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Electrical Engineering Labor Pool Shrinking

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the getting-a-piece-of-the-pie dept.

Businesses 401

dcblogs writes "The number of electrical engineers in the workforce has declined over the last decade. It's not a steady decline, and it moves up and down, but the overall trend is not positive. In 2002 the U.S. had 385,000 employed electrical engineers; in 2004, post dot.com bubble, it was at 343,000. It reached 382,000 in 2006, but has not risen above 350,000 since then, according to U.S. Labor Data. In 2012, there were 335,000 electrical engineers in the workforce. Of the situation, one unemployed electrical engineer said: 'I am getting interviews but, they have numerous candidates to choose from. The employers are very fussy. They are really only interested in a perfect match to their needs. They don't want the cost to develop talent internally. They are even trying to combine positions to save money. I came across one employer trying to combine a mechanical and electrical engineer.'"

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Good riddence (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44259891)

There will be one CPU for the next 1000 years. We really gotta put an end to the clusterfuck that Intel is creating. USB? PS/2 was better... da fuck you thinking? Hypervisor. Shit. Too much busy work. I more or less knew VC6 ten years ago. Microsoft has had 100 people adding shit for ten years! Fuck. Put an end to the insanity of evergrowing crapified shit. God how ugly SSE/MMX shitola is on the CPU from Intel. What's it gain? Good on embarrassingly parallel stuff, I guess. I just don't like all the clusterfucked shit we got. Fucken look at USB if you know RS232. Look at it!

This just in... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44259899)

Employers want to make as much money as possible without having to pay people. If they could convert their good ideas into products without the bothersome worry of employees they'd do it in a heartbeat. Therefore, employees aren't as likely to go spend four years in college to work at McDonalds.

Re:This just in... (5, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | about a year ago | (#44260083)

Employers want to make as much money as possible without having to pay people.

Its been said before [marxists.org] :

The tendency of the rate of profit to fall is a theory put forward by Marx to the effect that the rate of profit enjoyed by capitalists will get smaller and smaller over time. This is because capitalists use more and more developed materials and machinery in their production as the labour process becomes more and more socialised over time, and use smaller and smaller amounts of wage-labour per unit output.

personally I think Marx's criticism of capitalism is pretty accurate. Its only where he assumes that uprising and revolution will lead to some utopian ideal that he goes wrong.

Re:This just in... (2, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44260215)

I am not sure anyone could argue that point. Marx was one of the best critics of capitalism ever, but his guesses at the future completely ignore all of human history.

Re:This just in... (2, Insightful)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | about a year ago | (#44260263)

Marx's economics is just plain stupid. In particular, you don't need to own something to control it. (It is possible to drive a rented or stolen car.)

Re:This just in... (4, Insightful)

mc6809e (214243) | about a year ago | (#44260487)

personally I think Marx's criticism of capitalism is pretty accurate. Its only where he assumes that uprising and revolution will lead to some utopian ideal that he goes wrong.

That's not the only thing he gets wrong.

He also thought that economic exchange occurred with things of equal value. Even economists of his time knew this wasn't true.

Economic exchange occurs when things are valued unequally, otherwise, why bother exchanging at all? Transaction costs make an exchange a poor decision. If on the other hand I value what you have more than what I have, and you value what I have more then what you have, we trade. This could be a barter or money might be involved.

Re:This just in... (4, Informative)

cayenne8 (626475) | about a year ago | (#44260247)

The trouble with being an EE.

You generally start out with a pretty high salary right out of college, and then in just a few years, you quickly top out and can't seem to earn much more.

People *do* work to make money as a bottom line, and this kind of thing hurts a career choice.

Re:This just in... (5, Insightful)

ethanms (319039) | about a year ago | (#44260493)

That is put perfectly, and matches my own experience.

I'm out of school for 12-13 years and my salary is just barely 50-60% higher than starting, which was exceptional at the time. If you don't make the move to marketing, sales or management you will stagnate. The exception of course is for anyone who is above average and performing company critical functions (but then you need to constantly apply pressure to see increases).

I'm not complaining, I like the work and I still get paid very well compared to the average person...

Quite so! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44259903)

Employers don't want to develop talent in-house because that's expensive -- and will get more so as the employee becomes more attractive to the company's competitors. Employers also don't want to hire people to increase their talent pool; rather, they want to hire "super talent" in order to fire one or more lesser engineers.

Those hundreds of positions you see advertised? They aren't a sign of growth, but of stagnation, and a nearly total absence of investment (even from the profits that a company is supposed to be making).

Re:Quite so! (5, Insightful)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | about a year ago | (#44259937)

Exactly. As an bachelors with honours engineering graduate I find it almost impossible to get work. Companies are not willing to train people in-house. I'd like to know how many engineering graduates have passed through university and are now doing a job they are qualified to do, looking at 15, 10, 5 years and present day.

I can't get a job because I haven't got the experience. I can't get the experience because I can't get a job. Catch 22.

Re:Quite so! (0)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44260019)

What country do you live in? From the way you write I'd guess you're not an American. As an American EE, believe me I'm sympathetic, but I'm curious what things are like in other countries.

Re:Quite so! (1)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | about a year ago | (#44260323)

England.

Re:Quite so! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44260029)

My nephew graduated in May with his EE bachelor's. He had three interviews in two weeks and received two offers a week later, with the lower offer willing to match the better. Both companies stated they could not find enough qualified (college degree) candidates. He's now begun his six month in-house training program. He gets full salary and benefits during the training. The training is at multiply sites, and the company organizes and pays for it all.

Re:Quite so! (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44260171)

What country? What part of the country? What university? What specialization?

Re:Quite so! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44260047)

Engieering is a trade.

Learning the trade is what Coop and Internship positions are for.

This ought to be required as part of the degree.

Re:Quite so! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#44260079)

You ought to be required to work for free before you can get a job? Sounds a bit like bullshit protectionism to me.

Re:Quite so! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44260159)

My engineering co-op paid quite well. All my co-op offers were $15+/hr. Fuck unpaid internships, even NASA pays their engineering co-op students.

Re: Quite so! (3, Informative)

Rostin (691447) | about a year ago | (#44260181)

Engineering coop positions and internships pay very generously in the US. On the other hand, the amount of useful knowledge and skills gained in such positions is pretty negligible, so I don't think the person you responded to was correct. They serve mostly as ways for companies to get tedious, low skill work done and to inexpensively vet potential future employees.

Re:Quite so! (1)

Ambassador Kosh (18352) | about a year ago | (#44260253)

At least for cheme I have NEVER seen an internship or coop that did not pay pretty darn well. I did not think that in the USA it was even legal anymore to do unpaid internships.

Re:Quite so! (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year ago | (#44260477)

Intern != Unpaid Intern

Re:Quite so! (0)

nbritton (823086) | about a year ago | (#44260135)

I can't get a job because I haven't got the experience. I can't get the experience because I can't get a job. Catch 22.

That's bs, compensation isn't a requirement for gaining experience. Go help on an open source hardware project or something.

Re:Quite so! (2)

inasity_rules (1110095) | about a year ago | (#44260281)

One must also pay one's bills.

Re:Quite so! (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year ago | (#44260481)

So flip burgers while you do it, if you've no other choice.

Re:Quite so! (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | about a year ago | (#44260319)

I cant get a job because I have got experience. That makes me over qualified. What they really want is people who will work for nothing, regardless of whether they can actually do the job - it is called "equal oportunities". (The ultimate problem is the HR department.)

Re:Quite so! (1)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | about a year ago | (#44260365)

It is not the technical skills and experience employees find lacking. It is teamwork and other soft skills, you're not going to get these from working in your basement on a open hardware project.

Re:Quite so! (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about a year ago | (#44260427)

THAT's bs! what is that person supposed to live on, while donating time to a PD project?

Re:Quite so! (0)

inasity_rules (1110095) | about a year ago | (#44260267)

Take a hit for the experience and ditch the states for the 3rd world. If you're any good you'll do well. Just careful be sure to get a job before you leave, as it can help with VISA applications and work permits. South Africa is very attractive for engineering right now, especially on the mines, but we also have this "Broad Based Black Empowerment" thing that screws you over if you're not black.

Re:Quite so! (3, Interesting)

jittles (1613415) | about a year ago | (#44260287)

Exactly. As an bachelors with honours engineering graduate I find it almost impossible to get work. Companies are not willing to train people in-house. I'd like to know how many engineering graduates have passed through university and are now doing a job they are qualified to do, looking at 15, 10, 5 years and present day.

I can't get a job because I haven't got the experience. I can't get the experience because I can't get a job. Catch 22.

My experience from going around recruiting college graduate engineers, and interviewing tons of people, is that most places do not want to actually mentor them and help them get their PE's. I worked with a ton of EEs once (where ton ~= 30) and half of them did not have their PE (the younger half) and they were not being mentored such that they could get it.

Re:Quite so! (1)

DrLang21 (900992) | about a year ago | (#44260411)

This is exactly what I am seeing. I worked with a senior level engineer who really needed someone to help with his work load, but he said he couldn't find anyone because he couldn't take the time to train a younger engineer. This logic will never cease to confound.

Re:Quite so! (4, Interesting)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about a year ago | (#44260409)

I had an argu^Hdiscussion with someone just yesterday (at an interview) where he tried to convince me that his company 'invests' in its employees and trains them. I almost laughed in his face. this is a bay area company and I KNOW that they, as a general trend, have stopped investing in people and now only look for exact matches. he really believed his bullshit.

I've been looking for work (taking contract jobs here and there as they are nearly the only ones you can find anymore; its 'great' to short change the employee and make him pay for national holidays and foot the bill for his own health insurance) and I have not seen a single instance where they would take you as a 'smart guy' and then give you the missing languages or frameworks that they want for the job. there just isn't the mentality for giving workers training anymore. thinking has shifted and not for the better, that's for sure!

keep repeating this, people: "race to the bottom". learn that phrase. we are living it right now even if you don't realize it or see it yourself, directly. this is our new national motto.

we are fucked. our children are in even worse state, once they graduate and try to find work. doesn't matter if you are old or young: if you are a US person with regular US bills and living expenses, you will be squeezed and forced to lower your living standard just to compete for a shit job that will be soul crushing, at best.

Re:Quite so! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44260421)

Go self-employed. Practice your skill as a hobby. When you get experience this way, write it on your resume. If you can prove your experience, they can moan about the lack of "employment" in your resume to match it all they want. Do they want your skill, or do they want your employment record?

If you're good at your newfound hobby, you may end up staying self-employed, with your own customers, no PHBs, and have a better pay as well, better benefits (since you're your own boss), better everything.

At this stage, you may get employers to snub you when you present your rate, claiming that "I can't pay you that, it's above market", tell them plain and simple: I'm not the market. If you want me, not the market, you pay what I ask for. If you want the market, go on the market.

Combining Jobs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44259909)

It could only be considered a good thing for an engineer to be flexible enough to fill multidisciplinary roles in terms of integration at a high level ...

But I may hold that opinion because I hold masters degrees in both EEE & ME, and I work in systems integration.

"Of the situation" (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44259915)

No, it sounds like that unemployed EE was complaining about a lack of demand, not a dearth of supply. In theory the two are supposed to follow each other. In practice, demand for EEs is higher than ever - just not in America.

Can't wait until Far East labour law matches Western conditions and market interventions (right down to war) don't artificially reduce the price of oil - then the real cost of buying everything from the other side of the world might come to light. Of course, the opposite will happen: the West will race to the bottom on labour conditions and freedoms.

Re:"Of the situation" (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44259957)

No, it sounds like that unemployed EE was complaining about a lack of demand, not a dearth of supply. In theory the two are supposed to follow each other. In practice, demand for EEs is higher than ever - just not in America.

What's that, electronics isn't obsolete? Are you sure?

I am an EE, but suffer from the severe handicap of being an American.

Re:"Of the situation" (1)

inasity_rules (1110095) | about a year ago | (#44260309)

The big money is often in the high current stuff... Large mining operations and the like. Electronics, not so much. Why design a controller when the off-the-shelf one just works? Someone somewhere is making lots of money designing those, but it all depends where you are, I suppose...

Re:"Of the situation" (1, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#44260033)

and market interventions (right down to war) don't artificially reduce the price of oil

How much do you really think that's going to change the price of oil? I think the last time I checked such things, even if we tossed the entire US military complex as a tax on gasoline, that would mean a few dollars per gallon tax. AGW costs in Europe are priced at a few dollars per ton of CO2 emitted (which is on the order of cents per gallon of gasoline).

Of course, the opposite will happen: the West will race to the bottom on labour conditions and freedoms.

You do realize that most attempts to preserve Western labor privilege have the unintended consequence of hastening that race to the bottom? Bottom line is that currently there's vastly more supply of labor available to the Western markets than there was decades ago - hence, the price of labor is going to decline no matter how much you complain. It's basic supply and demand.

Rather than find ways to make your country's labor more competitive (merely reducing wages is one way, but not the only way), the developed world collectively seems to be about how to restrict Western labor markets and adding even more costs to Western labor to encourage even more business flight to the developing world.

Re:"Of the situation" (4, Interesting)

SailorSpork (1080153) | about a year ago | (#44260073)

Mod parent up, there is so much truth to this. I am an EE in the US (CompE actually), but between the real-world experience and painful interviewing process, it became clear that supply outpaced demand and competition for even the least appealing EE jobs was high. And of course, over time talent supply flows to where the demand (and pay) is higher. Personally I left the field, got my MBA and joined the ranks of evil in the corporate world where there was more demand and money...

Electrical Engineer / Computer Engineer (2)

Smerta (1855348) | about a year ago | (#44259929)

Serious question, as I suspect there are quiet a few EE / CE folks here...

If your background (or degree) is in computer architecture / computer engineering, are you a "double E"?

Reason I ask: my degree is B.S.E.E., I'm an electrical engineer. In my studies, my concentration / specialization was "Computer Architecture" (one of a handful of specialties with our EE dept.) All EEs had to choose one specialization (signals & systems, power, etc.)

But at many schools, there are standalone "Computer Engineering" curriculums and even degrees. Upon discussion, I've realized they're essentially to what I did as a "double E" (including the other coursework such as circuit analysis, signals, etc.)

I guess my question is this: what do we consider to be an "electrical engineer"? (Please no snarky remarks about "what does your degree say?" or whatever - I'm working with a bunch of young engineers - mixture of EE, CE and CS, and this discussion got pretty lively within the group...) Would a "computer engineer" be an electrical engineer?

Re:Electrical Engineer / Computer Engineer (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year ago | (#44259963)

IMHO, no, you are not. You are a "Comp-E."

I don't hire "Comp-E" people for "EE" positions, and vice versa. They are completely different. It really chaps my ass because I did my Undergrad and Masters in Electromagnetism and Remote Sensing, and my degrees say "Electrical and Computer Engineering," so everyone thinks I know something about computers. Heh.

They really should maintain a firm distinction between the two, and maybe even put Computer Engineering in with Computer Science.

Re:Electrical Engineer / Computer Engineer (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44260003)

CE: Can design a 'computer' by putting chips together. (Understands how computers work, gate and flops, fpga's, and a bit about circuits. Good software skills.)

EE: Can design the chips. (More useful when signal integrity, power, thermal, RF, ESD, communications, etc. comes up. Hopefully, also has good software skills, but from this article, some don't.

Re:Electrical Engineer / Computer Engineer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44260057)

Bollocks. I have MSEE stamped on my diploma. A lot of my upper division classes revolved around CompE, but that doesn't mean I can't do analog. Maybe you are referring to EE degrees from a crap college?

Re:Electrical Engineer / Computer Engineer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44260139)

IMHO, no, you are not. You are a "Comp-E."

I don't hire "Comp-E" people for "EE" positions, and vice versa. They are completely different. It really chaps my ass because I did my Undergrad and Masters in Electromagnetism and Remote Sensing, and my degrees say "Electrical and Computer Engineering," so everyone thinks I know something about computers. Heh.

They really should maintain a firm distinction between the two, and maybe even put Computer Engineering in with Computer Science.

It depends on the school and it's one of those things that really ought to be standardized: at mine for example if you wanted to specialize in computers you didn't major in EE, you majored in Comp-E and your degree specifically said BS Computer Engineering.

Re:Electrical Engineer / Computer Engineer (1)

cide1 (126814) | about a year ago | (#44259971)

My BS is a BSCmpE, but my MS is an MSEE with specialization in Computer Engineering. I have often wondered "Am I a EE?". I don't feel like one....I write embedded software, but I participate in schematic reviews, and debug hardware problems.

Re:Electrical Engineer / Computer Engineer (3, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | about a year ago | (#44259999)

I have a BS in CompE. At my school depending on what optional courses you took you end up as the equivalent of either a EE minor and CS major or a CS minor and EE major. Since I went the first route, I've never considered myself an EE. Since my jobs, by choice, have all been in the CS realm I don't feel I have any knowledge in the EE realm anymore- I just have a deeper understanding of how hardware works and how to use it effectively than the average CS degree holder.

I actually did want to go into processor design at one point, I liked designing digital circuits. Then my senior year I found out that all those things I had been told didn't matter in digital (capacitance, inductance) actually did when you were fast enough. That was enough to convince me to write software for a career.

Re:Electrical Engineer / Computer Engineer (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44260113)

What sort of EE courses did you not take because EE was your minor instead of your major? As an EE I'm curious.

Re:Electrical Engineer / Computer Engineer (3, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | about a year ago | (#44260345)

Its been over 10 years, but it looks like the course list of requirements hasn't changed much.

I didn't take digital signal processing. I didn't take anything about power systems. I didn't take the advanced level courses of anything that had a I and a II. All of these were open to me as technical electives, but I chose not to take them.

I did take analog signal processing. I did take physics of semiconductors (how transistors work on an atomic level, it was a required course to graduate). I did take a course on fields and waves. And I took a couple of courses on digital circuit design and processor design.

From the CS course I missed the top level theory course on graphs that was required for a CS degree, but I took every other required course and more electives than most CS majors did. That was a personal choice though- I spent all of my electives in EE or CS.

Looking at the requirements for their EE minor, I took all the classes required to get one, with a few extra. Of course they didn't allow CompEs to get a CS minor or an EE minor officially. I look to be 2 classes off of what was required to get an EE major, but wouldn't have had nearly enough EE electives. And I took far more CS stuff than the EEs (EEs were only required to take the intro to CS class, CompEs were required to take data structures, an entry level discrete math class (part of a series of 3 for CS students), and an assembly course). CS majors only needed to take 2 classes on hardware- a watered down version of digital logic gates and architecture, and a watered down version of assembly (the hard version was taught by the EE department and for some reason only counted towards their requirement if they were transfers).

The big thing I didn't ever really understand in my EE coursework at the time is how to design an analog circuit to do something. That's partly my fault, partly lack of a high level follow on course, and partly my instructors fault- we never had a chance to design an analog circuit in our coursework, and they never really explained why we were doing what we did- it was just endless repetition of finding v and i at every point in a circuit using multiple methods.

Re:Electrical Engineer / Computer Engineer (3, Insightful)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44260145)

Would a "computer engineer" be an electrical engineer?

In my experience people (including me) don't distinguish between CE and EE, any more than they ever distinguished between electrical and electronic engineers. CE is a specialty in EE, but so are RF, antenna design, power systems, etc.

Re:Electrical Engineer / Computer Engineer (1)

PuckSR (1073464) | about a year ago | (#44260437)

In my experience, they do differentiate. An RF engineer might be able to figure out power systems relatively quickly. Sure, waveguide is not a cable, but their knowledge of how to calculate power just requires some quick adjustment of which formulas they are applying in which situations. Most power guys know some RF(because they have RF problems) and most RF guys know some power(they have to power their signal somehow).

A Computer Engineer(CE) typically just knows chip design or similar. How do you apply that to anything else in Electrical Engineering? They don't use circuit theory on a regular basis. They don't do much in the way of complex power calculations.

Quick example: Ask any EE to define "Vp"(Velocity of propagation) and they will will quickly respond. This typically falls across all disciplines and is important to know for a myriad of different reasons. It doesn't come up so frequently for computer engineers.

Re:Electrical Engineer / Computer Engineer (4, Interesting)

some old guy (674482) | about a year ago | (#44260229)

EE is such an incredibly broad field, you almost have to define yourself by the nature of the position you have/want.

I'm a rather old basic power guy by education, but I grew up with industrial automation and digitalization as it happened, and stay current on technology.

Thing is, I've been doing essentially the same thing for 35 years, and been classified as an Electrical Engineer, Controls Engineer, Automation Specialist, and Systems Integrator. Same work, different labels.

Don't worry about the label when what you're after is the goodies in the package.

They all end up as devs anyway it seems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44259945)

All of my friends who graduated as electrical engineers ended up doing software development anyway. So maybe people realize that the job market just can't support them if they choose to go EE.

Re:They all end up as devs anyway it seems (1)

dukeblue219 (212029) | about a year ago | (#44260131)

What part of the world? Was it more of a "EE = computer programming" degree? It just depends on the school. So many of the folks I know who graduated recently with legit EE's from good schools in the Southeastern US are working for power companies, for GE, Siemens, or some of them for the large semiconductor companies like TI/National. It was the rare exception that went into software development because that's not what we were taught as EE's. Many of them had multiple offers on the table, which leads me to believe that there is a "quality-gap" between the EE's churned out from most schools versus schools that have solid reputations and long-term co-op programs (like a Georgia Tech, for example).

Re:They all end up as devs anyway it seems (1)

inasity_rules (1110095) | about a year ago | (#44260351)

You'll often find EEs developing PLC code and control software. They tend to be better at it than any clown with a programming degree...

More proof there is a STEM shortage! (4, Interesting)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44259949)

More proof there is a STEM shortage! Uh, shortage of demand that is. Of course academia and the cheap labor lobby will spin this as a supply shortage, insist on more money and students to keep EE departments open, and even more importantly insist on more H-1B's.

I am an EE, and like every other EE I know, I advise my children to stay the hell out of engineering.

Re:More proof there is a STEM shortage! (4, Insightful)

kruach aum (1934852) | about a year ago | (#44260061)

Work prospects are equally dire in the humanities. Better advise your children to not go to college at all and become skilled craftspeople instead.

Re:More proof there is a STEM shortage! (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44260221)

I certainly wouldn't discourage that. I also think skilled trades deserve respect (one grandfather was a cabinet maker and the other a tool and die maker). I should note though that in college the humanities aren't the only alternative to engineering.

Re:More proof there is a STEM shortage! (-1, Troll)

goruka (1721094) | about a year ago | (#44260107)

The last 2 decades, China, Korea and Taiwan became electronic device manufacturing powerhouses. At first they would only manufacture devices engineered in the west, but now they are creating a huge range of devices on their own and flooding the world markets with them.

But yeah, H1Bs are at fault. I'm pretty sure that the loss of jobs in the automobile industry is also because of them.

Seriously, can we all drop the xenophobia and realize that America is losing jobs because it's becoming less competitive, and not because of a few immigrants? How difficult is it to realize that other countries now excel at what only America knew how to do right not too long ago?

Re:More proof there is a STEM shortage! (5, Interesting)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44260453)

Seriously, can we all drop the xenophobia

Seriously, can we all drop the assumption that xenophobia is why people hate the H-1B program? Can we all stop assuming that opposition to the US government's H-1B program is the same as having anything against the people who are H-1B visa holders?

I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt that it's a knee jerk assumption. In the case of serious H-1B cheerleaders it's a cheap tactic to suggest that anyone who opposes it must be a bigot. Can we also stop calling H-1B visa holders immigrants? It's a guest worker visa. The word "immigration" is used in conjunction w/ the H-1B as a propaganda tactic. "Immigration" is a word intimately intertwined with US history and mythology, so saying you oppose something that's associated (however inaccurately) with immigration is like saying you're opposed to motherhood and apple pie. Another disingenuous tactic.

I certainly didn't say it was the only reason for high unemployment, but it is something that's unnecessary, gratuitous, and completely under the control of the US government. There are limits to what we can do about foreign competition, but the H-1B program is something that's completely under the control of the US government. While we're at it, 65,000 people per year (soon to rise to 180,000) is more than a "few".

Re:More proof there is a STEM shortage! (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about a year ago | (#44260109)

I am an EE, and like every other EE I know, I advise my children to stay the hell out of engineering.

Out of curiosity, what is it that you are advising your children to get into? Automotive repair? Software non-engineering? Acting? Not trolling, genuinely curious. I wouldn't hesitate to encourage my kids to get into any aspect of engineering, but would obviously steer them toward the higher demand fields. Engineering as a whole isn't dead, is it?

Re:More proof there is a STEM shortage! (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44260261)

I'm not advising them to get into any specific field. It's more a matter of discouraging them from entering any field that's probably a dead end. Other than that I think they should make their own choice. Frankly the oldest starts HS next year, so there's still a few years to make a choice.

Re:More proof there is a STEM shortage! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44260315)

If you can do the math for EE, you can be just about anything else. Anything else being something that is an actual, not fake profession. Medicine, Law, or Accounting, for example.

Engineering is not producted by rote law unless you are doing classic Civil or Mechanical Engineering work. This work has been taken over by large firms like Stantec that are controlled by MBAs and engineers are treated as fungible assets. There are zero employment protections for EEs. The only thing saving you is that only a small portion of the population has the aptitude for the mathematics.

Engineering isn't dead yet, but it will die with the current crop of greybeards. I am not recommending my children pursue engineering as a career either. (I am a EE).

Re:More proof there is a STEM shortage! (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about a year ago | (#44260325)

physical things that can't be done remotely. could include plumber, carpenter, construction. trades-man stuff.

does not pay the same grade as software or hardware BUT work that you can GET and get paid for is worth more than the high paid job you CANNOT get.

the US is racing to the bottom and sacrificing the middle class. a higher education is almost a waste of time, now; it may be nearly impossible to find a job for 'educated people'.

thanks high tech companies and congress. you made deals to kill the middle class and its working! I hope you are proud of yourselves.

Re:More proof there is a STEM shortage! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44260495)

Plumbing, electrical work, HVAC, welding, automotive technology. Not exactly easy trades, but for quality work those jobs can't be outsourced. They may not require degrees, but they do require skilled and knowledgeable labor. Usually that means certification and/or licensing. Not to mention that if somebody needs help because they're knee-deep in shit (possibly literally), they're going to want somebody who knows what they're doing to fix their problem and will pay what is necessary to have it taken care of ASAP. (May not be competing with H1Bs either, but contractors may hire guys that barely speak English with questionable backgrounds in regards to eligibility for employment. But who to call to fix the half-assed mess those guys working on the cheap leave behind?)

People in those trades make good money, even if it's not as cozy as a typical office job.

Re:More proof there is a STEM shortage! (2)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year ago | (#44260143)

Actually, samzenpus spun it as a supply shortage, too. The headline is backward. If the number of EEs in the workforce is shrinking while unemployment in the field is 6.5% (as TFA said), it's the labor *market* (demand) that is in decline, not the labor pool (supply).

These days, most enginineering is software (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44259951)

This is not about how many engineering hours are used, just about what kind of hours are used.

You still have to have hardware to run on, but most of the features are software.

Project starts with a hardware design, testing, and getting ready for production,
    But that's only 10-20% of the engineering hours.
        The rest is software.

Re:These days, most enginineering is software (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44260095)

This is not about how many engineering hours are used, just about what kind of hours are used.

You still have to have hardware to run on, but most of the features are software.

Project starts with a hardware design, testing, and getting ready for production,

    But that's only 10-20% of the engineering hours.

        The rest is software.

Broaden your horizons. Computers and embedded processors are far from the be all and end all of EE. I'm an EE who for many years has spent about 50% of his time writing software, so I'm hardly anti-software. However, I've found many programmers are very egocentric about this. Not all EE is designing in processors to run software on!

Power systems are hot these days, after many years of being a backwater. Ever get involved in antenna design (which is more important than ever), or any kind of RF or microwave? Do you have any idea how much work goes onto designing those chips you see scattered all over the board?

Whats wrong with a 70m connection with the cosmos? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44259953)

Hey we have all been around..

Fussy Employers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44259959)

The employers are very fussy. They are really only interested in a perfect match to their needs. They don't want the cost to develop talent internally.

I think this is a systemic problem in the marketplace these days, it seems to be the case for any job (especially in IT). And of course since the _perfect_ candidate, who is also willing to work for the salary you offer, is rare - companies then start moaning about 'lack of talent' and the need to import skilled workers.

Why Wouldn't It Be? (3, Informative)

Lee Riemenschneider (2859815) | about a year ago | (#44259961)

In the '90s, EEs at the company I worked for were being "reskilled" to do software development. The positions they occupied weren't being refilled (at least, not in the USA). There has been no surge in demand and a high unemployment rate, so why would students choose to pursue it as a degree?

Re:Why Wouldn't It Be? (1)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | about a year ago | (#44259995)

Or why are universities not revalidating courses that are more software over EE.

Re:Why Wouldn't It Be? (1)

hrvatska (790627) | about a year ago | (#44260075)

Many times people don't have any idea how employable a degree is until they graduate with it. Right now you hear a lot about getting a STEM degree as being a good thing to do without any differentiation between how employable the different STEM degrees are. There are various official measurements of employment and unemployment, but they're general in nature. It would be really useful for people considering going to school for various majors if the government would collect and publish data on how people who graduated with degrees in those majors were doing 1, 5, and 10 years after graduation.

Re:Why Wouldn't It Be? (1)

AuMatar (183847) | about a year ago | (#44260117)

And it makes sense- a lot of electronics these days is plugging together parts off the shelf with well known standardized technologies. It takes a lot fewer people to do this. Compare this to the 70s, 80s, and prior where CPUs were not king and you still did a lot of proprietary design work. Heck, FPGAs alone probably knock out a big need for EE work- the software there will more or less design the hardware for you, and it needs a programmer to write the inputs not an EE (although an EE who can program would be ideal). The need for them will never be 0, but its not as useful as they were a decade or two ago.

Re:Why Wouldn't It Be? (1)

dukeblue219 (212029) | about a year ago | (#44260189)

High unemployment? What part of the country? Folks have to be willing to go where the jobs are. I moved to the DC area after grad school and don't know a single unemployed, moderately-qualified EE. Despite all the sequester madness we're still seeing older employees leave faster than we can replace them.

It's not JUST EE's. . . (2)

Salgak1 (20136) | about a year ago | (#44259975)

. . . . I'm a security geek. I see more and more gigs that want you to be a Win + Linux Admin, Cisco guru, Security Guru on several different firewalls and IDS/IPS systems, run the Helpdesk (which turns out to BE the Helpdesk), have multiple certs including PMP, and have 10+ years experience,. . . and do it all for not much over entry-level wages. . .

Re:It's not JUST EE's. . . (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44260239)

That's because as time goes on you're expected to have developer your skills, and more people have entered the field competing with you.

Frustrating this having to keep up-to-date thing, rather than just being able to rake in the cash without ever putting in any effort to develop yourself I know.

Re:It's not JUST EE's. . . (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#44260347)

I think his complaint is that to stay in the field he needs to develop his skills, but without seeing the 'rake in the cash' part - no matter how superhumanly skilled he may be, his wages won't reflect the effort put in.

combine mechanical and electrical engineer?robots? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#44259983)

say.. so they were looking for a robot designer?

just saying, combining jobs is sometimes useful. otherwise to make a pocketwatch you'll need an ee, a materials engineer, an usability engineer, an ergonomics specialist, mechanical engineer, a sw architecht, a software programmer, a database engineer(the gizmo holds some data), a mathematician....

Re:combine mechanical and electrical engineer?robo (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#44260067)

combining jobs is sometimes useful. otherwise to make a pocketwatch you'll need an ee, a materials engineer, an usability engineer, an ergonomics specialist, mechanical engineer, a sw architecht, a software programmer, a database engineer(the gizmo holds some data), a mathematician....

Well, no. To make a pocketwatch all you need to do is to copy an old pocketwatch whose design is in the public domain.

In order to make a fancy new electronic device that replaces a pocketwatch, you'll need all of those people. And rightly so.

Everyone knows the IEEE is a breakaway group (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44259987)

Full stop

Combining fields is the new trend to be cheapo! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44260039)

I can relate, now most of the companies want to hire a "DevOps" person, a hybrid Software Engineer/ Sysadmin. Ask Facebook, Google, Spotify with their stupid hiring process
All in the name of saving money! What a joke!

Combining a mechanical and electrical engineer (1)

Calms (2585373) | about a year ago | (#44260053)

While I agree it's difficult to find work after graduating at the moment, is an employer looking for a graduate with a mechatronics degree (which does cover a combination of mechanical and electrical engineering) really so bizarre?

Re:Combining a mechanical and electrical engineer (1)

Xest (935314) | about a year ago | (#44260285)

Yes I didn't really get that.

I would imagine the electromechanical engineering field has a need for electromechanical engineers no?

Sounds like the real problem is the guy applied to an electromechanical engineering role whilst only having experience as an electrical engineer.

By definition, if they want someone who can do both, they're looking for an electromechanical engineer, not simply an electrical engineer so he went for a job he's not qualified for then decided to complain about not being fit for it.

This just in... (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#44260065)

The employers are very fussy. They are really only interested in a perfect match to their needs. They don't want the cost to develop talent internally. They are even trying to combine positions to save money. I came across one employer trying to combine a mechanical and electrical engineer.

Read between the lines: "We can replace all of them with immigrants, but only if we can prove there's nobody who can fill the position. I know! Let's draft the requirements so they're impossible to fill, then hire the same person we would have anyway at half the price because we had to 'settle'. Brilliant!"

Far to intelligent (5, Funny)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | about a year ago | (#44260167)

In reality management follows this reasoning:

Management: We have more work then we can handle, training is boring so we need to hire someone who is a good match for what we need, some experience with tool chain we use.

Reality: They can't find anyone.

Management: We have far more work then we can handle, there is no room for training so we need to hire someone who is a very good match for what we need, 2 year experience with the exact tool chain we use down to version number.

Reality: They can't find anyone.

Management: We are drowning in work, we never heard of the word training, the recruitment costs are sky high so we will be offering peanuts for wages and we need someone who is an exact clone of an employee who escaped years ago.

Reality: They can't find anyone.

Management: We outsource/hire immigrants and blame the total collapse of our business on the local work ethic.

Management: We deserve a bonus!

CEO: Me too!

Board of directors: Agreed, if you agree to raise our compensation.

The H1B onslaught has won (4, Insightful)

onyxruby (118189) | about a year ago | (#44260071)

The H1B war has succeeded and much champagne will be spilled. STEM majors are giving up as the field simply isn't worth going into in this country. Meanwhile I hear that McJobs are hiring and if you work really hard for a long time you might move from 30 hours a week to 40 hours a week where you get really, really bad benefits!

I worked at a University for a few years and I saw bright US students routinely drop out of STEM and choose other fields because of outsourcing. Meanwhile the bright international students happily came over, took our STEM classes and are heading back to create the next great thing. We've engineered a future without ourselves, our founding fathers would be ashamed.

Hire a damn physicist (2)

DinZy (513280) | about a year ago | (#44260081)

"I came across one employer trying to combine a mechanical and electrical engineer" This employer is looking for an experimental physicist and does not know it.

On another note, I see the same thing in the semiconductor industry for process and integration roles. Everyone wants a perfect match, when the real perfect match is someone that can learn quickly because things are going to change a lot on as quick as a 2 year time scale. I had a recruiter call about an internal position I applied for and he was trying to ask how many years I have in some exact skill when, at the end of the day, that stat is not nearly as important as being able to learn. It makes it even more frustrating when the req is at the level of a new PhD grad and I already have 4.5 years industry experience.

Re:Hire a damn physicist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44260349)

Maybe they need someone with a professional degree.

Bad pay. (1, Interesting)

nbritton (823086) | about a year ago | (#44260085)

The pay isn't on parity with the level of schooling required, you would be better off becoming a doctor or even just a joe blow IT guy or something else. Unless you're putting all the patents in your name, It doesn't pay to be an engineer. Do it only if you enjoy it.

tinker toys (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44260087)

I loved to build when I was a kid. I loved Legos. Did you have tinkertoys? What can you say about tinker toys? Well, they're no legos.

I studied digital logic. I thought it would be neat to have an FPGA auxiliary card for my computer so I could load-up custom hardware configs for fun stuff.

I've had a few years of electrical engineering -- enough for the fun to wear off, a little. I worked at a image processing place. FPGAs can do lots of stuff... like... filters... and stuff. Whoo hoo! Filters!

too much work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44260103)

As an EE with 7 years in the work force, I have to say that I'm in way over my head on work...

Being that electrical engineering is a pretty diverse field, its hard to generalize the need (or lack thereof) for EE's in the job force. I can honestly say that my bachelors and masters degrees in EE were pretty pointless and much of what I learned was on the job or from my own endeavours. I got into embedded system design and became a jack of all trades with the ability to do full out concept to deployment builds...hardware and software... Finding a guy that can design, build, and program a microcontroller/FPGA has me turning down people for work.

I have a full time job, work for a couple professors at a very good engineering university, formed an LLC and juggle 3 separate contracting gigs, and formed a startup that just got a patent.

My suggestion to other EE's out there is don't allow yourself to be pigeon-holed into a specific task and always try to learn new things. Universities will make you specialize in something... I just took the minimum to be a part of that specialization, but took as many other classes outside this realm on stuff that interested me. Work will only care about getting a product out the door and you'll end up being the guy that designs a voltage regulator circuit over-and-over again for various projects. Branch out and try new things. If you can't do it at work, do it in any spare time you might have. Interested in FPGA's? Buy a development kit on eBay for cheap. Want to learn how to solder? Pick up a hobby project...

I feel the more diverse you become in the EE field, the hotter commodity you will become to an employer...

Computer Science Vs ECE (2)

Plainesoteric (2967879) | about a year ago | (#44260137)

I have been having a hard time deciding between these 2 disciplines lately. Being fond of math, physics and computers I'm really sure I want to do computer science with pure math but ECE seems to be tempting. Now this topic makes me believe that ECE is not really the way to go after all. So what do you guys think about the future of Computer Science (assuming I want to go to a top 10 grad school) and then move on to the job market. Is it better to double major in Cs and Pure math, applied math or physics? Does it have a better career choice?

Re:Computer Science Vs ECE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44260385)

Do EE if you can handle it. It will give you more options than a CS or Comp. E degree, and EE is very respected.

An EE will let you do hardware, controls, automation, software development, robotics, mathematics, algorithms, chip design, board level work, kernel programming, you name it.

If you are smarter than you look, you will switch to another high-value profession like medicine as fast as you can. One with employment regulation and actual professional protections.

The other options are subsets of the above.

EE productivity is very high. (2)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a year ago | (#44260173)

It is possible there are odd pockets of relatively higher unemployment among the electrical engineers in USA. But over all, engineering candidates in general and electrical engineers in USA have very good job prospects.

In the recent years the productivity of electrical engineering tools have gone up several fold due to the ubiquitous cheap multi core workstations. The companies buying ECAD tools have demanded, and got, better use of these multi-core machines from the vendors of the ECAD tools. It has become cheap enough and easy enough to do electrical engineering simulations of hundreds or even thousands of variations of a basic design to refine it. Companies like Ansys have taken serving the high performance computing market as a priority. They are dishing out products that allow a single engineering work station to launch and analyze hundreds of simulations. This high productivity coincided with global economic downturn due to the financial systemic collapse of 2008, followed by tsunami in Japan, floods in Taiwan, economic turmoil in Europe and large scale civil uprisings in the middle east. So there are more electrical engineers than jobs in some parts of the field and some parts of the country. But this situation is temporary and the electrical engineers are going to see very good pay rise and job opportunities soon.

Return is not there for effort (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44260225)

I have a BSc. EE (2000).

Since then I've worked in embedded programming, software development, hardware development, brought up bare metal hardware in linux, done custom FPGAs, worked with software defined radio, you name it. I've worked for others, I've run a company. I've done ok.

I'm a 5-digit UID member and I've read this blog long before that.

If I had to do it over again, I've had taken my Dad's advice - left the electronics to a hobby - and done medicine or another actual profession. Electrical Engineers do not have protection of law for their work and is not a "real" profession in the nature of Law or Medicine.

Even in the elite fields, salaries top out. I now work in technical business development and take home three times what I did in a technical role.

In short, if you're smart enough to be an EE, go do something else, and if you're smart about it, you can be financially independant in ~10 years and do whatever you want after.

Engineering is for suckers. the gig is up, though - people have to build things. Hopefully the salaries will rise to make it worth it again.

In the meantime.. don't let your kids grow up to be engineers. Teach them about compound interest instead.

It's not nearly that bad compared to other fields (1)

radix07 (1889888) | about a year ago | (#44260235)

Would take the comments here with a grain of salt. The sample size of unemployed to employed engineers on slashdot during the day is very high!

Re:It's not nearly that bad compared to other fiel (1)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#44260353)

There are fields with worse job prospects, yes, like much of the humanities. But the kind of person who can do well in an EE program has better alternatives these days. Hell, you have better prospects making websites in Ruby.

Whether the U.S. having a bunch of web-devs and no hard engineering talent is good long-term is another story. But today, if you want a well-paying job, pick up a web technology, not EE.

"Multi-Disciplinary" Is All In Your Head (1)

taoboy (118003) | about a year ago | (#44260297)

My training is in software, but in my recent job I have worked issues involving manufacturing processes, concrete spall, the dynamics of new grease in generator bearings, and thermal stresses on electronic components.

WRT the hobby thing, a lot of my current responsibilities involve networking, both long-haul and local, and I learned what I know wiring up my house. No courses, no certs...

It's good to learn a particular engineering discipline early on, but if you want to really show value to employers while continuing to do interesting things, my experience is that it's more about demonstrating logical, data-driven thinking than coding or soldering or somesuch...

H1Bs (3, Interesting)

sociocapitalist (2471722) | about a year ago | (#44260423)

The entire H1B program is bullshit.

There is supply in the US. Companies prefer cheap imported labor - young, family-less, unlikely to complain labor instead of more expensive domestic labor.

"In 2010, there were nearly half a million workers on H1B visas in the United States, 18 percent higher than in 2001."
http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/02/are-americans-losing-high-skilled-jobs-to-foreigners/ [go.com]

Shitcan the H1B program and not only will the engineers we already have be able to find work but we'll have more engineers in the future to fill the need that will exist.

Assuming engineering work isn't all outsourced overseas, of course.

The sky is falling! The sky is falling! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44260431)

Graduated with a engineering degree and found a job reasonably quick. 10 other people from my class that I keep up with all found jobs within a year. Some of them had to travel to find them, and that's the key.

Look, if you keep a nice resume, don't act like a freak in the interview process, and are willing to move to get a job, there is no excuse for not finding work in America. None. I'm worried about the immigration problem in the future, but it hasn't fully taken effect yet. There ARE jobs out there, you have to go find them. If you've given yourself a radius of 5 miles and can't find anything, well that's your problem then.

There's a reason - China (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44260469)

Why do you think the number in the US is going down?

All the major electronics are manufactured in China. Don't you think the expertise would also be there?

Bring it back to the US. I see so much wasted talent in the engineering realm on a daily basis.

Mechanical + Electrical (1)

PuckSR (1073464) | about a year ago | (#44260505)

This is a pretty common thing. They aren't always looking for someone who is both, but someone who understands both.
There are a lot of EEs who can't figure out how a combustion engine even functions. There are a lot of MEs who can't understand basic circuit theory.
Considering how many times we use dynamos(generators) and electric motors, a complete lack of knowledge of one field or the other is a disaster.

This wasn't an odd requirement. I know several EEs who are self-taught MEs. Typically they are greasemonkeys who like to work on cars. They do very well because of their knowledge. I would bet that the company who had the dual requirement was an Industrial of some type.

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