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« Looking over his shoulder... Commandments For guys only... »

Expired Ph.Ds

  • By: Qwaider

  • On:Wednesday, May 30, 2007 8:22:24 PM
  • In:Thoughts
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    Rated 4.5/5 stars (177 votes cast)

    You don't need to be a computer science major to understand this article. But chances are, if you're not. You might be in a much better position than many people who majored in computer "Studies" (And by that I mean, Computer Science, Information Technology (IT), Computer Engineering, Software engineering ...etc)

    The issue is not about the hard work and tremendous amount of study that has been invested into the study to get those degrees only to discover that by the time those books went into press, almost everything in them has been rendered obsolete.

    Few years back, people were going bananas over Hungarian notation, (remember that?) By the time it -finally- became widely spread. People started discovering that it wasn't a good thing and everyone shifted once again to some other format, with promises that the next year will make everything that you know right now, completely irrelevant!

    Computer science is one of those sciences that follow quantum uncertainty. You can either know the location of a particle or it's speed at a given time. You can't know both because by knowing either one, you have affected the other! And the same applies to computer science. The more we know, the more we change the way we think.

    So why am I saying all of this. I remember back in the days when the professors in Jordan have all achieved their PH.Ds sometime back in the sixties or seventies. Yet, they were tasked with raising the next generation of Scientists and engineers. This is all fine and usually positive had these professors remain in touch with reality, the industry or got involved in recent projects that broaden their horizons.

    To the contrary, I found these professors (with no disrespect intended) to be fossilized in their own era. A witness to a time that has gone by. A testament to the future generations to what we should NOT become. Unfortunately, PhD status can't be revoked or demoted.

    What's even worse is that you find that these dinosaurs continue to preach the same old -and obsolete- teachings. If anything they do way more harm than good. As I myself has been forced to learn and learn my whole industry over and over again, and it didn't take years, it happens in the span of months. What we knew to be right and good, turns out to be wrong and bad only to emerge once again as good and so on with the vicious cycle

    I don't want to accuse all Jordanian professors of falling into the fossilized category, but to be completely frank, the only ones who keep up with what's going on are the ones spearheading research, development and in touch with the -non existent- industry (at least in Jordan)

    Sadly, this later bunch is an extreme rarity, leading me to believe that the rest are happily hibernating under the warmth of social security in their comfy positions in our academic institutions.

    I propose to the world that, Computer related Ph.D status have an expiry date, You may achieve it, but to keep it. You MUST keep up. Otherwise, you're doing more harm than good and need to reconsider what you're doing!

    Computer science helped me uncover an issue that is much harder with other "classical" sciences. But all of this leads me to the question; How many PhD holders in our universities have long expired, yet they still spray their stagnant knowledge in our youth's mind?... even worse, how many bright and talented would-be-noble-prize-winner-class scientist have they murdered with their fossilized mentalities?

    I'm really afraid to even think of the percentage....

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    Memories....

    I can relate very much to what you say, last year I visited the university of jordan-my story with the fund- I was talking with professors who graduated from "russia, romania, etc..." And the most surprising country for me was italy-I thought they were the best in pasta not in Information systems!!Anyway to make the long short, our "professors" tech 18 credit hours to make money not only that, they teach in more than one school to add to the money they make, research productivity is equal to zero if not minus!!
    I think the probelm goes back to why they got their PHD, is it because they love research and science or just to put the two letters "Dr." before their names? I think for must of them it was the later;the ones that chose the first are somewhere in the US or europe!

    Also Q, there is still some debate about calling computer science a "science", I-esnahlla- will graduate with a PhD in CS but none of my research is invloved with the "usual" computer science areas, I will be looking into organizational culture, leadership, innovation, etc.. none of which is directlty related to "CS"..(IT) is becoming a resource;it is not a tool anymore, it is just like "personnel" it need to be managed correctly in order for you-as an organization- to survive this ever changing business world..Shoot, I went off topic, but it all connect to the same issue, now I was sweating to convince the professors in the UJ that I am a CS major, but it was like talking to walls, for them it is not CS if it doesn't involve someone programming or solving algorithms!! I realized that we need 100 years if not more to be able to change this..
    really ?!
    so you think that teaching CS students a programing language is the way to go in CS ? thats what tech schools do !
    In university theory is whats important with a strong base of theories it doesn't really matter how much the technology changes as long as you have the basic the shift is simple and all you have to relearn are the tricks and workarounds.

    I have never really seen it as whatever you learn in CS ever gets obsolete it just evolves, what i learned in BASIC 13-14 years ago i still use in cold fusion ?! Granted i didn't formally study CS but really thats arguable.

    Then lumping CS and Computer engineering is a crime! they are not similar at all, computer engineering don't really take much programming. it is essentially the photo copy of an electrical engineering course minus 6 credit hours. they deal mainly with integration of system in the broader sense rather than implementing solutions so the skill set is different

    but as an end note yeah professors here might suck, not really sure since i never really studied under them but then again at that point you can't really blame the students troubles on the professors since students should be the holders of their own futures at that point unlike school
    so if the teachers suck there is no reason for the students to suck, btw usually those students (i work in the IT field here) are mostly lazy and they find a hassle in even learning anything outside of their focused work objective.

    So they earned their disabilities, and shouldn't be pitied   
    Mohanned .. it's interesting to her your take on it .. I'm sure there are other things that you can remember about this whole matter.... do share

    BamBam
    Evolved is an understatement, changed is not quite descriptive, how about FLIPPED on it's head? Yeah, If you've been around the computer industry as much as I have (and not taking this nor my academic track record as leverage here) but if you have, you would have seen this materialize right before your eyes.

    As for CS and CE, that's really not the point here, they're related. And in my CE undergrad studies, I did eventually take a ton of CS related material (in Addition to Electrical and Electronics) and the difference was way more than 6 credits.

    I do agree with you however that the success of the individual is not always based on having good professors. I for one don't think I gained anything in most of the printed material that we had back in the days of the undergrad, most of my "interest" was fulfilled from periodicals, latest research and up to date magazines. As I said, most of the stuff that were in the books were obsolete by the time they reached the print.

    Oh and if you think nothing has changed since Basic... then I guess there is no use in arguing ... :)
    This is an interesting subject. But maybe we can rephrase the question "Do professors in Jordan do their best with the LIMITED RESOURCES they have?"  Or are they too lazy to improve themselves? Are they to be blamed?

    I taught for two years in Jordanian universities and I know that if the professor, for example, wants to add/change a new course in the curriculum it takes years of meeting before the department decides on whether to add the new course or not. So, even if a professor is hard worker and enthusiastic to change he will be quickly shut down by not so hardworking professors.  

    But even with the aforementioned, Jordanian graduates do very well here in the graduates schools in the States. I am a TA here and I can't say that American students are way better programmer than Jordanians. Of course I am not comparing higher education between Jordan and the US, there is no comparison. But for the sake of fairness, let me just say that the worst professors I meet are here in the State, believe it or not. Not all professors here are MIT or Berkeley graduates.  
    That's very interesting insider view. I like the approach you're proposing.
    So you think some of the professors are victims of the system. Yet, I recall from my undergrad years that they didn't encourage any extracurricular readings or issues to pursue.
    As I said, the way the professors gain this futuristic insight is by interacting with the industry. Standards assemblies, conventions, periodicals ... etc.

    In the past, they used to say that a doctor's (MD) education is never done. They must continue to study and keep themselves fresh and up to date. It hasn't been more essential as it is the case with Computer studies

    From memory I could vividly tell you that the professors of those days used to be more of an obstacle that a solution. They even tried to stop people from taking their own volunteer work
    Well,
    What I saw last november in the IT school in jordan was more like gangs, each professor is a memeber of a gang, the most powerful ones become the "leaders", they share the credit hours to make more money, no research at all-which is the blood of PhD- you can see that most of them are inactive in their field, they were maths graduates from romania or the soviet union, I found myself talking with the flinstons.One of the "most up-to-date" ones that I met killed me from how much he talked about dell's business model!!I think we were in 2006 not 1999!!He had no idea that dell is now struggling-thats how I see it-, he even told me about how they tried to implement an ERP system in the university, the german company-I think it was SAP- refused to do the project because they were 1000% it would fail and they don't want to loose the jordanian market for the sake of a failed project!!This tells you how much problems they have in the structure of the school, and not only that; this shows that the potential users for the system are a 100 years away!

    While I was a BS student there I remember two great teachers, one came from australia and the other one from england, they both left after one year, guess why?

    Anyway CS is hard to define, it includes humans, interactions, machines, psyhology, maths, enegineering, etc.. So this science is pretty young compared to other sciences, the definition well get more clear as time goes by..
    I like how people were fascinated by Dells model only to discover that "surprise surprise" in 2007 Dell departed from their OWN direct model and they're going to start selling their computers in Wal-Mart of all places on earth! (this "flipped" just a week ago) in other words, for people teaching CS-Economic models (a couple of colleagues from Harvard Business School) have been proven wrong in the real world!!
    I remember spending the whole Processor Architecture class debating with a processor about virtualization and registry windowing when he couldn't explain why would you need this other than better performance!!
    You know what killed dell? The change of customers behaviors, when the e-commerce first boomed, people liked the idea of customizing their PC or notebook online, buying it online and for cheaper price..Studies found that now customers prefer to "touch and feel" their computer before they buy it, it like a test drive in a car. Now their "business model" can be easily copied because the technology is out there, indians are more than ready to prgram any new idea:)
    eventhough many people hate walmart for different reasons but you gotta admit that they are a state now:) they can increase unemplyment in a wink...
    Actually, I kind of disagree with that. Online shopping at all time high. But that's not it. The thing is as you eluded at the end, it's becoming too crowded in there

    The model had issues to begin with. It had way too many competitors to begin with. And while Compaq, and HP were concerned with acquiring the competition (DEC and later on Compaq) Dell was gathering it's own wealth. At the end, he who has the cash, makes the rules :)

    But with the rise of stiff competition from just about everyone, employing direct shopping. Then Dell started diversifying into markets that they couldn't ever win in, like digital cameras and printers. After that bubble bursted costing them so much. They decided that if you can't beat them, join them! Do everything to win the market again
    ya, I remember one professor who made a true difference in Engineering Faculy, JU, Dr Bassam Ka77aleh, he really fought for the students and he was the reason behind Internet coming into Jordan in 1996, he was the one who initiated this "IT boom" in students, I met online many programmers, the Jordanian ones are pretty smart compared to others... but un-motivated. BASSSSSS! Dr Bassam left JU eventually after being harrassed time and again! shame
    EXCUSE ME! Ka77aleh in 1996 was 2 year behind Internet Pioneers in Jordan! And NO he wasn't behind the boom, he learned it from little kids at the time(like me!) who were forward thinking and trying to embrace the latest and greatest out there!
    The very first Intranet network that was made in Jordan (around 1992) was done between few houses of little kids (I can give you their names if you like)

    Aal ka77aleh!
    mmm

    this is a little bit controversial. I think universities must teach principles and theories. They must put you on the road so you can self-study all new technologies. They must teach you how to study things, they can't teach you everything about computers. They give you basics, and then you can learn everything alone, perhaps.
    True Abed. That's correct. But you see, they SHOULD'T prevent you from dreaming, thinking and having visions!
    But alas, even most prestigious universities in the west have fallen victim to this! Look at Harvard and Bill Gates example!
    alright fine, YOU are the one who taught ka77aleh how to talk to the dean and convinced him to put 100 new pcs in engineering and 10 sun stations and faught against censorship and allowed the students to "chat" 3ienak 3ienak, and YOU are definetely the one who spent most of his time in the computer lab maintaining or allowing students to maintain unix and windows machines... u r even the one who helped students create their own computer courses inside computer labs in engineering, wow, great, u have really faught the bureaucracy of jordan government (the one u just critisized) really well!

    no really, where was ka7allah when u were busy making 3000 students aware of the Internet?

    do u realize that u have praised Ka7alleh in many ways, first of all, he was only two years behind when EVERYONE knew about it in 1996, ya3ni given that he must have spent sometime making it come true, it must have started earlier, second, u just said he learnt from little kids (like u!) for a grown up to accept to learn from kids is a great trait, besides, u just said CS must be renewed and he had little sources to get that info from, if it is little kids (although i think the only kid he learned from is his own whiz son) then be it!

    who cares who started the first intranet inside little houses, I DID NOT see any of it! have a little appreciation towards what others have done! dont be typical ABU 3ARAB! I AM THE GREATEST, I HAVE DONE IT ALL! what a snob!

    i dont know if u have taken any courses with ka7alleh but he was one of the best if not the best professor in EE. i hope u realize ur comment makes u come across as a very inexperienced unappreciative person, ya zalameh, law inno ga3adna 50 years to wait for u to implement that little stupid intranet in universities kan lahalla2 feesh 7ada be3raf shoo ya3ni kombootar!
    Mariam, what the hell is your problem? Like are you his wife or something? You're being extremely negative here!

    First you don't know what I have done to the Internet in Jordan, I don't want to say that I single handedly did it. But me and a few other people practically placed Jordan on the Internet when most people (including your precious DR) were sleeping in the fossilized world of computer science at the time!

    What does any of the junk you mentioned in your comment has to do with what we're talking about here?! Huh? I'm not boasting about my achievements but since I was THERE from THE BIGINIG I didn't recall ka77aleh anywhere!

    Besides, his position to get new computers is what!?

    Internet entered the Jordanian University around 1997 1998 not before. Don't bullshit me, I WAS THERE!!! I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for my work back then!

    So please, don't be Abu 3arab yourself and try to appreciate what others have done. Ka77aleh might have been a pioneer among the professors of JU, but THE WHOLE JU was VERY LATE to embrace new revolutions!

    Can I ask you for one thing? Will trust me on this one?! I swear to you, I know what I'm talking about first hand because I DID IT, I WAS THER! I can tell you the names of the people involved with all of this stuff one by one.
    Oh and one more thing.
    Do you think ANYONE in the UNIVERSE doubts that students should have computers?
    Do you think anything in the universe would argue the people should have Internet?
    That happens after people like me have FINISHED getting the Internet to their home AND made sure they learned and understood it

    In other words. If anything Ka77aleh would have been my client! So maybe he did wonderful things for the university, and future generations. But getting the Internet tab to the University to begin with with ALL THE INFRASTRUCTURE behind it that took years of work was my domain! It has been since the early 1990's
    Mariam, you're a good kid, I like you a lot... Just try to keep your negativity in check .. please
    yekhreb beitak shoo shayef 7allak! "al ka77aleh" is so be littliing, i diverged from the main topic, ma3gool u didnt see that???
    i was second year in 1996, and the internet was THERE in Engineering, my website was up on geocities as a matter of fact, and i had an F on two subjects because of the time i spent online!!! shoo betkhabbes! now the second year starts mid 96, so YOU having part in making it happen on 97 is not all far fetched, ya3ni somebody must do the dirty work! but ya shater, would u please come down a bit and at LEAST admit that it was u and the OTHERS? and just imagine mister, had u had to run against people who are narrow minded, would u have still been able to "pull it all thru"? ya3ni la inta awal wa7ad be3raf networking wala ra7 tkoon akher wa7ad, but it takes someone like ka77aleh to pull the strings, i dont think u were signing papers were u? and trust me, nobody expected ka77aleh himself to do the networking! just nobody expects bill gates to debug Word!
    first thing u need to know about accomplishments, u gotta give credits to the right people, even if it was ur enemy and helped u unintentionally, its noble to give credits, its naive not to

    "al ka7aleh"
    Dude! You seriously have issues!
    Anyway, trust me when I tell you that many of the PhD's at the time didn't have a clue. Maybe Ka77aleh did something .. but before accusing me of "shofet el 7al" give some of that to yourself
    I didn't claim that I've done this all alone. In fact, when GO first came to Jordan, I have already been 2 years into the Internet time. And believe me JU didn't have Internet before 1997

    What more do you want? I am telling you and asking you to trust me on this one that I WAS THERE, in flesh and blodd. Along with Imad Ayyoub (GO) Yazan Mufti communications, Karim Kawar, Marwan Juma and the rest of the gang

    I'm not going to beg you to believe anything... Ka77aleh did GREAT that he allowed Internet in JU, but it wouldn't have made it there before being there in the country to begin with ...
    Anyway, I owe everything I am in right now, to what I've been doing since 1992.

    Here's a funny story for you, till 1996 TCP/IP wasn't even being taught in networking classes. Novell was the big thing at the time and if you were a little smarter, you would have a Windows NT3.51 network...
    I remember how much I used to hate Networking LOL!

    (PS, I think you're a bit off when you thought you had your site up on Geocities in 1996, because GO officially started work summer 1996) Maybe it was 1997 but you completely forgot?

    Next time try to be a little more respectful when addressing me...  I didn't hear a single Positive comment from you! Sho bainna tar!?!!
    i did NOT assume that u had nothnig to do with it, this is not about the main topic of this article, i was offended by the way u offended a great professor, and here u come again saying that ka77aleh "did GREAT that he allowed Internet in JU" ya3ni had u said that from the beginning i wouldnt have been that pissed off, i dont have any personal connections with ka7alleh except that he was my most favorite professor and I did not get more than 2.7 in EE, ya3ni i wasnt nerd enough to like a professor... we used Sun stations over unix for the internet and i said it was my second year, ya3ni end of 1996, but it was 96, or maybe the whole semester gets tainted with the year it begins in, anyway, i did have a website, if it was in 97 it defintely started in 96 (end of it yes)... anyway... i am not questioning ur abilities nor do i have any doubt that the uni hired people like u to do the job, what r u talking about?! i just cannot believe what u said about ka77aleh! completely discrediting him AND belittling him...

    "yekhreb beitak shoo shayef 7allak" wasnt written with a frown on my face, its how i would speak to close friends :) and got carried away, dont get offended, if i see u face to face i would throw that at u again ;) ba3rafesh tamsheet le7a ana
    Ok then ... baseeta ... I guess it's the written to spoken misunderstanding

    I'm not belittling anyone, but you did strike a chord on a matter that I'm extremely familiar with (my life's achievement actually)

    Anyway, safi ya laban!
    You too can have your Memories Documented

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