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Survey Sees Engineering Brain Drain

Don Lesem
4/13/2017 08:00 AM EDT

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MeasurementBlues
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Re: Standardize
MeasurementBlues   4/25/2017 9:10:06 AM
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I just posted a review of a book called "The Hardware Hacker" where the author discussed standardized vs. proprietary technology, but in a different way. If we use standardized technology, then people can improvie on it and share how they did it. A closed system results in no improvements made by the community.

elizabethsimon
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Re: Standardize
elizabethsimon   4/18/2017 1:25:06 PM
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@ Kevin

Good points about using standard tools etc. The biggest problem that I faced when I started with my current employer was the question of where to find the design documents and test results for the older hardware designs. Fortunately, we've moved to a more consistant method (and introduced version control) so it's much easier to find information on what's been done in the last few years.

My point is that standards evolve and companies evolve. What was standard 20 years ago may be hopelessly outdated now. In a perfect world, we'd all use standard tools and the historical information would all be updated to the latest standard but who has time for that?

Even in such a perfect world, you need to have older engineers to remind the younger ones of good design practices that are learned from experience.

Kevin Neilson
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Standardize
Kevin Neilson   4/17/2017 4:49:32 PM
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Engineers don't work at the same place for their whole careers.  Companies should be worried more about reducing the amount of proprietary knowledge, not so much about passing it on.  If you use standardized tools instead of weird in-house scripts, you don't have to worry as much about training or documentation which exists only in the head of one weird guy in the basement who's on vacation.  And this requirement for narrow knowledge makes people want to leave.  When I worked at a place that had me design in something proprietary instead of Verilog or VHDL, instead of thinking, "This is great job security," what I thought was, "I have to get out of here because this skill will be useless at my next job and will look meaningless on my resume."  I've worked at the place where you have to seek out the hidden old-timer gurus to learn the generations-old oral traditions for successfully submitting a part number request, and I've worked at the place where I can do almost everything on my own using widely-available knowledge, and I can tell you what works better. 

antedeluvian
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Re: Responsibility
antedeluvian   4/17/2017 1:01:36 PM
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@Elizabeth, Max You can lead a horse to water.... There is much in the way of hints and knowledge in many blogs and magazine articles, to say nothing of books. I hope some of my blogs fall into this. I certainly try. But- I have recently been interviewing candidates for a position at our company. We are asking for 5 year's experience, but the response is so poor we have even looked at recent graduates. Of the 6 I have interviewed so far, only one had read a Circuit Cellar, and did not read them regularly. One knew of TI's E2E. None had any knowledge of EDN, Electronic Design, EE Times, embedded.com. No one had ever bought a electronics book after their studies. Despite the onus on Professional Engineers in Ontario to self educate, none had been to an exhibition, seminar, or conference, or even heard of them. Kind of makes you wonder how long Aspencore and UBM can operate.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Responsibility
Max The Magnificent   4/17/2017 12:17:22 PM
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@Elizabeth: ...the up-coming generation of engineers who will have to spend more time than they should re-learning the things they could have been taught...

I totally agree -- one aspect of this is companies having a mentor program (or not, these days, which is the problem)

elizabethsimon
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Re: Responsibility
elizabethsimon   4/17/2017 12:10:34 PM
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My sympathy is not for those responsible but for the up-coming generation of engineers who will have to spend more time than they should re-learning the things they could have been taught by the older (soon to be retired) engineers

perl_geek
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Responsibility
perl_geek   4/14/2017 12:19:25 PM
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Companies whose short-term vision, unwillingness to train or develop generations of employees, and blithe expectations that suitable armies of trained drones will emerge the moment they need them, now appear to be facing an entirely predictable demographic problem.

Predictions of shortages in particular fields are notoriously unreliable, since they usually ignore all sorts of economic and technical developments. Assuming that this report is an exception for once, are we supposed to have any sympathy for those responsible? If so, why?

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