Letter from Mexico

CONNECT PhD researcher Alan Diaz and EDGE Programme Manager, Dr Kevin Fraser, are in Mexico. Alan has just sent this letter…with Kevin looking over his shoulder.

Saludos desde México, puedo confirmar que los tacos son del siguiente nivel!

Ok, ok, back to English, Greetings from Mexico, where we are visiting CETYS University in Mexicali. I came here from the Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exhibition (OFC 2020) in San Diego. OFC is the world’s leading conference for optical communications. Kevin has rendezvoused now, and we have crossed the border to Mexicali city. We have both been invited by Dr Arnoldo Diaz-Ramirez to give a set of presentations to the Master’s students studying Architecture and Software Development.

My talk is on “Chasing a PhD in Computer Science” and I’m describing my research under the supervision of Prof. Marco Ruffini in Trinity College Dublin. I’m also explaining the research landscape in Ireland, particularly the SFI research centre ecosystem and CONNECT in particular. Rest assured: I’m telling people that it’s a great place to work! I’m also talking about the key skills required to engage in a PhD program, and the daily life of a researcher.

Kevin is speaking on “Europe’s Research Vision” and is giving a fantastic overview of Horizon Europe and a preview of the proposed programme to begin in 2021. He’s explaining how the EU is delivering on strategic priorities such as the Paris Agreement on climate change (35% of the overall Horizon Europe budget), and tackling global challenges that affect the quality of daily lives, focusing on the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.

He’s also giving tips on how to write strong research proposals, and highlighting the importance of networking – building mutually beneficial relationships that will help career development and progression. Kevin highlighted how the EDGE programme incorporates a substantial training element to address the needs of a postdoc. He had the stark message that being a postdoc is not a career. The challenge is to skill-up and move on.

Since we arrived, we’ve had a chance to see a bit of Mexicali, a city of one million people, which is the capital city of the state of Baja California in northern Mexico. Mexicali is the national centre for the aerospace industry. Rockwell Collins established an operation here in 1966. It is the oldest company under the maquiladora program, an initiative that allowed companies to establish duty-free and tariff-free factories.

We’ve had a chance to sample the tacos here too: they’re at next level and, with Kevin turning 40 years young, we’ve celebrated appropriately. The people are like the Irish: they love a story, a good beer, and food!

As I write there are very few coronavirus cases in Mexico: it must be the salsa. The journey home, however, might be interesting…


CONNECT is the world leading Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Future Networks and Communications. CONNECT is funded under the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centres Programme and is co-funded under the European Regional Development Fund. We engage with over 35 companies including large multinationals, SMEs and start-ups. CONNECT brings together world-class expertise from ten Irish academic institutes to create a one-stop-shop for telecommunications research, development and innovation.

Kevin and Alan (3rd and 4th from left respectively) with some of the attendees at their presentations in CETYS University.

Alan presenting

Kevin presenting

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