An excellent interview with Oren Gershtein: incubating innovation CEO at Van Leer Ventures Jerusalem, one of Israel’s leading high-technology incubators.
The Government will boost investment in the science sector to transform Industrial Research Limited (IRL) into an advanced technology institute, which will function as the ‘high-tech HQ’ for New Zealand, Prime Minister John Key announced today.
“New Zealand’s world-leading performance in the primary sectors has been off the back of world-class science, much of which is publicly-funded,” says Mr Key.
“The Government’s number one priority, as recommended in the Powering Innovation report released today, is to transform and grow IRL by focusing it on supporting industry development.
“The high-tech manufacturing and services sectors have great potential to achieve the same cutting-edge reputation – but they need the support and expertise of technology-focused research to grow, to increase exports and ramp up productivity.
“High-tech sectors could contribute substantially more to the economy than they currently do. We already have successful companies in this sector, particularly in areas like ICT, biotechnology and medical technology, but we need more of them and we need them to be bigger,” says Mr Key.
“Over the next five years, we will effectively double the size and capability of IRL, transforming it into an advanced technology institute with up to 700 staff and with a far greater reach than at present.”
I have just completed a 4 month short-term contract for a small company. This stint back inside the electronics industry slotted very nicely inside the time window between submitting my PhD thesis and my PhD oral examination. My thanks go to my former employer — it was an excellent 4 months!
I cannot talk about the contents of the job as I signed an NDA. However I do have a few thoughts on the state of electronics design now compared to the state of electronics design 10+ years ago when I quit my job and began university studies.
In a nutshell, electronics parts (or components) are now significantly smaller, cheaper, more integrated, faster, and lower power than they were 10 years ago. Micro-controllers have become commodity items, available at very low prices in vast numbers of different configurations, with some even available on auction sites such as TradeMe in New Zealand. Software tools have become more sophisticated, although the difference appears to be far less marked than for hardware, and the GNU GCC compiler and tool-chain is now available for many different embedded platforms.
Breadboarding and building prototype circuit boards was once a slow and cumbersome process, but is hardly required now for the first prototyping round as so many core components are available as kits, complete with software. The speeds time to market considerably.
Wireless everything is almost a given, and little RF knowledge and expertise is required to implement inter-device wireless comms or wireless connections to the internet.
What does all this mean for me as I ponder where electronics design is headed. The rate-of-change even over the last decade is almost scary. I stepped out of the room, waited a while, then stepped back in again, and the room appears very different. Perhaps the most important meta-idea that I took away from this job, aside from crash-courses on lots of new technologies, is where I feel I want to go post-PhD. I had come to find electronics a little boring years ago, but coupled with math, physics and biophysics, the game changes. The fact is, I can do far more now than I could previously. And if I did decide to re-enter the electronics industry, my focus would be primarily on interesting science-engineering interfaces, rather than purely on the (slightly boring) electronics implementations. I have lots of ideas sitting at this interface and only time will tell whether any of them comes to fruition.
STEM = science, technology, engineering and math
If you’re trying to figure out what to study in college, a new report suggests you would do well choosing a major in science, technology, engineering or math.
The report, based on Census and National Science Foundation data analyzed by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, shows that professions that depend heavily on skills learned in these fields are the second-fastest growing occupational group in the United States, after health care.
While traditional fields like computer engineering and laboratory research make up about 5 percent of the work force, demand for science, technology, engineering and math skills is spreading far beyond, to occupations in manufacturing, utilities, transportation and mining, as well as to sales and management. As a result, the study, by Anthony P. Carnevale, Nicole Smith and Michelle Melton, argues that there is a shortage of so-called STEM workers.
The scientific and technological disciplines have “become the common currency in the labor market,” Mr. Carnevale said. With more companies concentrating on technology, “if you’re going to sell in a technical world you’ve got to be credible,” even to be in sales, he said. “You can’t sell to an engineer unless an engineer thinks you’re also an engineer.”
With a shortage of people trained in such fields, many technology and scientific companies in the United States are forced to recruit from abroad, the study’s authors say.
My CV is here :-)