Sunday, October 16, 2016

Bad memories of why I left research

This article, China Has Now Eclipsed The US in AI Research, would not have triggered bad memories had I not come across this article, Meddling with education needs to stop if India wants to compete in technology-driven world, just a few days back.

I recall the first interview I attended. There were over 50 candidates to be interviewed in one day for 2 positions! Most of the time of my interview(just over 5 minutes) was taken up by the Vice Chancellor worrying whether I met the minimum requirements - a second class Master's degree. I had a BA (Summa cum laude) and a PhD from well known university but I did not have a Master's degree! The fact that the Vice Chancellor was wasting this time in an interview just destroyed my mental equilibrium.

I was pleasantly surprised when I got hired at a small research institute after a fairly serious interview lasting about an hour. This was just my second interview. I had not expected the job because I had been advised by 'well connected' people that the jobs are fixed in advance! Anyway, my happiness lasted till a change in director.

As I was walking past his office, the new director called me in and there were two visitors in his office. I was supposed to be the faculty in charge of technical equipment. Out of the blue, he said that he felt that one of the senior faculty members was making excessive use of the photocopying machine and I should monitor it!

This was the final trigger and I was lucky to have switched to software industry otherwise I would have migrated back to the US.

On second thought, lucky?