Characteristics We Need in You
- 100% honest and reliable.
- Able to absorb new information quickly, highly competent.
- Interdisciplinary, very comfortable with technology, computers in particular.
- Able to multi-task effectively.
- Hard-working, focused, internally motivated, and highly independent.
- Commitment to excellence in all tasks, whether they be routine & repetitive or unique & creative.
- Knowing what you don't know.
- Sense of humor.
- Ability to keep the big picture in mind, while simultaneously attending carefully to low level detail.
Examples of People With Whom We've Worked
Kinetic Artist and Independent Mechanical Designer/Fabricator
In addition to helping design and build electro-mechanical exhibits for us, learned a complex 3D CAD package on own time, wrote one of our patents, flew to remote locations to set up our Spin Browser video explorer for medical education clients, and produced faculty/student face morphs for a university video project.
Videographer and Bookkeeper
Worked 1 day/week handling our finances.
Working primarily from home office in NH, writes our Spin Browser video explorer code, helps coordinate our touring demo unit's itinerary, and periodically helps pack up and ship our client exhibits.
Working individually or in teams, students regularly tackle projects ranging from developing interactive exhibit prototypes, to writing articles for publication in trade magazines, to submitting patent applications.
Electrical Engineers with Full-time Jobs at
"Normal" Engineering Firms
Such professionals work on TechnoFrolics projects nights and weekends, typically from their location. For example, one of our team began here while an undergraduate at MIT, and now does virtually all our Dancing/Twirling Banner development work nights and weekends from his home/office in Seattle, where he is employed as a full time electrical engineer by a leading provider of high-precision oceanographic instruments.
Graphics/Video/Web producer and Technical Writer
Designed many of our video pieces (learning Adobe After Effects and Premiere in the process), developed promotional postcards, and staffed TechnoFrolics' booth at several museum shows around the country.
Electronics Technician and General Assistant
An ex database administrator at a ballet company works with us on IT tasks, electronic assembly, and more generally, holding the whole place together.
Ex-business systems analyst and current working parent, in parallel with contributing to a family real-estate business, helped with bookkeeping and office management tasks.
Periodically contributes mechanical design and fabrication for our interactive exhibits.
General Comments on Rates, Work Structure, Environment
While TechnoFrolics regularly delivers professional work to internationally renowned clients and loving fans, being largely in the museum/education world, it is rare we can pay people what they are worth, or could get elsewhere in the commercial world.
In consequence, the people who make up our organization are here because they get something beyond the financial. For some, it is the highly flexible schedules. For others it is the no-corporate-politics, what-you-do-really matters atmosphere. For yet others it is the opportunity to use their skills to do something more creative and fun (or just very different) than their normal job allows. In addition, students (and others) often find a TechnoFrolics resume entry very helpful. Two of our team members went on to become graduate students at the MIT Media Lab, and an HP engineer successfully used a year at TechnoFrolics to learn C++ as part of a career change.
Scheduling: Part vs. Full Time, Project-Based vs. Ongoing, and Location
We have both project based work and ongoing needs in the areas of administration, marketing, and technical development. Thus, we have long-term part-time contributors, and take on additional full time personnel during projects. (Note that while our long-term people are typically part time, for the right person - highly competent and interdisciplinary - there could be full time opportunities.)
In terms of location, while certain work needs to be done here and/or during business hours, there is much additional that, for properly organized and equipped persons, can be done remotely and at any hour.
An Important Note Regarding Our Work Environment
While our group is very friendly, supportive, and playful, our limited resources and large workload leave very little time for casual conversation and socializing during work hours. Thus, people need to be highly self-motivated and enjoy working by themselves for extended periods. That said, tackling our many important marketing/outreach related tasks is great way that extroverted "people-persons" can fit in here, contribute greatly, and enjoy themselves.
Relatedly, it should be noted that many of our physical creations are complex, and in consequence require significant development time. For people with an engineering background, this is no surprise. But individuals coming from the art world can sometimes expect to see a project go from conception to completion in just days to weeks, whereas our time scale is typically months to years. This is mentioned, like the above, simply to be sure that projects are properly matched to temperament. Many of our non-engineering tasks can be completed in shorter periods, so should contributors need relative quicker gratification, those types of tasks offer possibilities.
Who Might This Opportunity Suit?
Given the features described above, our situation might be ideal for:
- Skilled professionals who have left their full-time job to be with their children.
- Recent graduates, or students (graduate or undergraduate).
- Retired persons wishing to use their skills, make a contribution, and be engaged.
- Artists, musicians, "roadies", or others with existing commitments and/or unusual schedules.
For many reasons, considering both your needs/happiness and ours, we enter any working relationship with a trial period, typically 1-3 months, before any longer term commitment on either side is made or expected.
Our Current Situation - Tasks and Opportunities
- Flexible, pitch-in attitude - Because of our small size, and family-like atmosphere, people who work in our space need to be comfortable, indeed eager, to help out wherever is needed, whether the activity is "glamorous" or otherwise. Thus, one day might entail creatively writing an article for publication and the next sweeping the office, one day designing a new exhibit and the next doing administrative paperwork. (An exception to this is where a contributor works offsite, where a narrow focus is often both possible and appropriate.)
- Students - We are always eager to find students, working individually or in teams, to take on specific projects in a for-credit volunteer manner. For example, we had a team of BU students who worked with us on an instrumented conductor's wand as part of their engineering design class.
We believe several of the marketing tasks listed below, in particular, offer very challenging and educational experiences - and we need lots of help in those areas! You may find quotes from past student interns here.
- Artificial Separation of Categories - Below we have headings of "Marketing, ...", "Video, ...", etc. These separations suggest a clean dividing line between activities; this is false. These heading were provided simply to catch the eye of diverse readers with different interests.
- Benefiting from your skills and experiences - When reading the below, rather than thinking of TechnoFrolics as having conventional "job openings" to which you might apply, instead think of whether your overall skill set, personality, and desires work-wise, match our needs.
Marketing, PR, Outreach, and Business Development
FrameGlide video explorer with Spin Browser dial (FG|SB)
- We have a half dozen FG|SB demo units that we send to firms for evaluation free of charge. Locating new targets, introducing ourselves to these prospects in a way that makes them eager to receive the demo, coordinating all logistics, following up with people afterwards, and technically maintaining the touring "fleet", is a regularly weekly activity.
- We are eager to extend application of our patented technology into areas beyond the museum/aquarium/zoo realm that forms our main current market. New areas of particular interest include:
- Factory automation analysis and quality control.
- Architecture. (New building timelapse construction video lobby art piece.)
- Video-conference/meeting enhancement. (Never miss the beginning of a presentation again!)
Dancing Banners and Twirling Banners Choreographed Fabric
- We would benefit from pursuing several markets including:
- Rock concerts (this is how computer-controlled moving lights got started).
- Very high end special events like the Olympics (imagine the flags of all the countries performing a live dance during the opening ceremonies).
- We need to follow up on early-stage discussions with potential partners in the event, trade show, and conventional banner-supplier arena. We also wish to initiate many new such contacts.
- TechnoFrolics would benefit greatly from more press, both in trade magazines and general-interest publications.
- We have done little to offer our touring Spin Browser demo unit to members of the press. We are eager to change this situation.
- Setting up and manning show booths locally and in other cities around the US.
- Reaching out to clients and collaborators around the world, introducing ourselves, exploring mutually beneficial connections and partnerships, etc.
Video, Graphics, Website, Writing
(For complex script/database-related web site tasks, please see the "Technical" section below.)
- It would be most helpful for us to create new video of our Dancing Banners display, and the first video of our Twirling Banners technology. (Please see "Technical | Dancing Banners choreographed fabric" below for description of preparation work required beforehand.)
- We would love to create a fun, informative, personal, TechnoFrolics newsletter for regular broadcast to interested parties.
- TechnoFrolics' website needs both a complete overhaul (in process), and regular maintenance/updating. In addition, we would like to create/enhance several spin off sites.
- We need to write press releases, whitepapers, trade magazine articles on our work, etc.
- Our client FG|SB projects themselves (mostly for museums and aquariums) often requires video production work and related graphics and text creation.
- We are looking for a cartoonist who can draw characters that are emotionally evocative and, in particular, convey inquisitiveness, whimsy, and playfulness. (Think Audrey Tautou in Amélie - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Am%C3%A9lie.)
- Needless to say, exploring and writing grants, and fundraising in general, is always appreciated!
- Bookkeeping assistance (using Quickbooks).
- Miscellaneous tasks, including tradeshow logistics coordination, purchasing office supplies, searching the web for obscure exhibit components, and many other standard, and not-so-standard, office manager-type tasks.
- Legal: We periodically write patents, apply for trademarks, search the web for detailed legal case-law examples relevant to our projects/technologies, etc.
Software applications we have and use, where previous experience will selectively, depending on the task, be of great value: (Note that we do not mention standard applications like Microsoft office, ACT, etc., with which we assume you are either familiar, or could learn sufficiently for most of our needs in a day or two):
- Solidworks (3D mechanical design).
- Adobe After Affects, Adobe Premiere, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop (video/graphics editing).
- Dreamweaver (web design/creation).
- HogPC (DMX lighting/moving-banner control). Sonar (music composition/editing).
- Autocad LT (2D mechanical design).
- Circuitmaker & ExpressPCB (circuit board schematic capture and PCB layout).
- Visual C++, Visual Basic, Forth (programming languages).
- Several less complex apps in the imaging and design arena.
In-house machinery/equipment includes:
- Mechanical: Mill, lathe, drill press, chop saw, table saw, band saw, sanders and grinders, misc. hand tools, etc.
- Electronic: Oscilloscope, DVMs, soldering irons, heatshrink gun, etc.
- Imaging: Canon HV30 HD camcorder, Canon DSLR 8 megapixel still camera, video capture cards, several terabytes of disk storage for video, tripods, lighting, etc.
Dancing Banners and Twirling Banners Choreographed Fabric
- Further firmware testing of TechnoFrolics-designed DMX-controlled servo motor system and related choreography software.
- Choreography of multi-banner system, to allow filming new promotional video.
- Assembly and testing of additional banner motor enclosures.
- Assembly and testing of additional banners themselves, with focus on flexible joint shaft adapters/connectors.
- Locating a free or low-cost space large enough to install banners within for filming. Then mounting all hardware, lighting, cabling, etc.
Custom Interactive Exhibits and Work More Generally
- Periodically, we need the help of skilled exhibit builders and precision machinists (working in metal, plastic, composites, etc.), for both design, prototyping, and final fabrication of custom interactive exhibits.
- Periodically, we need electrical engineering types for circuit design and PCB layout, production (soldering, cable assembly, etc.), prototyping in different technologies, etc.
- Periodically, we need the help of skilled carpenters.
Documentation and Tech Support
- Periodically, we need help with customer support and exhibit maintenance tasks (electronic, software, mechanical).
IT (Information Technology), Including Embedded Systems Design, Windows Programming, Server and Client Side Website Scripting, Etc.
- We have a variety of coding tasks, ranging from embedded micro-controller programming, to Windows application development.
- We are exploring various website concepts that would require sophisticated database and scripting work, as well as possibly Flash and/or Java elements.
- Periodically, we need help with miscellaneous tasks such as backing up our server, installing and configuring software and networks, debugging tenacious problems within software applications and wireless communication, evaluating new hardware/software products, etc.
- Periodically we need help, from strong people with healthy backs, and ideally with their own car, to perform load-in/load-out at a show, clean up the studio, take a 50 lb monitor in for repair, work on a client kiosk, pick up supplies from a lumber yard, etc.
For Volunteers Only
There are a significant number of projects, in various stages of completion, where getting additional help would be great. However for various reasons we do not have financial resources to support them. Thus, while offering great student/volunteer project potential, we cannot pay for persons to help. A cursory description of each project is listed below. For more detail, please contact us.
- Apparatus to allow the Spin Browser VE to function through store windows for retail applications.
- Concept to help associate math and science with warmth and personal connection, rather than emotional sterility and isolation, through intimate visits to the homes of families and their children.
- Electrochemical science-artwork and flow visualizer.
- LED-based display that function dually as artwork and choreographable signage.