Production versus research

One of the funny things about University research is that not all the “research” we do is research. Some of it would more properly be referred to as “production”.

Pure research can tend to be difficult to explain to people. It concerns itself with pushing the envelope in a particular area that is important, but directly understood by only a few people.

And those people are often not the people in two key groups: (1) the people who can provide the funds to continue the research, and (2) the people who have the wherewithal to bring your work to a larger world where it can be useful to millions of people.

Here’s an analogy. Suppose you are working on a modification to a car engine that will make cars run faster with less fuel. You can show people detailed diagrams and simulations that demonstrate your achievement. But that doesn’t really get across the importance of your achievement.

But what if, on the other hand, you put your modification into an actual car. You then drive the car across the country in record time, using very little fuel. Now people are paying attention.

So it is often worth taking the time to build productions on top of your research. And you might very well learn interesting things in the process. Also, it can be fun to drive a car that you built yourself.

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