An Experienced Millennial on Hiring the Next Generation


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During DesignCon, I met with Geoffrey Hazelett, VP of sales for Polar Instruments. Even though he has been in EDA for a few years, Geoffrey is still in his thirties, which makes him a youthful cherub in this industry. I asked Geoffrey what he thinks about the new PCB designers and EEs entering this field, and what more can be done to expose young people to the world of PCBs.

Andy Shaughnessy: We’re finally starting to see more young people in this industry. Even though you joke about being on the “grizzled upper-end of millennials,” you are younger than 50 and have all of your hair.

Geoffrey Hazelett: And I intend to keep my hair, so thank you.

Shaughnessy: What are your thoughts on young people entering the industry? When you were in college, was there any knowledge that this was something you could do for a career?

Hazelett: I recall asking my professors about this, and they told me, “Don’t worry about PCB design. Somebody else will do that for you. You’re going to do VLSI or ASIC design.” I think what has changed is people with master’s degrees and Ph.D.s in electrical engineering look at this and say, “This is how we’re going to have to do PCB design.” Now, it requires training on the education side that didn’t formally exist even 20 years ago.  And now some universities—only a few—have signal and power integrity programs.

How are we going to pass on the information, knowledge, and experience from those people who fought the battles to develop this technology to the new designers coming into the industry? There are good resources out there—such as programs, training classes, and workshops at shows like this—but you have to be able to get your company to send you to a conference like DesignCon.

When I first joined, part of my hiring process with Polar Instruments was sending me to one of Eric Bogatin’s last public signal and power integrity classes. Polar Instruments’ President Ken Taylor said, “Think about the offer, but either way, we want you to go to this because it’s the last one that he’s doing publicly.” Now, Eric teaches at University of Colorado and has an online academy.

Shaughnessy: Growing up, you must have had video games.

Hazelett: I remember before the internet was ubiquitous, the first computer I ever touched and played with was a 486—maybe an early Apple product. It wasn’t until high school that I started seeing people with cellphones. Now, I have friends who have kids who are six years old and monitor their screen time.

To read this entire interview, which appeared in the March 2019 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.

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