When was the last time you met a young PCB designer? I’ll wait.
I meet two or three young designers each year, but then again, I’m actively looking for them, like Sherlock Holmes on the trail of an elusive suspect. And young designers are hot property. Find a young designer at a trade show or conference today and you’ll usually find a crowd of designers peppering him (or her, in one recent case) with questions.
“Where do you work? What tools do you use? What courses are you taking here? Take this SI class. Introduce yourself to each speaker after class. Is there a Designers Council where you live?”
When young PCB designers at an industry trade show get celebrity treatment, that’s a worrying sign. But we’ve been watching these signs for years as our friends and colleagues “graybeard” out of the industry.
When I started covering this industry in the ‘90s, I was 36, a little younger than the average designer. Now I’m getting AARP mail, and I’m still younger than most designers, because the retirees are not being replaced at anything near a 1:1 rate.
Hundreds of smart young people discovered the PCB design career in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, at a time when there was no Internet, and very few conferences and trade shows. Now we have dozens of ways to spread the word about PCB design—an interesting, critical, good-paying job—and all we see is a trickle of young designers coming into the field. And most of the young designers I’ve met recently are engineers, electrical or otherwise. Is there a future for the “pureplay” non-degreed PCB designer?
As our featured contributors explain in the July issue of Design007 Magazine, you have to go directly to the young people, because they’re not going to find us. Some companies have set up programs with nearby universities, and others visit high schools or get involved with Maker Faire events, or sponsor a team of students for a robot competition. We all need to be missionaries, doing whatever we can do to spread the gospel of PCB design to the unconverted.
To continue reading this column, which appeared in the July 2018 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.