I always thought that I was going to get a Ph.D. It’s what both of my parents did, and I always assumed that I would follow in their footpaths. Now, there’s a very good chance that I’ll be the only Onvural in my branch of the family to not have a doctorate when all is said and done.


Frustration. I don’t think that the value added of a Ph.D is what it might have once been. Once upon a time there were industries built upon their research and development departments. The kind of work that came out of Xerox, Bell Labs, IBM Research, etc. redefined the world around us. Today these hallowed institutions are being passed by, and with them is dying the value of research-oriented development.

Again, why?

Unless industry is directly involved with research, then it will always contain itself to the world of conferences, papers, and academia. I say this because of the overwhelming quantity of research that goes on, and the overall lack of commercialization that comes from it. I also say this because while research for the sake of knowledge is a noble goal, without proper incentives (read this as methods of monetization) it’s usually just a good idea. Case in point is the push for alternative fuel sources. Have we not known for years the harmful affects of carbon-based fuel? Why are we today pushing for alternative fuels? Because gas prices are finally high enough that people are interested in finding alternatives. An industry drives research.

What does this mean?

I think that this will evolve into a generation where breadth is overvalued. Get a breadth of skills, get out into the workplace and innovate. Innovate at Red Hat, Google, Microsoft, wherever, but don’t innovate in classrooms and research labs. Unless your innovation is Google, you’ll be overqualified for private sector work and find yourself underpaid or in academia. I’m not trying to knock academia, but the incentive structure for getting tenure is different than the incentive structure to innovate.

It’s really a shame too, because I thought Melih Onvural, Ph.D sounded pretty cool…