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Jun. 5th, 2008

Lawrence Livermore National Labs (LLNL) laid off some members of its nuclear weapons research team recently. There is now a concern that some of these folks may go work in other countries.

I appreciated one of the researchers' comments on how difficult it might be to find another job:

"The specific experience you get doing that stuff doesn't have applications outside that narrow world," he said. "It's not obvious that I will be able to be fully employed."

I'm glad statements like this are being made publicly. It's something some of us in the software world face, because the specificity of what we do can make it difficult to find new jobs if we lose our jobs. It's not a lack of math or science background, as the Bill Gates' of the world put it – it's that it takes time to come up to speed on another (unrelated) sub-discipline of one's field. If only such discussions were held in the US Congress ...



( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Jun. 6th, 2008 12:56 pm (UTC)
See, I think the problem in this case is hiring practice. When companies only want someone with at least four years of experience in ten different very specific technologies, as opposed to someone who is generally a smart, competent, experienced (if it's an experienced-person job) software engineer, they deserve it if they can't find anyone. A smart, competent, software engineer can learn those specific technologies.

I also have trouble believing that there's that many software engineering jobs where there's not a fairly large number of applicable jobs. I would expect this to be much more of a problem in the research world.

And even in this case...these people are unlikely to find another job that makes specific use of their talents in nuclear weapons design and nonproliferation (though it would probably be impressive to one of the big defense contractors, like Raytheon, or an FFRDC like MITRE). But there are certainly industry and academic jobs out there for physicists and chemists, and with (I assume) PhDs in their fields, they have to have a solid background over a wide range of physics or chemistry topics.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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