They are omnipresent. They are there in your home, college, office, shopping mall and almost everywhere. Even when on the move– either on the most basic two-wheeler or on an advanced aircraft—you are still amidst embedded systems. But, have you ever thought of making a career in this exciting field? If not, here’s why you should think about it!

Industry veterans like Renuka Krishna, associate vice president, recruitment, KPIT Cummins Info-systems, believes, “With the demand of smart and intelligent products by consumers, the content of electronics and thus embedded software is increasing significantly. This makes embedded software not only lucrative but a space that offers opportunities for out-of-the-box thinking. Career prospects for young talent trained in this area are excellent.”

Do you know the system?

“Embedded Systems are simply the brain of most electronic systems that access, process, store and control data,” describes Niraj Patel, project chief, eInfochips. The embedded software industry can be classified into captive and non-captive units. The captive companies involve semiconductor companies that follow the IDM or fabless model and develop software that is required for chips and reference boards. OEMs also develop software for their own products. The non-captive companies are third-party embedded software developers, hardware/board designers or VLSI design companies that provide embedded software solutions as part of their service offerings. A few EMS and ODM companies also provide embedded software development services that are specific to the products that they design and manufacture for clients.

“Apart from cost, access to a large pool of talent is the primary competitive advantage of India. Moreover, Indian design organisations are metamorphosing from labour cost arbitrage to becoming true contributors to product innovation. A growing phenomenon is that of companies either investing in new design operations in India or significantly expanding their existing facilities. This will contribute to further expansion of the talent pool and maturation of skill sets at Indian design companies, which will be a true differentiator in the long run,” says Praveen K. Ganapathy, director-business development, Texas Instruments India.

Where do you fit?

Considering the increase in the number of design start-ups and key research and development contributions from India, the country is set to emerge as a major design centre for integrated circuits and embedded systems. Thus the demand for embedded system engineers for product and application development will continue to grow in the years to come.

Delve a little deeper, you will find that any embedded system is teamwork of three different sets of people: hardware engineers, software engineers and application domain experts. You can find a place in any of these broad categories.

As a hardware engineer, you will be responsible for hardware platform and module prototyping, debugging and testing. Additionally, you have to ensure compliance with standards and product specifications and initiate design changes as per the requirement.

If you are comfortable with software, you can begin as an embedded system programmer. This role will engage you in activities like analysis and optimisation of embedded software for the targeted real-time operating system (RTOS). Your tasks may include developing installable and built-in device drivers, kernel modifications and embedded application.

If you would like to explore the application possibilities in the field, give a thought to becoming a protocol engineer. You will be assigned tasks like development, integration and testing of various protocols within an embedded firmware stack used in devices.

However, keep in mind that you are expected to be an industry-ready product. “There is a shortage of industry-ready talent in the embedded system field, which means industry-specific talent should be employed by imparting trainings to freshers,” says Patel.

Who is hiring?

Almost all industries are increasing the use of embedded systems for increased sophistication in the areas of networking, automation and control. As a result, software, telecom and electronics companies are heavily diversifying into this field. The demand is maximum for professionals having 2-5 years of experience. Entry-level hiring is around 20 per cent of the total talent acquisition.

Most semiconductor manufacturers are involved in VLSI chip design and embedded software development. Indian companies are developing embedded products in consumer, industrial, telecom, automotive, computing and medical spaces, for local as well as foreign markets. Transnational global companies like Cisco, Juniper, Honey-well, GE, Bosch, Delphi, Visteon and Continental have set up their embedded development centres in India. In addition, semiconductor and design services companies in India like Wipro, HCL, Texas Instruments, Freescale, Cadence, Mindtree, L&T, TCS, Tata Elxsi and KPIT Cummins are carrying out embedded software and hardware product development in India for global accounts.

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