Last February, IEEE Spectrum profiled 10 "technologists" who aren't just working - they are living their dream jobs. Two women made their list:
As part of her work at Los Alamos National Laboratory Sigrid Close travels the world - India, China, Puerto Rico, Marshall Islands - to study the upper atmosphere.
From an early age, Close says, “I wanted to work on something in space.” As a child growing up in Allentown, Pa., she remembers her parents taking her out on clear nights “to see Mr. Moon.” Her father, a computer engineer, gave her a telescope for her eighth birthday. In 1992, her love of space naturally led to a physics and astronomy B.S. at the University of Rochester in New York state. Close then went to the University of Texas at Austin, intending to get a Ph.D. in physics. She finished her master's but went no further. “I was burned out,” she says. It didn't help that a co-worker kept leaving Bible passages on her office chair exhorting women not to work.Close moved to Boston to work on her music and took a job at MIT Lincoln Laboratory studying the ionosphere. She was eventually accepted into the "highly competitive Lincoln Scholars Program" which allowed her to finish her physics PhD while continuing to receive her staff salary. After receiving her doctorate in 2004, she took the job at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. As for family life, she's fortunate - her husband is a science fiction and fantasy writer who can join her when she travels.
Salinee Tavaranan's career progressed quite differently.
She grew up on the beach resort island of Phuket, in southern Thailand, and thoughts about protecting the natural beauty of her hometown inspired her to pursue mechanical engineering with a concentration in energy systems at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. After graduating in 2001, she went on to earn an M.S. in solar energy engineering at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.One semester into her Ph.D. studies, she learned that the Border Green Energy Team, a Thailand-based nonprofit, was looking for a project director. She applied and was accepted.
Now she and her team have installed solar panels and microhydro turbines in more than 20 refugee camps and villages in turbines .
Tavaranan eventually envisions linking up villages throughout the region into a series of interconnected minigrids, all powered by solar panels and microhydro generators. She explains that all the technology BGET installs has been designed to be simple enough for the villagers themselves to maintain.Watch a video about Tavaranan and her team's work.
It does sound like both Close and Tavaranan have found their dream jobs.
Tags: Sigrid Close, Salinee Tavaranan, engineering