I am beginning my second semester in an funded engineering MS/PhD program, doing the PhD route. Unlike most programs, I was admitted directly into a PI's group who secured my funding. After a semester, I am still very confused by the culture and environment of my PIs laboratory group, so I thought I would ask the board:
In the fall I met with my advisor who told me to focus on classes and ease into the lab, but by the end of the semester he bluntly asked what I have accomplished and reminded me how much I am costing him (explaining that he could've bought more lab equipment instead of me). He asked me to come up with a research topic, which I am hurriedly working on.
My advisor is in the very top of his field, but is still relatively approachable. However the lab culture is very stand-off-ish. The group is a mix of 7-8 MS/PhD students all doing different things, and even though we all share an office nobody rarely talks to one another. It took me a month to learn everyone's name, and I still don't know what everyone is working on.
Group meetings with my advisor do not exist. Others in the program describe having weekly group meetings and paper review groups and even a collaborative chat app. But in this group the students meet individually with an advisor, so it's very hard to determine what anyone is working on. I still don't know all the project in the lab, there is no lab website, and nothing is shared with me. I am completely in the dark.
Even though I am starting my second semester, I have had very little lab time, have done zero experiments and am not even sure where most things are in the lab. Other students in the group are busy doing their own things, and are difficult to approach. So my question is, am I bringing my undergrad mindset into gradschool, or is this lab very difficult to work in? How do I get started?
My thoughts about graduate school were that my advisor would pair me with a student who would help me get situated in the lab and I would help him/her with a small project during my first semester, and would then branch out into working on my own proposal. Is this a misconception, or is this how most graduate students start? Is my lab uncommon, or am I doing something wrong? At this point, how can I get the ball rolling with research? When I meet my advisor, he tells me to "go do things and show me results", and it is very clear that he is expecting something at the end of this semester, but I do not know what or how to plan to even begin research.