“More Than Engineers Looking For Good Opportunity, Companies Are Looking For Right Candidates”

There are a lot of new technologies in the market and the access to these technologies for someone who is wanting to learn is easier than ever. Yet on the one hand there seems to a demand for the right talent in the industry and on the other a lot of skilled candidates are jobless. To understand this scenario better Ankita KS from EFY Group spoke to B Vasu Dev, Managing Director, Phytec Embedded Pvt. Ltd. where he shares the hiring trends in the embedded industry, skillsets in demand, right steps to follow and how to build the academia-industry gap. Excerpts follow…

Q: What are the hiring trends with respect to technologies that you see in the Embedded systems design industry today?

Artificial Intelligence (AI)/ Machine Learning (ML) and Internet of Things (IoT) are buzz words today in the IT and Embedded Industry. They create a lot of opportunities in all the domains. IoT in other words is a new form of Data Acquisition (DAQ) / M2M communication with high scalability by mean of standards followed in each stage that is, data collection, communication and data analysis. In future, the information generated through IoT and AI/ML will be used in a common man’s day to day life. Today, engineers can easily redefine their profile with these latest technologies. For example, it is easy for a good micro-controller programmer to become a skilled IoT Firmware Engineer or a good Java programmer can easily adapt the cloud side server programming.

Q: What is the key technology skill sets that are in demand in the industry today?

B Vasu Dev, Managing Director, Phytec Embedded Pvt. Ltd.

Today, Industry-4.0, e-Mobility, renewable energy, smart cities, smart agriculture and smart retails have huge requirement to build connected solutions and most of the key technology are around sensor node design and gateway design. Both of this serves data from sensor to cloud followed by data analytics to convert them to a business use case.

Hardware design, high speed PCB layout design, micro-controller programming, application development in C / C++ / Python / Node-JS are basic skill sets required in the industry and someone looking for embedded jobs. Working knowledge in embedded linux and hardware platforms like Raspberry Pi / Beaglebone / NVIDIA Jetson etc. are also important.

Q: What is the trend in the hiring process you see for embedded jobs?

Today, the industry is looking for smart resources ready to deploy in the teams to build IoT products and solutions that upgrade their classic product into smart and connected systems. The current hiring process is also becoming smart by using candidate information from different streams like social media, open source contributions, hackathons apart from their past professional experience. In the embedded and electronics domain, candidates are expected to have a little bigger learning curve compared to IT, with respect to hands-on experience on hardware. Therefore, companies normally offer internship program or they are connected with some training program in campus through partners.

Q: How would you advise an aspirant on the right steps to follow while applying for embedded jobs in the electronics sector?

A decade ago, the information on Internet was at maturing stage and people could not buy hacker boards and advance hardware like now. Today, there is a huge shift in product engineering. Now engineers are asked to propose innovative ideas and demonstrate POCs with whatever software and hardware platforms they are familiar with.

So, I would recommend an aspirant to follow the below steps,

  1. Firstly, identify your strength/passion, what is the best thing you like and can perform. Some are good at deep engineering of particular thing and some can be good at system level designs, both have their own values.
  2. Try to build something that may not be very big but can prove your competency, but today with the growing open source community nothing is impossible. Low cost hacker boards can be bought, lot of open source software projects are available online to contribute.
  3. Identify right place to position yourself and your work. More than engineers looking for good opportunity, companies are looking for right candidates.

Q: IoT is considered an amalgamation of electronics, datacom and IT. Out of these three–which one is going to be the main achilles heel for the IOT sector, in terms of the ready availability of good talent pool?

As India is known for software excellence, IT and some extent of datacom can be served but there is a big gap in hardware design. This is quite normal because of our eco-system, economic feasibility and ease of accessibility to China and Taiwan.

Education system is still running with all streams of engineering civil, mechanical, electronics and computer science, the only missing part is proper guidance. The lack of guidance is why students limit themselves to knowledge that are only directly connected with their core-domain.

Q: What steps can academic institutions take to bridge the industry-academia gap for the embedded sector and make sure more engineers are skilled for embedded jobs?

There is a huge gap between academia and industry. The first thing to be done is to understand the industry, which can be only possible when students and faculties start participating in the technology shows and events, more in line to their research work / study to solve the real problems of the industry in a small way. Every college should associate with some industries of their interest. Technologies like Industry-4.0, e-Mobility, smart energy and smart cities brings in handful opportunities for academicians to participate on innovation and solution development. A simple attitude change of solving the issue and contributing should be developed. For example, almost all of us use Google to solve any of our queries, but how many of us feed in solutions on Google? That is the difference.

Q: What would be your advice to the academia–how should they reinvent their curriculum to create techies suitable for the IoT industry?

The current academic syllabus is tightly packed and designed to build the fundamental knowledge without which mastering anything is of no use. The right way would be to add some elective subjects that can be aligned to the latest technologies and market trends. Also, there should be at-least minimum of six months to one year internship program or on-job program were students continue to transform their academic knowledge to industry experience.

Q: Are you hiring or planning to hire talent for your IoT and embedded business at Phytec? If yes, can you share estimated numbers to be hired within the next 2 years?

PHYTEC Messtechnik GmbH started PHYTEC INDIA operations in 2013 with a five-member team and today it has scaled to ten folds serving partners to build their products with less time to market and reliability to the industrial and automotive grade. We have also started offering end-to-end product engineering services (Hardware, Software & Manufacturing support) and foresee further growth of three folds in next two years.

Q: If yes, what are the type of roles for which you’re planning to hire? Can you share a brief idea about what these roles entail?

As a technology company we help our partners / customers to build their products using our ARM SoC based SOMs which runs embedded linux and widely used as Industrial IoT Gateways. We hire Embedded Firmware developer, Embedded Linux Developers, BSP Developers, Hardware Developers and PCB Layout Engineers. As most of our future products are based on latest 64-bit ARM processors with AI/ML Hardware engine (GPU/VPU/TPU) and widely used as Edge Computing Device, we also foresee to expand our team in AI/ML where we would be hiring Data Scientists, Applied Machine Learning Engineer, Analytics Manager / Data Science Leader.

Q: Do you have a formal Internship programme to train freshers for the industry? If yes, can you share how’s it designed to actually make them industry-ready & Any unique hiring practice followed at PHYTEC–to get the right candidates for embedded jobs?

At PHYTEC INDIA we have Internship program in continuous to the training program with our partners (Embedded Training Institutes and Colleges), we build these partners by “train the trainer model”. Once the basic learning is done, they start working on our single board computers and start developing and contributing on open source projects in Embedded Linux and IoT. Further these candidates are either hired in PHYTEC or by PHYTEC Customers.

Q: Over your decades of years of experience in the Industry, what are the key mistakes that you have seen made by the candidates? What would your advice be to them?

What to start, when to start and how to start are the biggest puzzles where candidates lose most of their precious time. My advice to an aspirant is, try to identify your passion and start investing on them. These days a big eco-system is already developed were you need not have to invest huge money; you only have to put in your efforts and time in the right place. Use online tutorials and hacker boards build something of your interest and that can present your skills.

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