“I can’t live without it! I must have it or I will not exist…” said Alex, one of my 8th grade social studies students, who’s referring to his shiny, bright-red Sprint cell phone.
Today, you will find people, especially our youth, in malls, throughout school halls, and just about anywhere with a cell phone in hand glued to their ears. Owning a cell phone has become such a popular technology in society, to make my lessons interesting I have even used them as a resource to teach students. Cell phones are often used for social interactions, gaming, email, text messaging, playing music, storing data, accessing the internet, and for taking colorful pictures or video…
Aware of the attractiveness of this technology, I decided to have a phone interview with Terry Money, who has been a friend and colleague of mine for more than 20 years. He is a tenured veteran engineer in the cell phone industry, who has been working for Nextel Communications – that recently merged with Sprint Wireless Corp, which is based in Atlanta, Georgia. As a senior electrical engineer, Terry has a lot of experience in telecommunications, and the engineering field.
How did you get good at what you do? What drives you to exceed in your field?
Well, when I first entered the Wireless field, I took a position in consulting. Consulting gave me the opportunity to work with various technologies within a relatively short span of time. This allowed me to build my experience and develop my skills that otherwise would be difficult to do. I enjoy the challenge of what I do. Working within wireless communications puts you in the forefront of the latest technology.
Do you have any formal training in your job? Who is your mentor? Explain your work skills and proficiencies.
I obtained a Bachelors Degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Florida. While attending, I took communication engineering courses related to Cellular technology. To earn business in the consulting field you must make sure you are more knowledgeable than the customer, and that you are on pace with any emerging technologies. This placed a high demand on training; and that is all we did when were not consulting. The consulting firm I was working with had a very good training program that prepared engineers for the field. They hired instructors with PhD’s that taught various classes related to the different types of wireless technologies. With Sprint, we have Sprint University. Classes are actively taught to help develop each engineer in market training.
What do you do to continue your educational development? In other words, how do you make yourself more marketable?
With Sprint, we have Sprint University. I can lookup classes that are offered thru out the year for taking and schedule them accordingly. Courses can be taught locally or remotely. In many cases travel may be involved to attend. We also have online training where courses can be taken over the intranet. To keep your self marketable, it’s my preference to take new positions that will advance your career. This give you experience in different areas that will make you more marketable in the industry. Recently, I was promoted from being a type 1 engineer, to senior engineer status.
Do you see any trends or issues that positively or negatively affect your work or industry?
At this time, all trends seem to be positive for our market. It’s hard to imagine life without a cell phone… One trend that seems apparent even to the consumer is the migration of data within wireless networks. More an more multimedia services will be offered over wireless networks through your phone. At Sprint, we are starting to see a higher demand for streaming video, music downloads and television programming over the internet. Part of that content is now being delivered to the consumer through your cell phone. What you might see in the future is traditional wireless offering services such as high-speed internet to your home as a competitor to cable and DSL technologies. This should bring costs down for the service because of the competition which is good for our consumers.
How do these trends affect your consumers?
Technology and innovation usually results in convenience and efficiency in one’s lifestyle. We know consumers want data quickly at their finger tips… Ultimately, what will be provided is information-on-demand through a wireless network. This will make information more accessible and convenient for the consumer. This allows people to make decisions quicker, and business to run more efficient.
What is a popular trend in your work, and what is not? Meaning, what technology is expanding in your company, and what is not doing so well?
Right now we are deploying a technology called WIMAX. It is considered a generation technology, and is expected to eventually replace out traditional wireless network. All data communication over the WIMAX network will be IP (internet protocol) based. WiMAX is an open, worldwide standard that covers both fixed and mobile deployments.
Will this WiMAX technology be offered to consumers soon? Could it affect the educational field in a good way?
As I mentioned before, WIMAX features and All-IP network architecture plus full compatibility with standard existing networking infrastructure which will make it easier and more cost-effective than current technologies to operate. We are currently deploying WIMAX in selected markets in the fourth quarter of this year and further deployments are expected next year. You can visit this link to get more WiMAX news: Sprint WiMax Lauch. Providing a high speed mobile network should be very beneficial to education. Information will be available at any practical location. Imagine watching high resolution video of your instructor while at the beach, instead of a traditional Pod casting format.
How does your company educate the public? Are there any programs that your company is involved that educate people beyond simply selling a cell phone plan?
Sprint is involved in many community programs and activities. Sprint’s national partnerships are focused on K-12 public education — particularly character education and safety in our nation’s schools — and diversity. Local and regional investments support these areas as well as arts and culture… and youth development. For example; The Sprint Achievement Program (Sprint’s signature classroom-based grant program for educators) has awarded nearly $1,000,000 in grants to nearly 300 teachers in 30 school districts. We strive to support teachers and kids through these programs.
How does your company give back to the community?
We have the Sprint Foundation; Sprint Foundation has provided more than $93 million to community organizations across the country. We know the positive impact we can have, and each year we touch hundreds of educational professionals, youth development, arts and culture and other community-enriching organizations. Through direct grants and a robust matching gifts program for employees and retirees, the Foundation creatively and thoughtfully delivers Sprint’s commitment to championing our communities.
What would you advice me; an educational technology graduate student who is looking to learn about new trends and technologies that affect society?
In my opinion, the internet is the quickest way to gather information about emerging wireless technologies. You will find many articles both technical and non-technical written about WIMAX and other competing technologies.
–Thank you Terry. I appreciate the interview. 😉