(Editor's note: A full analysis of the 2009 EE Times Global Salary & Opinion Survey is available here.)
The globalization of engineering has made some geography-specific trends more difficult to spot. For example, asked to identify the technologies with the most promising future, about half of the respondents to the 2009 EE Times Global Salary & Opinion Survey included system-on-chip (SoC) among their choices, making it the most popular overall. Results showed the appeal of SoC was remarkably consistent across China, Europe, India and North America (the question was not put to Japanese respondents).
But the data does reveal one very obvious geographic trend: Compared with their peers in other regions, engineers from China appear to be less enthusiastic and optimistic about newer technologies, including nanotechnology, system-in-package and embedded memories. Chinese respondents gave particularly low marks, comparatively, to photovoltaic, solar and other alternative energy technologies.
Survey participants from China, Europe, India and North America were given 20 categories of technology and asked to choose those with the most promising futures (each was allowed to choose multiple technologies). The percentage of Chinese respondents who identified a technology as "promising" was the lowest of the four regions for 15 of the 20 categories (in two of those instances, it was tied for lowest with another region), including those mentioned above as well as formal verification, XML and open scripting languages, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and silicon intellectual property.
In some instances the difference was eye-catching. Only 11 percent of Chinese respondents rated photovoltaic technology as promising, compared with 46 percent of European respondents, 45 percent of North American respondents and 21 percent of Indian EEs. This despite the fact that China is the world's leading producer and exporter of photovoltaic cells.
Only 10 percent of Chinese respondents rated nanotechnologies as promising, compared with at least 48 percent in each of the other regions.
Asked about the most "interesting" technologies, China gave the lowest marks in 11 of the 20 categories. Only 3 percent said nanotechnology was interesting, compared with at least 18 percent in the other regions.