Thursday, March 12, 2009

Southern California Edison Job

I went to interview with Southern California Edison yesterday for an Electrical Engineering position. That was a bit of a scary position to interview for since they wanted electrical engineers with a power emphasis which is pretty hard for me to call myself with a straight face. Reading a text book on power engineering, and watching a whole bunch of lectures by Walter Lewin on Electricity and Magnetism was enough to make me not completely ignorant on the subject though.

So far as I can tell though they bought into the idea that an engineering degree at a good school, even in a completely different subject area, was a perfectly reasonable background for the position. It probably helped that I was able to do a fairly good job of describing the electricity generation, transmission, and distribution system when asked to do so. They wanted me to come back in a few days to talk to some people working at the company, and try to work out exactly where I would prefer to work. So far as I can tell there are a lot of people doing device physics, and a lot of people doing transmission planning both of which would probably be fairly interesting. There are also a lot of people doing safety jobs which I would probably find fairly boring.

One nice thing about the position is I could pick up a Professional Engineering License fairly quickly. This would be nice because at that point I am legally an engineer the fact that my undergraduate degrees are in science and my graduate degree was doing biophysics work won't matter any more. Engineering is a fairly flat profession educationally compared to the sciences. I am confident that with a PE license and a masters degree from Cornell I won't be limited professionally in the long run in the way I would if I entered the biomedical world where PhDs, and MDs are needed to be taken seriously.

It also has the unusual quality of being one of very few 40 hour a week jobs that both pay reasonably well and are fairly interesting. Compared to if I stayed in the biomedical sciences it is safe to say both that I would be payed more than as a post doc, or even a professor at a low end school like Fresno State, and that I will work a lot less 80 hour weeks fighting to get the position. I imagine in the next few months I will be studying in my spare time to catch up to the people that have actual electrical engineering degrees and to take the EIT exam, which is the first step to a Professional Engineer license, so I will be fairly busy but after that it sounds like a pretty sweet deal.

The down side is it is in Rosemead, near LA. That is five or six hours from where I would have preferred to live. I am not sure how big a concession that really is, its at least a drive I can do at a moments notice, but it certainly would complicate my life more than living in San Jose.

I imagine there is a 70% chance I will take this position. I really haven't had much luck getting myself noticed by bay area companies and the idea of another few months of unemployment are not appealing to me. There is a chance something else will come up at the last minute though and I will take it.

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