American EE students need exposure to new technologies and design techniques that did not exist 10 to 15 years ago, but are also under fire for not having a solid grasp of basic science and math skills.
How do you feel the issue can be addressed to create engineers able to deal with competition
and design pressures in the new disruptive engineering environment?

Ramon M. Cerda, Crystek CorporationBrainstorm_Cerda
An engineer with a specific design skill set may not find a job in his or hers expertise. In my case, I graduated with a BSEE in computer engineering from Polytechnic University of New York but found myself asked to design RF products. It was then my solid understanding of math and science which made it possible to learn and understand RF circuit design using the latest simulation tools at the time. My employer also sent me to take RF circuit design classes. In addition, I spent countless hours learning on my own what I was asked to design. In doing this, I was able to separate myself from the others; and the career advances came accordingly.

Michael Batchelder, Co-director of CAMP
Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Brainstorm_BatchelderAs part of the educational experience, the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology offers students a unique opportunity to participate in a student-centered, hands-on, engineering program called CAMP, the Center of Excellence for Advanced Manufacturing and Production (  A key part of this experience involves designing, building, testing, and competing in a variety of intercollegiate engineering challenges.  Approximately 200 engineering students are actively involved in the voluntary co-curricular program giving them the opportunity to apply classroom theory with real, significant engineering projects.  The projects are multidisciplinary with electrical and computer engineering students primarily joining the Robotics team, the Formula SAE team, the International Aerial Robotics UAV team, and the SAE Zero Emissions Snowmobile (electric snowmobile) team.  Engineering faculty members set policy and act as consultants but students manage the program, the teams, and the projects.  Benefits to the student include improved teaming skills; improved communication skills; increased confidence; better understanding of business, fund raising, budgeting, and managing; clearer understanding of engineering fundamentals; and experience with designing in a time and resource constrained competitive environment.

Jim Toth, Director of Innovation Projects, Tyco Electronics
Brainstorm_TothWe look for engineers that have a solid background in the engineering basics and have a combination of excellent problem-solving and communications skills. In the new “flat” world in which we operate, communications skills are especially important.

We find that students who have had significant intern or co-op experience seem to be more attuned to the “realities” of the design and development process.

We understand that engineering schools have a finite number of classroom hours and curriculum choices for EE students. And while we expect graduating students to be aware of the advances in technology, a solid grasp of engineering fundamentals is far more important.

The intricacies of our unique technologies and manufacturing processes are things that can be learned on the job as long as they have the proper foundation, particularly in analog, which often gets short shrift today with so much emphasis on digital technology.

Would you like to participate in an upcoming Brainstorm?
Check out our upcoming topics:

August: What technology trends do you feel will dominate the development of next-generation displays? 
September: What are the most important factors to consider when developing a new product?
October: Do you think Solid-State lighting will displace traditional incandescents?