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During a recent trip to the U.K., Barry Matties spoke with Bob Williams, the managing director of Pulsonix, about training the new generation of designers. He explained how the company reaches out to local high schools, colleges, universities, and user groups to advocate for careers in PCB design and manufacturing.
Matties: One topic we’ve been following recently is training for PCB designers. And as we see the generational shift taking place, we’re looking at how new designers are coming in and where they’re being trained. It looks like there’s a real deficiency out there.
Williams: There is.
Matties: How can we address that?
Williams: A lot of people look at YouTube for training. But the problem with YouTube is that it shows you the feature and gives you the steps to follow, but it often doesn’t explain why things are done one way versus another. From the years of training that we’ve done, we’ve learned where our customers struggle with the user interface, and we’ve made improvements to make it easier. As a result, we’ve built a very intuitive user interface allowing us to provide training that focuses more on using our toolset for good PCB design rather than just how to use our tools.
Matties: Where are designers getting that training?
Williams: We’re seeing universities pick this up. They’re looking at courses for electronics design and they’re trying to run very small modules. Some of the new university courses in the U.K. are running courses for how to design PCBs, including everything from what vias are to why you do or don’t use microvias. And we run training courses on PCB design not specific to Pulsonix. The training covers what the board is made up of, the facets of the board if you like, and once they have an electronic concept, how they design the board itself through to fabrication.
Matties: Are you seeing a lot of interest from young people to move into this as a career?
Williams: No, and that’s the problem. Today, younger people we’re seeing want glory jobs, not what might be considered traditional engineering jobs, such as electronics. And they tend to be single-disciplined as well. A graduate might be a capable electronics designer theoretically, but practically, they lack the real practicalities of core PCB design and knowledge of the whole process.
Matties: So, the only thing that’s going to drive that is the wage for designers going up so somebody who’s salary-driven will look at that, right?
Williams: Potentially, yes. However, if they can see over the initial salary and look beyond this, the future is very good for them in the electronics industry. It opens up a lot of very lucrative avenues.
Matties: Because if there’s not a strong appeal, what’s left?
Williams: I think it’s the same in the U.S.; you also have a shortage of good PCB designers. The only place that I haven’t seen shortages is in China and India, but then they are people-rich.
Matties: Well, there are 3 billion people between those two (laughs).
To read this entire interview, which appeared in the August 2019 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.