The Grad School
Next year, I shall be applying for some interesting course in Grad School. Despite the current fad in Brazil concerning the New Wave Of Public Exams to be admitted into one of the three major public Brazilian services (municipality, state, or federal), I would not feel comfortable after five years studying to get my BA. degree on computer/computing engineering to work in something that has little to nothing to do with engineering at all.
I am still a little hesitating upon geophysics or bioinformatics, both of them are amazing fields, but I must take into account the local academic environment and establishment of one and other at my university. The geophysics MSc. is a well established programme and it holds a very good critical mass of geophysicits - in addition, they make big engineering projects (sincerely, those guys are much closer to big engineering than the engineers themselves here).
The bioinformatics MSc. is just in its beginning and, to be honest, I dislike some engineering professors involved in it (for example, once, one of those professors, during a professor meeting, ordered another one to shut his mouth, because the other guy did not have any projects that would bring money to the department, then he could not say his opinion. Veeeeery democratic, isn't it?).
I am aware that I should not "complain" about those engineering professors, but just being completely blind not to see they have little interest in building a local excellence, what the guys from geophysics have already made, and, in my humble opinion, those professors only want to get the money coming from government agencies sponsoring biotech academic projects - it is a new fad happening in Brazil's universities. The professors from the biological sciences center have big bioinformatics ambitions, even telling us that we should seek some way to start up a bioinformatics business of our own. However, when looking at the local bioinformatics business opportunities, we feel anything but unmotivated. The bioscience guys have contributed on interesting genome endevour, such as the gene sequencing of Xylella fastidiosa. I am still thinking if I get into the bioinformatics grad school or not.
One of the key factors that leads me toward geophysics is the fact that in Brazil there are big oil/petroleum companies, such as Petrobras. Bioinformatics is still an activity being mainly sponsored by the Federal Brazilian Government (EMBRAPA, MCT, etc.) and its private ventures are very few. Sure, while it may seem a fruitless bioinformatics field for someone, it could be, by the other hand, a business opportunity before the eyes of another person, a chance to start a business from scratch - I am well aware of those two facets. The main consideration living in my mind these days is that I must make a choice and this choice will affect, likely, my whole life. So, I need to do a sensible choice, what is not easy. There are so many stuffs to ponder.
Early this year, I went to visit the geosciences center and the professor which accepted to be my advisor, as long as I apply for geophysics, treated me in a very very good manner. I liked the way we talked to each other, I felt as though I was his friend since a long time. He invited me to enter his office, to take a sit, and explain my situation. He heard everything, taking heed of each word I said. Few engineering professors treated me like he did.
On the other hand, when visiting the guys responsible for the bioinformatics MSc. programme, I felt like a a being from another planet. The woman who talked to me, told me very inaccurate informations concerning the bioinfo grad programme. Being honest, I disliked the way we interacted. A little more and she would be treading the grounds of impoliteness. I did not get a nice first impression of it.
I feel that I will end up applying for geophysics. BUT, let's see what will happen in the near future and see what field will receive the laurels of evolutionary computation...
Personal Observations Upon Brazilian Public Service Admission Exams:
It's interesting how lawyers are well paid in Brazilian public services. Often, their salary range from US$ 3000.00 to US$ 6500.00 per month! At Petrobras - one of the most well-paying Brazilian corporations -, an engineer holding just a BA. degree can earn US$ 2150.00 per month! The funniest stuff is that an engineer can agregate knowledge and innovation to a given product, what helps to increase the product's value, while a public service lawyer is only eating away the contributors' money and, at least when it comes to Brazil, they do not deliver a good job, since their profession at service public level is full of corruption, bribery, lobby, ill will, and etc. Of course, there are very good lawyers in Brazil, but the majority is working for the private sector.
P.S: I wonder what an American entrepreneur and/or American venture would think about devoting one's life to eat away the contributors money instead of start a new business. My bet: A waste of time and, sure, money! :)