Devices and gadgets have become critical to our lives, and all these require application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) or systems-on-a-chip (SoC). The boundaries of technology are being pushed to build smaller, more powerful, more efficient and more intelligent ICs. Today, we fit more than 50 billion transistors into a single IC. Examples of this are our smartphones, home appliances, communication devices, network, storage, gaming, and vehicles. With this constant push to design, build and remake ICs with new features in a short span, we have a massive demand for skilled VLSI designers.
The ?76,000-crore India Semiconductor Mission (ISM), recently announced by the government, is a resounding statement of intent to gain a foothold in the $553 billion global semiconductor market. Budding engineers in India enter the semiconductor industry after a Bachelor’s degree or a Master’s degree in electronics, computer science or electrical engineering. Finishing schools have also mushroomed across India to cater to fill the gap between the industry and academia, and offer “industry-ready” engineers. Fields like software engineering, information technology, and information systems also create a pathway towards a semiconductor engineering career. It’s always advisable to land an internship job in the VLSI industry to increase the chances of getting into a semiconductor company.
With India’s recent focus on investing heavily in semiconductor manufacturing, there is a need for material science engineers, chemical engineers, and even applied physics. With assembly plants expanding in India, there is a significant need for technicians and supervisors. Semiconductor jobs today offer an excellent salary and a great career for engineers who are looking at working in their core area of interest and studies. In India and overseas, VLSI provides a variety of employment roles featuring outstanding professional growth and salary incentives.
VLSI was a new term when I finished engineering, and very few took steps in that direction. There were many elective options in my final year, and VLSI was one of them. Most students don’t realise that the electives offered in colleges are always indicative of the coming trends in an industry. I did not know then how big VLSI would become in the coming years, but I signed up for it because the topic interested me. VLSI is one area where the core technical skills learned in engineering are constantly challenged and used. Some of the core skills required are digital electronics, analog electronics, maths, signal processing, computer networks, computer architecture, language skills like SystemVerilog, C++, EDA tool expertise, and Python. Also necessary are good communication, and problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. Focus too on building exposure in one of the industry verticals by attending webinars, following leaders, and being up to date on technology advancements in that vertical via company websites, whitepapers, articles and news coverage.
The writer is Group Director and R&D Head at Synopsys India
(Part 2 of this article, focusing on the importance of certifications, will appear next week)