These letters were written in response to the "EE Times 2006 State of the Engineer Survey," featured in this week's print edition as well as on EE Times.com.
Wow! - Indian engineers are up to $38.3K base now
To the editor:
Having a lot of experience with offshore design, I predict the following:
1. Offshore design centers will mess up some designs initially. Good design work doesn't depend so much on getting a bunch of smart young graduates as it does on experience and avoiding the mistakes of the past. So offshore engineers are probably only worth their lower pay.
2. Offshore engineers will learn and improve. It probably takes 10 years to get a design team's experience level to point where it can be trusted with key designs, providing you can retain at least half of the team.
3. When an offshore design team can finally be trusted with key work, expenses and turnover will be on a par with those in the U.S. Any pay advantage will be offset by travel expenses and inefficient communication across multiple time zones. American companies with offshore design will find their best engineers leaving for competing local companies. The competition may even be funded by the local governments. Pay and turnover will skyrocket.
4. Other problems will crop up offshore. IP protection will not be a concern of the offshore government at all. Local laws can increase expenses once a company becomes dependent on offshore labor. Political instability and war can disrupt the work, etc.
5. U.S. corporations with offshore R&D and manufacturing will become hollow marketing entities. Great for the managers for a while, but then the offshore competition will have a big advantage in not paying execs eight figure salary packages. So U.S. companies will continue their slide.
6. Engineering in the U.S. will go back to primarily government work and boutique, low-volume manufacturing for specialty markets. U.S. companies will become critically dependent on foreign manufacturers and design shops.
7. Fewer U.S. high school grads will study engineering. Despite some ineffective programs by the government and the IEEE, the kids will be too smart to fall for the "shortage" hype. They will realize that this is just a pretext by large corporations for further offshoring.
8. Engineers will quietly let this happen. Unlike lawyers, corporations, farmers, teachers, nurses or plumbers, we engineers seem to be incapable of lobbying or organizing in our own group interest. If engineers can stave off unemployment for a few months by training their offshore replacements, then they will. We don't care about the engineer across the aisle since we plan to get promoted before the jobs leave the company, and so on.
These trends can all be spotted in the pages of EE Times by any reader astute enough to put data and comments together.
Actually much of the above has already happened. Have you looked for an American wafer foundry lately?
Are these trends good for engineers? Are they good for this country? Are they even good for stockholders in the long run? I say no.
Over my dead body
To the editor:
That article is not objective. It is clearly painting a picture that the survey results do not support. It does not take into account efficiencywhich goes with experience in this fieldand it does not at all take into account the total resource expenditure to get a project done.
I have on multiple occasions seen 21-month times from architecture phase to debugged chipsets in hand, with 20 U.S. engineers total involved. I have also seen projects of equal complexity taken on by teams with more than 100 engineers in India being abandoned after more than three years because no end was in sight.
So what does the factor of five in salary buy you? A finished project, done on time, on budget, and a chipset that is nearly flawless. I have yet to see that in India. And since it is very fulfilling and rewarding to see a project go to the finish line and solve a customer's problem, there is a high degree of satisfaction, i.e. no desire to change jobs.
For as long as I am in charge in my company, we will design and engineer here in the U.S. Only over my dead body is it going to happen in India.
We are too small to survive the additional overhead of project managers on both sides to manage teams and projects, a delay, or a chipset that is DOA.
I'd urge you to interpret the facts, and not paint a political picture of what you may think the data holds.
Founder and CTO