Apr 01 2009

Unfilled Computing Research Positions in UCD

Category: Fourth LevelTeknovis @ 6:20 pm

There was a story in one of the Irish national newspapers earlier this week claiming that UCD was having difficulty filling up to 33 computing research positions. The full story is Wanted: 33 smart people for top posts, and the positions are described in Vacancies.

I thought that this was very surprising when I read it initially, but after further investigation I think that it is understandable.

Firstly, 23 of these 33 positions are for PhD studentships. The successful candidates will receive a tax-free salary of 18,500€. I do not think that this level of remuneration will attract anybody of the right calibre who is already working in industry. Most likely, it will only appeal to graduates.

The other issue that I see with these positions is that they are based on formal methods. I know that this area is significant within the computer science world, but I do not think that industry has much interest in this area. Therefore, it is less likely that the successful candidates will learn significant transferable skills.

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2 Responses to “Unfilled Computing Research Positions in UCD”

  1. Joseph Kiniry says:

    We see many experienced professionals return to earn a quality postgraduate degree—in fact, I prefer these kinds of students and I was one of them 10+ years ago. Only a fraction of our postgraduate students are from Ireland. Many are from the rest of the EU and some are from North America. They trade their decent industry salaries for a better-than-EU-average level of tax-free postgrad remuneration with the expectation that they’ll have much better career opportunities when the economy rebounds and they have advanced skills and certification in-hand.

    Also, I should note that only a fraction of our positions are in formal methods-related fields—I should know, as they are my positions. Graduates in formal methods are extremely attractive to industry and generally make higher salaries than plain-jane CS positions. If you don’t think formal methods matter then you need to give back the system on which you are writing this blog article, as it simply would not exist without the field of formal methods. (Many of our grads go to Intel, NVIDIA, e.g.)

    Finally, my formal methods employees already have, and learn many more, “significant” transferable skills because we do hardcore software engineering *and* they learn formal methods. I.e., they can kernel hack and they can do type theory. That makes them twice the computer scientist of many of their peers.

    Dr. Joseph Kiniry

  2. Teknovis says:

    Joseph:

    I am mostly in agreement with you. I am aware that very few Irish people consider postgraduate research, and I think this is very worrying for a “knowledge based economy”. I also understand why you prefer experienced professionals as students, and I understand their motivations.

    I also agree that formal methods are important, and that people with these skills are attractive to industry.

    However, I disagree that people with formal method skills are more attractive to industry due to their possession of formal method skills. I have heard that some of the large European companies recruit people with formal method skills, and that these roles are extremely interesting, but also extremely rare.

    Perhaps you could identify some of the companies that actively seek people with formal method skills?