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How to Live in Paradise

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Advice for New and Disgruntled Faculty

USENIX Security 2014 Doctoral Colloquium
21 August 2014

Published in: Education
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How to Live in Paradise

  1. 1. How to Live in Paradise Pearls of Wisdom for New and Prospective Faculty David Evans www.cs.virginia.edu/evans USENIX Security PhD Forum 21 August 2014
  2. 2. How to Live in Paradise Perilous Wisdom for New and Prospective Faculty David Evans www.cs.virginia.edu/evans USENIX Security PhD Forum 21 August 2014
  3. 3. How to Live in Paradise Pearls of Wisdom for New and Prospective Faculty David Evans www.cs.virginia.edu/evans USENIX Security PhD Forum 21 August 2014 disgruntled
  4. 4. Almost everyone hates their dissertation by the time they’re done with it. The process inherently tends to produce an unpleasant result, like a cake made out of whole wheat flour and baked for twelve hours. Few dissertations are read with pleasure, especially by their authors. And aside from that, grad school is close to paradise. Many people remember it as the happiest time of their lives. And nearly all the rest, including me, remember it as a period that would have been, if they hadn't had to write a dissertation. Paul Graham, Undergraduation
  5. 5. Professor’s Paradasical Paradox Grad Student = Paradise – dissertation _+_ d_i_s_s_e_rt a t i o n_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ +_ _d_is_s_e_r_t_a_ti_o_n_ (_f_in_ished) Professor = Paradise
  6. 6. ProPfreofsesssoor r’s Paradasica“lR Peaal Jroab”dox Work with whomever you want Work with obnoxious, incompetent people Work on whatever you want Work on what your boss/customers want Work whenever you want Work when your employer wants Own your own work. Employer owns you. Get to say what you want. Say what your employer wants. Fail without consequences Failing gets you fired If you get bored, can go do something else for a year Maybe you get 2 weeks vacation
  7. 7. Professor’s Paradasical Paradox If a professor’s position is such paradise, why are so many professors miserable?
  8. 8. “Committee” Advice Individual Advice Probably correct (lots of people agree on it) Probably wrong (just one arrogant person’s opinion) Generally agreeable (lots of people agree on it) Usually disagreeable (everyone’s experience is different) Always uninteresting (lots of people agree) Often interesting (someone was motivated enough to write it) My meta-meta-advice: read/listen to lots of the second type, but ignore most of it
  9. 9. Quiz!
  10. 10. The truth is that no ideal strategy has yet been found, and that every approach has strengths and weaknesses. Given the current state of the art in this area, we are convinced that no one-size-fits-all approach will succeed at all institutions. Because introductory programs differ so dramatically in their goals, structure, resources, and intended audience, we need a range of strategies that have been validated by practice. The use of COBOL cripples the mind; its teaching should, therefore, be regarded as a criminal offense. ACM Computing Curricula 2001, Recommendations of the Joint ACM/IEEE Task Force on Computing Curricula EdsgerW. Dijkstra, How do we tell truths that might hurt?, 1975. (Java didn’t exist yet)
  11. 11. Why You Shouldn’t Listen to Me I’ve been extremely lucky I started my career back when everything was fun and easy I had no major responsibilities until well after tenure
  12. 12. plug book dori-mic.org
  13. 13. Reasons Why You Might Listen to Me
  14. 14. Reason #1 I’ve taught over half a million students (500K on-line, ~1500 in-person classes, ~50 research advises), learned something from many of them, and many have gone on to do amazing things.
  15. 15. Reason #2 I managed to become a tenured full professor without the ignominy of a single journal paper.
  16. 16. Reason #3 I believe enough in what I’m saying that I’m willing to buy anyone who wants more support/details/etc. a ridiculously expensive coffee to discuss it.
  17. 17. How to Spend Your Time time = values
  18. 18. How much should you Work?
  19. 19. Goal: no more than 10 hours per year
  20. 20. Goal: no more than 10 hours per year
  21. 21. Tenure-Track Dilemma Things that Matter Personally Fulfilling Intellectually Satisfying Socially Gratifying
  22. 22. Tenure-Track Dilemma Things that Matter Personally Fulfilling Intellectually Satisfying Socially Gratifying Things that “Count”
  23. 23. The Real Situation Things that Matter Personally Fulfilling Intellectually Satisfying Socially Gratifying Things that “Count”
  24. 24. “Trough of Mediocrity” Energy Value
  25. 25. Avoid the “Trough of Mediocrity” Energy Value Pinnacle of “Extraordinariness” Trough of Mediocrity Abyss of Embarrassment
  26. 26. How to Be an Extraordinary Teacher
  27. 27. Two Simple Steps! 1. Respect your student’s time 2. Focus on how you want to impact students five years from now, not on what they can do in 2.5 hours at the end of the semester
  28. 28. Teaching != Grading It is not your job to help employers filter students. Picture: tru.ca
  29. 29. My Grading Scale Gold Star – Excellent Work Green Star – Got most things I wanted Silver Star – Some serious problems Average:  It is not your job to help employers filter students.
  30. 30. Unbounded Expectations!  - exceptional work - better than I thought possible - breakthrough! - deserve a Turing Award!
  31. 31. Raising Funds
  32. 32. 21st October 1941 Dear Prime Minister, Some weeks ago you paid us the honour of a visit, and we believe that you regard our work as important. … it seems to us that we have met with unnecessary impediments. …The cumulative effect, however, has been to drive us to the conviction that the importance of the work is not being impressed with sufficient force upon those outside authorities with whom we have to deal. Alan Turing A.M. Turing (+ 3 others) Winston Churchill
  33. 33. Target Your Audiences Your proposal should be appealing to both thorough, competent reviewers and lazy, grumpy ones!
  34. 34. Write Fewer Proposals Don’t write proposals because of pressure from administrators, desire to appear “productive” Ask for feedback – early enough to be useful
  35. 35. Don’t Diversify Get the least restrictive, lowest management, funding you can (NSF, industry gifts)
  36. 36. Be Open
  37. 37. Follow Norms, Buck Conventions
  38. 38. Most Recommended Reading/Viewing Radhika Nagpal The Awesomest 7-Year Postdoc or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Tenure-Track Faculty Life Randy Pausch Time Management
  39. 39. www.cs.virginia.edu/evans evans@virginia.edu

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