Por Márcio Delamaro, ICMC, USP São Carlos.
Prof. Dieter Rombach é diretor-executivo do Instituto de Engenharia de Software Experimental (IESE) em Kaiserslautern, Alemanha, uma das sedes do famoso Instituto Fraunhofer. É também professor da Universidade de Kaiserslautern e, não menos importante, membro do conselho d iretor do FC Kaiserslautern, um dos mais conhecidos times de futebol da divisão principal da Alemanha. O Prof. Dieter Rombach já esteve algumas vezes no Brasil. Sua última visita ocorreu em março de 2009, quando veio tratar de assuntos relativos a criação de “filiais” do Fraunhofer no Brasil. Na sua passagem pela USP de São Carlos, concordou em responder a algumas perguntas relativas à sua trajetória profissional e sobre como é trabalhar em um instituto de pesquisa. A entrevista foi concedida ao Prof. Marcio Delamaro,do Instituto de Ciências Matemáticas e de Computação (ICMC) da USP de São Carlos.
DELAMARO. Dieter, may you describe your professional trajectory from the college to the present days?
DIETER. I have received my MS degree in Math and Computer Science from the University of Karlsruhe, Germany, in 1978, and my PhD in Computer Science from the University of Kaiserslautern, Germany, in 1984. From 1984 to 1992, I was a faculty member in the Computer Science Department of the University of Maryland in College Park, MD, USA, as well as a project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD, USA (in parallel). During my US tenure, I developed - together with Vic Basili of the University of Maryland - the discipline of Experimental Software Engineering. Having scientific achievements in software engineering based on sound empirical evidence moved Software Engineering closer to true engineering. For this work, I was honored with the National Science Foundation's Presidential Investigator Award in 1990.
DELAMARO. Before moving to the Fraunhofer Institute, you worked on a few major software companies. About such change, I’d like to ask three questions. Was your experience in the industry important to your current work, in which you conduct applied research very close to industrial partners?
DIETER. Of course, my industrial experiences made me understand what the true challenges with respect to Software Engineering were, and what means to risk-mitigating technology transfer were needed. These lessons became the foundation of my Fraunhofer institute in Germany. One important consequence was the establishment of so-called industrial research labs in my institute. In such labs, experts from companies and Fraunhofer researchers collaborate closely with the intent to speed up innovation significantly.
DELAMARO. Do you think this kind of experience is essential? I mean, someone who worked exclusively in the academia could perform well in this kind of job?
DIETER. It is hard to gain the same insights working in academia only. This is one of the reasons why professors in the USA are paid for 10 months only (nota: esses 10 meses dizem respeito ao período de aula sem considerar o verão). If they want to draw a 12-month salary, they have to cooperate with or consult for industry. Thereby, this industrial experience becomes system-immanent.
DELAMARO. In terms of money, was it worth? Is it true that the industry pays better than research? Or is it a myth?
DIETER. Industry pays indeed better. However, there is a price to be paid. The price is that the dependency on corporate strategies or economic developments (like the current financial crisis) is much higher.
DELAMARO. The Fraunhofer Institute is growing outside Europe. There are branches and there plans to open new branches in other countries, including in Brazil. Why? What are the plans for Brazil?
DIETER. A leading German research organization such as Fraunhofer has to be present in all regions that are engaged in top research and has to be present wherever German companies are acting globally. Both conditions are true for Brazil. I believe that Brazil will become a global player in high-tech research in the coming decade. And we want to be part of it.
DELAMARO. What an IT professional needs to work in a research center like the Fraunhofer? Is a masters or PhD degree important?
DIETER. We are looking for IT professionals with a MS degree in computer science, electrical engineering, or math. But even more important is the attitude to address the entire innovation cycle from invention to market impact. Our name patron “Joseph von Fraunhofer” is hereby our model. He has identified the Fraunhofer lines in the sun spectrum, designed lenses, and founded a company to produce them. Sequential innovation (first basic research, then applied research, and then transfer) does no longer fit the needs of today’s speedy innovation. Parallel innovation (like Fraunhofer practices in its institutes) is one of the proper answers to this challenge.
DELAMARO. If you lived in Brazil, which team would you cheer for?
DIETER. I am not sure yet… it would probably depend where I would live. But currently, I could imagine to cheer for the team Sao Paulo.
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