Announcing: EA Engineerspost by Jessica Wen, Sean Lawrence · 2022-07-04T04:04:51.706Z · EA · GW · 25 comments
Update: tl;dr Why We Exist Bridging Talent Gaps Increasing Individual EA Engineers’ Impact Increasing Coordination Between Engineers Next Steps for EA Engineers One Year Plan Goal 1: Build a community of EA Engineers Goal 2: Test different approaches and find the most promising ones Goal 3: Create a minimum viable organisation Goal 4: Build a strong presence in the EA community Pilots Key Metrics Pitfall Acknowledgement Who We Are Get Involved Follow Us How We Can Help You How You Can Help Us EAG(x) Conferences 2022 None 25 comments
EA Engineers is an organisation focused on increasing the quantity of impactful work done by physical engineers. We aim to do this by: a) providing access to engineering expertise to the EA community to connect projects that need engineering expertise with people who have these skills; b) providing resources for engineers to enable them to have a greater impact with their careers; c) increasing the coordination of engineers to create new product/projects in EA cause areas. Sign up to our mailing list here and spread the word!
Why We Exist
Bridging Talent Gaps
Despite ample need for materials science in pandemic prevention [EA · GW], electrical engineers in climate change, civil engineers in civilisational resilience [EA · GW], and bioengineering in alternative proteins [EA · GW], EA has not yet built a community fostering the talent needed to meet these needs.
EA Engineers aims to be that community, connecting current and future projects that lack engineering expertise to people with those skills and experience. As EA grows and develops, my guess is that there will be more object-level work that can be done, and more engineers will be needed to build physical solutions.
Our vision is for EA Engineers to become a hub for engineering expertise within EA so that engineering knowledge can be disseminated to the wider EA community and non-engineering EAs can design and scale projects requiring physical engineering more effectively.
Increasing Individual EA Engineers’ Impact
There is little information currently available for physical engineers on how they can have an impact with their engineering careers. It wasn’t until March this year that 80k updated their Engineering career review which has “Exploratory career profile” status and is relatively sparse on concrete ways (skills/expertise needed, career paths) to contribute to these cause areas.
We plan to address this by building a website with resources like job/internship opportunities, career case studies, open engineering research questions, etc. for engineers to have more impact with their careers. This will include resources for how to pivot to AI Safety or Policy if those are a better fit for the individual. The aim here is to facilitate the transition of existing EA Engineers to direct work as well as to enable non-EA engineers to transition to higher-impact career trajectories.
Increasing Coordination Between Engineers
Many of the members of our community didn’t know any other physical engineers in EA before being a part of this community. I certainly didn’t! Although I joined the Engineering & EA Facebook group (which has existed since May 2019), there has been minimal engagement from the 125 members, which suggests that just having an online place to congregate is not enough to make things happen.
Building a network of engineers focused on impact is only the first step for us. Once established, we will then aim to provide structured events and activities to enable engineers to come together to do collaborative ideation and work in EA cause areas (hackathons, workshops, etc.). This will provide an engineering perspective on potential projects in EA cause areas and, hopefully, lead to the creation of new projects/products and increase the amount of direct work done by engineers in EA.
Next Steps for EA Engineers
One Year Plan
We have 4 main strategic goals for our first year of EA Engineers:
- Build a community of EA Engineers
- Test different approaches to support EA Engineers and find the most promising ones
- Create a minimum viable organization
- Build a strong presence in the EA community
Goal 1: Build a community of EA Engineers
Having a community of EA Engineers is the foundational step in our project. As with HIP, we believe in the power of the network, where individuals can share their experience and knowledge, help each other in their quest for impact and feel more engaged.
Goal 2: Test different approaches and find the most promising ones
To make sure we build something that is effective, we want to run inexpensive tests on the different branches of our theory of change and check if the underlying assumptions hold true. This ensures we are only scaling what EA Engineers really need. These tests will take the form of pilots, outlined in the upcoming section entitled Pilots.
Goal 3: Create a minimum viable organisation
The organisation will be as operationally lean as possible, which will allow us to maximise resources allocated to the development of the intervention to ensure it has the highest chance of success.
Goal 4: Build a strong presence in the EA community
From our target audience and collaborators to our source of funding, EAs form the core community surrounding our organisation. Therefore, we want to build strong connections with EA organisations and non-engineering EAs to better understand their needs and be better able to serve the wider community.
We aim to test our assumptions and theory of change over our first year by running the following pilot interventions:
- Resource-gathering - Gathering career resources for EA Engineers to transition their careers into higher-impact jobs e.g. case studies and interviews, internship/job opportunities, and problem profiles.
- Matchmaking - Matchmaking EA engineers to non-engineering EAs and high-impact organisations to transfer skills, knowledge, and experience.
- Hackathons - Running competitions to turn community membership into high-impact ideas and potentially spin-off projects.
These widely fall into 3 domains of change in our theory of change: access to expertise for non-engineering EAs, increased coordination of engineers, and resources for engineers.
We will scrutinise the methodology and outcome of each pilot, continually refining our approach and strategy. In this spirit, we are open to adjusting the pilots as more evidence becomes available.
A more thorough theory of change with measurable deliverables will be linked here once available.
- Number of events organized
- Number of attendees per event
- Number of EA-aligned engineering research questions answered
- Number of ideas generated for physical solutions to EA problems
- Number of engineers who self-report pivoting to high-impact careers due to the EA Engineers community
There have been a lot of (well-founded) criticisms of community-building within EA - e.g. this [EA · GW], this [EA · GW] and this [EA · GW] post. It seems to me that the main concern is that too much effort/time/money/resources are put into recruitment/operations/marketing/coordinating, and not enough effort/time/money/resources are put into object-level work. These are pitfalls we are actively trying to avoid when creating the EA Engineers community.
Who We Are
Jessica Wen is an early career earning-to-giver working as a mechanical engineer at a multinational automotive company. She graduated from Oxford University in 2021 with an MEng in Materials Science.
Sean Lawrence is finishing up his PhD with the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace engineering at Monash University and holds a BEng in mechanical engineering.
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How We Can Help You
We are helping EA Engineers have more impact with their skills and experience, either by contributing their knowledge, brainstorming solutions to the world’s biggest problems with other engineers, or pivoting their career to work in a high-impact role. Please email Jessica at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to get involved.
How You Can Help Us
- EA Engineers interviews - if you are a physical engineer who is looking to have more impact, we’d love to chat. Please reach out if you’d like to get involved.
- Effective organization interviews - we are also conducting interviews with EA-aligned organisations that need engineering skills to better understand their needs so that the EA Engineers community can support them with their resources (skills, knowledge, expertise). If you work for such an organisation, please reach out to talk.
EAG(x) Conferences 2022
Sean will be attending the EAGx Australia conference this month, and both of us will be at the upcoming EAG San Francisco conference. Please book a slot with us over Swapcard or approach us during the conference - we’d love to chat!
EA Engineers was founded in March 2022 at EAGxBoston by Jessica Wen and Cass Springer, continuing the field-building work started by Will Bradshaw. Our current team members are Jessica Wen, Sean Lawrence, Vivian Belenky and Bryce Rogers.
Updated Thursday 4th August to include updated email and links.
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