@Alan Winstanley: ...in case I got stranded in a desert and needed to purify some, er, drinking water. Unlikely in England but you never know! :-)
I don;t know ... when I lived in Yorkshire I remember that it could rain for months at a time (we used to call that "Summer"), but if we then had 2 or 3 days of sunshine, the authorities said there was a water shortage and they banned everyone from using their garden hoses :-)
This has been true for a long time, when I graduated in 1984, I had never soldered in a class and at my first job, the technicians soldered, not the engineers. The engineers task was product design and instructing the drafters in documentation.
:) may be not a majority is going to lab...even I did not go to lab in my office...as it is not needed. Other do it for me...(its my work :) to write stuff in computer screen)
But...I can solder...and I can solder both BGA and all other SMDs with proper toos. All my previous known friends are doing it. We made boards and as they were too costly to assemble we soldered ourselves.
And yes now I am software engineer...indicated in the first para.
Trends are changing.....New engineers might find it easy to get a hardware in hand then make it themselves.
@Phadreus: I am one of the Engineers originally from India who CAN solder but I am NOT a EE graduate -my degrees have been in Mechanics / Mechanical area. But I agree with your statement nonetheless. I have seen more than my share of ASIC designers who have never been to the lab, used a curve tracer or a parametric analyzer, etc.
When I worked my way through college, I worked for a while in a prototype lab with some old buzzards who taught me how to solder.
Basically, you heat the object you want soldered and melt the solder onto it once the object gets to solder temperature. DO NOT melt the solder onto an object. You can make a nice-looking solder joint that is a "cold" solder joint that way.
As an engineer, I've seen many engineers who did not know this basic fact, but that's not surprising since none of get this training in engineering schools. We engineers assume that all technicians know how to solder, so surely there will be someone in the lab who can get this right.
However, that is not always the case. What's even more scary is that I've had technicians who did not know how to solder. Many of them were older than me and thought surely this young engineer didn't know what he was talking about. I once had to correct a senior technician on this who was soldering some expensive rotary switches for me in a test box we had. Later I found this box had one hundred cold solder joints around these expensive switches, the technician quit, and then I had to repair them all!
I have now met my match with soldering QFNs with large backside copper pads, but I know the basic principle here -- heat the object first, then allow the solder to flow.
Welcome to reality.. Thats the difference between western civilization and the rest of the world. I an vouch for the 99% of electronics graduates from premiere institute in India does not know how to wield the soldering iron.. thought heir mathematcal or simulation skill would be top notch 99 percentile.