Author Archives: Fluxor

Last week, I touched on how I knew that my colleagues were to be laid off the night before it happened, all right before the Christmas break. Santa, who came to layoff the crew, granted me a layoff-eve information session, also known as a really-awkward-dinner-that-I-couldn’t-run-away-from. He articulated his hope that I would stay with the company by accepting FluxCorp’s offer to relocate elsewhere. That elsewhere is half way around the world. Literally. The place is Shanghai. Nope, ain’t Shanghai, Virgina I’m talking about. Not even Shanghai, West Virgnia (what’s up with those Virginians and Shanghai?!). Yes, Shanghai, China. It turns out many of the jobs being cut by FluxCorp, in the US and Canada, are being outsourced there. Real engineering jobs. High paying engineering jobs. Engineering jobs that require a graduate degree. In fact, a team of 11 in Shanghai has been manager-less for a while now, and Santa was…

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What The Flux is a semi-regular weekend feature on EngineeringBlogs.org that follows the follies and jollies of an engineer in industry, yours truly.— Last week, I mentioned that Santa Claus came to town to shut down our satellite office. What I didn’t tell you was that Santa Claus had a private meeting with me the night before the official announcement. He wanted me to stay with FluxCorp and suggested that I accept an offer to relocate and transfer to another part of the company. He also made it clear that there was no Plan B should I reject the offer. Next morning, I went to work and watched my colleagues being their usual cheery selves, knowing that in another hour or two, those cheery smiles will be turned upside down once Santa Claus arrived at the office. Santa was pretty blunt in his delivery — straight forward, no BS, and…

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What The Flux is a semi-regular weekend feature on EngineeringBlogs.org that follows the follies and jollies of an engineer in industry, yours truly.— Christmas. It’s over, but I’m still thinking about it. It’s a time for family. It’s a time for food. It’s a time for gifts. It’s a time for bright eyed children peeking under the Christmas tree. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year. Red, green, blue, white. The multi-coloured lights hanging off snow-covered pine trees create a beautiful spectacle when reflecting off newly fallen snow on the front lawns of suburbia. A winter wonderland indeed. And here at work, here at FluxCorp, the mood was no less festive. Two weeks before Christmas, one of our higher-ups was kind enough to fly from somewhere close to the armpit of America all the way to our igloo. We sure were excited. What yuletide greetings will he…

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This week’s theme at Engineer Blogs asks the authors to recount their path to “success”. What were the turning points? Who was involved? And so forth. The arc of a storyline usually tells of a protagonist that is transformed as the events unfold from beginning to end. Tiger Woods is a good example — rising prodigy, international superstar, fall from grace. Adolf Hitler is another great example — struggling artist, dictator extraordinaire, suicide. Or we can look at Barack Obama — fatherless childhood, President of the United States, Kenyan Muslim Marxist. But not everyone is blessed enough to have a sweeping story arc in their lives. Donald Trump, for example, is more of a sine wave than an arc. And for me, it’s more or less a straight line with a shallow slope. A suburban upbringing. Good at math and physics in high school. Studied engineering. Works in engineering. Continues…

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There’s been a lot of consternation amongst engineers in the West, especially in the high tech community, about the rise of China and the continued bleeding of well-paying white-collar to that country. Those voices are especially loud in the US, of which I am glad to be an curious but uninvolved nearby observer. It seems some Americans are content to keep their eyes closed, relying on the solace of a glorious past and the strongly held, but ultimately fallacious, belief of an American exceptionalism that will no doubt carry them to victory. The masses, which are mostly aware of the decline in American manufacturing, has yet awoken to the fact that this decline has seeped into the knowledge sector as well. Then there are those that see the potential catastrophe of the current path, such as President Obama, who recently announced his new initiative (with an unfortunate acronym) called WTF…

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I was planning on saving the world with circuits. I was going to sit at my desk, work out complex equations from scratch, and create technology so powerful that it shall be honoured for time immemorial with the granting of a patent. At least, that’s what I thought until I had actually gone through the entire patent writing and submission process. Patent making (not technology inventing, but the process of creating the patent based on the technology) is a dreary process, filled with a kaleidoscope of inane language. I now have seven patents with my name on it and the only thing they’re good for are seven extra lines on my résumé. The last four were filed with my current employer, FluxCorp. The other three were filed with my first employer (let’s call it PatentCorp), where I worked for 2.5 years. PatentCorp used to be a hard core engineering company…

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Sometimes, it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. As engineers, we often complain about how the public at large do not appreciate the work that we do. Cherish touched upon this yesterday in her post on how engineers have seemingly faded into the background. In fact, one often used argument about this lack of respect is to compare the relative pay of engineers with other professions. Doctors, lawyers, and accountants are often the ones being compared to. Sometimes, we even lament the lack of pay when compared to skilled trades, such as plumbers and electricians. That’s why it may be a surprise to you that engineers are, in fact, quite well regarded. A 2002 survey commissioned by the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers asked how the public in this province (Ontario, Canada) rate the prestige of various occupations. Here are the results: Engineers ranked third, only behind physicians…

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It’s federal election time here in Canada with the usual slate of same-old, same-old topics — government scandals, national security, economy, health care, etc. Next Friday, the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers, Ontario PE’s advocacy body (different and apart from the regulator body, PEO), has arranged a candidates meeting. Here’s the description of that event: For Engineering Professionals in Ontario’s Eastern Region Moderated by Michael Monette, P.Eng., a member of OSPE’s Board of Directors, this timely event invites representatives from four leading federal parties to voice their views on topics pertinent to the engineering community, including nuclear power, renewable energy sources, infrastructure renewal and the development of Canada’s skilled work force. Featuring representative riding candidates from the Conservative Party of Canada, Liberal Party of Canada, New Democratic Party of Canada and the Green Party of Canada. That’s all good and fine, but in truth, all this effort matters little in…

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One of the most famous observations in the semiconductor industry is Moore’s Law. The “law” predicts the number of transistors on a given area of silicon will double every 18-24 months. The strive by all companies to abide by Moore’s Law has given us unparalleled increases in computing power. However, Moore’s Law has really ever only worked for digital integrated circuits. Analog circuits do not scale the same, but I’ll leave the topic to another day. Ever since Gordon Moore made his eponymous observation in the 1970s, the semiconductor industry has used this “law” as a guide in their R&D, reaching and maintaining the doubling that Moore had predicted for over 40 years now. Still, there comes a point when transistors can no longer be shrunk, when the transistor hits its fundamental physical limits. Even Moore said in 2008 that Moore’s Law is dead. There has been many predictions of…

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Getting laid off. This was what happened to me more than a half dozen years ago now. I was the first one to be let go from a start-up that was starting to show cracks in its hull. It wasn’t a surprise. I didn’t get along with most of my colleagues. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to get along with the rest of the team; rather, a clique had formed before I arrived and they had apparently decided that I wasn’t to be part of it. In the two years that I was there, the only person that I got along with was with the wife of a colleague from a previous job and another outcast that wasn’t part of the clique. Unfortunately for me, the outcast left voluntarily a year before I was let go. When the kraft envelope was gently pushed across the cafeteria table by my…

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