Young Indian Scientist looking at his research in material sciences on a computer in his lab
© Julia Rettenmaier / Hochschule Aalen
At Aalen University of Applied Sciences, Kishansinh Rathod from India is pairing AI and materials science.

Using AI to develop new, sustainable materials

At Aalen University of Applied Sciences, Kishansinh Rathod, works on his PhD while combining his passion for programming with his goal to develop groundbreaking materials for a more sustainable future.

Kishansinh Rathod, a scientific employee at the Materials Research Institute (IMFAA) at Aalen University of Applied Sciences, has always had a passion for programming. The young man from India holds two master’s degrees in the fields of computer science and engineering. After coming to Germany in 2019, he has immersed himself deeper in the worlds of machine learning and material science. His goal was to use his technological knowledge to make a meaningful impact on society. At Aalen University of Applied Sciences, he saw how machine learning experts can work together with material scientists to achieve ground-breaking discoveries. Kishan, as he likes to be called, is now pursuing a PhD in the multidisciplinary field he calls Material Informatics. In this interview with career start bw, Kishan provides detailed insights into his work as an international scientist at Aalen University of Applied Sciences.

Can you explain what your doctoral work in materials science and machine learning focuses on?

In simple terms, my doctoral research revolves around applying machine learning techniques to enhance materials research, particularly focusing on non-destructive quality control methods using artificial intelligence. This involves working with different non-destructive techniques such as CT, XRM, and Scanning Acoustic Microscopy, and developing new machine learning-based technologies for image analysis and quality control.

What makes this especially fascinating for you?

Coming from a computer science background, I've always been fascinated by computer programs and my fascination with programming naturally extended to the evolving field of machine learning. While I had programming experience and passion, I was searching for a way to make a meaningful impact on society.

What is your academic background and how did it lead to the current field of academic work?

In 2021, during my search for a master's thesis, I found out about the Materials Research Institue at Aalen University of Applied Sciences in Baden-Württemberg. I started following their research in the field of materials research, for the first time I had detailed knowledge on the application of machine learning in materials science. I learned how machine learning experts can work together with materials scientists to make ground-breaking discoveries.

What motivated you to choose it?

Seeing the potential impact on the environment and sustainability motivated me to look for a career in this multidisciplinary field. It's not just about programming; it's about using technology to make a positive difference in the world.

How will your work be used in the future? What problems will it solve?

My research aims to overcome the limitations of current manual and semi-manual approaches which are often time-consuming and require substantial expertise.

The research aims to help materials scientists in doing precise analysis of materials data and help them better understand the behavior of materials. Moreover, the applications extend to industrial manufacturing, where the implementation of this research can enhance product quality while significantly reducing time requirements. This, in turn, will contribute to increased production capacity and improved product quality.

You chose to do your PhD at a University of Applied Sciences. What was the experience like for you? What was special? Why did you choose it?

In my opinion, there are some advantages to pursuing a PhD at a university of applied sciences. Speaking specifically about Aalen University of Applied Sciences, being a PhD candidate at the Materials Research Institute connects you with a vibrant and interdisciplinary team, which proves to be helpful in the PhD learning journey. Moreover, at Aalen University of Applied Sciences, the majority of research projects also involve a balanced amount of industrial collaborations and use cases. This not only provides knowledge of academic research but also gives insight into how research is conducted and handled in industries. Additionally, I feel that communication with professors is faster at a University of Applied Sciences comparatively. All of these factors together became the reasons to start my PhD at Aalen University of Applied Sciences in Baden-Wurttemberg.

What brought you to Baden-Württemberg?

Education. And apart from that the nature and the international environment.

Before coming to Aalen, you studied in Heidelberg. Why did you decide to continue in Baden-Württemberg?

The opportunities to build a career abound, given that it is home to many academic institutes as well as numerous big companies. And, of course, the nature and vibrant culture add to the appeal.

What did you like especially about the experience? What were some highlights?

The higher education institutions have excellent ties with big industries. Additionally, most of the higher education institutions offer study abroad opportunities through ERASMUS, part-time work opportunities in the field as work-students, and plenty of scholarship possibilities. From the perspective of the living experience, student life in Germany is amazing. All higher education institutions are very international, and living in the dorms is an experience that every incoming student should have.

What surprised you?

Coming from a different culture, there were many surprises in the starting phase, such as “Quiet Time” after 10:00, no cleaning or garbage throwing on Sunday, and everything staying closed on Sunday; you see almost no people outside on Sunday. However, it's interesting to note that these differences became part of the unique experience.

On other hand, there are also delightful surprises. Despite the quiet time after 10:00, the nightlife turned out to be amazing, adding an unexpected vibrancy to the evenings. Additionally, the beauty of the summer here took me by surprise. Coming from a comparatively warm country, I never thought that summer could be so incredibly beautiful.

What advice would you give to other international researchers, students and scientists who plan to come to Baden-Württemberg?

Baden-Württemberg is the best place to study/research as well as to start your career. It is home to many excellent academic institutes and also hosts many big multinational companies.

My advice? Dive into the studies, enjoy the mix of cultures, and make the most of the opportunities around you. Baden-Württemberg isn't just a place for learning and working—it's a cool journey with lots of experiences!

What are your plans for the future?

My future plan is still dynamic but currently thinking of finishing my PhD and then continue my career in academic research here in Germany or find a research and development position in industry.

Tip for international students: Go here to learn more about PhD options in Baden-Württemberg.

Author: Siri Schubert