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58 The PCB Design Magazine • August 2015 by Tom O'Connor DFR soluTions American engineering companies are seeing a severe shortage of the homegrown engineers required to compete globally. Just go into any company today and you'll notice that increas- ingly, the engineers are foreign-born. Our local universities are seeing fewer and fewer Ameri- can engineering students each year. Universi- ties are also seeing a growth in female students. Over 50% of college student are now female, and women traditionally are not attracted to science and engineering majors. What is causing this imbalance? Why is the U.S. unable to train as many engineers as it needs? How is the U.S. going to fill its engineer- ing requirements? Today, the answer is import- ing engineers who have an education and an H-1B visa. But is this a long-term answer? Prob- ably not. As foreign countries catch up with the U.S. in technical capability and manufacturing abilities, these engineers will want to stay home as the pay in their home countries increases. Any of those who did come here to work will be able to bring their experiences home to help speed this transformation. Another way companies avoided filling their engineering need was by offshoring, first with the manufacturing and then the engineer- ing functions. This created hollow companies that are devoid of manufacturing and engineer- ing. These companies are controlled by market- ing and accounting staff, with just a few manu- facturing engineers whose only function is to interface with the offshore contractors. This model works very well for high-volume, low- risk consumer product companies, whose goal is to make the products as cheaply as possible with just the right amount of functionality. The communications between OEM and contrac- tor is not the critical item in these cases; cost is the critical factor. More and more companies are finding that all products do not meet this definition and foreign, low-cost suppliers are not always the right answer to their design and manufacturing needs. Today, we are reading more and more about onshoring products. Companies may not be starting their own manufacturing facilities, but Training the Next-Generation Engineer: When Does it Begin and End? article

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