|Volume 2: No. 27|
I'm a couple of months behind on this, but BBN's Systems and Technologies Division (Cambridge, MA) has had R&D openings in sonar surveillance and in speech and network technologies. Telecommunications jobs in the Northeast are opening up, including an expected 1,000 at BDM International Inc. (Cambridge, MA).
Hiring on the West Coast should pick up near the end of the year, but companies are still looking for software engineers and senior technical people with five years experience. Hot areas are C/Unix, C++, object-oriented anything, GUI and windowing environments, and OS/2. [David Pregeant, Source Engineering, and Trish Murphy, Source EDP. Robert H. Blissmer, EE Times, 5/25.]
Starting salaries are still rising steadily, although BSEE graduates below the top 10% are having trouble finding jobs. Offers average $34.1K, up about 2.8% since September. Many EEs are heading for graduate school and teaching positions. (Imagine the crunch at the "pyramid top" when all of them graduate!) Others are looking to consulting companies, small businesses, and programming jobs. Chemical, mechanical and civil engineers at RPI are getting more offers and better starting salaries, with petroleum engineers starting at $41K. Business graduates typically get $24.3K. [Robert Bellinger, EE Times, 5/4.]
Business Week (6/29) lists 1991 R&D expenditures by U.S. companies (excluding R&D contracts). Big spenders include GM ($5.8B), IBM, Ford, AT&T, DEC, Kodak, HP, Boeing, GE, and du Pont ($1.3B). If you prefer a company devoted to R&D, consider Software Publishing, Chips & Technologies, MIPS, or On-Line Software International. (Biotech companies have even higher expenses per employee.) Or look for growing R&D labs, such as NEC's $32M complex in Princeton, NJ. Bell Lab's John Mayo says that the new emphasis must be on research AND development, with integrated efforts leading to timely products. BW's table lists 41 companies in software and services, but the interesting jobs might be in other high-R&D companies. (Medical instruments, for instance, or aerospace.)
David Pregeant of Source Engineering (Palo Alto) says that the Silicon Valley professionals most in demand are software engineers experienced with Windows, OOP, C++, real-time embedded control software, or graphics applications. [Kate Colborn, EDN News, 4/30.]
According to Francis K. Walnut, software experts from engineering, information science, and CS share an inability to deliver working systems. Software engineers and (especially) management information graduates are taught that the interesting, creative, important part of software development is over when an architecture is chosen and specs have been written. Implementation is just an unfortunate necessity. Computer scientists imitate natural scientists seeking basic principles and fundamental truths, and believe that any effort lacking in scientific rigor is necessarily inefficient. Walnut says that real productivity comes from experienced, end-to-end programmers -- often working on computers in their basements. [CW, 6/15.] (Going a step further, a programmer is likely to take the greatest care if he or she will be responsible for documentation, training, maintenance, and bug fixes. Apple's one-button mouse and graphic interface, for instance, came from programmers striving for simple documentation and ease of use. Call in experts when necessary, but to keep responsibility from diffusing. It's easiest if you own your own business.)
Edward Yourdon takes the opposite view in "Decline and Fall of the American Programmer." He says that American programming shows sloppiness, sloth, mediocrity, and lack of discipline. Our only hope against foreign competitors lies in modern tools, structures, techniques, methodologies, and management. [Electronic News, 5/18.] Alan Zeichick agrees that AI programmers should know about the software methodologies Ed discusses. There's more to software development than just algorithms. Alan thinks that the quality problem is being addressed, though, as evidenced by lengthy beta tests and missed shipping dates. [AI Expert, 7/92.]