By Emeka Nwafor
I have been totally absorbed by the media coverage of the incredible rescue of the thirty-three Chilean miners that were trapped about a kilometer below the earth's surface for months. The images of jubilation as "Super Mario" and the other miners exited the pod will be imprinted in our minds forever. A real Feel Good Story.
Many thanks to the scientists, engineers, and rescue specialists from across the planet for playing their part in bringing up the 33 miners and 4 rescue workers and for making this A Beautiful Day.
Between reports of the rescue of the individual Chilean miners, CNN's report on the "Best Jobs in America" caught my attention, my curiousity, and briefly diverted my focus from the rescue (and my day job). Of the top-100 jobs, I was pleasantly surprised to see that "Software Architect" ranked at the top – #1 in America. "Product Management Director" and "Software Engineering/Development Director" were in the top-20 – this was a pleasant but credible surprise. "Telecommunications Network Engineer", "Test Software Development Engineer", "R&D Manager", and "Systems Engineer" were all in the top-50. Very interesting considering that these rankings are based on criteria like compensation, job growth, and quality of life.
I proceeded to dive deeper into some of the detailed job descriptions – the "what they do", "what to like", and "what not to like" details. Just looking at the top-5, there were a few things that alarmed me. Interestingly, "Management Consultant" comes in at #3 – the third best job in America. Hmmm… I have respect for what Management Consultants do – I even know a few of them. But the third best job in America?!
Clearly, I have a bias. When reading the Management Consultant job details, to me it read like a niche role when compared side-by-side with the likes of the "Software Architect" description or the "Systems Engineer" description (#49). To me it feels even more "niche-like" when I think of this in the context of the innovative embedded devices and applications and "smart products" that embedded developers across the planet are developing to make our lives better when interacting with information on the web, interacting with our cars, interacting with our medical specialists, or making life safer when travelling in planes and trains.
So, what could the "Top Jobs in America" list look like in 5 years?
Like "Management Consultant", will we see new job descriptions that better characterize what is going on in the growing embedded software development space? Will jobs like "Human Device Interaction Engineer", "Device Performance Therapist", "Software Restoration Engineer", or "Software Archaeologist" make it into the top-25 jobs in America list? In 5 years, I wonder if these jobs would crack the top-10 "Benefit to Society" jobs list and join the ranks of the "Anesthesiologists" and "Rehabilitation Services Directors" that are there today.
I think so.
There needs to be more celebration about the great things that we are doing with embedded software. I think we need to tell more stories about how our innovation matters to society. Here's a little story to illustrate why I think this might happen…
During my last visit to the doctor's office, we wrapped up the visit with our usual discussion around the latest and hottest hi-tech gadgets. The discussion this time around expectedly was focused on the iPad. My doctor shared a story about how the iPad had made one of his patients lives better. This patient had suffered a stroke that limited his use of one of his arms and had impacted his vision. Before the iPad, the patient routinely complained about difficulty in using his computer because of the effects of the stroke – difficulty with the mouse and keyboard, difficulty in reading the screen, and headaches. Life for this patient got better with the iPad. Browsing the web was easier using one hand and the multitouch interface. The ease of magnifying text and images when reading resulted in fewer headaches.
For me, this too is a Feel Good Story.
I am sure that there are many more like them for almost every embedded device application that's out there. I always look forward to hearing about the cool applications Wind River's customers are designing and the stories about how these embedded devices help to make A Beautiful Day in our lives.