How to get a Ph.D. in Germany

In this 10min. video, I explain ways of getting a doctoral title (Ph.D.) in Germany. I specifically explain the individual doctorate and its differences to the structured programs of Anglo-Saxon universities. This talk is scheduled for Jan 24th, with 165 registrations for the live event one week before already.

Documenting a Lead Author’s Contributions for a Cumulative Dissertation

Since 2021, my Ph.D. students have been able to submit cumulative dissertations for promotion rather than the traditional monographs. A cumulative dissertation is a set of published research papers, logically stapled together, and lead by an introduction that puts the research papers into context. This way, a graduate-level researcher can work incrementally towards their dissertation, one paper at a time.

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Price for Value, not for Costs

If there is one thing I wished more of my fellow academic peers would understand when working with industry, it is this: You should

Price for value created, not for costs incurred.

Many professors, when asked about the price of some proposed work, will calculate the direct labor costs needed for the project, add some university overhead or other margin, and then quote the industry partner the resulting costs as the project’s price.

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The Place of Professional Certificates and the Significance of an Academic Degree

My Twitter feed is alight with comments on Google’s six-month “career” certificate, which, according to this SVP, Google will treat as equivalent to a four-year Bachelor’s degree. Predictably, a large number of comments are from students who conclude from their own disappointed experience that all college programs are crap. They cheer on Google. Also predictably, I didn’t see a single academic professional join and comment in the discussion.

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Hiring Machine Learning Professors Fast to Catch-up Short-Term Will Make You Fall Behind Long-Term

From current observations, I would like to suggest a new law of hiring professors:

Hiring professors fast to catch-up short-term will make you fall behind long-term.

The reason why I’m writing this are the large amounts of money being made available to German universities to hire new machine learning professors (think “1000 professor program” and the like). This money is being provided by the country of Germany as well as individual states, and it is substantial. The intention is to catch-up to the U.S. and China, who are perceived as leading in machine learning techniques and artificial intelligence.

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How Software Engineering Teaching and the Legal Department Collide

Any non-trivial university has a legal department, often several (at least one for matters of teaching and one for matters of fundraising). The legal department concerned with teaching has to protect the university from lawsuits by students. By extension, this department protects students from professors who ask too much of them. Often, there may be good reasons for this. Sometimes it gets in the way of effective teaching.

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It Does Exist!

During a trip to Porto’s Ceija I was able to confirm that one of the professorial caste’s most cherished yet elusive objects does exist: The conceptual machine.

In this case, it is a 3D metal printer, and it printed this piece of hardware (and many others); this one took about 12h to finish.