Wednesday, May 12, 2010

21 months later..

I guess this is a good enough frequency to update a blog that no one reads :) In the past 21 months, much has happened. I finished my dissertation. So now I am a doctor in some inconsequential (to me, anyway) subject in computer science. All hail me.

Honestly, when I first started my doctoral program in 2002, I had all kinds of interest in academia and the research fields in general. Although, I wasn't too picky about the school I joined (and maybe that was my mistake), I really liked the research area my advisor was pursuing and I didn't waste much time aligning myself with it. For about 3 years I was all in. Did some good projects. Then the politics kicked in. Publishing work required careful scrutiny of the program committee of the conferences, etc to make sure it was a "friendly crowd". Collaboration with bigger schools was hard to come by because I've never been the kiss ass type and schools with bigger programs, with faculty that was well-renowned (read: published prolifically which lead to large sources of constant funding which lead to more publishing, rinse, repeat) looked down on schools with small to modest department sizes. I quickly realized that academia was not for me.

In the meanwhile I had started working for as a software developer and I really liked my job (unlike some of my past jobs). That coupled with the fact that a lot of the "research" we were doing seemed to be of a peripheral nature to the bigger, more "important" things being done in the same field elsewhere, soured my outlook on my chosen field. I couldn't change schools due to financial reasons and the fact that I didn't want to quit my job. That led to my refusing an offer to "graduate now and take up post-doc position" at some institute in France. France is cool, but I didn't want to move there, or live at €20000 a year.

All in all, I wanted out. But having spent 3-4 years on my PhD seemed like a lot to just flush down the drain. So I hung in there. My professional workload got bigger, my advisor took a sabbatical for a couple of semesters to go do research work in above-mentioned French institute (among other places), and before I could un-blink my eye, it was late 2008 and I really started to worry that some of my doctoral credits would start dropping off. It was now or never.

It had been almost a year since I had last contacted my advisor. He had almost given up on me although he was still waiting for his first PhD advisee to graduate. Apparently, another doctoral student who had started work with him after me had also decided to give up and re-enter "industry". I re-initiated contact and was received surprisingly well. And we set to work again. I got myself a graduation plan. I needed one more publication and then I was told to gather up all my publications and make a dissertation out of it. July 2009 was when my last paper got published. I spent the summer and fall compiling my dissertation and on October 10, 2009, I successfully defended it in front of my committee of 5 faculty members.

December 17, 2009 saw an end to that chapter in my life. And although in some respects it seems like a huge waste -- here I am, doctoral degree in Sensor Networks, writing business intelligence software -- in other respects I'm glad I stuck with it.

In the meantime, the aforementioned job that I loved turned sour by 2007 and I quit in January 2009 to take up my current job which had an awesome perk of being able to work in New Zealand for the first 3 months of 2009 and then (as now) I work from home.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

First Blog

Wow, This is lame. I always thought blogs were lame. How bored must I be that I actually took the time to create myself a blogger account. Well, procrastinating is more like it. How can I work on unimportant shi-te like finishing my dissertation when I have more important things (like setting up a blog) left to do!