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The Parchment Path?

By George V. Neville-Neil

Communications of the ACM, Vol. 66 No. 6, Pages 31-32

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Dear KV,

I have spent much of my career working as a developer and software architect for various companies, both startups and large, established firms. I have always been lucky enough to work on projects that were interesting to me, several on the cutting edge of computing technology. A lot of the interesting projects have been close to research, but I have always been on the implementation side rather than the research part. Recently, I have been inclined to poke more into the research, but I do not have the pedigree to lead such projects, as they often require an advanced degree. With only a decade or so left until retirement, I have found myself considering various Ph.D. programs, which I never would have when I was younger. When I finished my undergraduate degree, I really wanted to work in industry, and, like many people, pay off a lot of loans. Is it too late for me to think about this? On the one hand, it seems crazy to consider taking several years to work on a Ph.D. just to be able to cross the line from development to research, but on the other, maybe it is not. If I went back, I would be, well …


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