Really too few. It is hard to find them. Everyone likes to make apps and websites because investors love them. You get those big valuations and fast exits in months and not years. Also, analog seems hard for modern students. The fact you cannot automate it makes it not cool. So, we are not filing the pipelines well and as the legends retire, we may have challenges in the industry.
Sometimes pool may appear smaller when analog enthusiast in pool ignored due to lack of experience.
One way to get experience is PhD, but then research guy finds professorship to be much better option than industry where his design delivery time will always be compared to faster design cycle in digital
Other option is start from digital hoping for switch later. But once in digital domain, they get attached to aura of working on leading edge node & ease of autmated design.
@kfield: Really speaking even I am finding answer to that question. But better to start career in something instead waiting for exact match for analog "transistor level design". One poosible field to later morph into I see is high-speed interfaces, memory control circuitry, etc.
@@k@sh: "Other option is start from digital hoping for switch later" - analog engineers, is that possible that you could start with digital and morph into analog later?
It happened that way in my career to some extent. I was never hoping for the transition, but circumstances have moved me into more analog design. I would certainly not put down "analog engineer" on any job application, but I have seen some success on small analog projects and often have this overlap between analog and digital.
Typically I am an analog app-note designer. I start with an app note and move on from there.
@antedeluvian Thanks for your response. I think one of the big challenges in clustering all analog engineers into one big group as the focus and knowledge is incredibly varied. For example., while some people believe that the job market for basic circuit designers has shrunk considereably there is huge demand for analog engineers who know power. My next article should look not just at the field overall, but what skill sets are actually in demand (or not).
I agree, theres a big difference between the analog design that I do (lower frequency PCB level design) and high frequency RF IC design. I think the shortages you mentioned were mostly in the IC design area...
I've transitioned from being mostly digital to doing more analog (at high enough speeds digatal becomes analog) but I think that it might be more difficult to transition from digital to analog in the IC design arena. I had a couple analog courses that included some IC design examples but I wasn't that interested in becoming an IC designer. I'd much rather use the ICs that someone else creates....
Every company I worked at skimped on their dedicated RF engineers and most were managed by software and digital groups.
For the past 26 years I have constantly been fighting with a 20 to 1 ratio of digital and power supply engineers to 1 single RF engineer, at some large companies that I worked at we had 5 RF ingineers and > 100 digital and 15 or 20 power supply engineers combined.
One big issue is that I am constantly fighting with is training the digital and low frequency analog guys that they need to dampen their high speed signals, that they need to put a shields over their Clock oscillators, over their FPGA's and they need to absolutely shield and properly filter their power supplies like they are a transmitter.
I can't count the number of VHF, UHF, GPS, XM weather radio receivers that I have designed with a ridiculously low noise figure only to have it degraded by up to 30 db simply because the digital/low freq anaolog guys knew nothing about proper EMI/RFI reduction.
The RF group is constantly left out of the design phase until the very end of the cycle simply because the Digital/analog low freq group is afraid to include us in at the very beginning because as one digital engineer put it they were afraid of getting radiated by the RF group so they stayed away from us until absolutely needed at which time the product failed to pass FCC certification and needed some drastic black magic applied.
Lately I spend 75 % of my time not designing RF products but instead resolving RFI/EMI issues traced back to another manufacturers poorly designed LED lighting systems knocking out my sensitive VHF Comm, Nav and GPS systems in my aviation radios.
@mike_m Every company I worked at skimped on their dedicated RF engineers and most were managed by software and digital groups
Like the software superman that headed one of my project teams and told me that since the system clock was only 20 MHz we did not have to worry about FCC Part 15 because they were only concerned about radiated emissions above 30 MHz.
that they need to put a shields over their Clock oscillators,
Or let the optical receiver designer put a shield over the low-level analog portions of the PCB because of the TTL-carrying ribbon cable a quarter inch away. Management said "No", so I designed without the shield, then proved to management that "their" design (not mine; I wanted the shield) did not work. Did a PCB respin with a shield. After that management listened when I said I needed to shield something.
Being the only analog designer in the company gets you flack from the PCB layout guys "Not another one of these! Why can't you design like everybody else?"
Lately I spend 75 % of my time not designing RF products but instead resolving RFI/EMI issues
A digital group "upgraded" a shelf-mounted DS3 card by adding a feature that snaked some RG174 cables out through the cracks between the card front faceplates. The cable is shielded, so no problems, right? But connecting the shield to the digital ground plane turns that shield into a very effective radiator. I managed to resolve all their problems, passed the emissions testing, then the marketing guy had the gall to ask me how they were going to explain to the customers to whom they had already (and illegally) sold the product why they had to do so many mechanical modifications?.
I answered him very succinctly - "That's YOUR problem."
Interesting comment. I have to say though, that as a former power supply engineer I am surprised that the power supply engineers you work with would contribute to the EMI problem. For one thing, if it is connected to the AC line their power supply needs to comply with FCC conducted and radiated emissions specifications. For another, EMI is a huge problem within power supplies themselves, trying to prevent the switching frequency or its harmonics from leaking through to the output or interfering with other systems in the box is a continual struggle. Most of the power supply engineers I have known have been very knowledgeable in the areas of shielding, grounding, filtering, and cross talk. It's also interesting that many of the resonant switching power supplies are similar to classes of RF switching amplifiers, the Class E DC/DC converter or RF power amplifier comes to mind.
That was at my past job just a few years ago where the PS engineers were the absolute worst at listening to the RF group and going blindly on their own not having any consideration for other groups.
At my present job they have started to listen and now take suggestions from the RF group seriously which makes my life half easier
Unfortunately; I still have to deal with other companies poorly designed 3rd party devices in particular LED lighting on aircraft with very noisy power converters many of which are making my job appear more and more like customer support as opposed to RF design.
" I think the shortages you mentioned were mostly in the IC design area..."
Elizabeth, I am glad to see that you mention this because I found that the constant use of the phrase "mixed signal" in this artical to be quite appropriate because that's about what I got from it. Is this void in analog expertise in the area of IC design, or designing with ICs? There is huge difference. If it's the former I'd say that is a niche area that very few of us explored after college, and we're talking about a pretty small pool to begin with. (At least in my experience, anyway. Btw, I looked into it and it seemed like a MSEE was about the starting point, so I passed.) But if the concern is about EE's who design with IC's then I'd say the pool is a little larger and would include your Power, Audio, Instrumenation and RF folks.
As for "digital designers" I have trouble with the phrase. It seems like a bit of an oxymoron to me because fo the way things are these days: Quick turn around and low-risk management require the demand for, and heavy dependance on, vendor supplied reference designs. When something doesn't work, lean on the supplier to fix their stuff. Proceed to software.
@C VanDorne Thanks for your comments, I wrote the article and to be honest I had some challenges myself in parsing out what specific analog design skills lare in short supply. But let me take a stab at it: Designing IC's, specifically custom chips, that involve both analog and digital is the skill that is in short supply. And it's the board-level designers, who design using discrete components, who are in some cases having trouble finding work. i would argue that to get to the IC level, you need a really solid basic understanding of analog, but engineers I spoke with disputed that - saying that software tools were so advanced now one could skip that step. The other area (not discussed in the article) that is in hot demand is power. Sounds like i should be planning on a follow-up article!!!
Please do, if not for your own peace fo mind, then for me and those like me. Although I'm employed, it seems that I fall into the "having trouble finding work" catagory that you describe, and I'd like to know where I stand.
@C VanDorne I most certainly will follow up. Also, we are having an online chat on Friday (1:00 pm EST) and Harry Wintz of Ranstad will be joining (he is one of the recruiters interviewed for the article). I recommend you join the chat (text only) if you can as you can pose any questions direclty to him as well. Details here.
@zeeglen - Was the first telegraph system digital or analog? Same question for teletype machines.
Recentlly I watched a BBC documentry on the CS Mackay-Bennett. The most famous ship you never heard of(*). CS stands for cable ship, This ship layed and mantained the transatlantic cable. What was interesting is that the cable used galvonic current for the signal. This was called left and right. Which came from the readout of the Mirror Galvanomiter. I looked this up on online sources and learned that resonate capacatance was used. The cable resistance too strong for just voltage. So my vote is for analog.
(*) in april of 1912 the ship was sent out to recue surviors of the Titanic disaster. They found 100s of bodies, too many to recover at one time.
I had considered making the transition but didn't pursue it. From a technical perspective, it's possible. The problem is that if you're paid as a senior digital engineer, you need to start from the bottom as a junior analog engineer -- no one wants to pay you at a senior level. There are some logical transition paths: do mixed signal verification or digital calibration circuits. The bigger question is if you actually want to do this. (I didn't -- while interesting, the semi sector sucks as an employee!)
By the way, having a digital background could be useful. Analog designers tend to have no ability to program or script which could make a designer much more productive. And, they could expand the solution domain to include small calibration circuits which are trivial for digital designers to implement.
@cd2012 Thanks for pointing out the salary issue--so I think this raises the question of how engineers (and others in a huge swath of professions) can expand their skill set as they progress in their career without having to go back to Square 1. I saw in the publishing industry some people who were completely stuck in print - the companies still needed people to put out the print magazine, while everyone else was moving onto digital, incuding new hires.
I find the very question posed in the title of the article to be shocking. Experienced analog IC designers have been in demand for about as long as I can remember. Mixed-signal skills are even better. What seems to be less in demand is pure digital design skills -- meaning it digital is all that you can do, you're at a disadvantage.
I don't think this is true anymore @Askskibum (used to be for the last 30 years or so)...less ASICs designs per year, more FPGAs, IP licensing, higher levels of integrations, smaller number of companies => less analog design needed!
Sorry, I don't buy most of this. I remember being really annoyed early on in my career, when I heard managers over-specifying the skill set that diffrent types of engineers have. It's not right, it doesn't or shouldn't work that way, so forgive me for not seeing the problem here, except for one being created by the hiring managers themselves.
Ultimately, engineers have to mold themselves into whatever job they do. And more than that, any engineer who has worked for more than a handful of years MUST have noticed that even if they haven't changed jobs, their own work has changed over time.
Ultimately, analog design is part of digital design, for engineers actually involved in designing the circuits, even if in silicon. I can't see a problem here. Even if an engineer worked only with discrete components previously, why this urge to pigeon-hole? You simply update your skills, and the company shouldn't assume otherwise.
Perhaps our friend here is fortunate enough to not have experienced what many others have.
Here in Canada I have worked for BIG internationals and small start ups. The BIG organizations keep you in the "pigeon" hole by force, implied or direct. Any attempt to cross train (your own time or company time) is considered insubordination and a sign of unrest. These are the same companies that pay lip service to the language of, "training", "professional development", and another big one is, "think outside of the box", but reality is very different. What they really mean is, keep doing your work; don't think so far outside of the box that you burst the wall of the box; you can push a little, but only VERY little on that wall. Movement within the organization or suggesting small reshuffling of responsibilities amongst your colleagues is also highly dangerous. Don't think, don't ask questions, just stay put (in your box) and deliver what is needed. NO discussion.
Secondly, if you are over about 35 years of age, you are finished. By that time you have either been over worked, and thus burned out, or, you are now perceived as a threat because you have energy left and they have discovered that you actually can think for yourself (not being a blind company man) and thus you do understand how the company (system) works. In either case you are no longer malleable (as a freshly minted graduate would be) and original thought is deemed dangerous to the company.
The small companies do want you to conduct, "professional development", but not on their time, and not in the portion of the day that they demand as overtime.
In either case, learning new ways of working (developing yourself) must be done quietly, on your own time.
Then comes the issue of applying what you have learned once you have gained some proficiency. How do you show on a resume legitimate work experience if you can't apply it where you presently work? The ONLY thing is to start your own business on the side. Lets face it, how often do you tell yourself that you may not develop professionally and apply it when it benefits your own bottom line?
So, with regard to the the question of too few or too many analog engineers; my experience is, plenty are willing, but only the young malleable few a tolerated for a while.
Sorry, but I fully disagree with your opinion: Digital on a chip is part of the analog, not the other way around. As speeds go up, we all know that analog knowledge is key for a succesful design. Further, molding an engineer to specific skills is limited: One should always take into account what the best qualities of a person are. Electronics alone is soooo enormous broad in the things you can do. Another thing is that I find it pretty easy just to say that an engineer simply has to update his skills. You are right about that. A good engineer wants that, no doubt, but the company must give her/him the space and time to do so. Unfortunately -as explained in this great article- this is not always the case....
Digital on a chip is part of the analog, not the other way around. As speeds go up, we all know that analog knowledge is key for a succesful design.
Agreed. I thought that's what I had said.
Further, molding an engineer to specific skills is limited: One should always take into account what the best qualities of a person are.
Yes, agreed again. When you start out at your first job, you and the company should figure out soon enough what you do best, and the job molds around you that way. But at the same time, everything changes fast enough that whatever you do, you have to keep up, so you are also being molded by the job.
That's why this excessive pigeon-holing doesn't make a lot of sense.
I guess I've been blessed to work for companies and for customers who understand this. If you're given a task on some brand new technologies, the customer should know that you need to figure it out before using the technologies. For instance in my case, I introduced Interet Protocols into our products as soon as the customer allowed, and was only able to do this rapidly because, as an engineer, I knew I needed to learn this stuff inside out. As well as all the other protocols we're supporting. Even introduced protocols, like ATM, that we ended up not using, as part of an exploration of update options. The customer supported this type of work, because we explained what we needed to achieve.
If we need to process signals, I write the algorithms, code them up, and test them. Then send them out for peer review. These are all skills EEs should have. Initially taught at school, but of course upgraded all the time.
Over time, what I do has changed quite a lot. Yet I don't consider myself to be a different type of EE. And I see the others around me doing the same sort of thing.
@ Navelpluis I find it pretty easy just to say that an engineer simply has to update his skills.
But update in which direction? One direction is for the discrete analog engineer to learn how to place familiar analog or logic onto silicon, for which the company usually has many others who can already do that and do not want to "waste time". There are other opportunies for skill updates that do not involve learning how to "place everything-on-silicon" .
For example, I once designed a digital biphase encoder/decoder with PLL clock recovery and violation counter to indicate link performance. I wanted to learn how to put this into an FPGA, but a junior engineer was assigned to this task because I was too busy with the rest of the analog design and the boss wanted it done fast, not have any time wasted by his one-and-only analog engineer learning how to program an FPGA. The faster logic functions were done external to the FPGA in discrete logic. The junior's FPGA worked first time, no bugs - but he could not comprehend how the circuit worked even after I tried to explain it to him. And I still had not acquired any knowledge of how to work with FPGAs.
Updating in a different direction involves things like PCB layout. Not ordinary layout, but how to squeeze multiple channels through the 1 mm distances between connector pins on a high-speed backplane. Two channels between each row of pins - without crosstalking. I dreamed up the physical structure that accomplished this, no help from computer simulations, the first prototypes were almost bang-on with their impedance, and the measured crosstalk was far better than hoped for. The bulk of the crosstalk was due to the card edge connectors. Interesting side-note was that several months later we ran the numbers through a beta-test crosstalk software package we were evaluating. The simulated tests showed that my scheme would never work. The vendor finally admitted that we had uncovered a bug in their software. But this kind of "skill update" does not carry much force on a resume.
Another form of skill update is learning how to push the boundaries in areas as yet unexplored, in both analog and digital. For this I refer you to
I hope the answer is too few... I'm a student concentrating in analog and started working in the semiconductor industry concurrently a few months ago. A lot of my coworkers recall when the industry was booming... YEARS ago! Someone even told me "I don't recommend becoming a design engineer. There's too many of them and they're the first to get laid off." Yikes.
@kcarreon You're in an ideal situation, suck up as much knowledge as you can from those experienced analog designers and keep in mind the guys who can make $50 to $250k doing a design in advanced materials. And I think "artisinal circuits" are the next big trend.
My last supervisor is a world class power supply designer (along with lots of basic analog knowledge). 5 years ago (at age 67) he left our place to retire. Since then he has been working two jobs, making far more than he ever made with us and loving every minute. He could have as many projects as he can handle.
I don't see lot of design work in Analog. Most of it now is modifications. Plus the analog IP reduce the need of too many analog designers. No body designs a new RF chip now. Only when a new standard comes. But getting good analog designers is difficult. The real desiign engineers. Otherwise there are many.
Agreed, re: reuse of IP and no one designing a new RF chip. Look at last week's announcement of Broadcom planning to exit the baseband industry. That means fewer RF and mixed-signal jobs in the industry.
At the last company I was with the analog designers were afraid of a "super" A/D that just samples the antenna and does everything else with DSP. I'm not sure how feasible it is power-wise, but people definitely want it, since digital scales with Moore's law and analog doesn't.
There will be some hotspots where people make lots of money, but nothing to make a 30 year career out of.
It is also a question of efficiency. I've seen people pull out huge, and very expensive, microcontrollers for things I could do with a single opamp because "digital is better". And lets not forget that analog controllers can be a lot quicker to respond to certain types of events than digital hardware. As always the truth is somewhere in the middle.
Another "lost art" is programming 4 bit microcontrollers, but when going for mass production consumer equipment shaving a cent or two of the microcontroller can have a huge impact. Eitherway, analog vs. digital is more of a cost efficiency and performance question in my opinion. And making that decision really depends on the circuit designer's skill and experience.
@Max : Sadly back then photos where on neagtive and paper, and the Research Lab never let me touch a Hasalblad again, after dropping one from the top of a double decker bus. So not much remains. When the lab closed down to outsourcing, all the lab built equipment got dumped in a tip and I was in a different section of the company so never new my creations were in the tip.
Our electronic circuit diagrams drawn on squared paper got shredded.
So much easier today to take a quick picture and save your drawings on a computer and keep all of it on your own cloud server.
However ther are advantages and disavantages to this. Once in the open domain can anyting truly be said to be erased?
IBM told me designs of RF front ends are getting increasingly complex thanks to the number of bands 4G LTE and WiFi keep adding on. Just wait until 5G and millimeter wave services. We definitely need those analog engineers!
The article is vague about the exact skill needed.
What I see in job postings are companies asking for one person who can do everything. All they need is someone who is half unicorn, half dragon with feathers... oh, and has good people skills.
Does the "analog engineer" command a premium salary? No, because that is based on titles and slots and a grid system developed in 1983. So, to the company I say, you get what you pay for. Be cheap and you'll get cheap results.
Don't worry. If you are reading this because you are an analog designer, the whole article screams opportunity.
Become a consultant and charge your former employers according to the value you provide, not the HR grid.
Teach classes online or in person.
Do your own projects.
Start the company where you want to work.
Life is good, the demand is strong and we are smart enough to take advantage.
@dougwithau: I'm still and fairly new grad with bachelors degree in EE and have been working in the Signal Integrity field of the wafer test industry for 5 years now. I'm looking to switch to RF/microwave design.
However, after interviewing with many companies in the CA bay area most tell me that I don't have enough experience (even to be a application engineer). It seems to me that most companies aren't willing to train into design positions because of the rapid rate of development and I'm finding it hard to bridge that gap.
What do you recommend is the best path toward becoming a mixed-signal or RF design engineer in this market: to continue searching for a company that would provide apprenticeship or instead obtain a master's degree at a recognized university to facilitate experience/networking opportunities?
I recommend staying in your current possition while you develop your own RF ideas/skills. Get a work area going in your garage or appartment and start experimenting with stuff. How about a security system in an unknown band, or an audio distribution system that includes music and room to room intercom, or anything that will keep you interested because in the end you'll get use it? (Just make sure your neighbor is cool with all the RF interfierence while you are refining your design.) Then the next time you walk into an interview you say "Yeah, okay, nobody has paid me to do this but check this out." Then lay out the schematics and start explaining to the interviewer how it works. You'll have gained experience and shown initiative. You'll get that job.
It seems when I look on the internet at various job sites, there are tons of electrical engineering opportunities for me. Alas the deeper I dig, these opportunities seem to never get filled and are recycled until the support manufacturing infrastructure can really put these machinations into reality. I had a phone interview recently with General Electric in a medical devices position and they cancelled the position...fairly frustrating...being a tau beta pi engineering honor society member...I am simply waiting for some precision engienering opportunity to come into my neck of the woods locale...
My experience is of course anecdotal, but my company in Silicon Valley has more board level analog work than we have the manpower to accomplish and so I have been interviewing candidates all week. From what I can tell, there are still plenty of people that want to work on the analog signal chain and not code or tape-out in a cubicle all day. That said, our hire rate is farily low due to not that many people having significant depths of comparable experience so maybe we are a victim of the too few situation.
It is not the end of the world for good Analog IC Designers...regardless of the number of gray hairs on your head.
Scenario #1: You're bright, have done dozens of designs and know enough to have thought about what the world needs next...or you know a customer who has a specific analog IC need that is not being addressed. Then turn your design idea into your own IC. If you can carry an idea thru to a GDS II, we can assist you with the rest. Start your own virtual semiconductor company... we'll manage all your back end...wafer fab, assembly and test, shipping to the customer, invoicing, etc. Sometimes we can even provide assistance with the marketing and sales side for you. If you can't get to a GDS II, maybe our Analog Engineers can help.
Scenario #2: We are always looking to expand our network of Analog IC Design Consultants. Why would you want to do that? Because we treat our designers like the valuable resources they are. They get 10%age of the profits of the chips they design for us for the life of the product...an annuity, so-to-speak.
reply to mike_m: Class E power supplies and RF power amplifiers are also similar to CRT-television horizontal-output stages with the retrace taking 50% of the time instead of the usual 10%.
I have spent my career so far in analog, digital (including VHDL), and embedded firmware all at once on the same projects. Recent projects added computational electromagnetics to the mix. I could discuss details with all my colleagues, which details some of my colleagues could not discuss with each other. I also have RF experience through amateur radio construction projects.
I am now retired from a plant closing, and now have the time to pursue my projects in open-source form.
Analog Devices used to publish a journal, "Analog Dialogue". I remember particularly their article reporting when their newly-hired first senior RF engineers started conversing with their senior high-speed analog-chip design engineers. The two groups were from very different worlds: 50-ohm environment on the bench versus whatever-is-optimal on chip; minimize use of expensive discrete transistors versus transistors are the cheapest part of the chip.
Herr Anderson, would you agree with me then that the schism between the two disciplines is that one primarily requires "discrete thinking" only, while the other requires "continuous thinking" in which the right answer could be the extremes but is more often somewhere in the shades of gray? And that finding that proper shade is often the trick? And that the people who can do this are rather special and should get paid tons more?
Okay, those last few were a bit gratuitous, but hey...a little fun now and again can't hurt.
To surmise the article "Analog Engineers: Too Few or Too Many?" The POV of HR is snivel, whine, whimper way too few. The POV of analog engineers (and many engineers in general) stomaching the current job market, way too many.
Looking at the following quotes from the article:
"WIntz estimates that the typical time needed to fill an analog/mixed signal position is much longer today than it is for embedded software developers. "Within the first 24 hours that an embedded position is open, we easily have three to five candidates identified as a potential fit for the role. But with mixed signal design, it may be two to three days to identify even one qualified person," he explains."
"Part of the reason for the delay is the relatively small pool of qualified candidates and the fact that the skill set required has become much more niched, says Wintz."From what I see, I'd estimate only about one in 45 engineers might actually be qualified for one of these positions," he adds."
"Wintz admits that he's worked with a handful of clients that have had positions remain open for a year or more."
Using these quotes, one can guestimate using 1:45 to generate a "qualified" candidate and in 24 hours 5 "potential" (not "qualified") candidates are found, therefor about 225 candidates may have applied for that one embedded position within 24 hours. Now if this embedded position is open for say a month and the 225 applicants per day rate remains consistent (I wager the rate increases as news of the position spreads and those few "in the loop" have applied first), there could around 6,750 applicants of which 150 are potentially "qualified". Assuming even 10 interviews are granted for the Crème de la crème, means the odds of being hired could be 1:675 for that embedded position in a month.
Assuming the monthly rate is a third for analog engineers (2,250), the odds of being hired may be around 1:225 just for a month' opening. Running just the raw numbers for a whole year means up to 27,000 (600 "qualified") analog engineers may have applied for that one analog engineer position. That's a lot of engineers and might even be approaching the total supply of analog engineers. "the skill set required has become much more niched" and "they are asking for so many skills that basically no one on the planet would qualify" so is it any wonder no one can ever fill any position (threading the needle with a rope). Funny thing is, engineering schools hear there is a shortage of engineers from these lamenting employers and in response spew out hoards of new inexperienced degreed engineers to attack the trenches (WWI) only for the new engineers to find out that "qualified" (1:45) engineers is what employers really want and 44 new unqualified engineers are likely floating in the ether. Hey, don't worry, be happy. I bet those "qualified" engineers get several job offers a day and are doing great.
"When you work for big companies, you tend to get slotted. They don't move you around, and nobody cross trains," says Chenier.
We got a bottleneck on the career ladder and we keep pushing from the bottom when we should be pulling from the top. I see all these goofy STEM programs pushing basic engineering knowledge on children and the unemployed, when there is no shortage of basic level engineering skills. We have a shortage of expert level engineering skills, but we're not trying to get those skills to the engineering community in a manner that employers can use to vet job candidates. Once you graduate you are on your own. I've got a library full of books I've read on electronics subjects I've never really used in my career. I learned Verilog once. Used Icarus to work through the problems in the book. Wrote a seven segment decoder for some SLD tester I built and never used Verilog again. I can't blame employers for not taking something like that seriously if I put it on my resume.
What we need is some system of online logged verifiable education, where employers can look at the work you've done. A place where authors of textbooks can put accompaning course work that has a crowd sourced help forum. I know Coursera has an MIT basic electronics course. Do MIT graduated need a basic electonics course?
And we need to encourage employers to give employees time for education. Maybe payroll tax breaks for time spent on qualified education programs.
We need to increase engineering mobility, to move ideas around and increase innovation and expand the field. We all need take a step up the ladder, to make room at the bottom.
Can anyone figure out what the circuit graphic at the beginning does? It could be a form of Colpitts oscillator, but the feedback phase looks wrong, and if a common-base configuration the transistor base has no decoupling. Or maybe the schematic is still in progress and not finished.
Or it could be an artistic graphic image that looks analog for illustration as to the article subject matter. Karen, any hints?
@Zeeglen , looks like Colpitts to me, check figure 1 of the Wiki entry, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colpitts_oscillator
It's in the grounded base configuration, that's what threw you off.
Looks like it's a FM transmitter , the capacitor on the collector just decouples the antenna (the arrow pointing up) from the tank.
The audio input goes in the bottom (at the circle) , coupled with a big capacitor, from a low impedance dynamic microphone, this modulates the base emitter voltage, hence modulates the base emitter capacitance and shifts the frequency, (you also get a bit of AM) .
Or it could be something completely different......Its hard to second guess someone else's design.
I fall outside the arguement but I see the problem.
I'm a jumped up electronic designer that started as a Electronics Tech. I understand RF, Power, And Analog logic. I red lined and corrected so many schematics on specials and new designs I ended up in a Engineering cube when the Old Analog guy retired. I'm the PCB layout and analog guy here. My skills are many and varied due to my USAF training and career. I understand everything from aerodynamics to RADAR, GPS, IFF, instrumentation, leadership and teamwork. I worked on systems with time shared wiring and high power. I am still under security restrictions and I retired From the AF nearly 20 years ago.
YET, I still have trouble finding a new position with decent pay for one reason. I have a pile of college credits but not enough at any one place to get even a 2 year degree. I Retired one credit short of my degree at CCAF from the did a recount on the last day. And NO-ONE will accept half of those credits, yet they were learned the hard way, On the Job with actual classes periodically.
And since I'm in my late 50's I can't afford the TOI of getting a degree now.
But to the article. I'm the analog guy here. We have another guy that was hired right from college and he does the digital stuff. Then I interface it with the real world. We design and sell sensing, measurement, instrumentation, and closed loop control systems for moving web processes.
To do that We measure minute forces in analog, convert to digital, calibrate, process and output back to analog machines (drives, clutches and brakes). So we do A-D and D-A on every unit. I understand the problem of high speed digital polluting my analog sensing and we must avoid it diligently. A former Manager here told people I do things so far outside the box that he didn't think I'd ever seen it. Probably because in the view from academia, I haven't.
But how do I convert that to something an HR person can do buzzword bingo on and get a job?
THAT is the problem these companies have. We are out there, but they don't see us because they don't speak the language of complex system interactivity and all they know is a list of acronyms that do not mean anything to them.
Actually, the fact that we are discussing this in the first place indicates that there probably is a systemic problem the EE fields have in general. I have been telling *every* kid that I have seen to take up a trade, no matter what it is, because the job market for STEM degrees can not be trusted. While globalization might be inevitable, the rampant age discrimination means that your career is over at the age of 40 - no matter what the tech field is. Top that with companies that *work hard* to cheat on H1B visas just so they can save dimes on employees also tells potential career engineers that they are not seen as a resource or woth an investment, but rather as a cost that that needs to be reduced or cut outright. Plus, why hire an employee who wants vacation days when you can buy that fancy new tool to get the job done for you?
STEM is a dead end kids. Become a plumber. That's where it is at. Really.
NASA's Orion Flight Software Production Systems Manager Darrel G. Raines joins Planet Analog Editor Steve Taranovich and Embedded.com Editor Max Maxfield to talk about embedded flight software used in Orion Spacecraft, part of NASA's Mars mission. Live radio show and live chat. Get your questions ready.
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