How to recruit new analog circuit designers?

With the decreasing number of people in Sweden studying electronics and analog circuit design we have to come up with new bright (?) ideas to recruit them. And build up the interest. Motivate, etc. In the previous posts, we have seen that curiosity seems to be a driving force to emphasize on.

I got inspired by this semi-viral picture on the internet. Obviously (?) they succeed in “recruiting” people into the bar for another pint or so.

7f5ad2ae21d0f850c4e56e92fa037015

Does this work also for electronics? Would this recruitment poster do the job? Hmmm… (To state the obvious – the spiral is now formed by an inductor in two metal layers…) Perhaps when you walk down the main street, sipping on your coffee and wonder what to do.

Would this lure you into it?

rect30412

Advertisements

10 thoughts on “How to recruit new analog circuit designers?

  1. Sweden does not have a good job market for analog designers, so what would the students do even if you recruit them for learning and they graduate? You claim to teach IC and mixed signal design, but how many companies in Sweden would provide them jobs tomorrow? Unfortunately, even if there were jobs, Swedish job market and academia is biased, and do not hire on merit (nationality matters more than skill for some.)

    • Thanks for your comment.

      Well, I do agree with you that IC design is a very tough business here and probably justified so. To be honest, I do not think we should focus too much on graduating new IC designers regardless what some universities still think – so you’re right in that sense. However, we do teach less and less IC courses and shift more towards board-level and other types of systems/dedicated signal processing within the field electronics. And there the job opportunities are not too few and currently most of the electronics engineers graduating have a job within short period of time after graduation. We need to think outside the IC package and instead target “higher”. This chunk of the electronics market (here) is larger than the so-called “Swedish music wonder”.

      Analog design still though is needed and sought-after.

      Your point on the job market I cannot really comment. I do not know if Sweden is worse than others.

  2. The above comment about bias is not correct. When I graduated I had both a job and PhD offer from Sweden..but I chose for another assignment. I think one needs more than just tech skills to land a job. And Swedes don’t like people who lie on the resume.

    • Yes, if one posts a resumé in Sweden: keep it modest and correct; “lagom” simply. Too many buzz words and it gets thrown out from pile of application.

  3. Back to main point, Jakob, we need to sex it up. Let’s make a video about cool stuff that Analog designers do. Target high schoolers and show them link between theory and reality with fun filled experiments..

    • Thanks! Yes, that is the point – what should we do? Videos would be really nice. Numberphile for electronics engineers (there are some similar, but yet).

      As you say: One has to start earlier than the university level and evangelize that there are so many fun things that can be done at home in your garage and also make a living on it.

      [EDIT – from stationary computer…]

      What brought me into electronics was an encouraging teacher in my Tekniska Gymnasium (high school, sort of) who kind of showed us: “Look, look – this can be done. You can do almost anything with these things.” The same kind of champion that could spread the joy somehow. Or perhaps even high schools are too late.

      At our university we have activities to for example get women to choose engineering (software engineering, mostly). They are invited to visits at the university and vice versa. Same kind of programmes could be used for electronics.

      I have seen some trials here in Sweden with “Micro-lectures”. Pupils become fascinated after some 10-15 minute short lectures on a topic. This could be something we could travel around and do. I think those eye openers can be a good start.

      For good and bad the Raspberry Pi and similar single-board computers offer a good platform I think. I have played around with Scratch and turning off/on LEDs and listen to push-buttons with my 9- and 7-year olds. But it is not super-duper-easy to get the pedagogics in place.

      For software engineering it is perhaps a bit easier; like for example http://coderdojo.com/ which is getting quite organized and get clear goals and motivations they can work after.

  4. Funnily enough, I was actually having a chat about it last night, about how few students there are in Europe and how hard it is to get to interview and hire good IC designers !

    I believe there are a few things… First is the teaching of electronics itself: I always thought teachers were doing it wrong (no offense !).
    Electronics is taught just like physics and maths, almost exclusively based on equations and endless circuit analysis. But unlike physics, electronic courses are not really exciting and doesn’t really explain what’s going on in the world around you !

    There is very little room for creativity, feelings, understanding the problem, find a solution and figure the limitations… (one would get that much more easily going the software route !)

    Secondly, the industry itself: in Europe, there is no support from institutions in the area of microelectronics, leading to an obvious lack of opportunities. Also, even for start-up, just the cost of the tools and required infrastructure would dissuade most entrepreneurs ! The other are here, trying to survive in a highly competitive market.

    Then there is the daily IC designer life as well, projects are long with 12 to 36 months turn-arond between the project idea and the actual final product, you get stuck working on something for months or years… Technical decisions are often based on risk-mitigation and silicon proven blocks because failure is simply not an option.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying electronics is boring, I love my job and my job in mixed-signal IC design !
    But if you take a look the Software world, it’s mostly the exact opposite of all of the above. Maybe there’s something to dig in there ? 🙂

    • None taken 🙂

      I agree with you. It is sort of simple to stand and lecture about Ohm’s law, Kirchhoff’s laws, this-and-that power relationship’s, etc., and your soon into endless networks that have to be solved to find the nodal voltages in V1 and V2. How to make it more fun?

      I think one key to this is the lab series at least. In software engineer you quickly get to the lab and start testing. How can the same be done in electronics – without making the first trial’s too complicated. What is the

      “Hello World!”

      or

      foo

      of electronics? An RC-network and apply a pulse train or a Raspberry Pi switching on and off a motor? Microcontroller?

      I guess it is a matter of catching the interest without making it overly complicated.

      A while ago with purchased the Elvis II+ boards from National Instruments to the labs here at LiU. They are very handy and you get the computer interface and you can control the board via a set of I/Os and it can be synched with their circuit simulator, etc.

      Nice … or? Some of the mistakes we’ve been doing is that already the breadboard is too complex for many – first time they see it, why should it help with a lot of buttons, controls, holes, etc. And in fact, if we move away from the hardware equipment – the 10-kg oscilloscope, the power cube, etc. – perhaps it becomes artificial in another sense.

      Costs: Yes, I remember from my Sicon day’s and negotiations with The-EDA-Vendor to purchase licenses…
      Working hours: Yepp, a long marathon with occasional sprints.

      • Exactly ! There are already plenty of opportunity in Labs and use stuff other than the big SigGen, Phosphor Oscilloscope and these big lab power supply connected to those buggy breadboard.
        Drop all that… A first thing would be to use simulator a lot more in labs, and build the circuit and use USB-scope with much simpler equipment.
        (leave the 10kg scope, Spectrum Analyzer, Network analyzer for the Masters who *might* actually use them later !)

        Play around microcontroller that have simple demo-board and build circuits using the embedded I/O, PWM, ADCs, Comparators, etc.
        Why one would use those 74HC04 on breadboard when most of the time, everything else is done on the controller side ?

        Looking back to some courses I had, I studied all the DC-DC power-supply converters (buck, boost, flyback, royer and all, derive all the equations)… However, I never ever made one… I know about all these DCM, CCM pros and cons and the different kind of regulators, etc, but I have no idea how to implement them and how make a proper functioning block… Isn’t it a bit awkward ?! 🙂

        The problem is not not much about the ideas… but to build the conviction that the teaching of electronics has to change if you want to compete with the more exciting stuff like Embedded Systems or Computer Sciences.

  5. Dear Dr. Winker,
    I have M.Sc.Degree in Electronics Engineering with the major option of Mixed Signal IC Design and MEMS. I sent you my CV and I am really interested in Analog world. So, is it possible to take a look at my CV? I want to start PhD in Sweden and I will be wonder if you recruit me.
    B.R.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s