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PhD student Owen Wang

22 March 2022

From an undergrad study tour to a PhD scholarship: track Owen’s incredible journey at Deakin

We hear many inspiring stories from our students at Deakin as they navigate different paths to reach their personal and professional goals.

Here, we learn more about Information Technology student Owen Wang, who has had quite a journey! Owen, an international student from China, first arrived at Deakin in 2016 as a participant in the School of IT’s study tour from Inner Mongolia Normal University. In his time here, Owen has assisted the the School of IT on international marketing activities, worked as a student ambassador and research assistant, and completed an Honours thesis before being awarded a Higher Degree by Research (HDR) scholarship to begin his doctorate.

We asked Owen to tell us a little bit more about himself, his transition to life in Australia and what led to his current PhD studies.

What were you doing before you first heard about the study opportunity at Deakin, and what prompted you to apply?
I was studying a Bachelor degree (3+1 pathway project) at Inner Mongolia Normal University before I first heard about the study opportunity at Deakin. I very much liked Deakin’s major in interactive media design and game design. This provided a different perspective to learn more professional knowledge about topics such as interactive media creation, game design and development, creative technology, and user-centred design rather than just focusing on computer programming design alone.

What are you researching for your doctorate?
I am mainly studying human-centric requirements relating to engineering and virtual reality. (Owen’s publications are available via Google Scholar.)

Who or what inspires your work and research?
Firstly, I thank my supervisor, Associate Professor Xiao Liu, very much. My supervisor has given me a lot of practical opportunities and has guided the direction of my research. I have not only learned a lot of professional knowledge, but I have also been given a new understanding of my research area.

What are you hoping to do after you finish your PhD?
I hope to find a job as a lecturer after finishing my PhD. If the opportunity arises, I hope to gain a postdoctoral position at Deakin.

How do you like to study?
I like self-managed study, which is an important component of learning the required knowledge in addition to supervisor guidance. However, I will also study and discuss my work with my partners. I think a strong interest in your area of study is an important motivation for learning. 

Do you have any advice for undergraduate or postgraduate students who want to get into a PhD program and pursue a career in research?
First, you have to ask yourself: do I like research? Second, if you want to study an Honours degree, you’ll need to get a WAM (weighted average mark) of at least 70% or 65% in all Level 3 units. If you then want to gain a scholarship to study a PhD, you need to get a WAM of at least 80% with an excellent mark on your Honours thesis and publish a conference paper. So your WAM is very important! Finally, you’ll need to spend a lot of time on studying, conducting experiments, developing theory and literature reviews etc, rather than just completing your assignments.

Do you have any specific academic tips for international students?
If you ultimately want to study at the PhD level, I suggest you prepare preliminary ideas in advance, understand what research is, and choose a suitable supervisor. Second, for international students, I would recommend you read more research papers and improve your English-language skills, especially when it comes to writing.

What advice do you have for any international students who may miss home or may be finding it difficult to settle in Australia?
Every foreign student will miss home. I suggest international students should focus on learning as their first task. Also, try to participate in social activities offered by DUSA and DUELI to make friends. I know many foreign students from different countries in DUELI’s language class, in which we can not only practice our English skills, but it also serves to alleviate any loneliness. Of course, many international students may also have their own roommates and you can make an effort to socialise with them too. I think every student should have the courage to communicate with each other without worrying too much about the differences in language and culture.

What are you most looking forward to in 2022?
I am most looking forward to continuing my studies and research achievements – I am working on research papers and enjoying the removal of many COVID-19 restrictions.

Interested in pursuing HDR opportunities? Learn more about scholarships and research at Deakin.

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