Let’s face it; if you are a hiring manager in almost any field, you know how difficult it is to find a qualified candidate with the needed skillset “right out of the gate.” However, it is even more difficult in the semiconductor packaging design industry and every outsourced semiconductor assembly and test (OSAT) supplier knows this fact quite well. In this article, we will discuss the challenges and possible solutions to the problem.
As a hiring manager for semiconductor packaging, I have gone through candidate after candidate within the various engineering fields to try and find any recent grads with even the slightest idea of what a semiconductor package is – much less how to design one. Then, once deciding on a candidate, one cannot help but wonder if they are going to stick with it after you put in the time and effort to train them. Sometimes training lasts six to eight months before I am brave enough to trust a “newbie” with even entry-level production work.
Many years ago, this very thing happened. After months of searching for the “right” candidate, I finally found a very intelligent, personable and seemingly hard-working engineer. “Yes!” I thought to myself, “This guy is definitely teachable.” The only possible problem was that this candidate had a background in civil engineering – yes civil engineering. But he was truly the best candidate at the time. It did occur to me that he might not like his new career choice once he learned that we would not be using transits, levels and compasses to design semiconductor packages. So, I asked him quite bluntly “Are you sure you are going to be OK with such a major change in your career path?” The answer was a resounding “Absolutely! I have always wanted to work with semiconductors!” So, he was hired.
He trained remarkably well, and he remembered all the answers to the quizzes that I gave him each morning before we moved on to deeper and deeper aspects of the design engineer’s job. Each day he began with a big smile on his face. After two weeks of training, one morning (I remember it quite well) I noticed that his smile was gone. I knew immediately. Yes, he found another job – as a civil engineer, no less. So, he traded-in his newly acquired knowledge of wire bonds, Gerbers, traces and vias for a pocket tape and a surveyor’s wheel. Two weeks… down the drain, at least for me.
So, what is the problem? This is the million-dollar question, and it is an important one – quite possibly the future of packaging is at stake! Without advanced package engineers who are experts at connecting the silicon to the outside world, a piece of silicon is just a beautiful piece of art that mesmerizes the onlooker with its radiating iridescence.