Forget Keyboards. Grab A Tin Snips

Silicon Valley wants you. They'll pay you big bucks, and you'll occupy a central position in the world of the data center. But you'll have next to nothing to do with software. Server farms that serve the Internet are not just digital problems. Their immense size, energy use, and complexity make them mechanical engineering problems above all else. Want a good job in the high-tech world? Get a mechanical engineering education.

“The data center energy problem is growing fast, and it has an economic importance that far outweighs the electricity use,” said Jonathan G. Koomey, a consulting professor of environmental engineering at Stanford. “So that explains why these data center people, who haven’t gotten a lot of glory in their careers, are in the spotlight now.”

At one time, “we were seen as sheet metal jockeys,” said Chandrakant Patel, a mechanical engineer at Hewlett-Packard Labs who has worked in Silicon Valley for 25 years. “But now we have a chance to change the world for the better, using engineering and basic science.”

There is no letup in the demand for data center computing. Digital Realty Trust, a data center landlord with more than 70 facilities, says that customer demand for new space is running 50 percent ahead of its capacity to build and equip data centers for the next two years. “We’re building the railroads of the future, and we can’t keep up,” said Chris J. Crosby, a senior vice president at Digital Realty.

So after all the digital hotdogs are done building their empires, once again it comes down to the man who knows that it's rightie-tightie-leftie-loosie to make the whole thing go.
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