Monday, January 21, 2013

CoolTech Careers

A number of my clients love being on the cutting edge of technology, so I've been focusing on getting smarter about what I call CoolTech Careers.  

Here's my current list of technologies I believe most likely to burgeon:
  • 3D-printer-manufactured products. 3D printers are even being used to build buildings!
  •  Sensors--medical, homeland security, radio frequency identification devices (RFID), and 3D sensors, which could be used, for example, to mass-customize clothing
  • Safer nuclear power, for example, thorium or WAMSR. Even current new-generation nuclear plants are deemed much safer than Fukushima's and are being built.
  • Artificial intelligence-aided diagnosis: medical, tech, customer service.
  •  Non-automotive robotics, for example, in packaging and smart bin-picking. Alas, that will cause many warehouse jobs to disappear.
  • Next-gen smartphones: the ultimate manifestation of convergence: merging, for example, medical monitoring, household control, GPS, and replacement of the PC  thanks to fold-out screens and laser keyboards that project a keyboard onto any nearby flat surface.
  • Next-generation hybrid engines. Electric cars (as well as solar and wind energy) will--as I have predicted---fail because of physics delimitations. Toyota has opined that EVs will never be more than a bit player and is putting most of its resources into improving hybrid-powered vehicles. 


Maria Lopez said...

I feel like the term "sensors" that you use needs to be unpacked some more. After all my thermostat contains a temperature sensor and my car contains many sensors of various types. It sounds like you are saying that electrical engineering to develop new types of sensors may be important in the future.

You list applications of sensors but it doesn't seem wise to plan to work on particular applications. For instance a friend of mine is a control systems engineer and he has worked on applications in both mines and oil refineries. The skill set, engineering, and the degree he has, from Harvey Mudd, could not be acquired by most people, but the application of those skills and that degree are various.

I'm not sure jobs in thorium will be as good as you think. The fact that nuclear reactors are, properly, highly regulated and engineered objects. Because of this there will only be a few companies making them. As China and India seem very interested in this technology, those companies may not be based in the US.

Operator jobs will be boring and few due to automation. Maintenance jobs will be good for some people provided they are willing to travel from reactor to reactor.

Also, while I'm not excited about electric cars, you do not have to be liberal to think that bikes and public transit might be highly used in the future. Consider what happens if many people people cannot easily afford cars because globalization and technology has made it harder for people with average IQs to maintain a job that pays sufficiently well to maintain both a car and a family.

Anonymous said...

Remember that Marty's talking jobs, usually, rather than careers in the sense of a purposefully shaped and rising trajectory founded on a name-brand education.

Greater good for the greater number suggests that that's a decent focus for advice, although I suspect the readership of the blog skews toward academic pedigrees and a desire for career in the sense of more than employment.

One thing that could potentially be added to the tech jobs list is medical informatics - systems administration, electronic health records, electronic insurance billing and there are smart device and sensor applications in the field as well.

Jobs in the field have a broad range of growth opportunities, from folks who want to focus mostly on stability and predictable hours to those who'd like to take more risks and the chance to grow their responsibilities.