn't necessary mean starting from scratch, it might be that the work you already did can be used for another application.

new prospective groups will understand my situation and give me new chance or my application is going to be rejected

I think that your previous experience will be an advantage when applying to a new position, especially as it is clear that its interruption had nothing to do with your performance. I think the perception is going to be fine, experience is always appreciated.

  • Thanks for answer. Regarding the prototype: I'm expected to develop the new one. I don't oppose to idea, but it will be a year spent on pure engineering tasks (hardly publishable on its own). As I said it would be great if I'm to get contract extension so that I manage to use the prototype for research. – qoobit May 12 '14 at 17:10
  • A year to develop a method/prototype is not uncommon for grad students, the question in your case seems to be funding. If you get funded do it, but don't work for free. Can you file a patent instead of a publication? – Cape Code May 12 '14 at 17:25
  • Unfortunately, the prototype is not patentable - it is just a tool to validate other methods. – qoobit May 12 '14 at 17:29

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