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EDA Engineers Make Double Salary From IT Engineers!
 
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EDA Engineers Make Double Salary From IT Engineers!  
 
An initial package of Rs 6-9 lakh! Exactly that's what you get if you make career in designing of EDA tools.    
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Friday, July 13, 2012 The industry is niche and the money is good. But, not many can make it to a job in EDA. If you are a master in digital concepts and semiconductor concepts, this is the industry for you. EFYTimes.com spoke to Raghu Panicker, sales director- India, Mentor Graphics about the prospects in EDA industry and how can one make a career in this domain. Excerpts:

What does a career in EDA mean?

Career in EDA can be broadly segmented into two-three segments. When you talk of EDA, it is very closely connected with semiconductor and VLSI design. In a VLSI design process, there are terminologies called front-end and back-end. So broadly the design and development careers can be classified into front-end domain and back-end domain. Somebody who wants to take a front-end career should explore a little bit on the architectural stand point if he/she wants to design a micro-processor. Going forward it would be necessary to scale up your technical skills/knowledge to understand the architecture better. For a career in back-end, the focus is not so much on architecture.

Cadence Design Systems, JObs in Cadence, Jobs in Cadence Design systems, EDA jobs in India, Electronics Design Automation, EDA industry in India, Scope for EDA engineers in India, Mentor Graphics, Raghu Panicker




What are the opportunities for an engineer to make career in designing of EDA tools?

The opportunities are huge and immense for Electronics and Computer science Engineers in India. Usually the careers categories that an aspirant can look for are : Design & Development, Application Engineering, Customer Support, Product Management and Sales. The jobs are with EDA tool vendors like Mentor Graphics, Cadence Design Systems and Synopsys, semiconductor companies, which are the users of these CAD/CAM tools to design their products like Infineon, STMicroelectronics. In the last couple of years, we have larger interest by engineering institutes to teach subjects like VLSI & semiconductors. Though they already exist, but they have gone into the domain of digital electronics and microprocessors. There are VLSI labs or the CAD/CAM labs in the premier IITs, NITs and a few Tier I and Tier II engineering colleges. EDA vendors like Mentor Graphics have donated the tools, test cases and building blocks which will help an engineer to do hands-on project, which have encouraged the students to choose this domain. It helps them to go through the entire process of design flow and come out with a project which will enable them to get into the companies.

What are the necessary attributes for anyone to make a career in EDA?

Primarily, a candidate should be an electronics engineer or a computer engineer. EDA professionals are supposed to develop software tools, so engineers from the computer science background also find applicability in this career. Then, there are specific guys that we look for from the electrical domain as well. Larger portion of electronics and computer science and a portion of electrical guys come in this domain. Secondly, the students should have done minimum one front end project or a FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) project in their engineering colleges. This will make them understand the VLSI flow.

One needs to master the digital concepts and the semiconductor concepts while in college. We have seen that there is dearth of good teachers in this space. The reason is that everyone who comes in the industry wants to go and work in a multinational and nobody wants to teach. Then, there is also dearth of good VLSI labs which seems to be improving with time. Another major issue is that students don't want to study subjects like analogue design, digital design, micro-processors, etc. But these are the subjects that they should be thorough in before they take projects in the area of EDA or VLSI and get hired by the companies.

So where does one start from?

People willing to make career in EDA should get into an engineering college where they should try and focus on subjects like digital electronics, analog devices and micro-processors. Candidates should master these subjects while they are in college and also work on projects based on electronics. It could be an FPGA project, a front-end project or a backend project. This makes them understand the process thoroughly.

Are Indian colleges offering the right kind of education that make the candidates industry-ready?

Not really. That is why the industry is coming forward to provide students the right kind of tools and setting up labs so that they can have a hands-on experience of the EDA tools. For example: ST Microelectronics came up with idea to improve the situation in the engineering colleges that we hire from. We jointly approached IIT Delhi and told them that we want to run certain programs for the seventh semester and eighth semester students. We started running programs and courses for these students, which enabled students to do projects. At this stage in the engineering courses, students are expected to do projects which should be industry-worthy. This makes the students ready with minimum requirement of understanding the processes required to make them employable in companies like ours.

So does that mean students need additional training to make a career in EDA apart from what they are taught during their engineering?

Yes. Many of the EDA vendors like Mentor Graphics have also partnered with certain finishing schools like RV VLSI training institute, Sandeepani, Veda IIT. There are partnerships by the EDA vendors where we have donated tools to these training institutes. Students after finishing their courses go to these training institutes and learn the semiconductor processes. These are the likes of NIIT and Aptech that are teaching the software part of it. So even though the engineers learn computer engineering in the engineering colleges, they still come out and do some training from these institutions. Similarly in our space, there are companies like RV VLSI and Sandeepani. Most of the engineers undergo a diploma program of 3-4 months after their degree and then get equipped in the VLSI and semiconductor flow. Then they are ready to be acquired by or hired by VLSI companies like Wipro, HCL, Qualcomm, etc.

These are industry initiatives. Does that mean that colleges of the likes of IIT Delhi are not able to provide the right kind of course to make the students industry ready?

The courses are available in these institutes like in electrical stream, electronics stream or computer science stream. But the problem is the dearth of good teachers. We need teachers who can teach newer concepts in the area of digital electronics and analogue devices. There should also be adequate amount of projects so that students can get hands-on training on the job. But the combination of good teachers and projects doesn't come up so easily. Hence an industry participation is required. It is a mutual win-win kind of a situation. Our association with ST Microelectronics is just a tip of the ice berg. I am sure there are other initiatives as well. India has hundreds of engineering colleges and we have to replicate this model in other colleges too so that students get interested. The scale of job opportunities is very small for EDA engineers as compared to an normal information technology domain. We cannot hire in such big numbers. So what happens is, from the campus' standpoint, it is IT companies like Wipro and Infosys are more important as they go for bulk hiring. So the students get lured to doing what is required to get a job. What we have to do is to educate the students about VLSI and semiconductor reaching out to them in their campuses and tell them about technology that is happening. So, these initiatives are important for hiring the right kind of talent. Things have started picking up for the electronics industry as because of these initiatives.

What kind of packages are offered to EDA engineers?

An initial package offered to an EDA engineer is pretty good as compared to a normal IT company. Its almost double. It is around Rs 6-9 per annum. This industry offers immense growth as well. Average growth in their annual CTC is much higher than other related ecosystem. The only issue is the scalability in the number of jobs compared to the other IT jobs. That is why lesser number of students get attracted. If you talk about a Tier I engineering college, it has about 50 students averagely in electrical, electronics and IT streams, which means 150 students passing out each year. Not all of them can be consumed by EDA, VLSI or semiconductor companies. The rest would go to IT companies. So its actually the question of scalability as far as this industry is concerned. But recently a shift has been seen where people are aspiring for jobs in the EDA domain.

What is the growth prospect for a candidate who joins this career option?

Multiple! Somebody who comes as an applications engineer, goes through the learning process for a year. Post this process, the candidates can branch out. They can either be in front end domain and back end domain. They can continue to work in that domain and get growth within the company itself. From an engineer they can become a senior engineer, technical lead, manager and so on. Then there are opportunities for them to get into embedded space, or work as a design engineer. An Applications Engineer has a distinct advantage than a design engineer because he has to address the problems of design engineers. So the opportunities are immense at this point in time after going through one year of training programme.

What are the kind of increments one can expect in this industry?

It's better than many other industries. On an average, an yearly salary hike of 10-12 per cent is offered to EDA engineers. It's because these engineers primarily deal with high-end technology job. So to retain them is a challenge for the companies. Engineers who are doing high-end jobs are obviously technically very competent and on the same lines of their counterparts working in Europe and US, they need to be compensated equally if not more. It is all about capabilities in this industry. Someone involved in high-end technical job would get a better increment than who does a technically soft job. Someone who is doing back-end, which is much more technical in nature, is likely to get even higher percentage of increment because there is dearth of people who do good backend job.

What are the kind of industries where an EDA engineer can venture into?

EDA companies - Mentor Graphics, Synopsys, Cadence
Semiconductor companies – STMicroelectronics, Infineon, NXP, Qualcomm, etc
Electronics System companies (which do system design, PCB design) : Freescale, STMicro, NXP
Automotive companies: Samsung, LG, Hyundai
Telecom companies: Huawei, ZTE, Samsung, LG
Consumer electronics companies: Samsung, LG, Whirpool, Voltas, Godrej

There is also space for mechanical engineers in designing of EDA tools. Mentor has tools in the automotive space where we need mechanical engineers to work with us. In system design, there is an Electronic CAD/CAM vs Mechanical CAD/CAM. So a lot of interaction happens between the two. There is a lot of Mechanical CAD being used in an automobile company. So a mechanical CAD solution and an electronic CAD solution should talk to each other. So we require a lot of mechanical engineers.

Can we say that the demand for EDA engineers in India is increasing?

Yes, clearly. We are seeing a larger number of students who are interested in EDA. One major reason for it is that now-a-days there are facilities available for the students to have a hands-on experience, there are Industry and university partnerships happening, faculties include people from the industry, projects are available and then there are programs like Mentor Graphics donates tools and companies run design contests. Mentor conducts a nationwide design contest to excite the students to use EDA tools and come out with designs. Yearly, we get around 200 participants. This is done to motivate the engineers come in this domain.

Is there any aspect where EDA engineers in India lack behind?

I don't say it's lacking behind kind of a scenario but I think there has to be focus of getting into electronics. There is a bit of laziness crept in because of IT companies coming in big numbers and taking students. So we would want that some of these who really have a passion to work in electronics should focus on certain subjects that I spoke of, should master them because if we look at the students who have really gone deep, we appreciate those students. What we see students doing these days is once they secure a job in an IT company, they try to look for electronics which doesn't work very well. One has to have a basic understanding of core electronics. If they have a job in hand, they tend to lose the thrill about an electronics job.

Diksha  P Gupta, EFYTIMES News Network


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