Hard-To-Hire VLSI Engineers | A Perspective

We are delighted to share our Founder and CEO, Mr. P R Sivakumar’s perspectives on ‘Hard-To-Hire Engineering Jobs’, based on his interview along with other industry veterans with Semiconductor Engineering  

While the pandemic has hurt many job sectors, the semiconductor industry can’t get enough qualified people. And that shortage is expected to persist for years, as companies reach deep into untapped talent pools around the globe.


Soft skills count. “Emotional intelligence is important,” said Sivakumar P. R., CEO of Maven Silicon, who worked at a large EDA company in verification before founding a VLSI training company. “In the present world, the engineers have to acquire the technical knowledge with the right skills, including emotional intelligence, business communication skills, before their graduation at college, rather than focusing only on how to get a job with high income.”


In India, where the semiconductor industry is dominated by design service companies that employ engineers in design verification (DV), the story is much the same. “In India, we have thousands of engineering colleges and universities that produce 1.5 million to 2.0 million engineers every year, and there could be more than 100,000 electrical and electronics engineers every year. Yet, we are struggling to deploy 10% of them as skilled VLSI engineers for the semiconductor industry,” said Maven Silicon’s Sivakumar P R. “That’s the reason VLSI training academies like Maven Silicon are trying sincerely to find learning solutions in terms of delivering the VLSI domain knowledge and expertise toward bridging the skill gap between the semiconductor industry and academia, on one hand incubating the Centre of Excellence in VLSI for academia and ensuring that the skilled workforce is job ready for joining the Tier 1 and service companies.”


Thanks to continually improving EDA tools, more automation in the process may speed some job duties. “Testcase/test automation will happen through the advancement of EDA technologies,” predicted Maven Silicon’s Sivakumar. “Similarly, RTLs would be generated directly from the TLMs/functional models. In the future, verification engineers will be part of creating the product specification, especially the test compliance, and driving plan-driven verification, owning end-to-end verification, although we might not need an army of engineers for regression testing. The new automation flow will demand existing experienced testcase writers with more product knowledge and domain expertise. Some of them could become EDA engineers, too, with their prior verification experience and domain expertise.”


RISC-V may be a way to entice engineers into the semiconductor industry and give them an invaluable broad understanding up and down semiconductor design, verification, manufacturing, and test process. “We introduced RISC-V processor RTL architecture design, HDL coding, and UVM based verification as part of our VLSI course curriculum at Maven Silicon,” said Sivakumar. “As part of the course, our trainees implement the RISC-V processor and use the same to implement an embedded microcontroller SoC. It helps them to understand the complete product development cycle and how to apply all the theoretical concepts and create electronics systems like smartphones.”

Sivakumar noted that engineers need to be “strong in electronics fundamentals like digital electronics, analog, CMOS, and having a very good understanding of creating consumer electronic products like smartphones using chips or SoCs applying the fundamentals. For example, knowing the big picture of how we create smartphones using an SoC that is built using ARM/RISC-V cores and software like operating system and applications. Also, being skilled in implementing any small processor and interface, RTL and verifications IPs, like RISC-V, SPI, AHB, UART using any HDL Verilog/VHDL, SystemVerilog, and methodologies like UVM will be very useful to differentiate as skilled from the other regular electrical engineers.”

Source: https://semiengineering.com/hard-to-hire-engineering-jobs/

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