India Needs their Working Professionals to Focus on Quality Higher Education in EEE too — Now More than Ever
The industry revolution 4.0 semiconductor chips are an integral part of most of the modern-day electronic devices. And Taiwan is the world’s leading manufacturer of semiconductor chips. Taiwan-based semiconductor chip fabrication labs, TSMC and UMC, produce more than 60% of the semiconductor chips required in the world, supplying ICs to some of the biggest tech companies in the world, including Intel, AMD, Apple, ARM, Marvell, Nvidia, Broadcom, and MediaTek.
During the period between 2019 and 2021, the world experienced a huge shortfall of semiconductor chips due to COVID-19 pandemic, which adversely affected many companies, including the computer manufacturing and automobile sector. Concentration of all Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) fabrication labs in a single country always runs the risks of similar production short falls in the future as well. Furthermore, the entire world economy might experience a serious crisis, if China cuts off the semiconductor chip supply chain from Taiwan.
Potential destination for semiconductor chip fabrication industries, beyond Taiwan
For various reasons, including the ones that are mentioned above, the world is looking for an alternate country to set up semiconductor chip fabrication industries. India with abundant silicon is a very attractive option. India is now aggressively promoting and developing its electronics manufacturing cluster, with the Government announcing a INR 76,000 crore plan to woo chip makers and create a semiconductor ecosystem. Indian private companies, such as Vedanta group and TATA group, are collaborating with global semiconductor manufacturing companies to set up semiconductor chip fabrication industries in India.
To become self-reliant, India through the “Make in India” initiative is giving a boost to EEE domain-related sectors, such as aerospace, defense, space technology, agriculture, semiconductor, automobile, and telecommunication. This will potentially lead to more students opting for EEE related courses in undergraduate and post graduate programmes. Many universities and institutions too are providing online higher degree and certification programmes in EEE domain.
Sectors and industries that are significantly impacted by higher education in EEE
As per ResearchAndMarkets, India’s Semiconductor Industry is at the growth stage and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 19.7% from 2022F to 2026F. The market size is expected to grow at a five-year CAGR of ~20% by 2027. With the growing demand by end user, industries such as industrial machinery, automobiles, telecommunication equipment, and office automation, among others for computing purposes, are expected to accelerate the growth of the semiconductor market in the coming years.
With internet penetration expected to reach 900 million users in the next few years from 622 million users in 2020, there will be an increasing adoption of smart devices, thereby contributing to the semiconductor market growth. VLSI and Embedded Systems are two of India’s most in-demand career options today. VLSI’s career path is promising for those interested in Electrical engineering, Computer engineering, and Electronics. VLSI involves designing, fabricating, and testing integrated circuits and systems, which are critical components of many electronic devices and systems. VLSI professionals are in high demand and can expect to enjoy a successful and rewarding career.
The demand for professionals with knowledge and expertise in these VLSI and Embedded Systems has increased significantly in India. Various job positions are available for those specializing in VLSI and Embedded Systems. Some of the job roles are listed here. VLSI design engineer, VLSI Verification Engineer, RTL design, Embedded software developer, Embedded system architect, Synthesis STA, Firmware Engineer, and PCB design engineer.
India has introduced necessary reforms to support the participation of startups/private companies to engage in space programs and thereby contribute to India’s economy. A total of five startups are contributing to the space economy. Pixel-Space India Pvt Ltd has built world’s highest resolution hyper spectral imaging satellites, which require skills ranging from sensor design and image processing to artificial intelligence.
With self-driving cars and ADAS applications, today’s cars require different sensing and computational capabilities. Sensors such as radar, lidar, and camera are fundamental for any ADAS applications. GPUs or high-performance computing chips are required for processing of these sensor information. Another field gaining popularity is electric vehicle and as of 2021-2022, a total of 2.8 lakh vehicles are registered in India. Lithium is the key material for the lithium-ion batteries used in EV cars. The large amount of lithium discovery in Jammu and Kashmir opens up another big opportunity for lithium mining and Lithium-ion Battery manufacturing industries in India.
Technology in wireless communication has grown tremendously in recent years. The emerging 5G technology is creating opportunities for people and business. It is a technological bridge in connecting things everywhere and anywhere reliably. It finds its market in industrial automation, AR, VR, monitoring and tracking, telemedicine, etc. 5G telecom networks are expected to represent nearly 2% of Indian GDP by 2030, according to a recent report of National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM). 5G sector will generate revenues of nearly $180 billion by 2030. The technology aims to bring a wide range of new services and applications that are designed to take advantage of its high-speed, low-latency, and highly reliable communication capabilities. This technology helps to meet multiple IoT requirements and its expansion.
Advantages and challenges for working professionals to upskill and reskill themselves in EEE domain through online education
There are certain advantages of online learning too, especially in comparison with classical in-class (FTF) teaching mode. Some of the key aspects of online learning are time flexibility – asynchronous mode, synchronous mode, location flexibility, accessibility, comfort, impact on learning outcomes, and cost-effectiveness. In asynchronous mode, teachers can share pre-recorded videos of their lectures at flexible hours to be viewed by students at their own time. The recorded lectures can be seen multiple times by the students to refresh concepts covered in the lecture in contrast to the traditional FTF teaching, where missing a class could mean missing the content as well.
A more realistic mode of online teaching is the synchronous mode, where teacher can have interaction with the students through video links using various tools. This mode of teaching can be more exciting and useful for the students, but special care must be taken while scheduling the timing of live sessions. Online teaching mode also provides location flexibility.
The major challenges that many institutions face are about offering experiential learning or lab components. However, to facilitate the requirements of practical components, virtual lab facilities have been implemented by several leading institutions in both India and abroad. There are multiple ways in which experiential learning is offered, such as remote labs, Cloud based labs, and open-source hardware simulator. Such laboratory environments are virtually created over internet to provide various tools to students in order to conduct lab experiments. For example, design and implementation of electronics circuits, digital circuits, network theorems, Microprocessors, Microcontrollers, VLSI, DSP, etc. For electrical domain, few of the labs, such as high voltage engineering domain virtual lab facility is not feasible. And yet, this can be facilitated to the students through experiments implemented using augmented and virtual reality.
The overall growth in the EEE domain is driven by following industries: semiconductor market, automotive, computation and data storage and wireless. Engineers are required to be more competent in real-time problem solving, updating their knowledge for the current industry requirements. Thus, it puts continuous demand on upgradation of skills, which isn’t easy for working professionals.
However, some leading institutions, which provide effective online education, do play a pivotal role in providing quality higher education opportunities even for the working professionals in EEE domain. And so, the responsibility also lies with the professionals to choose the right degree or certification programme (offered by such institutions) for themselves, which would help them address their professional and organizational goals effectively.