Assignment 12

Assignment 12: Envisioning and Reflecting about the Future

due: Tuesday, Nov 27, 9:00am

Reflect what you would like to do after you will have finished your PhD

a) are you planning to work in academia or industry? –> why?

b) assuming you will decide to work in industry –> which characteristics of a company would make it most or least desirable for you to work for it?

Michael Otte – I think that academia and industry are both decent career choices, along with others such as research or government positions. I think that all of the options have positive aspects to them and I have not yet been significantly drawn to one career path over the others. If I end up working in industry, then I would like to work for a company that lets employees share in some of the profits that their effort brings in (i.e. by allowing employees to have a stake in the patents of the technologies that they help to create, and/or by rewarding profitable ideas with a percentage of the resulting earnings).

Paul Marshall - In the long term I am interested in working in academia, however, I came to CU just after undergrad (I took one year off) so I am interested in getting some experience in industry before I just go back to the academic world. I am most drawn to companies with larger visions of how they can contribute to the world and humanity – companies that at least appear to have more in mind than just making a profit (obviously that is a very important part too). I don't think I will limit myself to just companies though, I also plan to consider large government research labs. For the long term I am interested in academia because of the abundant chances to work with a lot of people (faculty and students) from diverse backgrounds and fields, I also enjoy the freedom I see in academia over many types of industry.

John Michalakes – I would like to find a faculty position where I can conduct research and teach. I am not particularly interested in tenure. I would much prefer devoting time to working with students and pursuing interesting research. All of my experience since earning my masters degree in 1988 has been at government research laboratories – first Argonne National Laboratory, then at NCAR. It has been tremendously rewarding, both in terms of the work and the many associations I have made. My decision to focus more on academia now is partly nostalgic – I very much enjoyed the university research environment and culture when I was working on my masters degree – and partly a desire to work with students and "give back." And though it may be naive on my part, in returning to academia from government research, I hope to step back from the directed and politically-driven aspects of publicly funded computer science.

Saroch Panichsakul - I am planning to work in academia upon my PhD graduation. One of the main reasons that brought me to PhD program is the opportunities to do research and explore what I am really interested in, what I think it is cool, and what I just want to know more about. The academic institution can help me make these opportunities true by providing research tools, funding and helpful professors/peer students. On the other hand, the industry relies too much on profit they will make and the market opportunities. As a result, I cannot get full support from these companies, both financially and academically. And that is why I plan to work in academia to satisfy my needs.

Yuli Liang - Right now I’m still keeping my option open. A research position in the academia or industrial R&D are both sounds terrific. For me, besides my interest, it also depends on which job could let me be closer to my family. If I work in the industry, the attractive characteristics of a company are open working atmosphere and dealing with interesting questions (i.e. research-based, practical, or beneficial to mankind).

David Gnabasik - I intend on staying in academics, though not necessarily here in America, as long as I can pursue my research interests. It's certainly enjoyable to teach people who are interested in learning, and many universities provide the support for finding the right balance between research and teaching. Several of the professors that I have worked with have successfully consulted in local industry, so that option is also open, especially in the area of automation optimization. Denver itself is big enough to support a variety of industries willing enough to approach the "bleeding edge" for the sake of competitive advantage. The factor that throws everything wide open, that opens up a deluge of opportunities, is how companies use the internet.

Jane Meyers - Right now I consider a career in academia my future objective. Aside from the more obvious advantages and opportunities of teaching, I really enjoy the excitement and influx of fresh ideas that permeate academia. Additionally it seems that collaboration opportunities in academia should be facilitated by the wide variety of subject areas, proximity, and researchers that can take risks without serious consequence. In my brief stint at an R&D research facility, I felt that this type of exciting, innovative, and creative energy was less present.

Mohammad Al-Mutawa – I plan to work in academia; I made my decision before even starting my studies here in CU. I have a scholarship, and when I finish I have to go back home and teach at the university. After I got my bachelor degree, I worked for six years in a telecommunication company, and although I was exposed to latest technologies and the largest companies, I felt that I can do more if I went into academia. For me to go into industry the company/position will have to be flexible and allow some freedom, it also has to be creative, interesting and challenging. I would not consider a rigid place, with repetitive tasks.

Caleb Phillips - Academia. I've always enjoyed teaching and I love research. I've spent some time working in industry (no fortune-500's, but still plenty of smaller companies) and I'm not convinced industry work can provide me enough intellectual flexibility to make me happy.

Holger Dick
a.) I'm certainly more interested in research than in "delivering" and also enjoy teaching. What's more, most of the research I'm interested doesn't seem to be easily "sellable", as I'm interested in very fundamental questions.

Thus, academia should be a clear call. However, academia isn't the free-research-in-the-area-you're-interested-in paradise, either. To get funding one often has to jump on the same hypes as companies do. Besides, there are some, admittedly few, industry research departments and positions that are interesting to me.

In conclusion, I can't really say that I'd prefer industry or academnia. What I can say is that I prefer doing research over producing and selling.

b.) A company that has a real interest in research, is open to new ideas, and looking for novel ways to solve problems (and thus uses the ideas coming from its research department) is most interesting for me. Negative example: Quite a few interesting and smart researchers work at Microsoft Research. However, they and their research seems to have a very small to non-existent influence on the products MS develops and sells.

Dan Knights -
I plan to work in academia if possible. I am thoroughly enjoying doing research, but I also love to teach–I taught high school math for 3 years prior to beginning my program here, and I miss it sometimes. Therefore, I hope that I can eventually get hired into a tenure track position at a university where I can do research and teach. If not, I will consider working in "industry," but I would hope to be in a research position, rather than a software engineering position. I would prefer to work at a research lab instead of a commercial software company, although certainly some companies (such as Google) have some opportunities to do research. I also have this over-arching concern regardless of where I work: I want to do more or less "wholesome" work. Examples are work that contributes to ecologically sustainable living, or that promotes peace and tolerance.

Yifei Jiang - I prefer working in academia. Because comparing with industry, research in academia is very much self-initiate and self-directed. Working in academia, you can feel more like the member of a family instead of the member of a team, in which research goals are oriented toward the success of the company and financial benefit. I think a company with innovative spirit would be more attractive for me to work for it.

KyuHan Koh-

At this point, I think that working in academia or industry wouldn’t be matter to me if I could do what I want to. My goal as a computer scientist is building better educational simulations. Personally, I believe that educational simulations can provide equal education opportunities to both the rich and the poor, and it could increase the efficiency of teaching and learning dramatically compare to traditional education methods. There are quite many companies and universities where this kind of research is being done. I believe that it would make no difference to me. The important thing to me is not where I work but what I work for.

If I decide to work in industry field, then probably I will work for companies who develop educational solutions for teachers and students. When I worked as a TA, I used an education solution package from Prentice Hall. I had a chance to talk with developers from Prentice Hall, and I thought that it could be a good place for me to work. Also, Educational Testing Service is a good place to work for. They are one of the biggest organizations in education software market.

Soumya Ghosh
At this point, which is still fairly early in my PhD career, I am open to both industry and academia. More importantly, I would like to work at a place where i have the independence to carry out my own research. The likelihood of this happening is more in academia than in industry. However various industrial research labs also seem to let one do this, within some boundaries of course. If i were to join the industry I would be interested in working for a startup or startup like company, where the success of the company filters through to the employees and vice versa.

Jeffrey LaMarche
a.) I am primarily interested in working in academia and my hope is to secure a tenure track faculty position. For the past seven years I have worked in industry and found it to be lacking, although the types of positions I could find in industry with a PhD degree would be quite different than with only a B.S. degree. I like the flexibility and diversity that an academic job would provide. Finding funding still requires focusing research on what is most desired, but there is still a lot of flexibility with how the research is performed. In a research industry job you could be working on something you find interesting one day and the next the company tells you to work on something entirely different that is boring (this is a common story in the biotech industry).

b.) If I had to take an industry job I would want to work (research) for a highly creative company such as Google, Apple, or Pixar. These types of companies are known for having great work environments and taking good care of their employees. Their creative spirit pushes boundaries and helps generate new exciting technologies. These are the characteristics I would most like to see in an industry position: research oriented, creative focus, pushing boundaries, flexibility, and caring for employees.

Joel Pfeiffer - I am currently planning on working at NASA, where I have cooped the last few years and plan on going back to in the summers. Working there is a fairly unique position, where we do robotics research that you would expect in academia, but without the teaching. Also there is no pressure to get tenure, and I really like the people that I work with. If for some reason I don't end up there (likely, given how far in the future that is) I feel I am better suited for the industry, so long as it was a research oriented position.

Guy Cobb - I'm certainly open to change, but I believe that industry is where I would prefer to be after I finish my graduate studies. The national lab system is interesting to me, and I will try to do my summers interning in one of the national labs to see if that is something I would be interested in. I'm not convinced at this point that a career in academia is for me. I like teaching, but I don't know that this is something I would like to have as an integral part of my career. I've worked in the industry since high school and I have in general enjoyed it, though I often felt unfulfilled in a lot of the work I was doing. Part of the reason I am here is to to raise the bar on the things I work on, with the end goal of doing research in an industrial setting. I suppose the most important criteria for a company is one that has a fairly robust research lab setting and does what it can to foster that environment (see Google)

Keith Maull

a) At the current moment, I view my PhD as an enabler to a career shift that will carry me through the next 2/3rd of my intellectual and work life. I've been working in industry for 12+ years, and on the one hand, I have had the opportunity to work on many interesting products and systems, but on the other hand, such work has, at times, been unfulfilling. There are a number of industry research labs that are of interest to me - from the large Google/IBM/Microsoft/HP labs to much smaller lower profile research labs. I'd like to be able to explore the options, since I have friends who work in these labs who have fulfilling careers, yet sometimes comment on how little difference there is when inside a corporate "cube farm". I'd like to explore private consulting and research as a possible remedy to this, since in the next few decades building my own business off of the expertise and training obtained through the PhD program, may very well be the ticket to a more free, open approach to working for my own business.

I am also open to working in a government laboratory, but think it is similar to the "academia" option.

Academia is a possibility, however, at the current moment, by interest in it is tenuous. I have lived in Colorado for 12 years and moving may be difficult, so I may have to act in a "contractor" role to a university - teaching when the need is there and perhaps doing research as an associate, but not as a full faculty member. I have not ruled out academia, it is just something that is less appealing given my personal desire to call Colorado home.

b) I have worked in industry for 12+ years. The best company I have ever worked for was HP from 1995-2000. The key characteristics that made HP a great place then were : 1) a respect for the individual contributor - that everyone has the potential and is encouraged to contribute to the company in every way possible given their talents, expertise and abilities. In other words people matter : that is to say the company is nothing without its employees, so they should be treated with utmost respect and be given the opportunity to grow and create a path for themselves professionally that enriches their own skills while at the same time keeping the company ahead of the competition, 2) a spirit of teamwork - that the entire company is working together as a team to achieve goals and objectives that would be impossible for an individual, 3) nurturing and encouraging the development of personal and professional skills to stay on top of the most up-to-date technology and techniques - this includes annual training in one's job area be it software, hardware, management, including, but not limited to academic training and advanced degrees. Everyone has a creative skill and talent - developing and growing that talent is extremely important to me, and a company that understands how to respect and nurture that in each individual, is a company that is worthy of consideration.

Lee Becker

a) My preference at this time is to pursue a career in academia after finishing my degree here at CU. I enjoy the diversity of thought, ideas, and people one encounters in a university environment. There is something very invigorating about how universities force one to continually open up to new perspectives. At the risk of sounding too idealistic, I believe being a teacher and a researcher in a university would allow me to make a more positive impact on future generations while at the same time granting me the opportunity to investigate my varied curiosities. Also, I found industry's focus on Wall Street's whims and quarter to quarter profits robs corporations of their ability to carry out long term vision.

b) The "HP Way" by Dave Packard should be required reading for anyone considering working for a corporation of any size. This book gives a blue print for how to run an innovative, forward-thinking, employee-friendly company, and it was written long before "" was a buzz word for "get-rich-quick". In short Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett's philosophy says trust your employees to do a good job, and they will. Instead of focusing on company stock value, do what is right for your business. Up until about 1999, Hewlett-Packard truly was run as the embodiment of the HP Way. If the HP of today was run like it was during the "Bill and Dave" days, I would gladly return to work for them.

Nwanua Elumeze

Even as a recent Ph.D student, I have come to the conclusion that pure research, whatever that means, is not for me. I definitely prefer engineering and development, in comparison with basic research. I also worked as a software engineer for several years and decided that I do not like working at a corporate job either.

So I started my own company, and am very happy with conducting research and development in an environment where I can play with all sorts of silly ideas and not be forced to spend valuable time justifying them to academia (e.g. journals, evaluation, user studies), or to pointy-haired bosses (focus studies, marketing). It's the luxury of a startup, so I'd better enjoy it while it lasts. Naturally, it will turn into the sort of place I'd love to work: as Jeff mentioned above, great companies "are known for having great work environments and taking good care of their employees. Their creative spirit pushes boundaries and helps generate new exciting technologies." - that's what I envision.

I prefer the user-centered approach of making something and having it fly or sink on practical merits, and industry is where that kind of "shallow" research flourishes. Then again, I have enjoyed my TA appointments and imagine that I would like to teach at the graduate (or even at the high school) level at some time in the future, after I've made my fortunes :-)

Jinho Choi

a) It is a very hard question but for now, I plan to stay in academia as a professor. As much as I like doing research, I love to associate with students who I can teach my understanding to and share the interest with. The teaching experience I had as a full-time lecture at Korea Military Academy made me realized that being a professor is not just about teaching course works but guiding them to be computer scientists who can contribute something to the society. Moreover, academia tends to be a bit more flexible than industry for research topics which is very big attraction to me. I do want to add pragmatics into my research so even if I stay in academia, I definitely want to do some joint research with industry.

b) The most desirable thing is to create applications that has a higher chance to be used in practice. There are times that academic researches do not get to be practical, but in industry they are more likely to be pragmatic. The least desirable thing is not having flexible working hours; it depends on which company you work for but in general, at least I believe that working hours in academia is more flexible.

Ashok Basawapatna

a) are you planning to work in academia or industry? –> why?
I am planning on working in academia because from what I have seen through my limited experience in research in academia and research in industry I believe that in many instances academia allows the researcher more liberty to pursue an exact research interest. That being said, I could envision a perfect situation in industry and I would gladly work in such a situation.

b) assuming you will decide to work in industry –> which characteristics of a company would make it most or least desirable for you to work for it?
The characteristics would be a company with a relaxed atmosphere that had a dual emphasis on research and products and had a director or president who had a clear research philosophy as well as a company direction. It would also be nice if the company fostered and encouraged collaborations with academia and didn't shy away from allocating resources towards preliminary investigations of topics that did not necessarily have a clear path to profit.

Dola Saha

I am planning to work in academia or research lab because I like to do research and academia or research lab will provide me a cradle for doing research. I also like teaching, and will be glad to teach in academia.

I do not want to be a sophisticated programmer in industry, that's what industry provides.