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50 B embedded devices, the next industrial revolution, no pressure

March 12, 2015

Stephen.Evanczuk-March 12, 2015

This is a great time to be an embedded systems engineer - particularly if you're blessed with nerves of steel and the ability to get by on little sleep. The IoT bandwagon is fully loaded and market analysts and economists who normally think of a trend as something that happens over decades-long timeframes are growing absolutely wild-eyed in their predictions of its transformative effects. And as an embedded engineer, the bulk of those expectations fall on your shoulders. No pressure.

So it's a great time to be at Embedded.com as well. I'm the new guy on the block here and will be working to keep you updated on development trends and techniques, working with the team to give you the best possible source for embedded development. It's a great time to be in embedded, but at the same time, I understand what you're up against. My own background in embedded work is in real-time distributed data-acquisition systems - private mini-IoTs, I guess you'd call it - building data-acquisition hardware and writing real-time distributed, fault-tolerant RTOSs, data management, control, and all that good stuff. I've also worked in secure distributed systems in the aerospace industry and that left me with a good appreciation for its need - and fear for its vulnerabilities. The IoT presents the veritable perfect storm of opportunity for bad actors, but that's only one topic out of many that you need these days to be as effective as possible. 

I'm constantly on the lookout for good development feature articles and blog posts that help you keep your own personal skill set current - and offer grist for the development mill and food for thought. Have a great new development approach or unique twist on an old one? Drop me or Max a line and let us know what you have in mind!

There's certainly much to discuss and both the pressures and opportunities as an embedded engineer keep growing. Regardless of where you stand on the number of embedded devices or economic impact associated with "the IoT," there's no question the demand for knowledgeable developers keeps growing. Of course, that doesn't relieve the challenge of dealing with an economy with trends that run counter to theory and about which economists continue to argue whether the paradox of large layoffs during apparent economic growth is a trend, a bubble, or something else entirely.

What it does mean is that embedded engineers cannot rest on their experience, because the simple fact is, experience is only useful if it matches up to need, and the needs of this industry are in flux.

Karen Field reported on this trend in EE Times, and I've pulled some pieces from it here:

“I don’t think that the layoffs are targeting engineers specifically, although certainly it has affected them,” said John A. Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Christmas & Gray. “By definition tech is an industry that requires agility and nimbleness--its speed of change is so much faster than in other industries.

As the economy stabilizes, companies are feeling an urgency to hire engineers to jump-start projects that were previously postponed,” said Henry Wintz, Solutions Manager for the Embedded Industry Practice at Randstad Technologies, an engineering and employment hiring services firm.

Wintz said that the engineers who will have the biggest challenge finding work are those who haven’t done anything to change their skill set in the last 10 or 15 years. “Engineers in particular need to stay up-to-date on the latest technologies," he stressed.

He continues: “Good engineers have to be flexible and nimble while all the time watching the job market and honing their skills to mirror the demand. If they see a new processor come out, for example, they should start playing around with it. I’ve seen engineers easily roll over skills they acquired by tinkering around in their basement into a new position.”

Check out the EE Times article for more.

Our goal at Embedded is to help you keep your own skill set sharp and help you stay up-to-date.

And speaking of dates: This Saturday (3/14/15) is a special one - a once-in-a-century* event. On Saturday, our calendar and clocks for an instant will equal the value of π. Of course, we know when that instant will occur only to within about 1013 decimal places. So go ahead and run counter to your engineering predilection for precision for once* this century and just set your alarms to 3/14/15 9:26:53.589793238462643.... In fact, before you settle into your pi(e)-eating celebrations, give yourself a few milliseconds slack and just make it: 3/14/15 9:26:53.58.

* Well, once in each time zone and if you use a 12-hour clock, you arguably get another shot in the evening.


Join over 2,000 technical professionals and embedded systems hardware, software, and firmware developers at ESC Boston May 6-7, 2015, and learn about the latest techniques and tips for reducing time, cost, and complexity in the development process.

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