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Happy New Year UK electronics – now get off your backside?

In my mind, 2011 brings a wealth of opportunities for "UK electronics", especially for those involved in design and innovation. So far, indicators are looking good and the general climate is one of growing optimism. Even the press are speaking about manufacturing-led recovery (even if they don't really know what manufacturing is).

So as I look forward to a fantastic New Year, I must raise a couple of cautionary notes. Firstly, our optimism must be matched with a new approach. We must be careful not to fall back and do what we did yesterday because it's what we do today that defines our future. We must be courageous and take the opportunities that lie before us, leading the way, not following others. This is what forged the reputation of "British Innovation" – a heritage we are rightly proud of and a heritage which we as engineers need to live up to every day of our lives. Have no doubt, we must significantly raise our game in order to have long-term, sustainable success.

We also need to be honest. The vast majority of electronics design professionals in the UK, spend most of their time solving problems or doing non-engineering tasks. Creativity has been stifled, restricting a large number of us to designing in the same way as we've always done. We sit in our defined operational silos, trying to innovate but with one hand tied behind our backs and management beating time on a drum at an ever-increasing rate. Innovation by it's very nature is new, vibrant, exciting, dynamic and is not driven by fear of failure.

Further, we don't get out much. This is a big issue for me. We all bemoan the way that the general public perceive our profession. What we often don't realise is that other engineering disciplines look at electronics as a lesser form of engineering. We do not strive for Chartered status, we do not have a representative Institution or Trade Association, we are put in the same box as Computer Scientists and IT geeks. In the past two years, I have seen that we don't invest in regular training and we certainly don't attend networking events or trade shows. This situation, in my opinion, has been created by ourselves – no-one else is to blame and only we can lead ourselves out of this mess.

So don't sit back and watch the game, pull your boots on and take part in it. There is a bright future ahead for electronics, it's down to you to grab the opportunities, shake them, make them your own and ultimately be successful.

Author
Philip Mayo. Founder and Managing Director, Premier EDA Solutions

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