Future vision

I found myself explaining today to one of my grad students that he needs to separate his “vision for the future” from his “how I will implement things.” If you get those two things confused, it becomes very difficult to do effective research.

This is a concept that we understand very well in other contexts. For example, you might say “I’m taking my new girlfriend to Niagara Falls next week.” And that statement can be packed with all sorts of emotional meaning.

But you wouldn’t usually then add, “And I think it’s going to work out, because my car has a GP Sorensen Fuel Injector 800.” Unless, that is, you and your new girlfriend are both very unusual.

Similarly, we should describe our long term research goals in a relatively pure way, unburdened by technical details. The engineering steps that we need to take to move toward those goals are important, but they should not be confused with the vision itself.

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