Preparing for Academic Careers in Science and Engineering
by Richard M. Reis, Stanford University
Expanded Reviewer/Reader Comments
CAREER OPPORTUNITIES GUIDE (ASEE Prism December 1997)
Tomorrow's Professor: Preparing for Academic Careers in
Science and Engineering. By Richard M. Reis. IEEE Press, 1997;
400pp., $39.95. Reviewed by John Crepeau
Reading this book brought back vivid memories of my own job
hunt just a few years ago; of the time, energy, and preparation
needed to get an academic position. The author mentions today's
tight job market, and recommends that job seekers keep a broad view
by not ruling out jobs in government or industry. The book is, however,
a primer on obtaining a position in academe, and the preparation
needed to succeed once you are there.
Tomorrow's Professor is thoroughly researched, and
covers just about every imaginable base in preparing someone for
an academic career. It is well written and easily read. The first
part of the book details the peculiar culture of a university, including
its teaching, research, and service missions; its governing structure;
and tenure. It confirms much of the anecdotal evidence about universities
that I thought were particular to the schools that I was familiar
In Part Two the author outlines the foundation necessary
for gaining an academic position. Any student seriously considering
a future career in academe must begin early on developing the research
and teaching portfolio necessary to gain a coveted position. In
research, it is important to begin publishing research papers, presenting
results and making contacts at conference, and helping to obtain
external support. For teaching, one must go beyond working as a
teaching assistant, and start teaching one's own classes.
For the current job seeker, the heart of the book is Part
Three, where Reis outlines job identification and application strategies.
The time and energy required to find out about a particular position
and tailor one's application to fit the requirements is well worth
the effort, he writes. This section also covers most of the steps
necessary in preparing an excellent application, and it is often
the inclusion of these details that can make or break an application.
In today's tough job market, where hundreds of people often
apply for a single position, following the steps outlined in this
book could give applicants the edge they need to be noticed. Tomorrow's
Professor: Preparing for Academic Careers in Science and Engineering
is an extremely invaluable read.
(John Crepeau is an assistant professor in the mechanical
engineering department at the University of Idaho.)
Date: Sat, 28 Jun 1997 21:00:38 -0500
From: "Carl L. Aronson" email@example.com
Subject: (Tomorrow's Professor) feedback
Dear Professor Reis,
My name is Carl Aronson and I am a Ph.D. candidate in Macromolecular
Science and Engineering at The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
I have been considering a career in academia and have been talking
to young faculty about their jobs here at The University of Michigan.
I was recently talking to Professor Susan Montgomery in Chemical
Engineering and she gave me your book Tomorrow's Professor
to read. I have read about half the book and cannot put it down.
The book is very well written and presents the material very clearly.
I have received a National Research Council Post-Doctoral Associateship
to work at The Naval Reseach Laboratory in Washington, DC upon graduation.
This award will allow me to continue to increase my breadth and
depth in polymer science as well as publish cutting edge science.
With this award also comes opportunities to secure post-tenure support
and preference on ONR grants if I can obtain a faculty position.
I enjoy teaching and would like to find a place with a healthy balance
between research and teaching.
I have been gratified to hear that many of the things which
I have been doing here at Michigan are suggested by your book in
order to compete for a faculty position (i.e. teaching multiple
courses in engineering and chemistry, doing interdisciplinary research
and communicating with Professors at other US and international
universities concerning my research to build a strong network).
I look forward to reading the rest of your book and trying to follow
the guidelines you have laid out. The guidelines for the job-talk
as well as writing the "teaching philosophy" statement will be particularly
helpful. I look forward to providing you with feedback when I finish
Carl L. Aronson
Macromolecular Science and Engineering Center
The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Date: Sat, 21 Jun 1997 18:59:14 -0400 (EDT)
From: Khaled El-Maleh (khaled@tsp.EE.McGill.CA)
Subject: Some Comments About Your Book (Tomorrow's Professor)
Dear Prof. Reis,
First of all, I would like to say "congratulations" for writing
your wonderful book Tomorrow's Professor.
Thanks to the ASEE Prism
magazine for introducing me to your book.
Two weeks ago I read my first issue of the Prism magazine
and I was lucky enough to read your article "The Tenure Journey."
In that article, I realized that you have a 1997 book Tomorrow's
At a recent IEEE International Conference, I found your book
on the first day of the conference and without hesitation, I bought
I was 100% sure that this was a valuable "unique" book. It
fit my interests and love of education (both engineering and science).
Thus, it is a good investment.
As I read more chapters from your book, I really love it
more and more. Every chapter contains information that we really
need as students and future professors.
I wish I had enough money to give this book as a gift to
every PhD student, starting professor, advisor, and university administrator.
I am currently promoting this book to my friends at the university.
For all of this, congratulations, and thanks a million for
taking the time to collect the information and experiences, and
to write this wonderful book.
Let me now introduce myself:
My name is Khaled EL-Maleh, a PhD graduate student (last quarter
of my PhD) at McGill University, in Montreal, Canada. I am in the
EE Department. I hold two B.S. degrees (EE and Applied Math) and
a M.Eng. (Biomedical Engineering) from McGill.
My PhD is in the area of signal processing for telecommunications.
I really love education (learning and teaching)! I have been
a tutor for both electrical engineering and mathematics courses
for many years. I have recently joined the ASEE as a student member
and I strongly recommend this society and your book for every grad.
One of the interesting parts of your book is the examples
you bring from real-life experiences. Also, it is nice that you
are giving in each chapter some references for further reading in
It is my dream and goal to join a university that values
education and makes research parts of education and vice versa.
I am now enjoying reading your book and I feel that I need always
to read it again and again as it is a time-independent book.
Well done job Professor Reis. I hope to meet you in the near
Dept. of Electrical Engineering
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