MALS Career Spotlight: Milton Mariani

sun setting over 1911 building

What is your current position? What do you enjoy most about your current position? What do you find most challenging? 

MALS Alumni
Milton Mariani

I recently started a funded Ph.D. at Technical University Denmark (DTU) under a European Union Horizon 2020 project (ReHyb) with a focus on the advanced interface design of a Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality (VR/AR) driven exoskeleton for the hybrid rehabilitation of stroke patients. The Ph.D. scholarship runs from my start date of April 1, 2020, until March 31, 2023. I certainly enjoy being back in an atmosphere of learning and challenging oneself to be more innovative and exceed expectations of peers and family. Currently, the most challenging thing is having to start a Ph.D. under COVID-19 lockdown. Working virtually doesn’t provide the same level of interaction and cultivation of relationships which will be vital during these arduous three years.

What is a typical work day like for you?

My typical day starts with dropping my kids off at their institution, a.k.a. preschool, and booting up my computer around 9 a.m. Checking emails and other communication channels such as MS Teams for updates on current or upcoming tasks is the first thing I do to help me establish my priorities for the day. Tasks can vary but usually deal with project management of DTU’s efforts in the ReHyb project. My own research is slowly starting to take shape but mostly consists of me reading several journals a week to better shape my knowledge and thought on topics and ideas which could be utilized in my published articles.

How did the MALS program at NC State prepare you for your current position?

The MALS program is interdisciplinary and gives students the opportunity to conduct research into fields and disciplines which match their interests. In my case, I combined humanities with business and management to concentrate on innovation in immersive gaming. My business courses highly emphasized innovation in user-centric product and service design and development. Meanwhile, the humanities, particularly seminars, brought balance and expanded the breadth and scope of where, how, and to whom innovation can bring value. Project management was the third segment of my concentration and it helped the management of my course but also teams in which we work in academia and industry.

What was your favorite part of the MALS program?

The best part of MALS is the diversity of master’s candidates each with their own concentrations, and because it is tailored to each student’s interests, I believe you find the students are more passionate about their research. Most candidates I have met have some personal motivation which drives their concentration.

What advice do you have for students considering a career in your field?

Don’t judge yourself too harshly for your mistakes, take risks, learn and grow. While you are spending time comparing yourself to others, they are busy getting ahead. Focus on you and your path will present itself. Lastly, education and the knowledge it brings is something no one can take from you, but you can give to others. Share and inspire. 


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