First industrial secondment completed

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ESR Secondment blog

Secondments are very important as they establish a link between academia and industry, making the PhD more than a typical degree. Doctoral researchers not only focus on the scientific and academic aspects of their PhDs, but also learn industrial skills and amass experience to excel in a relevant industry after completing their degree. I have recently completed a secondment at Vencomatic Group in the Netherlands as part of the MonoGutHealth project, which was designed to expose ESRs during their PhD to various research environments to develop scientific, entrepreneurial, and transferrable skills.

The various activities during secondment not only improved my scientific skills, but also provided me with opportunities for learning and career development in the relevant industry. I consider my secondment successful in terms of research objectives and skill development. Vencomatic Group is among the leading groups who developed on-farm hatching and related equipment (Xtreck and Patio systems) to provide hatch on farm. It was an interesting point of collaboration as my PhD research is based on application of different hatching systems (on-farm hatching and hatchery hatch) and nutritional strategies to improve the underweight broiler chickens. Vencomatic designed a research project, which included on-farm hatching through Xtreck system and enrichment of broiler house via different platforms. This experiment helped me to understand on-farm hatching procedure, behaviour of broilers, research designs, observation of birds, data collection and data interpretation. Farm visits further added some knowledge and understanding how Xtreck system works and general practices of broiler production in Netherlands. Another project based on mating behaviour of broiler breeders was designed. Through this, I learnt different data analysis tools including python programming to analyse the mating behaviour data received through the specialised sensors.

My secondment experience offered beyond academic and scientific knowledge, it also availed me the chance to experience different work culture from my host country Belgium. Enabling me to appreciate the diversity that exists across Europe. My time in the Netherlands has also influenced me. The Dutch lifestyle is so appealing that it makes you enjoy your new home-away-from-home, especially when combined with its safety, proximity to other European cities, healthy way of life, and welcoming attitude toward foreigners. Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Eindhoven were among the wonderful cities I visited in the Netherlands. I found the Netherlands and its people to be nice. You can discover a lot of cheese markets, wooden shoes, canals of Amsterdam, masterpieces of Old Masters, windmills, innovative water-management, and millions of bicycles.

My overall experience has provided me with unique perspectives, and I have acquired new skills and opportunities for professional development in a relevant industry. I have three more secondments coming up, and I am now prepared to push for a more comprehensive schedule and plan.

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