Intel's recent announcement that it will build a 12-inch wafer plant in China raises questions about the predictions we've heard for years about real engineering jobs not moving to Asia. If you've been paying attention to such stories, then you know that many experts have insisted that "real" engineering jobs would never leave here. The only jobs that would get offshored would be low-level tech positions, those experts said.
I'm hearing that opinion a lot less these days, especially in the wake of Intel's announcement.
One organization that has consistently expressed a a very different opinion, however, is the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA). A few months ago, representatives of the SIA warned us about potential loss of American engineering jobs. They said that while four- and six-inch wafer plants reached obsolescence in this country, 12-inch plants in foreign countries would remain. Then, as the scales tipped toward lower capacity here and higher capacity off shore, engineering jobs would move to other countries.
"If we lose more fabs, we're not only going to lose (those) engineering jobs," said John Greenagel of the SIA. "We're going to lose all the jobs that go with those fabs."
If that's true — and I believe there's good reason to respect the SIA's opinion — then it casts serious doubt on the old saw, "The real engineering jobs will never leave here."
Maybe it's time we listened more closely to the SIA, before it affects enrollment in American engineering schools.