Computing Community Consortium Blog

The goal of the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) is to catalyze the computing research community to debate longer range, more audacious research challenges; to build consensus around research visions; to evolve the most promising visions toward clearly defined initiatives; and to work with the funding organizations to move challenges and visions toward funding initiatives. The purpose of this blog is to provide a more immediate, online mechanism for dissemination of visioning concepts and community discussion/debate about them.

The View of a Researcher: “Do Something That You Really Care About”

May 26th, 2011 / in resources / by Erwin Gianchandani

Frans Kaashoek, MIT CSAILAs part of ScienceLives — an occasional NSF/LiveScience series that “puts scientists under the microscope to figure out what makes them tick” — CCC Council member Frans Kaashoek recently described what motivated him to pursue software systems research as well as the experiences he’s had as a professor at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. It makes for great viewing — especially for students interested in pursuing computing research.

Among the questions Frans was asked, “What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?”

Do something that you really care about because you’re going to spend a lot of time on it… If you’re not excited about it, it’s not going to work out so well… More [practically], try to work in an area where there’s lots of room for improvement.

On the societal impact of his work:

That is a particularly hard one because a lot of the work that I do is under the hood… It is clear that computer science is making an impact on society… iPhones, TWitter, clouds, applications — it’s clear society is changing dramatically because of the innovations in computer science. But a lot of my research is really below — in the plumbing of all that infrastructure — and has small impacts in all that plumbing. So it’s not necessarily visible from the outside but indirectly it is.

And his favorite thing about being a researcher:

It’s a tremendous amount of fun — and freedom. As a researcher, you get to decide which problems [to work on]. You have no boss — no one telling you what to do. If you don’t like some problem anymore, you switch into a problem you do like. The amount of freedom and flexibility is tremendous.

Check out video of the full interview, just five minutes long: mp4 or Windows Media Player.

(Contributed by Erwin Gianchandani, CCC Director)

The View of a Researcher: “Do Something That You Really Care About”

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