Friday, September 5, 2008

What drives me

During my years of work for one of China’s leading companies pioneering e-learning and later a supplier of technical solutions for multimedia communications, I increasingly realized the professional software engineer is not the most suitable position to me. I do like design and develop computer/communication software, but as a professional software engineer to develop consumer-oriented products, most of my time had to be devoted into the process of making a prototype into a true product, rather than the process to design and work out a prototype. I would say both of these two processes are challenging, but the latter has much more fun to me since it involves more creative activities. Based on this, I think to work in an advanced research center, whether in industry (such as the legendary PARC) or in academia, would be a better choice to meet my interests. I believe that study of creative theories and methods and further academic training are necessary for me to acquire more insightful perspectives and develop a qualified competence to conduct in-depth research work. This is why I chose return to a university to pursue my Ph.D. degree.

My current research concentrates on community-oriented wireless applications that are expected to help enhance civic engagement, support civic interactions and facilitate resource coordination. There are two major motivations for this research. First, many American communities have been investing or will consider investing in municipal wireless networking infrastructures, but what are the civic rationales and effective application paradigms for developing these public wireless infrastructures has not been made clear. My coworkers and I try to seek the answers and some useful suggestions to these questions through this research. Second, the current computing industry aims largely at entertainment, personal information management, and business/government computing. We hope our outcomes in developing community informatics application models will provide a beneficial reference for the computing industry to pay more attention and endeavor in community applications.

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