It's been so long that I can't remember when I learned how to solder. As early as the 5th grade I was building radios, transmitters and even my own test equipment (understandably a low budget operation). I even built a tube circuit or two.
I've met many engineers over the years who didn't know which end of the sodlering iron was hot. It's a good thing they left all of their soldering to the assemblers and technicians.
I now work for a major semiconductor manufacturer as an applications engineer. In addition to making measurements on our own products, I am frequently asked to evaluate competitor products. Since obviously the competitor device evaluation boards were not designed for my particular test set up I usually have to kluge the proper connectors onto their boards.
For me having good soldering skills isn't just a convenience it's a necessity. Our small design office is manned by a few designers and a couple layout engineers and I double as the assembler/technician.
With the proper equipment, and it's not all that expensive, I am able to solder wafer level chip scale packages with 0.4mm (that 0.016 inches) pitch ICs. I can also solder 0201 size passive components if needed (01005 are just too small). All you need is a good stereo microscope, very fine point tweezers, an inexpensive hot air tool, a soft touch, and a lot of patience.
We can't afford a full time tech since can't keep them busy all the time. Nor can we afford to outsource the assembly work as even a half day turn around time is too long. It usually only takes me 5 or 10 minutes for simple job like swapping out parts. More complicated jobs might take 30 minutes. The guys are back in business doing what they do in no time.
I'm not saying every EE needs to be able to solder well but they should at least be capable of making minor changes to boards without trashing them.
BTW, I make sure that the other EE's keep their hands off the sodlering station ;-)
Here are the options: 1.You have to know how to solder. 2.You have to know how to use a Spectrum Analyzer. 3.You have to know how to operate an Oscilloscope. 4.You have to know how to interpret a Logic Analyzer. 5.You have to be able speak the logarithmic scale and discuss measurements in dB.
It is absolutely amazing how many non-junior EEs I have encountered that would select the 6ths choice which is not really part of the option set >> "None of the above."
But then, I am not certain if the above 5 options are really necessary in the 21st century. Sugata Mitra' speech in 2013 TED conference may hit this point home, via youtube >> http://tinyurl.com/ks29uxv
once it was essential to make a finished prototype, was it as essential as teamwork, where some team members brought particular skills to a group?
did Edison, Tesla or Hedi Lamar know how to solder and do we care? does it matter that Einstein couldn't/didn't leave the house with matching socks. in our wonderfully complex field of electronics, one cannot do it all or know it all tho many of the commenters here infer there's some basic requirement, in this case soldering, to construct, understand, collaborate on the development of something that to someone who worked in the earlier years of electronics would be considered science fiction...an implausible fantasy.
As we unveil EE Times’ 2015 Silicon 60 list, journalist & Silicon 60 researcher Peter Clarke hosts a conversation on startups in the electronics industry. Panelists Dan Armbrust (investment firm Silicon Catalyst), Andrew Kau (venture capital firm Walden International), and Stan Boland (successful serial entrepreneur, former CEO of Neul, Icera) join in the live debate.