Academia can be opaque from the outside to folks who wonder what being a professor is like. This can be a hurdle for aspiring graduate students, who are interested in the role, but are anxious about all the different things that are required as a professor. Vijay Chidambaram, Professor of Computer Science at UT Austin, has authored a book, "The CS Assistant Professor Handbook: Essential know-how for new and aspiring computer science professors", to tackle this challenge. The book offers insights into the life of a professor, tackling topics like pay, what a day in the life of a professor looks like, and how to balance the different demands of the profession.
Chidambaram's motivation to create this handbook was inspired by his academic mentors, Remzi and Andrea Arpaci-Dusseau, professors at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Drawing from his own experiences, he has compiled a centralized resource that organizes and consolidates knowledge traditionally shared informally from professor to student. The primary goal is to make the assistant professor role more accessible and understandable for newcomers to the field.
This book primarily targets new assistant professors and graduate students on the cusp of entering academia. It not only provides guidance on navigating the complex role of a professor but also offers an authentic view of what the job truly entails. It should also prove interesting to undergraduate students who are thinking about graduate school in preparation for being a professor one day.
Notably, this resource is offered free of charge online making essential knowledge readily available to a broad audience; Chidambaram was inspired to do so by his academic mentors, who provide a widely popular textbook for operating systems freely available online. Chidambram’s philosophy harmoniously aligns with UT Austin's culture, fostering a community of educators and researchers dedicated to continuous learning, innovation, and the refinement of teaching methods.
As "The CS Assistant Professor Handbook" takes its place on academic bookshelves, it promises to be a significant contribution, not only to the University of Texas at Austin but also to the broader academic community. It sets a new standard for guiding and supporting the professors of tomorrow, ensuring that the next generation of academic leaders are well-prepared for the challenges of their roles.