“Where have all the designers gone, long time passing?”
With apologies to Peter, Paul & Mary, the answer is that a lot of us are still here. Yes, many designers have retired, and sadly, we’ve seen some pass away, but there are still many seasoned professional PCB layout designers hidden in plain sight and working away.
Questions like this are often grouped together with questions about what has happened to our industry. All together, they are usually part of a larger discussion about “the good ol’ days,” and people lamenting how things just aren’t the way they used to be. But we have to ask ourselves, “Do we really want things to be the way that they used to be? Do we really want to lay out high-density routing using tape and dollies on a light table?” I certainly don’t. So I would suggest that the changes we are seeing in our industry today are a good thing.
Everything in life goes through changes. If it’s living, it’s growing, and if it’s growing, it’s changing. We should all be more worried about time when there aren’t any changes in our lives, or our careers, for that matter.
Have you ever worked for a company where everything was the “same old same old,” and nothing ever changed? I’ve been there, as I’m sure many of you have too. That gradual descent from a growing company to a stagnant one can easily turn into a death spiral as an organization slowly withers and dies, ultimately leaving you looking for work elsewhere (and forcing youself into change).
One of those changes will be growing older in our careers, which brings us back to our starting point. Where have all the designers gone? As time moves on, we will hand the reins over to the next generation of PCB designers. Fortunately, this next generation won’t be going at it alone. They can build their own career paths on a strong foundation of PCB design techniques and methodologies that have been laid down by all the designers preceding them.
I am proud of the integrity and work ethic that PCB designers have become known for. PCB designers are the type who will keep working at a task because it isn’t the way that they want it, or there’s a deadline to hit. I’ve known designers who have spent the night working out a problem in their layout because the job had to be done by morning. I’ve also known designers who have refused to sign off on a job to meet a schedule because they knew that something wasn’t quite right. It’s traits like these that have helped designers to earn their highly regarded reputations of quality, and that is just one of the great things that we will be able to pass on to the next generation of PCB designers.
To read this entire column, which appeared in the July 2018 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.