Rube Goldberg would have loved National Engineers Week (19 to 25 February). The late Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist had an engineering degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and in his cartoons he managed to combine engineering smarts with artistic inspiration. The most famous of his technology-taunting cartoons are the ones featuring the "inventions" of his character Professor Lucifer Gorgonzola Butts--hideously complicated devices that do simple tasks in ridiculous ways [see illustration, right].
Rube sure had some fun. And so do lots of other engineers. Lots of chip designers, optical-switch mavens, nanotech specialists, technology teachers, and power-grid bigwigs all love what they do for a living. But in choosing 10 technologists for our annual special report, "Dream Jobs 2006," we looked for people who've found unusual, off-the-beaten-path fun in the careers they've created for themselves.
Take Jos Cocquyt, who builds and tests small spy planes for a living. Or Manni Wong, who designs electronic systems for Disney rides. Grant Imahara is one of the stars of the Discovery Channel's "Mythbusters" television program. And Martin Cooper works with lasers and three-dimensional scanners to restore priceless works of art.
In compiling this annual list of dream jobs we hope to remind our readers and ourselves--and tell up-and-coming generations--why people go into technology in the first place. It's exciting. It's fun. And we also want them to know that in technology it is still possible to build a career to their own specs, not someone else's.
Got a dream job or know someone who does? Write to us at