Very interesting topic and discussions. There are many controls in play on the economies both local and globally speaking, of which the bean counters are robots used in the economic battlegrounds...they have their challenges too. However, may be this is a time that we should build our own Guild. Beyond the economic motives, there are forces internal to the profession which could help drive the need for an EE Guild...those of you have needed to take over a troubling project or design know exactly what I am talking about.
Was there ever a time when an EE career didn't require that solid understanding of calculus, linear algebra, etc.?
The technical skills and knowlege are, I believe, a given. But the skills that employers often find most valuable -- communication, teamwork, creativity and problem-solving skills -- are the ones that are not typically taught in an engineering curriculum.
If you're in the electronics engineering field today, you almost have to have a PhD in mathematics. DSP, wavelet analyis, etc. now require solid understanding of calculus, linear algebra, complex analyis,statistics; this is in addition to all the electronics/electrical and control theory that you have to master. It's a good thing that I have a passion for this type of work; otherwise, I would be long-haul trucking.
I could see lot of interesting comments here. But one thing for sure is that the jobs are moving from west to east because the industries are moving. In last couple of weeks I've received at least four phone calls who require EE. All of these are not really related any particular specialized area but a very general EE openings who can design and test boards with mixed signal and RF technologies. I agree with comment from @WKetel, it is the attitude which is more required but not any particular specialized skill.
Simple pure economics of supply and demand. With every industrial country wanting to pump out as many engineers as possible to create more profitable advanced economies (US has now fallen to 11th place according to Pres. Obama), you may have growing hordes of engineers chasing the available jobs. This means only the best of the best will keep ahead of this hoard and grab the available jobs. To be in this elite group of engineers you will need to have the best education and produce fantastic results. For older engineers this means you are either one of those elite and can maintain the lead with innovations and better skills or fall behind. Like the saying, “running at full speed to stay where you are”. This also means students are going to need realistic career advice from the industry about what they want from an engineer and what educators can truly offer. If industry wants engineers to leap over buildings in a single bound while juggling anvils, Ping-Pong balls, and doing back flips, educators would be amiss to teach anyone but the best and cut the rest. Yet, engineering schools need to keep their doors open so they accept less than the best and this is rather sad, especially for the graduate who discovers their degree is deficient in the market. I guess you need herds of cattle (students) to run across the education minefield and enough “good” ones survive and the rest could not hack it. This is why many open engineering positions are flooded by reams of resumes’ and industry says they are dying of thirst in an ocean of seawater. Until supply and demand is balanced, with enough “qualified” engineers to meet industry needs and the pay is high enough to create those elite engineers, from the fewer elite engineering schools that will only take students who will likely thrive as an engineers, then both old and new engineers will fall behind the rest of the engineer horde and industry will keep sniveling for more cannon fodder.
I am expecting that there will be an upswing in hiring for engineers in some areas over the course of the next year. This is going to be tempered by layoffs in the defense industry as that spending winds down. The drivers are going to be consumer devices as the new stuff comes out over Christmas.
This is not, however, going to return us to the days when engineers could cross and recross the street and get raises every time. If you want the big money then take some risk and start a company. This is the point in the economic cycle when that activity has the best environment for happening.
Great, now a hiring surge however small is lambasted what do you guys want, A red carpet with a merc waiting to pick you up? The job market has changed and not for better for many but unless you can come up with a start-up what other option do you have?
I agree though-the bean counters are to be prosecuted for their ideology. No doubt who would want to take up engineering when offshoring is still a swiftly flowing stream. Would Obama dare to make anything in this regard other than noise?