Tag: engineer

Engineers more likely to become terrorists

Terrorist_58349e_70892A new book as outed engineers as a group more likely to generate terrorists than any other profession.

Writing for the European Journal of Sociology Diego Gambetta, of the Italian European University Institute and Steffen Hertog, an associate professor have a theory.

They added up all the numbers and divided it by their shoe size and found that engineers are much more prone to become members of violent terrorist organisations.

Apparently twice as many members of violent Islamist organisations have engineering degrees as have degrees in Islamic studies. Nearly half of those terrorists who had degrees had degrees in engineering.

There was an opposite pattern among non violent Islamic groups. In these groups, people with other degrees than engineering were over represented.

Left-wing terrorists are likely to be humanities graduates rather than engineers, except in movements in Turkey and Iran.

The leaders of extreme right-wing groups in the US may be more prone to be engineers than chance would predict.

Gambetta and Hertog dismiss claims that terrorist groups want to recruit engineers because engineers have valuable technical skills that might be helpful, such as in making bombs. Many of Hamas’ engineers have admin roles.

Gambetta and Hertog think that engineers are more likely to become terrorists because of the way that they think about the world. They are more likely to be conservative and far more likely to be religious. They are seven times as likely to be both religious and conservative as social scientists.

They also have a marked preference towards finding clearcut answers. Radical Islamist groups deal with the complexities of modernity by getting rid of it.

This notion combines with frustrated expectations in many Middle Eastern and North African countries, and among many migrant populations, where people with engineering backgrounds have difficulty in realising their ambitions for good and socially valued jobs.

Places where there are fewer radical Islamists, are those which hire engineers with engineering. A particular religiously fundamentalist ideology gives engineers a philosophy that is in tune with their mind-set and an understanding of the world that helps make sense of their poor economic prospects.

It also means that those who bang on about the dangers of refugees should perhaps be making similar statements about engineers.

US electrical engineers are dying out

It appears that in the US electrical engineers are a declining species and might end up as endangered wildlife.

The number of people working as electrical engineers in the US declined by 10.4 percent last year which is due to the loss of 35,000 jobs and increased the unemployment rate for electrical engineers from 3.4 percent in 2012 to 4.8 percent.

According to the US Labor Department data analysed by the IEEE-USA there are 300,000 people working as electrical engineers when in 2002, there were 385,000.

Analysts can’t work out why electrical engineering employment is declining despite the emergence of the so-called internet of thongs. It seems like most species on their way out, such as the giant panda, engineers may have lost interest in mating and producing other engineers.

The feeling is that just as America’s manufacturing has been hollowed out by offshoring and globalisation, electrical and electronics engineers are going the same way

The number of employed software developers, the largest IT occupation segment, increased by only 1.75 percent, to 1.1 million, a gain of 19,000. The unemployment rate for developers last year was 2.7 percent, which is still too high.

Jobs for computer systems analysts increased by 35,000, to 534,000, an increase of 7 per cent, but many of those jobs are going to foreign developers on visas.

At full employment, electrical and electronics engineers should have an unemployment rate of approximately 1.5 per cent. The current unemployment rate is more than three times that level.

According to Computing World http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9245494/What_STEM_shortage_Electrical_engineering_lost_35_000_jobs_last_year, the fact that these key occupations are faring worse than the average professional is a bad omen for the future of US technological superiority. 

Huawei denies involvement in engineer's death

A weird story is breaking involving the death of a US engineer and some top technology companies.

The Financial Times ran a yarn on Saturday saying that Shane Todd had been working on “what was apparently a joint project” between Singapore’s Institute of Microelectronics, or IME, and Huawei.

He was found hanging in his Singapore flat soon after leaving the “project” and his parents claim he was bumped off because of his involvement, which involved exporting sensitive military technology to China.

Singapore police are still investigating the death of Todd, while Singaporean pathologists concluded in an autopsy that he died by hanging in his flat.

Huawei has been swift to deny involvement with the mysterious project, saying that the IME approached Huawei on one occasion to cooperate with it in the Gallium Nitride field, but the company decided not to accept.

It has not had anything to do with the IME since, Huawei told Reuters.

Todd’s area of expertise was Gallium Nitride, which is an advanced semiconductor material which has both commercial and military purposes.

Huawei said that the development of Gallium Nitride technology was common across the telecommunications industry.

Reuters said that interviews with the family, colleagues and friends revealed conflicting views on Todd’s state of mind before his death, the nature of his work and how he died.

Those he worked with said he was increasingly depressed, but said that his concerns appeared to centre on a sense of failure about his work, and the fact he did not want to go back to the United States.

Others have pointed out that if his work was so sensitive, it was odd that he could take home computer files from his office. His family found a hard drive which included work files in his flat.

Then there is the nature of the IME. This is part of a network of research institutes managed by government-run Agency for Science, Technology and Research, or A*Star.

IME and other A*Star institutes are not normally seen as military research organisations.

The family thinks that Todd was concerned for his safety because of a project with a Chinese company. They believed, through information from his colleagues and from his computer files, that the company was Huawei.

Todd’s mother, Mary, said in a telephone interview with Reuters last July that he had been scared. She claimed he quit his job out of fear of being murdered because of his contacts with the Chinese government.

IME colleagues said shortly after Todd’s death that he had told them at one point he had been working on a project with Huawei but that it was not sensitive or high-level in nature. One described it as carrying out “measurement test reports” of semiconductors, which is not something you usually get bumped off for. 

Intel OEM engineers face five years in gaol

Four engineers working for Intel’s OEM partners behind the bamboo curtain have been arrested trying to sell sample CPUs on Ebay.

The Taiwan Criminal Investigation Bureau swooped on the four in Taoyuan for their role in selling engineering sample CPUs online for fun and profit. Speaking to the China Post,  a Bureau spokesman said the gang of four were all engineers working for Intel’s OEM manufacturers in Taiwan although he did not say which ones.

The Bureau had a nose around the suspects’ houses last month and confiscated 178 sample CPUs, which were reportedly worth around $800,000.

The suspects admitted that they had sold over 500 engineering sample CPUs since 2009 during initial investigations.

Each of the CPUs were beta versions of the integrated circuits that are meant only to be used for compatibility qualification tests.

Intel loans them to OEM manufacturers prior to commercial releases for product development.

Any samples have strict non-disclosure agreements and are not for sale, the CIB said.

But the samples are sold cheap and are quite popular because sometimes they have unlocked multipliers. The engineers are facing five years of porridge. 

Intel claims kids don't know what an engineer is

Researchers from Intel seem to have found why there are shortages of IT engineers.

Most kids don’t know what a engineer is, and this is one of the stumbling blocks to encouraging more students to major in engineering.

A survey of teens by Chipzilla found that nearly a third didn’t know of potential job opportunities in engineering and 13 percent did not think that majoring in engineering in college would lead to greater job opportunities.

After being told about the impact on the world that engineers had made, they started to get all enthusiastic and used words like “cool”.

Fifty-three percent were more likely to consider engineering after learning about the role of engineers in the development of music and video games. Half of the teens did not know that engineers made driving, texting, and social networking possible.

However, most of them rather liked the engineer’s salary which is an average annual income of $75,000.

And more than half liked the fact that the unemployment rate among engineers is over four percentage points lower than the national rate.

Intel CIO Diane Bryant said that teens needed to know more about engineering and had to be offered real-world, hands-on engineering experience and interaction with engineers. If they did, it would improve the likelihood that they’ll get hooked on the subject and pursue it in college. 

AMD starts hiring

Despite breaking its decades long policy of not sacking staff, AMD is still desperately looking to hire shedloads of expert engineers.

AMD’s Rory P. Read will announce his Project WIN strategy at Financial Analyst Day in February 2012, but according to VR-Zone  he is already carrying out some serious head hunting.

What has become clear from the recent restructuring is that several former “directors of engineering”have floated up the AMD greasy pole and have been promoted to VP, CVP and C-level executives.

AMD’s LinkedIn page is now filled with job posts and there is active recruiting taking place behind the scenes. All the adverts are looking for several talented engineers at the same time and headhunting has also been carried out on Twitter.

Most of the jobs are going in Austin, Sunnyvale, Boxborough and Fort Collins and the teams’ job descriptions suggest that AMD is planning some interesting projects. Some involve developing x86 and GPU software codec redesigns, systems on a chip engineers for servers, and a team to sort out AMD’s future server, notebook, tablet and desktop platforms. There seem to be moves to develop a global finance team too.

Virgin Media hit by engineer shortage

Despite lengthening dole queues snaking across the country, the rumour mill suggests that Virgin Media is still struggling to attract enough engineering staff.

Our sources suggest that Virgin Media is advertising plenty of engineering posts to fill job vacancies but no one’s really biting.

Which might explain why it can take so long to get set up.

Virgin strenuously denied to TechEye that there are any staff shortages or problems with engineering levels.

“We are not experiencing a shortage of engineers, all is currently going smoothly,” a spokesperson said. “We have a strong engineering team, both in house and with contractors, and we are absolutely not experiencing any problems at this time.” 

*Update An annoyed Virgin also tells us there are just six jobs advertised nationwide and that it has hundreds of staff. 

Gentle Ballmer meekly suggests the competition is doomed

Modest Microsoft CEO, the shy and retiring Steve “There’s a Kind of Hush” Ballmer has displayed his usual understated charm at the Web 2.0 summit in San Francisco.

Speaking about mobile, the market Microsoft re-entered successfully after making a laughing stock of itself, Ballmer took a swipe with his clumsy bear paw in an attempt to knock Android and Apple off their pedestals.

He gave a nod to a competitor which was a “sea of icons” (read: Apple) and, Information Week reports, that Android is an operating system for “computer scientists”.

Ballmer gave no mention to the computer scientist’s OS of choice landing him and MSFT a hefty royalty cheque for each device sold.

Meanwhile, Google is being trounced in the cloud, according to the unassuming CEO.  He said Microsoft is “all in, baby” in cloud storage, not sounding too dissimilar from, say, the WWF’s Ultimate Warrior.  

Not only that, but Information Week reports he believes Microsoft is “winning, winning, winning” for applications in the cloud, at least 98 percent of the time.

What isn’t quite winning, winning, winning is Ballmer’s bonus. Again.

Crucially, Ballmer also confirmed that the expensive shopping trip to Skype’s headquarters was about the social web. AKA, Facebook

Game over for the inventor of modern consoles, Jerry Lawson

The man credited with creating the first cartridge-based video game console has died. Gerald “Jerry” Lawson was 70.

While he was an engineer at Fairchild Semiconductor, Lawson designed the electronics of the Fairchild Video Entertainment System. It later got the name Channel F, in 1976.

His invention predated the release of Atari’s Video Computer System by a year and was the first videogame machine that used interchangeable game cartridges.

Atari’s Pong and the Magnavox Odyssey which appeared earlier had games built into the hardware. It was Lawson’s design which influenced the modern console.

Born in 1940, Lawson grew up in a federal housing project in New York. He ran a ham radio and as a teenager he earned money by repairing his neighbours’ tellies.

In the 1970s he joined the Homebrew Computer Club, which was the group that gave the world Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.

He developed an arcade game called Demolition Derby in his garage while working at Fairchild.

Fairchild was miffed when it found out, but later asked him if he wanted to do it for them.

Lawson’s team built the first cartridge-based gaming system that came to market. When interviewed about it later, Fairchild said that no one knew what would happen if you tried multiple insertion of semiconductors.

No one had tried plugging in memory devices in mass quantity like in a consumer product.

There were only 26 games released for Channel F and they were things like Blackjack, Space War and Bowling. Atari’s cartridge-based system made the Channel F obsolete.


Microsoft planning management shakeup

Microsoft is planning a management shake-up that will concentrate on replacing many of its executives with fresh people who have an engineering background.

The changes are being sought by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, according to two unnamed sources close to Bloomberg Businessweek.

Ballmer has already been replacing people in the company, last month getting rid of its server division president, Bob Muglia, who had been with the company for 23 years. Ballmer said that the company needed new leadership in this area to focus on cloud computing, an area which is expected to boom over the next few years.

The changes in other key positions are likely to be in the smartphone and tablet sectors, areas which Microsoft arrived considerably late at after the success of Apple’s iPhone and iPad and Google’s Android platform. The appointments are expected to be made this month, although these plans were not intended to be public.

One of the reasons cited by the sources for the shake-up is mounting investor criticism, which has been focused on Microsoft slipping behind main rivals, particularly with Windows Phone 7, which received good critical reception but had a very late market entry. The dramatic failure of the Kin phone also received stern criticism from shareholders.

The focus on finding engineering people to fill the key positions suggests that Ballmer has lost faith in his marketing team. He already replaced Stephen Elop with Kurt DelBene, an engineering chief, instead of a marketing executive, which was widely expected.

The fact that an engineering background is a prerequisite for the positions suggests that Microsoft’s current management lacks this kind of knowledge to a degree, which rivals like Google and Apple have been using to push product lines. 

How about Steve himself? He’ll probably be clinging on.