What I like in a job

5 minute read


In my professional career, I’ve had many different jobs. I’ve worked as a lecturer (professor) in several different universities (ANU, UQ, UNewHaven, CCSU, Fairfield) in two different countries (Australian and the United States). I’ve worked in one large multinational corporation (UTC), as well as several start-ups (Mitec, MVT, emuse, Noster). In the non-profit space, I’ve been, until recently, an active volunteer with the IEEE. I’ve held the position of Secretary of three different geographical Sections: ACT, Queensland, and Connecticut. I’ve even held the position of Chair of the Connecticut IEEE Section.

Outside of my professional career, most of my organizational involvements have been with my children and their activities. I’ve helped coach softball and soccer in the various local leagues. I helped Áine out with organizing the Norfeldt Elementary School Spring Fair a few times, though she was the point person.

Moving from big to small

When I left United Technologies in 2010, I went to work for emuse technologies, a company that I helped start up back in the dot com craziness. I left them in 2001, but they were still going nearly ten years later and were looking for some R&D guidance. At Christmas 2009, I’d had lunch with the emuse instigators and found that I still had rapport with them. They suggested that I might help them out with some new R&D. At UTC, I’d been promised by my boss the year before that I’d get more R&D work, but he hadn’t done that. So, when I returned to work in early 2010, I asked that he approve me moonlighting with emuse for a few hours a week.

He graciously did, getting approval all the way up to the gold building (UTC HQ).

A little later that year, UTC Fire & Security, the division of UTC where I worked, acquired GE Security. It was like a minnow swallowing a whale on the electronic security side of the house. The engineering group where I worked was downsized from 13 people to 4. Thankfully, I was one of the 4 who remained, but I saw the writing on the wall.

When emuse found out that I was looking for another position, they suggested that I start working with them full-time remotely. I looked at a few other positions, and was even offered a position at the United Technologies Research Center in Cork, Ireland. But I settled on going back to work with emuse.

So, at the beginning of December 2010, I started working remotely.

Back in 2010, the technology wasn’t as good as it is now, but Skype still allowed cheap and (mostly) reliable voice and text communication. At first, I worked very closely with Eduardo Shanahan. Eduardo was a pleasure to work with: interested in new technologies, but also interested in getting stuff done and communicating about it.

That’s the first thing I like in a job: working remotely.

From small to many

Before 2011, I was engaged full-time with work at UTC. I really didn’t have time for much else except family. Once I left UTC and started working remotely for emuse, I had more freedom in how I spent my time, but less time with people. So I started getting more active in the IEEE and a volunteer with the Connecticut Section.

The friendships I’ve made through the IEEE have been great! The advice and general camaraderie that’s available there has been wonderful both personally and professionally.

While attending IEEE Executive Committee (ExCom) meetings, I was introduced to several academics. While having face time with technical people at IEEE was good, it was generally only once a month. The academics at IEEE asked me if I would be interested to teach as an adjunct. I thought about it, and decided I would, provided it didn’t interfere with my day job.

So, initially I started teaching into the University of New Haven’s Electrical Engineering program. I did that from Fall 2011 until Spring 2014, teaching mostly signal processing related courses. At about that time, family issues started me thinking about returning to Australia and I withdrew from teaching there.

I decided to stay in the US, and a little while later, I was asked to teach into Fairfield University’s Computer Science & Software Engineering program, and into Central Connecticut’s Computer Engineering Technology program. I’ve been doing both of those since 2017.

That brings me to the second thing I like in a job: I like working with people.

From many to one

Currently, I’m working as a visiting assistant professor at Fairfield University for a year. I’m also keeping on teaching as an adjunct at CCSU. I’ve written before about aspects of both, for example here and here.

I really enjoy teaching. The students at both schools are great! They are diverse in background. They are eager to learn.

However, doing this is teaching. It’s not engineering.

While I enjoy teaching, I enjoy making stuff more.

That gives me the third think I like in a job: I like building stuff.

How to get there?

What’s not so clear to me is how to get to a position that involves all three things: remote work, people, and building stuff.

In an attempt to get there last year, I started a company called Teeny Tiny Apps LLC. However, the pandemic hit, and I opted for the safe option of working full-time at CCSU and Fairfield.

So, once this semester is out of the way I’ll be brushing off those ideas again and see where that takes me.