The people who should be leading the industry are quiet, cowed by
Sarbanes-Oxley, or--worse--just dull and passionless, lumpy
personalities formed years ago in some sad gray MBA classroom. Some
of the best passion and insight you hear today comes from you, on
comments on stories here at EE Times and other publications, but
most commenters aren't executives. Engineers still run the companies
but these aren't your father's engineers.
Does it matter? Yes, absolutely. It matters because in a grimly
uncertain world and a time of industry transition, industry
leaders--someone, anyone--need to stand up and show some passion for
what we do.
Engineers go to work each day and solve problems science fiction
writers couldn't dream about a few decades ago. Engineering is
passion, but we're not seeing any trickle-down passion from the
Yes, it's a mature industry but mature industries can be passionate
and vibrant (see the automotive business, now more than a century
old) with their articulate larger-than-life leaders, who have one
eye on their company and another on the industry at large.
The world isn't going to become a less complex and competitive place. It's time. Who's going to step up?
The whole SOX fiasco hogtied our industry and gagged the leaders, but there are still some great voices out here. Take Dr. T from National Instruments: Passion personified. And then startup CEOs like Brett Fox of Touchstone (nice interview, by the way, Brian)who are making good headway and making no bones about it. But, alas, your point is still valid, echoes in the silicon corridor, "Is there anybody out there?"
Successful businessmen do not always make for good theater or good EE Times interviews.
Sergey Brin and Larry Page may not come off as mad scientists or swashbuckling pirates, but they've done their fair share of meaningful work.
Flashiness is over-rated.
Furthermore, this is a time where even inhabitants of third-world villages know what comes out of Silicon Valley. Its success stories are treated like rock stars.
I wouldn't worry about the allure of engineering being diminished in recent years.
I think you hit the nail on the head. The mavericks of yesteryear inspired people, and they occasionally spoke first and thought it through later, sometimes with negative results. I would argue that these kinds of people are still running Silicon Valley companies, but everyone has gotten way more careful. Statements are more carefully vetted in the era of Sarbanes-Oxley and heightened concern over day to day stock price fluctuation. Being careful has its merits, but we do lose something.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.