I worked in Silicon Valley for a few years in the early 1980s. It was a lot of fun and I met a lot of interesting people. I have not found another place and time to rival it since then.
Unfortunately that includes Silicon Valley today.
I think the chances for serendipitous opportunities like that still exist. The opportunities to join a pioneering company and then watch an industry germinate and grow with it still exist.
The opportunities are still there. The venues have changed and the specific technical details may be different, but the opportunity is there. As Rene stated, there are plenty of opportunities. Robotics, UAVs (not just for military purposes), wireless, embedded and a host of Internet related opportunities yet to be created.
The folks, like Ben, who built silicon valley were facing an environment very similar to today. In the late 60's and early 70's, we were in a seemingly never-ending war. Our economic dominance was being challenged by low cost labor in Asia. Gas prices at one point doubled almost overnight. The space program, with the end of Apollo, was being decimated.
I could go on, but the point is that the people who built this Industry did so in the face of very poor economic conditions. The did so by doing new and exciting things. None of them made careers by trying to hold onto vacuum tube design. They did it by changing the rules, violating the rules and making things up as they went along.
Few young starters in engineering today know what the future holds for them, but they have a choice: search for jobs that no longer exist, or break the rules and change the playing field - invent their own future.
I've been around Ben Leone at Xilinx for ~18 years and I think it is a huge omission to not spend time in the article about Ben's gifted capabilities as a drummer! For many years, Ben held the percussion seat with the "company band"- Band-X, which reigned supreme at many Xilinx functions for about 10 years! There's even more than meets the eye!
quite an interesting story with an amazing style to tell. I hope now that i was born during '60 because it seems like a fun time. As well said in the article, now a days 'A degree from MIT 'might' get you an interview'.
Although, the early days of Silicon Valley may been unique for opportunities like this, there are still plenty of opportunities and Facebook, and Tweeter, are two examples of great contemporary potential.
Despite the negative environment these days, I would like to object to the negativity by the comment from FlyTyer1.
There are plenty of markets with stable future for new young engineers here in America. Medical, military, energy and infrastructure companies, to name a few.
So please keep the positive outlook for everyone, and remove negativity form the air.