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Turks of Silicon Valley

Ayşe Önal Zamboğlu
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There is a humor that there are many tourists want to see Silicon Valley! And they assume that the Valley has similar view with Great Canyon in Colorada! Actually Silicon Valley was named after the chip manufacturers and enterprenuers opened their bases on the area.

There are many techology companies like Apple Computer, Cisco Syttems, DreamWorks Animation, eBay, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Intel and Yahoo!, 16 cities, and four university based on Sillicon Valley. Also these technology companies have a lot Turkish workers as engineers and researchers. 

Dr. Hakan Hacigumus. (By Ayse O. Zamboglu)

The guest of this month’s issue, who works at Silicon Valley, the technological base of the US, is Dr. Hakan Hacigumus. We talked to Hacigumus, who works as a researcher in the IBM Research Center.

First of all, can you please briefly tell us about the cooperation project between IBM and Turkish universities you work on?
IBM has a program which is open to all universities and which has been conducted for a very long time now. Our prior objective is to have the Turkish universities represented in this program more efficiently and for them to benefit from its opportunities.

In addition to this, IBM has been cooperating with universities in the field of newly identified service sciences ( universities such as U.C. Berkeley, Arizona State University, etc.) for a while. Our aim is to conduct joint studies, similar to the ones being conducted in the U.S., with the universities in Turkey through IBM Turk. We hope that these studies will contribute immensely to the improvement of service sciences.

When you compare the relationship between industrial institutions and universities in the U.S. and Turkey what kind of differences and similarities catches your attention?
Turkish industry has doubts about the universities’ capability of solving its troubles within the timeframe and with the means which are specified by the universities. For this reason, the universities are obliged to explain to industry how they will solve its problems and what kind of resources they have. Techno parks are very important in order for this communication to be maintained. METU and ITU are models for this task. The financing models for research support programs are also important for encouraging joint studies of universities and industrial institutions.

Can you evaluate the differences between the graduate and doctorate programs offered in the two countries and the opportunities made accessible by them?
I think classes have second-degree priority in graduate education in Turkey. The curriculum of the programs are elaborated in a similar way to the programs around the world. That is not the issue, though. The only problem is finding sufficient number of educators. The main issue is to constitute, establish and maintain a research mentality. Even though universities have great responsibilities regarding this issue, it is very difficult to ignore the conditions determined by the system.

It is very important, especially in the applied fields, to be able to find a sufficient number and quality of doctorate students to support continuous and satisfactory research. In order to accomplish that, you need to find students who are willing to step into the intense research atmosphere and stay in this competitive environment for at least 4 to 6 years.

Most of the Turkish students who have graduated from a reputable university in Turkey and come to the U.S. prefer to work in the U.S. when they graduate and most of them hesitate to return to Turkey. What are your opinions on that?
There are two main reasons for that: The American standard of living and professional satisfaction.  This, of course, is an issue that most people take into consideration.

As for professional satisfaction, people want to hold professions which are commensurate to their education, experience, and talents, and furthermore, which contribute to them. They find professional satisfaction not only in the areas where technology is consumed but also where it’s created. People evaluate the professional opportunities they will have when they return and this evaluation mostly comes out to be not-so-positive.

Hakan Hacigumus, who graduated from Istanbul Technical University, holds a master’s and doctoral degree from University of California, Irvine in Computer Sciences. He has conducted numerous studies on database-service models, security and confidentiality of data and information systems, service- focused architecture, and service sciences.  Hacıgumus still works as a researcher at the IBM Almaden Research Center (San Jose, California) and initiates studies in order to develop the cooperation between IBM Research Center and the universities in Turkey.

(March 2006, 19th Issue)

Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07