The Draw of Technology

October 12, 2016 - 5 minutes read

I’m not in politics, but I’ve seen enough coverage about politicians to know that many are driven by strong ideals. Ideals about how they can help their communities, how they can have an impact, and what value they offer to others. While the 2016 campaigns challenge this idea, especially related to a certain candidate or two, I’m not giving up on the entire group. I also believe many business people are driven by similar ideals, as I am. For me, this is the draw of technology.

First Time 

At one of my first jobs out of college, I worked at a company that sold equipment to telecommunications companies. We had a proposal response to complete, and the section I owned included a question about how our products and services benefited society. In my early 20’s at the time, I answered that our equipment helped telecom service providers keep their networks running and ensure communications could get through, to connect people near and far for both personal and commercial reasons. The VP of Engineering had some negative comments about the response, but it stayed in the proposal. That was the first time I articulated the value of technology in a professional role and helped me begin to understand what draws me to the technology industry.

After riding the telecom roller coaster in the early 2000’s, I had a contract with the American Heart Association (AHA), went back into the telecom space, then made the leap into embedded computing. With AHA, I was not as deeply engaged in the role, since I could really only scratch the surface to understand “how things worked.” Obviously saving lives through educating people about healthy life choices is vital, but I didn’t need to understand the medical details to perform my job. Without that need, it wasn’t as compelling a role for me. Back in telecom, I worked with many incredibly smart people to deliver products that again helped people communicate and be efficient in their work environments. I felt like I was back with my people and doing what I should be doing, while still learning along the way.

With my subsequent leap to embedded computing, I had a whole new world of technology to understand and a new language of acronyms and jargon to decipher. Even during the interview process for my new role, I was far more interested in learning how customers used the embedded computers to accomplish a task than in what processors and chips where on the board. After all, I was surrounded again by engineers who could go into the technical details if necessary. One of my favorite stories from those years came from a company that used a single board computer to create a device giving children with speech challenges a way to communicate clearly. The impact of that device, what changed daily life for this group of users, is that kids with autism could attend mainstream classes, instead of being in special classes. It still gives me deep satisfaction to have had even a peripheral role in that kind of benefit for those kids.

IoT’s Draw

The draw of technology for me is always how it connects people and how it can have a positive impact on people’s lives. With the Internet of Things (IoT), that impact is more and more apparent and becoming more and more relevant. People can change the thermostat in their houses so it’s the preferred temperature when they get home. Doctors can monitor remote patients’ vital signs and track medication dosing without people leaving home. Positive Train Control technology, once it’s implemented in the US, can avoid the accidents that we’ve seen on the East Coast over the past few years.

Those benefits, the way technology can be applied, is what keeps me excited about the IoT both in practice and in theory. I’ll be digging into specific IoT applications in the coming weeks and will share what I learn.

If you’re in a technology field, what keeps you engaged and excited about your work? What is technology’s draw for you?





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