Sunday, August 25, 2013


I have been studying up. To be honest, some of the most enjoyable times of my life have been in the academy. Graduate school was a time of optimism and potential. Much of what followed was a disappointment.

After receiving my PhD in 2005, I spent a few years spinning my gears in the sand, sending out cover letters and CVs to hinder and yon, pouring my heart and soul into nearly every application, researching the school and position, making my case as best I could. I was miserable at the task, and miserable performing it.

Several years of that and a stint as adjunct, with the relentless prodding of a career/life coach I had engaged, I finally dropped the search and remade myself as an entrepreneur. That suited me (especially once I discovered SBIR, a program of the U.S. government that provides a means for independent researchers and small businesses to compete for a small slice of federal R&D dollars). SBIR provided funds for basic and early applied research for me and a small team that lasted about five years. Only, things have changed. Priorities in Washington and budget cuts have shifted the focus from basic and early applied research to latter stage development of already proven technologies. The buzz has morphed from "high risk/high reward" to "rapid innovation".

And that has left me and my team out in the cold. About a year ago, I let the others go, as I could no longer ensure payroll would be covered, and I've done nary a bit of research in my field since then. Lately, I've taken to reinventing myself again. I'm working on a novel (one that first took form as the seed of a screenplay intended to highlight the technology I was developing). And I've gone back to school in a manner. I've been taking classes on Udacity and Coursera, as well as other online and offline tutorials. I've been learning Java and improving my C++, as well as honing up on Mathematics which I'd not revisited for three decades.

I've been studying Lean Startup principles and other business coaching tools. I'm advising a couple other technology startups, and incubating a few other business ideas, unrelated to my research, that might sustain me and my family financially for a while, or serve as launchpads for other ventures. I'm keeping busy, and just hoping and believing that my spirits and ideas will keep long enough to jumpstart my income before our savings run out.

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