The Readers Have Their Say

Dec. 5, 2011
Independent of subject matter, all publications ultimately owe their success (or failure) to how well they know their audienceand by extension, how successfully they can cater to its needs. Microwaves & RF is certainly no exception to that rule, and ...

Independent of subject matter, all publications ultimately owe their success (or failure) to how well they know their audienceand by extension, how successfully they can cater to its needs. Microwaves & RF is certainly no exception to that rule, and that's why we're always eager to find out more about the fine folks who read our magazine.

To wit: This past September, we conducted a wide-ranging e-mail survey with more than 26,000 MWRF subscribers. Our predominant finding? Both on and off the job, microwave engineers are quite the diversified bunch. What follows is a complete rundown of the survey questions and responses, along with a sampling of your commentary where applicable.

1. How long have you been working in the microwave industry?

No reply 0.5%

Less than 3 8.9%

3-5 9.6%

6 -9 5.7%

10-14 10.8%

15-19 8.5%

20-29 25.9%

30-39 19.8%

40 or more 10.3%

Mean years 20.7

Median years 20.0

2. How long have you been working in your current position?

No reply 0.5%

1-2 19.8%

3-4 17.4%

5-9 21.9%

10-14 15.1%

15-19 8.5%

20-29 12.3%

30 or more 4.3%

Mean years 9.7

Median years 7.0

3. Into which general classification does your current position fall?

No reply 0.5%

Engineering 81.2%

Other 5.9%

Corporate management 5.4%

Marketing 3.7%

Sales 3.3%

What you said: Business development, R&D, electronic technician, maintenance and field support, quality and test.

4. What is your age?

No reply --

Less than 30 6.6% 30 to 39 13.2%

40 to 49 23.5%

50 to 59 28.3%

60 to 69 21.4%

70 or older 7.0%

Mean 51.5

Median 55.0

5. In which region are you located?

No reply 0.2%

United States 61.0%

Canada 3.1%

Mexico 0.7%

South America 1.6%

Central America --

Europe 17.2%

India 6.6%

China 1.6%

Japan 0.7%

Australia 1.2%

Other 6.1%

5a. In which US region are you located?

No reply 8.5%

Northeast 20.8%

Midwest 15.4%

South 26.2%

West 29.1%

6. Do you have a BSEE (Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering)?

No reply 1.2%

Yes 61.9%

No 36.9%

7. Do you have a Master's degree in any of the following disciplines?

No reply 0.7%

Physics 5.0%

Mathematics 0.7%

Engineering 38.4%

Business 5.2%

Other 3.8%

No Master's degree 48.5%

What you said:

Biochemistry, military studies, radio astronomy, technology education

8. Would you recommend college students consider pursuing a career in microwave engineering?

No reply --

Yes, definitely 56.3%

Yes, probably 21.6%

Yes, possibly 18.4%

No 3.7%

What you said:

"Financial prospects are not what they used to be 10 years ago."

"Future advances may be greater in other areas of science and engineering."

"The jobs are interesting and well compensated, but the student must be motivated to put in the work to get the degree."

9. Which industry do you think will be most impacted by microwave and RF technologies over the next five to ten years?

No reply --

Medical 20.5%

Smart energy 16.3%

Automotive 10.6%

Defense 30.6%

Industrial 14.1%

Other 7.8%

What you said:

Cellular communications, entertainment and data systems, information technology.

10. Which computer-aided-engineering (CAE) tools do you most rely on?

No reply 7.1%

Circuit simulator 55.5%

SPICE simulator 36.2%

EM simulator 33.2%

System simulator 24.5%

Other 10.4%

What you said:

AutoCad, EDA, GIS, Zemax, custom-written code.

11. Which test instruments do you currently rely on?

No reply 3.3%

Spectrum analyzer 79.7%

Oscilloscope 69.0%

Vector network analyzer 59.8%

Other 11.5%

What you said:

Base-station emulators, cased and open hole logs, EM field scanners, load-pull systems.

12. What is your annual salary level?

No reply 4.3%

Less than $50,000 19.8%

$50,000 to $74,999 19.0%

$75,000 to $99,999 22.1%

$100,000 to $124,999 19.3%

$125,000 to $149,999 8.3%

$150,000 to $174,999 3.7%

$175,000 to $199,999 1.7%

$200,000 or more 1.7%

Mean $87,800

Median $87,500

13. Are you a ham radio operator?

Yes 22.1%

No, but I have an interest in it 36.7%

No, and I have no interest in it 41.0%

14. When you aren't working, what hobbies do you enjoy?

What you said:

Model railroading, photography, genealogy, rock climbing, sailing, woodworking, yoga, homebrewing, making robots, stamp collection, pyrotechnics.

15. Was there any key event/turning point in your life that made you want to be a part of this industryto become a microwave engineer?

Yes 31.8%

No 67.5%

What you said:

"Getting my novice amateur radio license at age 11 and making my first DX contact."

"Knack for figuring out how things work and fixing them."

"Realizing the impact of microwaves and RF on all other fields."

"When the auto industry started using CNC machining of engine and components."

"Cell phones were becoming more readily available when I was in college."

"Joining the Marines and learning communications."

"I was mentored by someone in the industry as a teen."

16. What do you find most stressful or challenging about your job?

What you said:

"Adapting to a business-to-business (B2B) marketing strategy in a niche industry."

"Balancing short-term needs with long-term improvements in production test."

"Designing reliable microwave circuits which are easy to manufacture."

"Getting adoption of new technology from others."

"Getting capital funds approved for projects."

"Being accepted as a RF design engineer at a young age."

"Company politics."

17. What do you find most interesting about being a microwave engineer? What do you like most about it?

What you said:

"The sense of the unknown. Functionality problems never seem to be the same."

"Working on cutting-edge technology that can improve people's lives"

"Knowing things not many people know"

"It is a very exciting part of the spectrum, with lots of capabilities and lots of challenges."

"People that consider you a miracle worker when the systems are running poorly before you work your magic, and are running like a top when you finish."

"How it's possible to make complex electrical networks out of just metal and air."

"Finding new ways to extend ranges of transmission. Developing new packages of network systems."

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