Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Tasks that are keeping me busy as a professor this semester

Here are the tasks that are keeping me busy this semester (Sept-Dec 2016).

I am writing this  so that when people ask me if I wouldn't mind helping them out, I have somewhere to point them to when I say either 'sorry, no', or 'I will try to fit it in, but please don't expect fast response'. Members of the public often don't understand the heavy workload of a professor. In the following, I am sure I have forgotten some stuff. I probably shouldn't have 'wasted' time making this list, but I have done it to reduce my stress/guilt levels when I have to say 'no' or 'slow'!

Teaching and research: (It is not always easy to separate these areas, since graduate teaching and undergraduate project supervision blends into research)

  • Supervising ten 4th year University of Ottawa capstone software engineering projects. (each team has 2-5 students) Meetings many weeks with cohorts (sets of groups) to discuss progress. Meeting with individual groups as needed. Meetings with individual students when there are issues. Liaising with the 'customers' of the students. Constant monitoring of Github pages to ensure there is progress.
  • Preparing for the next cohort of capstone projects by helping find projects.
  • Co-mentoring, along with one of my PhD students, 4 undergraduates from other universities working on Umple as part of their 4th year capstone project through UCOSP. Meetings every week, along with time spent finding issues for them to work on, discussing design options,  reviewing design and code, as well as giving/reviewing formal feedback to them
  • Supervising a student in a directed studies course that is related to my research
  • Supervising 7 PhD students, 5 of whom are in the final thesis-writing stage (topics relate to Umple, user interface evaluation using machine learning and vision, and enterprise architecture). Includes finding and liaising with committees, guiding research, discussing research and design options, editing papers and theses, and so on. I meet almost every week with each student.
  • Supervising one masters student, in the thesis-writing stage.
  • Supervising/assisting 3 postdocs/visiting researchers (on topics of reverse engineering, software engineering education and deep learning for robotics)
  • Sitting on the committees of various students supervised by other professors (includes reading theses, preparing comprehensive exams,  etc.)
  • Travelling to present several papers that have been accepted at conferences (expected 2 weeks of travel this semester). This also includes attending sessions at these conferences, networking, and so on. This semester I am going to Models, Isola and hopefully Cascon.
  • Travelling to a meeting of a research consortium I am part of.
  • Planning travel and filling out paperwork before and after travel (sometimes it seems as though doing the paperwork can take as long as the travel).
  • Working on at least 7 scientific papers at various stages of preparation for journals and conferences, related to the above. Most papers involve collaboration of multiple grad students and/or external colleagues.
  • Investigating and working on one or more grant proposals
  • Responding to almost daily requests from potential future graduate students. These days I am saying 'no' until some of my existing students graduate, to lighten my load, and until I have new sources of funding.
  • Writing letters of reference for many former undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Actually conducting some of the research! This includes doing a certain amount of active work on Umple (e.g. fixing an issue or two) in order to maintain my personal software engineering skills
  • Responding to other researchers' requests about my research. I receive inquiries for help, requests for papers, and have to deal sometimes with people who make mistakes when writing about my research ... and I need to set the record straight.
  • Organizing meetings of my research group
  • Managing research infrastructure (servers etc.)
  • Keeping track of my research finances including setting up contracts for those graduate students that I pay. The finance system is quite hard to work with; I have to manage my own spreadsheets so I can be 'forward-looking' and reconcile these with the 'backward looking' university accounting system.
  • Filling out paperwork required by granting agencies regarding the progress of each research project.
  • Keeping up to date by reading literature, researching the latest software engineering techniques, etc.
  • Preparing for my graduate course in Software Usability to be taught next semester.
  • Applying for 'Ethics approval' for certain kinds of research, and reporting on ongoing projects. The forms are extremely complex, so this is an unduly time-consuming task.
  • Skimming/reading/replying to large numbers of emails relating to all of the above tasks
  • Keeping up-to-date my membership in the IEEE, ACM, CIPS, PEO etc.
  • Writing blog posts (it seems only about once a year now). Helping to raise public awareness.


Administration (I am Vice-Dean Governance)

  • Attending meetings of Faculty Executive and Faculty Council; helping to prepare agendas, preparing minutes, running special votes, and so on.
  • Attending Senate, Senate Executive, Senate Undergraduate Council (includes reading large volumes of material in preparation for these meetings).
  • Working on negotiations with the TA/RA Union. Multiple meetings most weeks.
  • Doing whatever other research is needed for the above roles, and any tasks assigned by the Dean (I am 'excluded' from the professor union so I can help with personnel tasks).
  • Applying for an academic leave  (sabbatical) next year, including writing a proposal, documenting progress, and so on. Hard deadline at end of September. I am overdue for this. The focus will be on Software Engineering Education.
  • Consulting with professors who are seeking advice (e.g. about tenure and promotion)
  • Assisting in preparation for accreditation at UOttawa (Computer Science and Software Engineering)
  • Participating in the Software Engineering curriculum committee.
  • Sitting on various ad-hoc committees (e.g. a committee on research IT infrastructure)
  • Other minor tasks: e.g. managing citation data for the faculty, liaising with other vice-deans, making active suggestions for improvements in various areas, such as faculty management
  • Skimming/reading/replying to large numbers of emails from the Dean, Executive, and so on
  • Attending certain 'social' events where my attendance is required/desirable (e.g. celebrations of retirements, awards ceremonies, announcements, welcoming of new students and staff, representing the Dean if he is not available)
  • Attending Council of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
  • Attending convocation ceremonies
  • Attending (if I can fit it in my schedule) certain training activities.


Service (beyond my formal role as Vice-Dean Governance)

  • Peer-reviewing for many journals and conferences (several papers to review formally every month). Publons lists my recent journal reviews, but not conference reviews.
  • Serving on the editorial team of SoSym Journal (finding reviewers, helping the editor in chief make decisions)
  • Serving as CIPS visitor and team lead to the Seoul Accord (I have a report to write that is overdue)
  • Serving as evaluator for tenure and promotion, or grant proposals, for professors from other universities
  • (perhaps) attending accreditation visits at other universities
  • Skimming/reading/replying to large numbers of emails relating to all of the above tasks
  • Responding periodically to requests from journalists for my expertise
  • Periodically helping out student groups (if I have the time)

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