Electronic Design

When Global Winds Blow Set The Course For Tomorrow

In an issue-to-issue basis, Electronic Design aims to help you stay focused at the micro level. We're typically writing to an audience that's head-down at the workbench or eyes-glued to the computer screen, intently contemplating solutions for circuits that are smaller, faster, and more efficient. Drilling down to the submicron level, you readers accomplish great things, creating the tools and toys that drive remarkable improvements in business productivity, healthcare, convenience, and fun!

But sometimes we all need to pick our heads up and look at the bigger picture, to think about what we're contributing, where our careers are heading, and how what we do aligns with the ever-quickening pace of change on a seemingly shrinking planet. For many of you, the last few years have been challenging. We've seen the boom, bust, and gradual rebound of the tech sector. But for some, this remains a jobless, or shall we say "designless," recovery. For the majority of you who are busily employed on today's projects, there is the accelerated pace of design and the realization that what seemed like the future just yesterday may be old news by tomorrow.

To help you put your design plans in perspective, we present this annual State of the Industry issue. This year we focus on some of the megatrends driving both the apprehensions and the opportunities in the electronic design marketplace. Why megatrends? These global, societal tides are as powerful as forces of nature. We must recognize and understand these currents and then think ahead to how the waves will break if we want to understand the best paths to positively direct our own careers and influence our communities.

Keeping the U.S. engineering community strong means innovating in today's hot markets while investing in new technologies that will power the next wave. For this issue, we take a look at trends in some of today's largest vertical electronics marketplaces: digital consumer (liquid media), portable and broadband communications, automotive, and homeland security. And we forecast some of the up and coming vertical market segments: robotics, green engineering, biometrics, biomedical applications, and more.

I had an opportunity to discuss some of these trends over lunch with IEEE-USA President Dr. Gerard Alphonse. Alphonse may be the perfect person to be at the head of the IEEE-USA at a time when the U.S. engineering community wrestles with xenophobia and as members ask the organization to address such issues as visas for foreign workers and restrictions on the number of foreign students who can enter the U.S. to study here.

As a naturalized U.S. citizen who came from Haiti at 18 to study engineering, Alphonse stayed to contribute much to advance the fields of superconductivity and optics, inventing the world's highest-performance superluminescent diode as well as receiving 50 other U.S. patents. He recently cofounded a startup, Medeikon, developing optic solutions for cardiovascular treatment. Alphonse also supports government programs that encourage the best and brightest from around the globe to continue to come to the U.S. to study, but most importantly, to stay here and to contribute to the braintrust that fuels the growth of new technologies. And he believes, as I do, that investment in education and R&D are the keys to creating more good engineers and more good opportunities for those engineers.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.