I have explained how to find a topic for a research project or dissertation in the last blog. Today, I want to comment on some of the best execution rules, which should help you in achieving the best project results in our Cloud Computing Center (3C).
Our ambition is to find and research new ideas and use the new results for creating useful applications on Internet and for mobile devices. Check the first batch of projects completed in May this year or the new projects we are starting now.
First things first. I believe that every member of our team needs to understand what is the target of his research, what needs to be researched? The problem formulation needs to be crystal clear. The best way to accomplish this is to ask all new members to write a simple essay. I always conduct an initial interview with candidates applying for a project and I try to introduce possible interesting ideas, but leave space for creativity and innovation. The discussions may take quite some time but the result is an essay describing briefly, without any technical details what is the research good for, why we should pursue it. The essay needs to answer the following questions: what would be the impact of the research, where it can be applied, is it going to improve people’s life, why we need the solution?
Once we understand the problem we start the papers search - how to solve the problem. We again are answering a set of questions: what are the known approaches, what are the possible solutions or directions of new research, which of the described or published approaches may lead to best results, how are we going to improve the current solutions and what are our chances for succes? By the way sometimes it is very difficult objectively measure what is success. Finding the right direction takes a lot of work. The systematic paper search, learning and understanding and collecting them to a document or blog takes quite some time. The blog with notes not only helps in learning the basics but will come very handy later as a list of references. While reading the articles we will soon discover who are the competing researchers or companies and what is the state of art in the field. Very helpful is to network with researchers or groups working on similar problems and I encourage everybody to socialize as much as possible.
There are also some formal requirements in the 3C. Every member of our team has to prepare a short CV and place it on our pages along with the essay describing the problem. I ask all members to point their private Facebook and Linkedin, Google and other profiles to 3C pages, this attracts visitors. We want more traffic to our pages, because we want to advertise our work, we want to attract people with the same interest. Certainly, every person in the team has also a link to a personal blog tracking the project progress on 3C pages. For the everyday progress tracking each member needs to share with me also a document with a list of tasks and their completion. Recently we are also in some more intensive projects using Asana a simple work flow management system.
Our team is growing and we need to have common vision and strategy. The team members need to communicate and help each other to select projects from the same or similar fields to effectively cooperate. The best place for exchanging ideas are the weekly meetings. We summarize the recent work and plan the next steps. I am also envisioning to organize reviews of interesting articles. This will help us to stay on the technological edge.
To make sure we grow, I ask all the PhD students to supervise one or two BSc or MSc students. These students are helping to test or implement some of the research ideas and this way contributing to the work of the whole center. I also expect the undergraduates to help us with writing applications demoing the research results. Demos are the best way to promote the results of our work.
I also pay close attention to promote the research results to the industry. Technology transfer is one of important roles we need to play. Every member of the center is asked to constantly think how to use the research results in the industry. All members should think about creating startups or spin offs. The number of students creating startups is still very low at our university and in our country in general. On the other hand startups are the best form of organization for converting the latest technological results to successful products.
Research institutes and schools are frequently supported by governmental grants. Part of the work therefore must aim at effective grant submissions and search of partners for cooperation.
This is the list of rules and common practices we apply in 3C. If you have different rules or suggestions for improvement, let me know. If you want to join us let me also know. We also look for research and industry partners ...