A Story on Online Research, with a new name: cOllab

One day in November 2016, I was chatting with my colleagues in the lab, we talked about how great MATLAB has been throughout all of our research. However, it is not well-known in Turkey. This was because of the lack of documentation in Turkish and limited online platforms where you can exchange MATLAB problems. To overcome this disadvantage and contribute to scientific research activities in the country, I decided to build a web-page, called MATLAB Türkiye (MATLAB Turkey), with the support of my colleagues. In this web-page, we aimed at to share articles about MATLAB and exchange questions and answers in a similar way to MathWorks Q/A page but in Turkish.

After a year of experience, I came up with a new idea called MATLAB Türkiye – Akademi (MATLAB Turkey – Academy). Because, as far as we observed from the Q/A page, the main problems of the people were rooted in their weakness on problem definition and the tendency to solve complicated problems without having basic skills. In order to overcome this problem, a systematic learning approach, as well as supervision is needed. Thus, on MATLAB Türkiye – Akademi, we aimed to have an online, voluntary environment to meet all of these needs. MATLAB Türkiye – Akademi, divided into two groups: Development Team and Project Team. In the Development Team, we aimed at elementary level people starting from scratch. So, we prepared introductory assignments where students can also find the hints for given problems. This program takes five weeks to complete except for the final project. In the Development Team, we had five students in total so far. The Project Team, on the other hand, mimics graduate programs that we have at universities. In other words, in the Project Team, we aimed to challenge more realistic problems. For admission to both teams, video interviews and CV evaluations were carried out.

Eventually, I met with Zeynep Arslanturk who is my student from the Project Team. We have performed research on the Design and Optimization of Thin Film Optical Filters (IFOFO) via video call meetings for a year. After that, as Zeynep passed to her senior year and our project progressed well, we decided to apply for TUBITAK 2209-B Industrial Research Funding Program for Undergraduate Students 2019/1. Next, we had to find a partner from the industry which can support our project for fabrication. After three months of searching, we found Şişecam Turkey and got an appointment for our project meeting. We carefully prepared our project proposal and presented to R&D Engineers at Şişecam Turkey Discussion was long and productive. Finally, we were able to get the support letter from Şişecam Turkey. That day was also the first time that I met with Zeynep in person.

After all of this long procedure, we prepared our proposal to TUBITAK in two very busy weeks. We are now waiting for the evaluation results at the moment. Our project got the TUBITAK grant! But whatever the application outcome is, I find our effort very valuable. Here we have shown that it is possible to perform research with full of curiosity and enthusiasm independent from traditional and centralized institutions. Moreover, I strongly believe that research-driven education will become more and more important in the near future rather than the traditional university education. Instead of access to the information, the usage of knowledge and processing it with different disciplines’ points of views will be critical.

With all experience, I gathered in this long time, I am glad to announce to you my new research group called cOllab -Collaboration Laboratory. In cOllab, the first goal is to have an interdisciplinary discussion atmosphere. I aim these discussions to result in novel projects. Secondly, cOllab aims to have curiosity-driven research carried out by motivated students. In this respect, cOllab will demonstrate one of the first examples of a decentralized open research group which I think will be the education concept of the future.

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