The Bomb

On the last Sunday of August I was standing next to the grave of Chief Sealth on Bainbridge Island in Washington.  I hadn’t intended to visit the place, but serendipity is like that. A storm had blown through the day before, and a the pines were still whispering about it. Brenda and I were getting ready to head to a pair of friends’ wedding. We were alone at this nexus of history and possibility, commemoration and commencement.  I stood for a while, looking out at the Sound, listening to the wind.  I finally pulled out my phone, dialed a number, and left a message.  “This is Ted Faber. I accept the offer…”

With those words I severed my longstanding employment at ISI.  USC/ISI has employed me for longer than I lived in the town I was born in, and longer than any other job I’ve held.  The decision was a difficult one, but a combination of my earlier decisions and changes to ISI and the research climate in general combined to convince me that is time to do something new.

I’m happy to discuss the details of that decision with people, but the issues were primarily of autonomy and funding.  ISI has always given the most support and autonomy to people who can fund their own research – you eat what you kill.  I have always been more comfortable turning research ideas into prototypes than in evangelizing new areas of work.  That led to me putting myself in a bad position to evangelize when necessary, and support for the roles I chose was on the wane. The specific set of forces that caused that are a bit arcane.

I continue to have great respect for ISI as an institution and especially for the people I was privileged to work with there.  They do top-notch work there from the researchers and students who are blazing new research trails to the project assistants who support that work. I still have many friends there and hope to for years to come.  It saddens me that I cannot continue there, even as I’m excited about my next adventure.

My last day will be 2 October 2015 almost exactly the last day of my 20th year at USC/ISI. The synchronicity of that also appeals to me.

I’ve  chosen to make a fresh start at The Aerospace Corporation. It sits at an interesting space in the national research infrastructure and employs many people I respect and enjoy working with.  The goals and projects of the place are familiar, but the focus different enough that it all looks new.  The place is familiar yet fresh and the work both new and comfortable.  I’m looking forward to setting out on a new journey with my old bones.

If you only have my ISI contact information I’m easy to find on social media, should you want to stay in touch.  Don’t hesitate to friend or follow me.  Come take a journey with me.

Comments are closed.