One of these days, I was chatting with a Kenyan friend who has just passed his Masters in Electronic Engineering with distinction.I asked him why he was so keen on doing PhD studies.He simply told me that he wants to use it as a pedestal for making wealth.

I immediately told him that he was wrong.It was better for him to relinquish his PhD ambitions and start thinking about innovative ways of generating wealth.His MSc degree is more than enough.I further told him that Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the co-founders of Google, did not complete their PhD studies at Stanford University.And yet all of us can acknoweldge the impact that their products (search engine, blogger, mail,google earth etc.) are making on our daily lives.

The History of Google reveals that Sergey and Larry first met as Stanford University graduate students in computer science in 1995. While there, they developed a common interest in retrieving relevant information from large data sets.By January of 1996, Larry and Sergey had begun collaboration on a search engine called BackRub, the precursor to the Google Search Engine.

In September 1998, Google was incorporated, after Larry and Sergey put their PhD studies on hold and raise $1 million in funding from family, friends and “angel” investors.Since then,Google has grown rapidly such that it is now the largest search engine on the web.Larry and Sergey joined the list of billionaires in the world in 2004 after Google’s initial public offering.

In 2006, Forbes list reported that Larry’s net worth was estimated at more than 14 billion dollars while Sergey’s is 14.1 Billion dollars. These guys are still “on leave” from their PhD studies.With such billions at your finger tips, who can go back there to resume PhD research?It is extremely difficult to do so even when you are a star researcher.

It must be mentioned that Sergey and Larry are extremely brilliant.They authored what is widely considered their seminal contribution, a paper entitled The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine.The paper has become the tenth most accessed scientific paper at Stanford University.

The story of Sergey and Larry is just one of the numerous examples. Some have quit at even lower levels but still have gone on to become great finance icons of our era. Check Forbes!

Then, why should someone do PhD studies? First of all, we must have an understanding of this three letter word.A PhD is the highest degree offered by most Universities in the world. Professor Pankaj Jalote , in one of his online documents, says that the focus of a PhD, unlike regular degrees, is not learning existing knowledge but creating new knowledge.

As a result, this degree is desired by anyone wishing to make a mark. I personally think that the main motive for doing a PhD should be the desire to make a mark in the world of research.Once the mark is made, all these other things will fall in place.PhD research involves two major tasks:(a) the formulation of a question or a problem that is of interest and that can be solved, and (b) providing a useful/interesting solution to the stated problem. The results obtained are presented in national/international conferences, and/or submitted to scientific journals.

Sometimes, the life of a PhD student can be very hectic because one has to venture into the unknown in order to create new knowledge.That is why professors always want students who have a good academic standing, self-motivated, hard working and passionate about their research endeavours.One Professor told me that if I want to join his research group as a PhD student, my research work should be my heart beat.