Where to go from here?

What direction is the wind blowing?

I’m looking for and preparing for my next career opportunity. My school and work experience are listed on LinkedIn.

I’m not one to just let the wind blow me to the next place. I want to put in some thought, so I can apply my efforts to move toward something that is going to continue to be relevant.

Where I am

My chosen career is computer engineering. To me, that’s designing computer systems that people and businesses need to get their tasks done. The design discipline has two main aspects: computer hardware (electronics) and computer software. I’ve gained lots of experience in both, and I definitely want to keep close to my experience base. Relevant experience will be what’s most useful to my employers in quickly getting their project completed.

Lots of my hardware designs have required software or firmware to complete the product, and most of them have required me to write some kind of functional test software before hand-off to other teams or the customer. Here is a subset of my skills that I see as being useful to employers going forward:

  • C/C++ programming
  • Python and Bash scripting
  • Verilog logic design
  • FPGAs
  • Hardware / embedded system design (board level schematics, circuits, PCB layout)

Which way is the wind blowing?

There’s been a shift in consumer hardware that has already affected my career. I took a while for it to sink in, but the shift to a smaller set of mass produced mobile platforms (phones and tablets) instead of individually engineered devices has translated to a smaller number of hardware products being developed. The smartphone is the hardware “hammer” that gets applied to most problems today. The phones take over as the general purpose computer and it’s chosen as the ready-made solution in lots of cases.

Where to next?

Being involved in the engineering of phones and phone chips has been good for me in the last few years. That might continue for a while longer, but the competitive field is narrowing. It does appear that there is increased interest in IoT hardware to connect to those phones. The devices are medical, industrial, and some home products.

So with the changes, I’ll probably have to shift focus a little. These are some adjacent engineering specializations that are in demand and appealing to me:

  • IoT communication
  • Machine learning
  • Cloud hardware and software
  • Blockchain and network security
  • Software defined radio

Finally, there are things that I’ve been interested in, but require a complete shift out of the computer engineering field, but hopefully not too much additional training:

  • 3D mechanical design
  • GIS mapping
  • Drone 3D surveys

I’ve been looking into inexpensive ways to train in all these fields and I’ve progressed well into a few of them. I’m not concentrating on any one thing too much as I’m not really sure where I’m going to get traction. My future posts to this blog will detail my progress. If you have any suggestions, or know anyone who is blogging about the same things, I’m open to hearing about it!

I took the image for this blog post at George Washington’s Mt. Vernon home in 2006.

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