“Big interest in science and research.“

Read through Michael Müller's experience in obtaining a doctoral degree.
Michael Mueller HECTOR School, KIT
What type of PhD did you choose?

Industrial PhD/ External PhD.

Why did you decide for a PhD?

For two reasons: 1. Big interest in science and research. 2. To have the chance to apply for a position as Professor afterwards.

What is the topic of your thesis and which University?

The kickoff will be on Thursday, the 25th November, so it is no finally defined, the topic could be something like: “Use of machine learning methods for an optimized preparation of food and beverages with kitchen machines” --> KIT / ITIV.

What is the goal of your thesis, what do you want to find out?

I want to find out, if it is possible for a Coffee machine to “learn” the individual preferences of each user (detect patterns in the measurable sensor data) and to ensure a good individual coffee for everybody, through consumer feedback (reinforcement learning).

Why did you choose this topic and the University?

The topic itself is very fascinating for me because it is directly in the interface between the human and machine senses. In my mind, the KIT is one of the best universities to study, learn and develop yourself. What also pays in is that Karlsruhe is reachable within a 2h train ride. The KIT is well known for its excellence and so the PhD title has a high value, too and therefore it is acknowledged everywhere.

When did you start and are you already finished? (If yes, when?)

I started on 25 November 2021 – I plan to hand in my doctoral thesis in June 2024.

Does the topic of your thesis relate to your job?


Are you still working for your employer next to your PhD?


Do you get support from your company? If yes:

Time. Finance. Technical/ digital infrastructure

How did you ask and persuade your company prior to your thesis, so that you were allowed to start?

We had a discussion about my personal development plan. In my plan there was the PhD and we agreed on it. The most challenging part was to find a topic that suits for a PhD as well as for the company. I was searching and discussion many different topics and ideas all over the whole company. That took almost 1 year time.

Did opportunities for e.g. cooperation, contacts, … arise while you were working at your thesis? 

Yes  I didn’t started so far, but almost now I have connected with many different experts from the field. So my experts network is growing and of course will grow while the PhD, too.    

What is the advice you can give to others who are thinking of pursuing a PhD? 

Calculate enough time for finding a good topic. Do not forget that the topic should not only suit to the company and to the KIT, it should also be fitting to yourself. You have to make deep research in this field and if you don’t like it, you will not succeed in your thesis or with your complete PhD. What is also super important is to find a supervisor of the KIT for your thesis, without you are not able to do your PhD. The easiest way ist to choose a supervisor for the master thesis, that is interested in supervising your PhD, so you can learn each other and connect while the Master Thesis and afterwards both are convinced of the project.

Anything else you want to share?

If there are any questions in doing a industrial PhD in cooperation with the KIT, you can also share my contact information for direct contact.


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