Help Wanted: PCB Design Layout Specialist


Reading time ( words)

The Changing of the Guard

I have been in this industry enough years to have heard the following question asked many times over: “Has anyone seen the next generation of PCB designers?”

This is a rhetorical question that has yet to be rightly answered. The typical response is a collective silence, at least until someone whispers, “No, we have not seen them, because for the most part, they don’t exist.”

For the sake of clarity and to help understand the nuance of my article, understand that the term “designer” is often utilized by many professionals. The term could apply to electrical engineers (EEs) doing schematic capture only, or one who performs schematic capture and layout, or anyone performing PCB layout. I will use the term “designer” to indicate specifically a “PCB layout specialist.”

I was told recently that the designer, aka the PCB layout specialist, is a dying breed soon to be extinct.

I wish to reassure my fellow designers as you read this article that, in my opinion, you are in the catbird seat. You are in hot demand and you should have great opportunities for the remainder of your career. By the way, after reading this article, you may feel empowered to go ask for a raise. Please don’t tell your manager that I sent you!

However, what I would ask you to do is ask around in your department and determine the last time your company hired a beginner designer. What year was that? When did your office last hire a new, young designer, like you were once, at the start of your own career? Typically, it’s not occurring, and few new layout specialists are entering the profession.

The industry tends to ignore the subject of next-generation designer replacements. Historically, most layout designers would attest that the overall electronics industry ignores and disregards their profession. The electronics industry, for the most part, does not understand the PCB design profession. As long as the industry keeps paying your salary and you keep performing the “CAD miracle,” all things will keep moving along. But many of you are greybeards who can see the light at the end of the tunnel for your career exit. Good for you; in my opinion you deserve it!

This lack of new recruits is a phenomenon that is not unique to the design layout field. This is also occurring in the electronics industry on a broader level. Designers are few in number; therefore, little awareness is afforded our plight. The academic world attracts young people into the hardware and software engineering ranks in robust numbers. Within the EE degree programs there exist no significant PCB layout training or coursework. The number of academic institutions offering pathways into this very specialized profession of layout design is almost zero.

To read this entire article, which appeared in the July 2018 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.

Share

Print


Suggested Items

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

08/28/2020 | Andy Shaughnessy, Design007 Magazine
This week, we have quite a potpourri for you. There's good news about the PCB market. And as this year continues to surprise us at every turn, companies are discovering the true nature of their leaders. Todd Kolmodin has a great column about bosses and leaders and why the two words are not synonymous. Not to be outdone, columnist Barry Olney found a way to explain the wavelength of electromagnetic energy by using a chocolate bar and a microwave oven. We also have great articles by Sagi Reuven and Pete Starkey.

Avishtech: A New Player in the Field Solver and PCB Simulation Tools Market

08/13/2020 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team
It has been a crazy year with lots of ups and downs. But within the clouds, we’ve seen plenty of silver linings, too. Case in point: Avishtech, a brand-new company lead by founder and CEO Keshav Amla. (You may be familiar with his father, Tarun Amla, a veteran PCB materials technologist who is now with ITEQ.) We recently caught up with Keshav and asked him to discuss his company’s simulation tools, his plans for the company, and what it’s like launching a company in this “new normal.”

Dana Korf: What Fabricators Expect From Designers

06/18/2020 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team
Andy Shaughnessy and Barry Matties spoke with Dana Korf, former chief PCB technologist for Huawei and currently principal consultant of Korf Consultancy, about the breakdown in communication between manufacturers and designers. Dana discusses exactly what a fabricator expects from a PCB designer, why these expectations are often not met, and the need for designers to make mistakes so that they can learn from them.



Copyright © 2020 I-Connect007. All rights reserved.