The engineer’s dilemma

I think as an engineer, within two years, I will not have any competitive advantage against new kids coming out of school. This is scary. The Technology is changing all the time. The new comers are better positioned at getting engineering jobs for two reasons:
1- They are more familiar with the new tech
2- They are cheaper.

What’s even worse is that we are no longer just competing with people from the same school or area. We are competing with everyone out there. Be it India, China, Egypt, even Armenia. My startup has an office of 10 people in Armenia. They are all PhDs and they are freaking sharp. I don’t know how much they are making over there but definitely orders of magnitude less than what we make here.

The million dollar question is what can we do? Engineering Design in my opinion is the solution. That’s off course if you want to stay in engineering.

In traditional hardware products, the engineering process starts with architecture and design and it ends with implementation. The Architect designs the system and breaks it down to smaller components with specialized tasks. The architect worries about performance, size, area, modularization, simplicity of the system, ease of use, and many other high level challenges. Implementers take care of the low level details; they get feedback from the architects on whether their implementation matches the architectural spec.

In small projects, the architect and the implementer are the same person. In many web projects, this is the case as well. However, when websites became more complicated, we started noticing non-technical product managers assuming the architectural role of a website and the engineer continued taking care of implementation.

In hardware projects, we still need architects who have very strong and deep understanding of the technology and the system. Most Architects are PhD level people who are articulate and have incredible writing and organizational skills.

So what’s the point of all this? If you want to stay in engineering, move to the architecture side of things and you just might be employed 5-10 years from now. Implementation is always needed and you need to know how to do it, but do not count on it keeping you in that job.

Otherwise, if you do not want to stay in the engineering side, go start your own business, or acquire the necessary skills to switch to marketing, sales, management,


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