How to transform a software engineer (industry) to researcher (academic)

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How to transform a software engineer (industry) to researcher (academic)

Pursuing a doctoral program in a European country is one of the most splendid opportunities in anyone’s life. However, it is well known within the academic community that obtaining an enrollment into a Ph.D. requires a higher GPA in the first degree and some teaching experience. There is no opportunity for graduates working in the industry and generally passing in the bachelor’s degree. As a computer science graduate from the University of Colombo School of Computing, who graduated in 2012, I reached a Ph.D. program in Finland.




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I started my professional career as an intern software developer in a leading digital payment services company in Sri Lanka in 2012. Since my work was related to digital payment security, I enrolled in the master’s program in information security at the University of Colombo School of Computing in 2014. My supervisor was Dr. Kasun de Zoysa. I completed a master’s program in 2016 with a distinction pass. With the support of Dr. Kasun and Dr. Newton, I have been interviewed by Prof. Wee Keong from Nanyang Technological University (NTU). I started my research career at NTU in April 2017.






I worked as a Research Associate for the School of Computer Science and Engineering, Nanyang Technological University Singapore, for two years, with rich research experience in blockchain and bringing five years in software design, development, and integration in the industry. I was contributing to ongoing research at Nanyang Technological University with different avenues on blockchain applications. For example, I contributed to developing a pluggable Secure Multi-Party Computation module for Hyperledger Fabric and Ethereum blockchain platforms, security, and key management in blockchain, practical Byzantine fault tolerance algorithms, and distributed Byzantine fault tolerance algorithms. The research period was funded by leading aerospace, civil aviation, and intelligent manufacturing companies in the Asia Pacific region. Within the period of NTU, I have contributed to conference publications and one patent.




In 2019 June, I moved to Oulu, Finland as a doctoral student at Centre for Wireless Communications, University of Oulu, Finland. Currently, I am working for more than two years as a researcher at the University of Oulu.




The story concludes that it is not to give up the hopes of higher studies if you lose a higher GPA. There are many avenues to pursue higher studies, and the most important thing is to connect with correct people. I am grateful to Dr. Newton Fernando for the privilege to communicate with the right people to shape my higher studies.




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Tharaka Mawanane Hewa

PhD Candidate, University of Oulu My Research Gate Profile | My Google Scholar Profile | My LinkedIn Profile

1 Comment
    • Newton Fernando
      Sep 06, 2021 08:47 am Reply

      This is a great article. Many people thought that it is difficult to enter academics from the industry. Supun is a great example who crossed the borders very successfully.

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