This interview is about having academic career, academics from different perspectives with Armağan Elibol. In the first part, there will be brief information about Armağan Elibol and his career. In the second part, my interview questions will welcome you.
About Armağan Elibol
- He is a full-time faculty member (as an Assistant Professor) at Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. Previously he was an Assistant Professor at the Department of Mathematical Engineering at Yildiz Technical University and an adjunct teaching faculty member at the Computer Engineering Department at FMV Isik University in Istanbul-Turkey.
- He obtained a Ph.D. in Computer Science (2011) from the Computer Vision and Robotics Group of University of Girona, Spain, both B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Mathematical Engineering from the Yildiz Technical University, respectively 2002 and 2004. He was a DAAD-supported visiting researcher at the Pattern Recognition and Bioinformatics Group of Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg in Germany during summer 2012. Afterward, he was with the Ocean Robotics and Intelligence Lab. (currently Mobile Robotics and Intelligence Lab.) of Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in Daejeon for one year as a postdoctoral researcher supported by World Class University Program (WCU) funded by National Research Foundation of Korea. During 2015, he was with the School of Integrated Technology of Yonsei University at Yonsei International Campus in Songdo-Incheon, Rep. of Korea.
-Could you introduce yourself?
My name is Armağan Elibol. I’ve been here(Yildiz Technical University) last 16 years and I was also student in this department. I studied Mathematical Enginering and since then it’s been like 20 years at the Yildiz Technical University. I did my Master’s here and then I moved abroad for Phd and I stayed 5 years in Spain for my Phd. Afterwards I spend 2 years doing some researches in South Korea. And then I spent some time in Germany. Last 2 years intensively I have been teaching a lot of computer science courses in this department.
-What were the factors that led you to become an academician?
Well, from the beginning I like helping people and teaching something, to be useful because this is the way how you cultivate the new generations. So, at the first time I registered for this university I decided I’m going to study and do a Phd abroad. And for these two necessary steps I started to do a lot of things: working in different positions but some of them were similar. I was always helping people and that makes me happy. Cause if people are happy around me I feel happy myself. This is my perpective and I do like my job. We can discuss the work place. So far, that is all. My goal is just to be useful and being helpfull.
-What are your main responsibilities?
Probably you are asking this from the job perpective because a lot of side. My responsibilites in terms of job.Full time faculty member, I need to teach. So I have to class hours, reading papers exam, marking exam and those projects and everything. A part from that I have some final new students. Project and then from the department side. I have to Co-coordinate erasmus exchange program. So I do work with students who are going abroad or coming here to study in our department. Apart from that I also from time to time organize some industrial events in our department. Sometimes I do organise technical tool for my students and also involve in some other commissions I think like an internship evaluation commission and some other things. I have a lot of things to do, but those are the main ones. There are also some minor ones which I do once a year.
-It is claimed that academicians can not dominate the market because they are away from business life, is it right?
The thing is dominate the market.You mean like finding a job in a company. Definitelly that is not fully true. It depends on the path that you choose. Because it is clear the if you taken some theorical science classes maybe it’s difficult find a job outside the university. Imagine that we are working with Pure Maths and Physics or like some other thing in terms of engineering that might be difficult. But on the other hand, you have the engineering title, you have the engineering background. So you can easily adapt yourself. And most of time the company is in the research and development company. They come and ask opinion how do solve that problem so from time to time we do work as a consultant we know their problem so that is one side. And a part from that I keep my contacts alive I have a lot of students working in the field, I know they are facing, I know what they are doing, I know what troubles they have and those kind of things. So for each of them, I have that it all depends on person. If you feel qualified, if you educate yourself in that way like ready for both. In academia or outside academia. There is no point having such claim i think. At least, it is not i think easily working in the company it is not a big deal, but of course experience matters. maybe not as experiences as now. Because i have been working in academia like 16 years. But I am sure that there are a lot of things to do especially I had the Phd in Computer science which makes all the things nowadays surrounding in computer so that’s why for us, maybe for me it’s not difficult to find a job outside.
-Do you feel satisfied with your position in the career?
Well, I mean the position over here it does not matter what you write in front of your name. But the position you hold here is to be usefull. When I was a research assistant I was helping my students as well. And now I’m an assistant professor I was helping students as well and also I teach some courses. So from my side, I comply with what I need to do internally, not the expectated and this doesn’t change that much with position. So, from that side it is okay. On the other hand, having an another position or having higher titles doesn’t change your job’s definition as companies. Doesn’t matter, if I am a full professor ,I will be doing the same. Doesnt matter if I am research assistant, I am doing same thing. That’s why position doesn’t matter if you relieve have you feel you are involved in academic let say.
-What are the strenghts and challenges of your career life?
Well, challenges are trying to teach something to unmotivated students or to motivate them. There are lot of challenges because basically what you are doing is you need to produce scientific output. This means you need to solve the problem that was not fully solved before. So that solution is not easy and is not that available all the time. Sometimes you spend a lot of months for a simple problem. But then you suddenly realize that this cannot be solved at all or with the way you follow. So those are the things that are probably dissappointing. Students are the inputs to improve ourselves because each student ask different question this means I have to answer them considering their question. Apart from that if noone asks questions, noone is curious about that, you keep repeating the same thing each semester and it becomes the video. Those aren’t the things that I am satisfied or happy about, but it’s something that is part of the course – you have do deal with it.
-What do you think makes a project succesful? For example software engineering Project?
So a successfull project means that for a given certain time, for a given amount of resources you develop the software, fully functional and operational. That is the definition of succesfull. In the project you have time, money resources and on the other side some expected outcome. So if you could provide the expected outcome to the customer and if you have those limited resources and you do it in less time or less amount a resources – then you are succesfull. Software engineering is directly related to the business life: imagine that you are running a company. What do you want to do? You want to maximize your profits. And as a software engineer or in a software project you need the maximize the again the same thing – with a minimum amount of time and resources provide fully functional output. That is a success.
But the thing is if I’m asking this from a course side: for me it’s a success if I was able to teach something to my students or about what’s going on in real life. That’s more important. If you learned something, then you can count yourself successful although I might not think in that way. This doesn’t mean that you failed the course , you just didn’t get expected answers on that exam. What you get as a grade doesn’t really shows the amount of information you get in the course. So that’s why it’s not easy to check yourself. This is something you have to judge yourself. When I was taking courses I would use this method: doesn’t matter which grade I get, what matters if what I learned, what I know and what I can use. That’s more important.
-Do you think the education you had at the university had prepared you for the business life?
Since from the beginning I wanted to stay in a university. Then I paid a lot of attendion to my courses. So that I didn’t waste other time socializing or doing some other unnecessary things. From one side university give you tools but probably doesn’t give you information how to use them. So you learn a lot of things which you will use to solve a problem in a business life, but what’s missing is a practical knowledge how to use these tools in order to solve a problem. But when you face the problem in business life you start remembering tool you need to use. Now it’s difficult to say something but it’s clear that education we are providing is more Theoretical science than Applied science. But you have internship, other involments so you have to invest your time accordingly.
Thanks for your answers.
Editor: Vadym Prokopets