I couldn’t agree with the author more. Like the author, I too picked up a degree in electrical engineering in the late 90’s, only to watch almost every one of my school colleagues move into the sotware realm. All that hardware work on electric theory for nothing! But understandably so, hardware was expensive to produce, while software was far less capital intense.
I stuck with it though, after many years in graduate school I founded Gazepoint which produces eye-tracking systems which include hardware (electrical and mechanical) and a whole lot of software. These systems would not have been possible were it not for the advances in low cost electronics manufacturing AND 3D printing. I happen to love 3D printing, I’ve printed everything from replacement laundry dryer knobs and sink drain plugs, to commercial products such as housings and head mounted eye-trackers.
Last year I sponsored a UBC student team that developed an incredible video game called Focalpoint. The game was amazing, they did a fantastic job but it was all software. I’m impressed that electrical engineering produces graduates well rounded enough to do full bore software projects like this, but I also think we’re just entering this Golden Age of Hardware and believe students might find some real opportunities innovating in hardware.
So this year at BCIT I have two student teams working on hardware based projects. Of course both include significant software components but each is based around the hardware device. As the teams progress I’ll post more!