Computer scientists have three choices in a career, blogs Mark Chu-Carroll at Good Math, Bad Math. They can do academic research, industrial research, or industrial development. Chu-Carroll says these paths differ on five points: freedom, funding, time and scale, results, and impact. Funding, he points out, is "a direct tradeoff with freedom: the more freedom you have, the more you're stuck working to get resources; the more constrained you are, the more secure your funding situation is." For time and scale, Chu-Carroll notes that academics can take on longer-term, ambitious ideas but industry people often can only map put a project for a year or so. Then, the results coming out of the work are different: in academia, you get publications while in industry, you produce a prototype or a product. Impact, though, is what Chu-Carroll says is important to him. "My work actually matters to people. The importance of that can't be overstated," he says.
The Forks in the Road
Dec 25, 2009