I am a Principal Engineer (PE) at Sun Microsystems; that statement probably doesn’t mean much to most people reading this, so to put it into context: the PEs at Sun are a diverse community comprised mostly of senior technical field staff – mostly long-termers – who by virtue of being “customer-facing” are not exactly engineers in the “Sun MTS” C-Compilers-and-Kernel-Hacking sense.
PE is a peer-reviewed position on parity with MTS Senior Staff Engineer (SrSE) – in fact some customer-facing PEs are also SrSEs – and thus the role is one grade down from the notorious and exalted role of Sun Microsystems Distinguished Engineer, aka “DE”.
In fact I do sometimes wonder whether being a PE inside Sun isn’t perhaps more fun than being a DE, since we tend to be younger and noisier than the DEs, but without the director-grade baggage of being expected to behave in an austere, august and politic manner; also we have a somewhat greater sense of “community”, even if it is largely defined by the question “How can we create more PEs?“.
However I am beginning to wonder if membership of the PE community isn’t beginning to spawn some unexpected psychological commonalities; there are three of us in our building, and we all seem drawn to alternative transport.
First up is Chris Gerhard, arguably the most sane of the three of us even after allowing for his all-consuming cycling obsession, best expressed by his ownership of a “triplet”:
Gerhard, en famille, with “Triplet”
Next comes me with the Trice:
…but third and finally is Tim Uglow who today won the prize for most utterly bonkers PE in GMP03 by commuting into work by dog-sled:
Uglow and Samoyeds “Cleo” and “Finn”, pulling a Kickbike Scooter.
Apparently 4 Samoyeds like Tim’s would be capable of pulling a car, so that’s possibly the next step – to hitch them to Chris’s Triplet and start a bus service…