Dream Jobs 2010

The willingness to jump off an obvious career path, make a sudden change in direction, and, sometimes, take advantage of a stroke of luck landed these 10 technologists their dream jobs

3 min read
Images: Dreamworks Animation; Photo-illustration: Statik Digital
Images: Dreamworks Animation; Photo-illustration: Statik Digital

dream jobs opener Images: Dreamworks Animation; Photo-illustration: Statik Digital

Some careers proceed along a nice, neat path. But the 10 technologists in this year’s Dream Jobs report found their journeys full of unexpected twists, dramatic surprises, and what probably looked to others like complete about-faces.

Take Rick Armstrong. He started out as a sound engineer, but now he spends his workdays aboard small aircraft, tapping away at his laptop to create detailed 3-D maps.

Bob Marsh, too, has had a long, strange trip. Remember the Homebrew Computer Club? Marsh’s work with the group earned him a place in computing history. These days he trots the globe installing computer centers in the most isolated regions. Ernst Völlm, who began his career building a bobbin winder for a textile company, now designs the most advanced scuba computers available.

Ronald Thomas used to work on instruments to study the upper atmosphere; now he seeks out erupting volcanoes in search of lightning. José Losada didn’t grow up thinking he’d someday write code for the telescope with the largest light-collecting mirror in the world. But that’s what he does, in the sun-washed paradise of the Canary Islands. Working for a biotech firm, Brian Gallagher spent his evenings developing a truck-suspension control system. His sideline morphed into a full-time gig overseeing electrical systems for a remarkably aerodynamic electric car.

Dream jobs can come when you least expect them. Hiroko Ohmura always loved pianos, but as a computer scientist she never expected to design one—until her employer, Yamaha, surprised her with a transfer from IT to the digital musical instruments division. Henrik Sørensen had been unemployed for months when he landed his dream job designing energy systems for sustainable buildings. And Jacob Melvin’s grades were so poor he worried he wouldn’t graduate college. But then recruiters for DreamWorks Animation SKG offered him the position he had always dreamed of.

Finally, consider Catherine Mohr. At 27, she was working on some of the world’s most advanced electric vehicles—surely a dream job. But Mohr decided she’d rather help doctors and their patients. So she went to medical school, and now she’s creating cutting-edge tools for robotic surgery.

Has your path led to the job of your dreams? Write and tell us about it at eedreamjobs@ieee.org.

Dream Jobs 2010 list of articles

melvin

Jacob Melvin, Technical Director at Dreamworks Animation
How a struggling student found a dream come true at Dreamworks Animation

gallagher

Brian Gallagher, Electric-Car Surfer
An unlikely automotive engineer oversees all the electricity at a revolutionary vehicle

ronald thomas

Ronald Thomas, Engineer Versus the Volcano
This engineer tracks the weird and vivid bursts of lightning that accompany erupting volcanoes

ohmura

Hiroko Ohmura, Keyboard Maestro
At Yamaha, in Japan, she dreams up the electronic keyboards of the future

marsh

Bob Marsh Hacks for Humanity
He brings the hacker ethic and Internet access to the far corners of the globe

armstrong

Rick Armstrong Maps Rough Terrain
Rick Armstrong's job is half flying and half math, and it's hard to say which he loves more

mohr

Catherine Mohr Designs Surgical Robots
Mohr went from designing solar planes to surgical robots and couldn't be happier

sorensen

Henrik Sørensen, Green-Building Guru
He works with architects to design sustainable buildings

losada

José Losada, Island Dreams
He writes code for the world's biggest telescope while cavorting in the Canaries

vollm

Ernst Völlm, Rapture of the Deep
He makes the dive computer that every aquanaut wants
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