Dream Jobs 09: Special Report

Building a solar-powered plane, creating stunning effects for Bollywood films, designing search-and-rescue robots—it’s not just a job, it’s engineering

2 min read
man in lab coat
Photo: Timothy Archibald

dreamjob09-opener620px Photo: Timothy Archibald

What’s the difference between a good job and a dream job? Just ask the 10 technologists in this year’s Dream Jobs report.

Working on an assembly line, Shannon Bruzelius knew what a dream job wasn’t. He also knew what his dream job was: making really cool toys. Hundreds of phone calls later, he landed it. That’s not to say that a dream job can’t fall into your lap: Philippe Lauper was asked to oversee the building of a solar-powered plane that will circle the globe. His reply? Yes!

Kenyon Kluge thought there must be work for an electrical engineer who also loves motorcycles. There was: Now he designs all-electric dirt bikes at Zero Motorcycles. Everyone expected Kunio Koike to follow a traditional career at a big automaker, but he found his calling creating exquisite timepieces for Seiko.

Then there are the psychic rewards. Arieta Gonelevu’s job has them—she brings light to remote villages all over the South Pacific. Convinced that robots could play a vital role at disaster sites, Robin Murphy helped launch a new discipline in robotics.

Following your curiosity may just lead you to the job of your dreams. When Erlundur Thorsteinsson left a so-so job in IT to join one of the hottest online game companies, he discovered a whole new universe—literally. Tero Ojanperä’s dual interests in business and culture transformed him into Nokia’s music mogul.

Engineers who can straddle the worlds of technology and the arts will find lots of opportunity. Keya Banerjee turned an early obsession with ­computers into a career designing visual effects in Bollywood. Studio engineer Marco Migliari makes musicians like Peter Gabriel and Van Morrison sound their best.

So what have we learned? That a good job won’t love you back, but a dream job just might. Take a look at the 10 profiles that follow, and maybe you’ll be motivated to up the ante in your next job search.

Already have the job of your dreams? Write and tell us about it ateedreamjobs@ieee.org.

Dream Jobs 2009 List of Articles:

Marco Migliari: Studio Virtuoso. At Real World Studios in the British countryside, he masters the mix

Shannon Bruzelius: Toy Story. How a B student landed an A+ job in the toy industry

Kenyon Kluge: Zero to 60. An electrical engineer with a passion for motorcycles finds a job designing all-electric dirt bikes

Arieta Gonelevu: Bright Lights, Little Islands. She brings electricity to remote islands in the South Pacific

Tero Ojanperä: Dial M for Music. From CTO to Chief Tunes Officer

Erlendur Thorsteinsson: Master of the Universe. This computer scientist breathes life into the many worlds of the sci-fi game Eve Online

Keya Banerjee: Magical Realism. This specialist in reality-based movie effects is happiest when you don’t notice her work

Kunio Koike: Real Time. This Seiko engineer makes every second count

Robin Murphy: Roboticist to the Rescue. Her intelligent robots help search for victims of disaster

Philippe Lauper: Chase the Sun. He and his team are building a plane that will circle the globe on sunlight alone

The Conversation (0)

Q&A With Co-Creator of the 6502 Processor

Bill Mensch on the microprocessor that powered the Atari 2600 and Commodore 64

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Bill Mensch

Few people have seen their handiwork influence the world more than Bill Mensch. He helped create the legendary 8-bit 6502 microprocessor, launched in 1975, which was the heart of groundbreaking systems including the Atari 2600, Apple II, and Commodore 64. Mensch also created the VIA 65C22 input/output chip—noted for its rich features and which was crucial to the 6502's overall popularity—and the second-generation 65C816, a 16-bit processor that powered machines such as the Apple IIGS, and the Super Nintendo console.

Many of the 65x series of chips are still in production. The processors and their variants are used as microcontrollers in commercial products, and they remain popular among hobbyists who build home-brewed computers. The surge of interest in retrocomputing has led to folks once again swapping tips on how to write polished games using the 6502 assembly code, with new titles being released for the Atari, BBC Micro, and other machines.

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Boston Dynamics' Spot can now handle push-bar doors and dynamically replan in complex environments

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While Boston Dynamics' Atlas humanoid spends its time learning how to dance and do parkour, the company's Spot quadruped is quietly getting much better at doing useful, valuable tasks in commercial environments. Solving tasks like dynamic path planning and door manipulation in a way that's robust enough that someone can buy your robot and not regret it is, I would argue, just as difficult (if not more difficult) as getting a robot to do a backflip.

With a short blog post today, Boston Dynamics is announcing Spot Release 3.0, representing more than a year of software improvements over Release 2.0 that we covered back in May of 2020. The highlights of Release 3.0 include autonomous dynamic replanning, cloud integration, some clever camera tricks, and a new ability to handle push-bar doors, and earlier today, we spoke with Spot Chief Engineer at Boston Dynamics Zachary Jackowski to learn more about what Spot's been up to.

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Help Build the Future of Assistive Technology

Empower those in need with a master’s degree in assistive technology engineering

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Students in the CSUN Assistive Technology Engineering program work on projects that involve robotics, artificial intelligence, and neuroscience.

California State University, Northridge (CSUN)

This article is sponsored by California State University, Northridge (CSUN).

Your smartphone is getting smarter. Your car is driving itself. And your watch tells you when to breathe. That, as strange as it might sound, is the world we live in. Just look around you. Almost every day, there's a better or more convenient version of the latest gadget, device, or software. And that's only on the commercial end. The medical and rehabilitative tech is equally impressive — and arguably far more important. Because for those with disabilities, assistive technologies mean more than convenience. They mean freedom.

So, what is an assistive technology (AT), and who designs it? The term might be new to you, but you're undoubtedly aware of many: hearing aids, prosthetics, speech-recognition software (Hey, Siri), even the touch screen you use each day on your cell phone. They're all assistive technologies. AT, in its most basic form, is anything that helps a person achieve enhanced performance, improved function, or accelerated access to information. A car lets you travel faster than walking; a computer lets you process data at an inhuman speed; and a search engine lets you easily find information.

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