Many of my peers in my program, Computer Engineering, are of the opinion that what you do in school is a “head-fake”, that you take all this intense math and science essentially to prove that you can accomplish difficult tasks quickly. A “real job” doesn’t actually use any of that junk except for a few select classes.

I suppose I understand that sentiment, but my issue is that after something like 20 years of math, Stockholm Syndrome has kicked in and I really enjoy it. I will miss it. I just finished one of the hardest classes at my University with an A because Fourier Transform just makes sense to me. Learning how to operate some software program is not the same as learning how to build a differential amplifier. Not all learning is equal. I have had two fantastic Co-Op (internship) rotations with some big name companies working on great projects, but the most intense math I used was division and that makes me sad. While my peers cannot wait to graduate and start their lives, it feels like it is the end of mine.

It seems that industry, for every 1 person actually producing something, there are 20 people doing documentation, management, talking to the customer, supply chain, etc etc. (edit: and I do not mean that in a derogatory manner, I am actually getting an MBA as well at the moment. I just mean that the one person who uses their academic knowledge is followed by a slew of people who do not use it).

So, the obvious answer is to go through a PhD and enter Academia but I do not think that is the right path for me considering I have no desire to teach and I also really enjoy making the money I do now. Putting my fiscal life on hold for another 4-5 years seems like quite a lot as I am already in debt.

My question then, is, how do I use what I learned in school while in industry? Or should I leave industry and pursue academia? Should I still go for a PhD but do industry research? How can I continue to learn while I am working in industry?

Apologies if this question is unclear, it’s very nebulous and if this gets removed or -1 I understand.

I’m finishing a post-doc and possibly going (back into) industry, but with the intent to continue research and publish papers and FOSS software.

I know that hi-tech companies typically give you this agreement to sign about them having all intellectual property rights and you having nothing – a Properitary Information Agreement.

Luckily, in my case, I’m more-or-less the first proper hire of a professional employee (it’s a start-up); and the company is positive about me doing research and about them releasing (some/lots) of FOSS. So that means that there’s room for negotiations.

I haven’t gotten a draft of this agreement yet, but I wanted to draw on people’s experience and ask: What’s important to put in, and to leave out, from such an agreement? Are there particular issues I should keep an eye for to not get “burned” by understanding things one way and the company understanding them another way?

Notes:

  • The field is applied computer science.
  • It’s a US company.

I have left the academia and work for the industry for several years in Germany (different companies), and now I am thinking to go back to get a PhD in the Netherlands. However, most of the PhD application required me to provide 2 reference contacts.

I have contacted my previous supervisors, but as it has been several years, they somehow do not reply to my email (either they have moved out from the company or they might forget about me.. ). At best, I can provide the contact of my former co worker whom I still in good contact with. The problem is that most of my former co-worker do not have academical credential (Msc. at most)

In Germany, where I am currently working, it is the norm for an employer to provide a recommendation letter once I leave the company. I always left the companies in good term, and I have different good personal recommendation letters (This includes from my Thesis’ supervisor and Professor)

I am now thinking not to provide 2 contacts, but instead directly submitting the recommendation letters for my PhD application. The reason is because I do not want to “chase” my former manager and supervisors, as they were already kind enough to provide me with a good recommendation letter once and as the deadline is closing soon. I am not sure how this is perceived in the Netherland. Or is it better to just ignore my recommendation letters for my PhD application, and just ask my former co-worker that I am sure can be contacted by the committee ?

I’m finishing a post-doc and possibly going (back into) industry, but with the intent to continue research and publish papers and FOSS software.

I know that hi-tech companies typically give you this agreement to sign about them having all intellectual property rights and you having nothing – a Properitary Information Agreement.

Luckily, in my case, I’m more-or-less the first proper hire of a professional employee (it’s a start-up); and the company is positive about me doing research and about them releasing (some/lots) of FOSS. So that means that there’s room for negotiations.

I haven’t gotten a draft of this agreement yet, but I wanted to draw on people’s experience and ask: What’s important to put in, and to leave out, from such an agreement? Are there particular issues I should keep an eye for to not get “burned” by understanding things one way and the company understanding them another way?

Note: The field is applied computer science.

The Von Humboldt model of a university, came about in the early 1800. Von Humboldt’s thought that the fundamental purpose of the university was to promote scientific inquiry and to unify teaching and research. This idea implies, of course, that the purpose of a university is to create new knowledge

However, a previous SE question touches upon the idea that the initial goal of a university was not to discover new knowledge (as was humboldts view), but to transmit older knowledge.

If this is the case, where exactly were scientific advancements pursued prior to the Von Humboldt model?

This question is not about PhD students, but about professionals with PhD degrees. To narrow down the scope even further, let my subject be a computer science PhD seeking a job in Europe. (I’d include the USA as well, but I’m afraid the dynamics are not the same. However, feel free to include relevant comparisons and data in the answers when needed.)

The salary of such a professional, if they stayed in academia, will be probably lower than if they chose to get a job in industry.

What is the economic incentive behind the university policy to not have higher, more competitive salaries when compared to industry?

I know that state institutions are (at least partially) on the government budget, so they arguably have little say in the matter. However, private institutions are significantly more independent in their organization. Basically, isn’t it in the institutions’ best interest to have the “best pick” of PhD graduates, instead of competing against the lure of a higher pay?

I know people have posted LOTS of questions about whether they should apply to PhD programs, but I haven’t seen some of the issues I’m currently facing addressed.

I’m currently a master’s student in computer science at a top 15 university and am faced with the current pros and cons:

Pros

  • I strongly prefer research to software engineering. Apparently this is the only valid reason to get a CS PhD (other than wanting to become a professor, which I don’t), and this reason is certainly true for me. I’ve worked on 3 research projects, all of which I have found vastly more interesting than the software engineering internships I’ve had. I’m especially excited about finding solutions to unstructured problems, which apparently is the core of doing research.

Cons

  • According to what I’ve read, it’s likely that even if I get a PhD, I’ll end up in software engineering anyway. That’s a lot of time and energy spent on something that will end up having little effect on my career. Ideally, I’d like to get an industry research position somewhere like Google, but from what I can tell, only a select number of superstars get those types of positions. I spent my 20s chasing a similarly uber-competitve pipe-dream, and I’d rather not waste my time on another one.

  • I’m 34 years old. This fact has two repercussions:

    1. Continuing to get paid very little for 5-7 more years seems flat-out irresponsible at this stage of my life. I wiped out my savings and took on loads of debt to quit my job and go back to school. I’m afraid that if I don’t to make as much money as possible as soon as possible, I’ll end up having to resort to eating cat food when I retire.

    2. If and when I do graduate with a PhD, and if I’m unable to secure a research position and go the programming route, I’ll be a new entrant to an industry that is notoriously ageist in my 40s rather than my 30s.

  • PhD programs are, infamously, very stressful, and I’m not sure I want to put myself through that. I’ve had chronic depression for my entire adult life (albeit managed and medicated), and I honestly wonder if I could handle the anxiety that PhD programs apparently bring. The PhD application process alone seems enormously intimidating and demoralizing to me.

  • I frankly just don’t think I’m a competitive candidate. My grades are excellent, but I’m not currently at even a top-10 school and I have no publications or good connections to professors at other schools. I also just had a sort of falling out with my current advisor, who’s famous in his field, and I’m probably not going to get an LOR from him. I’ve heard that publications don’t really matter in PhD admissions, but I’m looking to apply to top-five schools, where, based on bios I’ve read and students I’ve met, they do matter.

Given all these considerations, does it seem obvious that I shouldn’t apply to PhD programs? Research seems very alluring and fulfilling to me, but these various drawbacks make it seem like it may not be worth it.

Historically, industrial research has been conducted (surprise) in industry. However, I think that there is an argument to be made, especially in medicine, that industry has begun to “outsource” risk to academic labs. That is, industry (big company or small) will fund academic research, then adopt the technological advances that do successfully mature. It seems possible to argue that this trend can be seen as manifested or at the least related to the many small academically-based medical tech startups which are eventually gobbled up by larger companies.

While this appears to be true in medicine, is there any sign of this happening now or in the near future in other STEM fields?
If no, in which direction is this dynamic evolving in those fields?

I’m (probably) going back from Academia to Industry after a post-doc. Unlike last time, where I signed a company-standard contract which did not have room for much maneuvering, this time it’s a small company with no template and will be their first academically-oriented hire.

I’m not asking so much about the employment conditions aspect of the contract, or about expatriation (in fact, I’ve asked a separate question about that on expats.SX) – but rather about the nature of the position in terms of doing research, publication / release of code, and other related issues.

What issues, or aspects of the relationship, do you believe it is:

  1. useful
  2. feasible
  3. common/not-unheard-of

to put into such a contract? (I’m asking about the disjunction, not the conjunction, of the above)

Note: I’m in applied Computer Science. You can make your answer more specific to this field or more general.