Why a PhD?

I’ve been working as a software engineer for more than 20 years, and when the opportunity came up for me to continue my education at the Ph.D. level I jumped at it. In September 2017 I started the Ph.D. Computer Science program at the University of South Carolina.

The things that motivate me now in this endeavor are the same aspects of my vocation that I have enjoyed throughout my career: research, teaching, and learning.

First, research: dig deep into the subject that I have dedicated my life too. I’ve always loved solving problems. The process of understanding the problem, studying the current state of the art, and extending my findings to create new solutions is probably what I enjoy most about what I do. It is my goal to do research that advances state of the art in computer science by being relevant, forward-thinking, and impactful.

Next, teaching: share my knowledge and experiences with others. I benefitted in my career by having great mentors who guided me to improve my understanding of any number of different topics. Through their sharing of not just the “nuts-and-bolts” of issues but their opinions and experiences, I have been able to take their teachings and expand my own understanding. My goal as a teacher is to be relevant and inspiring.

Finally, (lifelong) learning: continue to expand my understanding and experience with the theory and practice of computer science so that I can be a better practitioner, researcher, and teacher.

Why Blog?

Why do I blog? There can be many different reasons that people blog. Common reasons for blogging include: building audience, establishing authority, or differentiating oneself. I have three motivations for blogging.

First, I want to improve my writing skills and as there is no better way to get better at writing than by writing it makes sense to write more.

Second, over the course of my career, I’ve found that there is no better way to improve my understanding of a topic than to try to explain it to someone else. That explanation could be written or a presentation. Either way, the process of putting the explanation together forces me to make sure I understand the subject and organize my thoughts in such a way so I can communicate my understanding to someone else.

Finally, I would expect that the first tool many of us in the software development field reach for when faced with an interesting technical problem is what I like to call “the universal reference,” Google. By documenting issues and explaining the solutions that I’ve come across as a part of my work I can share this knowledge with others.

So it is my hope, dear reader that you can take away some benefit from my essays.