BANGALORE, India Though hundreds of thousands of engineers graduate from over 1,300 technical institutions in India, the numbers of those with VLSI design skills is meager, according to Indian industry group VLSI Society.
A survey by the group has found that that less than 1,000 students graduating with bachelor's degrees annually specialize in semiconductors/VLSI.
This means that less than one percent of graduating engineers in India have the skills the design services industry here needs. That such skills here are rare is no secret, but this is among the first surveys by an industry body, which also indicated that less than 500 master’s degree students come out annually with the necessary skills.
In the inaugural issue of the Society's newsletter, Bobby Mitra, president, VLSI Society of India and head of Texas Instruments (India) Pvt. Ltd., said a large pool of highly skilled individuals is needed to execute the increasing number of chip design projects coming to India.
"This is an area of concern for us all. How do we grow and sustain the adequate number of highly talented people to take this revolution forward?" he asked.
The number of graduates interviewed by managers before hiring one is staggering-- sometimes as high as 30. "This speaks volumes about the gap in the expectations of the industry and the output coming from academic institutions," said C.P. Ravikumar, senior technologist, Texas Instruments.
Managers' complaints range from interviewees being weak in basic concepts, inability to answer simple questions about electrical circuits and digital logic. Besides, technical institutes do not have the resources to recruit faculty, develop labs and invest in software tools. Some institutes either have no courses in semiconductor devices, circuit design and test or make these optional for students, most of whom prefer a job in application software development.
Some faculty believe CMOS circuit design, design flows, effect of interconnects, design timing, verification and testing need to be stressed. Industry appears apathetic, interested only in fresh hires, and not interacting with institutes, offering internships, student projects or research funding.
The launch of the India Semiconductor Association and its proposed joint programs with Indian universities is expected to help address the situation, Ravikumar added.