My grandson is graduating from University of California, Berkeley with a degree in engineering physics. I checked to see if he could find a job in a semiconductor company. What I found is that some companies want experienced engineers. That means new graduates wouldn’t get a job to get experience, so they won’t be able to work in that type of company. In this case, it’s another “chicken and the egg” situation—you need experience to get a job, but you can’t get a job to get experience.
In contrast, other companies have intern programs where they employ undergraduate and graduate scientists. These programs give the intern an idea of what the job involves and gives the company an idea of the individual’s ability.
Companies that look only for experienced engineers are missing out on design input from a new source that is not tied to existing ideas and technology. New ideas from new people produce new products. Staying with the current technology could stymie the semiconductor industry. At least “Moore’s Law” won’t be affected.
I can understand that semiconductor companies want people who can produce right away. However, I also know that experienced engineers will eventually retire or go to work for another company. Does that mean that some semiconductor companies will only be able to get new people from their competitors?
One possibility to get “experienced” engineers would be for universities to provide courses in association with a semiconductor company that teaches the basics of semiconductor design, with actual hands-on experience in designing and producing products that provide general purpose functions.
Back when I received my BSEE, there were plenty of aerospace jobs. It wasn’t unusual to get several job offers. Today is a more consumer- and industrial-oriented engineering economy. New graduates need more than good grades, they need luck in finding a good job.
Another reason I would like to see new graduates succeed is a purely personal one. A website like powerelectronics.com needs good technical articles. And new semiconductor articles get the attention of most readers. We want to make sure new material will keep coming in.
Alex Lidow, CEO and co-founder, EPC, said, “From 1982 to 2007, International Rectifier had a training program for engineers fresh out of school. Called the ‘Rotation Program,’ it trained more than 150 engineers over the years, many of whom are now leaders in the semiconductor industry. This program validated the value of training people right out of school. I am now CEO of a new company, Efficient Power Conversion (EPC), where we have hired several newly minted graduates. As a pioneer in gallium nitride, EPC needs new talent and fresh ideas, as they are a key element of our future success.”
Dave Freeman, Texas Instruments fellow and chief technologist for High Voltage Power Solutions, said they employ summer undergraduate and graduate interns inside their businesses and product lines as well as in TI research labs at various locations around the world. In the U.S., Dallas and Santa Clara, Calif., are the primary locations. These interns receive a salary based on their level of education.
“They come into our organizations and bring a level of excitement and energy with them,” said Freeman. “These students find that not only are they assigned to engaging and interesting projects, but are given an opportunity to work alongside very experienced engineers and scientists. They are surrounded by many different and attractive technology developments. They are encouraged to take advantage of opportunities to collaborate outside their day-to-day assignments. A common comment at the end of a summer intern term is how fast their time at TI has gone by. I think this is what happens when you are very focused on technology development and the future while having fun.”