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'[OT] Re: [EE] Where have all the technicians (and '
2009\04\04@174530 by John Day

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face
At 01:09 AM 4/4/2009, you wrote:
>  I'm a professional electronics tech.

Just look carefully at the word professional. If you are a technician
then by definition you are not a professional.
<snipped>

  I received my
>electronics education and training through 10 years in the Navy.  I do
>not have a formal degree.  I have previously worked in jobs requiring
>a BSEE degree, but my past experience in the military has counted as
>equivalent.  In today's crappy market, I'm finding my military
>electronics training means less and less,

Yes, sadly it is true that many folks hiring now don't accept
military training as being equivalent. Maybe it once was, but no
longer is it true. General purpose electronics training is not what
the military gives you any more.

>  and companies aren't willing
>to 'take a chance', so to speak on prior job performance.  I'm also
>noticing that salary offerings are dropping SUBSTANTIALLY for
>available tech jobs.  Where I was making 45-50k prior to my
>termination, I'm now seeing listings for similar work for $12 - $15 /
>hour.  What the hell's up with that?

For advertised jobs, yes. But the real jobs are never advertised as
has been suggested in other postings.


>I'll be perfectly honest in saying that I'm very concerned about my
>future as an electronics tech.  The jobs are no longer here,
>everything is throwaway, and even board stuffing and assembly is all
>offshored, along with basic troubleshooting and repair of non-
>functioning assemblies.  I can't help but feel a bit miffed over
>postings here wanting to know a good Chinese board house.  (I can name
>a few here in Utah that are laying off people because there isn't
>enough work.  I'm sure they'd like to see a 10,000 board order.)

Sure, there are some very good reasons for it too. In my day to day
job I design products that are produced by CM's and board houses in
North America. But our manufacturing management have gone to the
trouble of putting staff in China to assess opportunities for us -
and for damned good reason.

Pricing - here we are paying $300 to $425 for a paste stencil. But we
found out the other day that one of our CM's is paying $75 each for
them in China and charging us the big price. When I get a board
assembled in China I pay typically $85 for a stencil.

Here I am asked to pay $330 for phototools on a 4 layer board and
$330 bare board test setup plus $3.00 per board testing. On the same
board the quote from China was $148 + $60 plus $0.80/board.

Capability - in China I can get 100% good tested 4 layer PCBs with
4/4/0.25 design rule for the same price as the default 8/8/0.3. In
North America I pay as much as 40% loading for that. On a batch of 4,
4 layer prototypes recently I was quoted $780US + shipping with 10
working day delivery and $550US with 8 working day delivery plus
shipping from places here. The China house that did the job charged
$330US including shipping, customs clearance charges and taxes. They
offered 10 day service, but the boards were actually on my desk in 5
business days.

Quality - others in my department had two batches of prototype boards
done by supposedly reputable North American houses over the last two
weeks. In both cases the boards had copper 'fingers' bridging between
tracks and in one case some parts of the boards were over-etched to
the point of tracks being open circuit. I sure don't see that
behaviour from the Chinese.

A few months ago I had a batch of 1100 PCB's made locally. For this
particular application we need white solder mask. It was so thin and
pale that we could easilly see the copper thorugh it, failing to meet
even the suppliers standards, but they bitched and complained
mightily when we forced them to redo the boards. The cost including
NRE etc was around $3500, the quote from one of my Chinese sources
for the same job is $820 including shipping. And the samples of white
mask they sent for us to evaluate were far better than what we
eventually got here. Guess who gets the next order?

Turnaround - I have run two jobs recently through CM's (Contract
Manufacturers) in China which are exactly the same as two jobs we run
here - same BOM, same phototools, same testing. Finished ATE tested
board (we supply the fixture, CM does programming from our data) out
of China is $194 each for a batch of 100. No special treatment asked
for so we got 100% yield shipment in about three weeks. Exactly the
same board, same BOM, everything to a North American CM with whom we
do a LOT of business, order placed the same day. Delivery of 100 with
2 rejected (despite ATE!) on day 47 at $281 each. Guess who gets the
next order?

North American PCB fabricators and assembly houses have not kept
pace. Certainly not the ones I have seen and my division is only
small, we spend about $20,000,000 a year with CM's and we use what
are supposedly the best on the continent. Choose your offshore source
carefully and you can rely on them. I should mention that not only do
we have staff of our own in China, but the Chinese companies we use
actually have staff here in North America as well. We don't have to
deal with the plants in China, we deal with English speaking Chinese
engineers in our own time zone.

NOW I AM VENTING!

And my apologies for that. But I get sick and tired of hearing the
sort of whining and bitching that I hear in North America right now,
you are not the only one, but your original post is symptomatic. The
market has decided that it doesn't want to pay the price for American
made goods. But we haven't adapted to that, we have gone on our happy
little way letting places like Wal Mart sell low quality imported
goods at low prices because we aren't prepared to pay the price for
goods that our own salaries demand. And now the crunch has hit. We
need to get used to it, we need to adapt to the fact that if we
persist with the concept of a disposable society where the profit
bottom line is God then we are going to go further into the depths
and faster than we have done so already.


JD



{Quote hidden}

>

2009\04\05@094021 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>>  I'm a professional electronics tech.

>Just look carefully at the word professional. If you are
>a technician then by definition you are not a professional.

Really ???? That is a statement I would definitely take issue with, and if
that was how a prospective employer saw me, then I would seriously consider
if I should work for them.

As Olin said in the EE thread, 'professional' means you get paid for the
job, as your normal source of income. It is also taken to mean that you care
about the result, and will perform to your utmost ability to do a good job.

Far too often 'professional' is taken to mean having a university degree.
While there are legal terms that can be used to back this up in the USA, it
is certainly not a global expectation of the term.

My first boss, who took me on as an apprentice, straight from secondary
school, took the general attitude that he would sooner employ someone with
the qualification that I gained, as an apprentice, than an engineering
graduate straight from university, because those with my qualification had
to show a specific length of time in employment at an appropriate facility
relevant to their certification. Now, I appreciate that this is specific to
the consumer goods/radio telephone industry that the company was involved in
at that time, but there are still truths in this that I see around me even
now, 40 years later.

After that job I worked at a government laboratory where I worked with a guy
who had a doctorate, and he freely admitted that he had come to appreciate
the technicians around him - because they had the practical experience that
he hadn't got through his education path.

Even now, working in another government lab, in a different country, I see
the same problem, with those with Doctorates and Masters - the people who
are often considered 'professionals' - making stupid errors or coming up
with impractical circuits, items where they should know better. The number
of times I have come across items where a technician has stepped in and
asked 'how is this going to be assembled' and has then pointed out how the
design as laid out is impossible to assemble physically, has amazed me.

Do you really feel that the people you have doing your PCB layouts are not
doing a professional job ??? Do you really have people with University
Degrees doing this, as that is what your comment that I quoted at the top
seems to imply. Maybe the work you are doing is specialist enough that this
is needed, but the other comments in your mail don't seem to say this is the
case.

2009\04\05@101048 by Rikard Bosnjakovic

picon face
On Sat, Apr 4, 2009 at 23:45, John Day <spam_OUTjohn.dayTakeThisOuTspamsiliconrailway.com> wrote:
> At 01:09 AM 4/4/2009, you wrote:

> Just look carefully at the word professional. If you are a technician
> then by definition you are not a professional.

Your definition of definition is by definition not definite.

First hit on dictionary.com for "professional":

–adjective
1.        following an occupation as a means of livelihood or for gain: a
professional builder.


--
- Rikard - http://bos.hack.org/cv/

2009\04\05@103823 by John Day

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face
At 09:39 AM 4/5/2009, you wrote:
> >>  I'm a professional electronics tech.
>
> >Just look carefully at the word professional. If you are
> >a technician then by definition you are not a professional.
>
>Really ???? That is a statement I would definitely take issue with, and if
>that was how a prospective employer saw me, then I would seriously consider
>if I should work for them.

My apologies if I offended, such was not my intention. Although a
technician may act in a professional manner and may be considered
professional, he is legally not usually a professional.

In most countries there is a precise legal definition of what or who
is or is not a professional. In many  places an engineer is a
professional, he has a minimum 4 year degree, has submitted to the
entrance qualifications of a professional society, has obtained a
licence and is bound by ethical standards and regulations. As a
professional he is free to carry on his profession without
supervision within the field for which he is qualified and licensed.

In many places a technician is required to have formal training, to
qualify for admission to a certification body and to hold an
appropriate certification. It is generally accepted that while he may
work unsupervised that a professional is ultimately legally
responsible for the work he does.

In other cases, such as gas-fitters, plumbers and electricians, they
are constrained by a code as to exactly what they may do and how they
will do it. To operate outside of that code they may need an
engineers certificate relating to the acceptability of the work or
they will need additional permission from a governing body or authority.


>As Olin said in the EE thread, 'professional' means you get paid for the
>job, as your normal source of income. It is also taken to mean that you care
>about the result, and will perform to your utmost ability to do a good job.
>
>Far too often 'professional' is taken to mean having a university degree.
>While there are legal terms that can be used to back this up in the USA, it
>is certainly not a global expectation of the term.

Yes, true. In many places far more than a University Degree is
required, e.g. Professional Engineers in Canada, the UK, Europe.


>My first boss, who took me on as an apprentice, straight from secondary
>school, took the general attitude that he would sooner employ someone with
>the qualification that I gained, as an apprentice, than an engineering
>graduate straight from university, because those with my qualification had
>to show a specific length of time in employment at an appropriate facility
>relevant to their certification. Now, I appreciate that this is specific to
>the consumer goods/radio telephone industry that the company was involved in
>at that time, but there are still truths in this that I see around me even
>now, 40 years later.

I wholeheartedly agree with your employer! I have often said that the
best favour we can do for a rookie university graduate engineer is to
employ him as a technician with an experienced supervisor.


><snipped>
>
>Do you really feel that the people you have doing your PCB layouts are not
>doing a professional job ???

They are expected to behave professionally, yes. But generally they
are working under the supervision and direction of a design engineer.
But of course the engineer can often be assisted by the PCB designer
if he doesn't have the appropriate experience.

>  Do you really have people with University
>Degrees doing this, as that is what your comment that I quoted at the top
>seems to imply. Maybe the work you are doing is specialist enough that this
>is needed, but the other comments in your mail don't seem to say this is the
>case.

No, I don't insist on a degree. What we do want to see is a proven
ability to understand the basics of the circuit they are working on,
to be able to read the appropriate standards, understand them and
implement them. But ultimately, as the design engineer or design
authority, I have responsibility for the work he does, I have to sign
regulatory application paperwork, deal with the authorities and deal
with the backlash if something goes wrong. Hence why I want to see
examples of work an applicant has done. It doesn't need to be a
masterpiece, but it does need to be a workman like example which can
be explained to me in detail.

Just having the degree means nothing. But these days the HR people
have no knowledge of what your job is, so THEY want the piece of
paper. By the time you get to see me, I don't care about the piece of
paper, you need to prove that you know your stuff. And, wether or not
you have professional status, you had best demonstrate a professional attitude!

John

2009\04\05@105037 by John Day

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face
At 10:10 AM 4/5/2009, you wrote:
>On Sat, Apr 4, 2009 at 23:45, John Day <.....john.dayKILLspamspam@spam@siliconrailway.com> wrote:
> > At 01:09 AM 4/4/2009, you wrote:
>
> > Just look carefully at the word professional. If you are a technician
> > then by definition you are not a professional.
>
>Your definition of definition is by definition not definite.
>
>First hit on dictionary.com for "professional":
>
>­adjective
>1.      following an occupation as a means of livelihood or for gain: a
>professional builder.

Touche!

Yes, the dictionary definition of professional is
rather indefinite isn't it. But that definition
is so ill defined that it means that anybody
working for gain is a professional, doesn't it?

The builder is constrained by codes, and in many
instances by the need to get engineering
computations for things which are not directly
covered by those codes. He works under the
ultimate supervision of a building inspector or
some similar official, he cannot say "your house
is ready for you" until the inspecting authority
has inspected his work, deemed it compliant and
if necessary had any deficiencies corrected.

However, my definition of a professional is
perhaps way too narrow, particularly in the
social context we seem to be dealing with.

John

2009\04\05@112009 by olin piclist

face picon face
John Day wrote:
> In most countries there is a precise legal definition of what or who
> is or is not a professional. In many  places an engineer is a
> professional, he has a minimum 4 year degree, has submitted to the
> entrance qualifications of a professional society, has obtained a
> licence and is bound by ethical standards and regulations. As a
> professional he is free to carry on his profession without
> supervision within the field for which he is qualified and licensed.

This is different from general "professional", which it sounded like you
were using.  Here in the US there is something known as a Professional
Engineering license, more commonly know as a PE license.  A person who has
one is sometimes referred to as a PE.  You have to pass a test to get a PE
license, and it legally required for some types of work.  This is usually
the case for structural engineers that design bridges and other public
structures.  There is such a thing for EEs, but is rarely needed.  I don't
have a PE license, for example, and it hasn't come up yet as a issue.  If it
did, I'd go take the test but so far haven't had a need to do so.

This means "professional" has different meaning in different contexts.  I am
a professional electrical engineer with nearly 30 years experience, but I am
not a Professional Engineer in the strict legal sense that allows me to sign
off on the design of certain public projects.


********************************************************************
Embed Inc, Littleton Massachusetts, http://www.embedinc.com/products
(978) 742-9014.  Gold level PIC consultants since 2000.

2009\04\05@114332 by Wouter van Ooijen

face picon face
> In most countries there is a precise legal definition of what or who
> is or is not a professional.

I don't think so, because most countries do no use English as their
official language, so the word 'professional' is not likely to have a
legal status in the majority of countries.

In my country (Netherlands) 'ingenieur' (sounds like engineer, but is
definitely not the same) has a legal status, 'professional' certainly
does not.

--

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu

2009\04\05@120610 by Bob Blick

face
flavicon
face
John Day wrote:

> However, my definition of a professional is
> perhaps way too narrow, particularly in the
> social context we seem to be dealing with.

There is a TV ad for insurance, it suggests I go to one of their offices
and see a "risk engineer" :)

Cheerful regards,

Bob

2009\04\05@122259 by Funny NYPD

picon face
Own a college degree, doesn't necessary mean you are professional or anything close, you got to pass all the exam/test required by each state in USA or Province (Canada).

Some of the PE can be transferred between states, but not all of them.

However, most of the time, company doesn't put a PE license as a must for most jobs when recruiting.

Funny N.
Au Group Electronics, http://www.AuElectronics.com




________________________________
From: Wouter van Ooijen <wouterspamKILLspamvoti.nl>
To: Microcontroller discussion list - Public. <.....piclistKILLspamspam.....mit.edu>
Sent: Sunday, April 5, 2009 11:43:00 AM
Subject: Re: [OT] Re: [EE] Where have all the technicians (and jobs)  gone?

> In most countries there is a precise legal definition of what or who
> is or is not a professional.

I don't think so, because most countries do no use English as their
official language, so the word 'professional' is not likely to have a
legal status in the majority of countries.

In my country (Netherlands) 'ingenieur' (sounds like engineer, but is
definitely not the same) has a legal status, 'professional' certainly
does not.

--

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu

2009\04\05@124049 by Carl Denk

flavicon
face
Should have included in previous:
Ohio PE requires:
4 year technical college degree
8 hour fundamentals exam.
4 years practical experience
8 hour final exam, which includes an oral exam.
All this pretty much follows other states, and most states will accept
and grant a license on application. My fundamentals exam was in
Michigan, and final exam in Ohio.

Funny NYPD wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2009\04\05@142210 by Sean Breheny

face picon face
I was under the impression that, originally, "professional" meant
someone who practiced an art for the good of others, and who may or
may not have made money from it, but that such was not the focus or
main purpose for pursuing the profession.

It looks (from a quick internet search) that this meaning has been
relegated to definition number 5 or later in most lists, but I think
it fits in well with the origin of the word (it comes from the idea of
professing religious vows when joining a religious order - in the
broader sense, meaning "to devote one's self to a particular way of
life by which one can help others through his skills".)

So, for example, doctors, lawyers, teachers, clergy, artists, and
engineers would all have been examples of people who help others using
special skills. It would originally have been considered un-ethical
for such professionals to do anything which was aimed solely at making
additional money (i.e., advertise, accept more patients/clients than
one can responsibly handle, "sell" their services rather than
discussing the pros/cons honestly with the client, charging excessive
fees). In fact, it was originally expected that such people would be
willing to do the necessary work at their own cost or as close to it
as possible if the client needed it badly and could not pay normal
rates.

In contrast, a tradesman (plumber, technician, electrician, machine
operator, carpenter, etc.) has a skill which he sells at the going
commodity rate. He works in order to support himself and his family.
This was considered honorable, too, but slightly less so than a truly
ethical professional who is able to work at the service of others
without a strict requirement of being paid X money per hour.

This is how "professional" became associated with "wealthy/educated" -
not only was a high level of education needed to be proficient in
professional work, but typically, only the wealthy could afford to do
such work ethically (i.e., charge rather low fees, not "sell"
themselves, etc.)

Again, I realize that some of these concepts are (for better or worse)
antiquated but I think it gives an interesting perspective on modern
life.

Sean


On Sun, Apr 5, 2009 at 10:50 AM, John Day <@spam@john.dayKILLspamspamsiliconrailway.com> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

>

2009\04\05@145118 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>Here in the US there is something known as a Professional
>Engineering license, more commonly know as a PE license.

In New Zealand this used to be called a Registered Engineer, with the
registration being equivalent to chartered status with the IEEE, or similar
body. I am not sure if they still use that term in NZ, or it may have
migrated to Chartered Engineer.

>There is such a thing for EEs, but is rarely needed.  I don't
>have a PE license, for example, and it hasn't come up yet as a
>issue.  If it did, I'd go take the test but so far haven't had
>a need to do so.

I would guess one would need this to make medical devices, or sign off on
spacecraft for human transportation ...

2009\04\05@153223 by Sean Breheny

face picon face
I don't know about medical devices or spacecraft, but the most common
area where EE's need PE certification is in public utilities (electric
companies) and design for construction (major electrical layouts for
industrial buildings).

Sean


On Sun, Apr 5, 2009 at 2:50 PM, Alan B. Pearce <RemoveMEAlan.B.PearceTakeThisOuTspamstfc.ac.uk> wrote:
>>There is such a thing for EEs, but is rarely needed.  I don't
>>have a PE license, for example, and it hasn't come up yet as a
>>issue.  If it did, I'd go take the test but so far haven't had
>>a need to do so.
>
> I would guess one would need this to make medical devices, or sign off on
> spacecraft for human transportation ...
>
>

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