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12 Essential Skills Every Engineer Needs To Learn

Presenter: Happy Holden
Company: PCB Technologist
Date Published: 5/12/2020

Description: I have been working in electronics manufacturing for over 50 years now. I was fortunate to be part of this industry in its GOLDEN YEARS, from 1972 to 2000! In this period, all the modern devices that we use today, calculators, mobile phones, tablets, medical devices and portable computers, etc. were invented and went into production. In 2000, with the Internet Bubble bursting, we have now been mostly just enhancing those devices. The big boom has been with Internet software applications and the devices that it inspired.

But this presentation and the successive columns I will be writing is not about these wonderful devices, rather it is about the engineering skills and capability that all those engineers demonstrated to come up with these wondrous new devices. Over the years, I have concocted a list of twelve (12) essential skills that I think every engineer should strive to master. Most are not taught in college engineering courses, but are acquired through company training or individual efforts. It is these 12 skills that has let too many of these new devices or software and to the success of electronics in the last 50 years.

12 Essential Skills

The 12 engineering skills are just my opinion, but over the last 45 years, they have been what I have observed as the essential tools that engineers, including myself, needed to complete the Project, develop the Product, meet the Schedule, or solve the Problem. These were the important skills that got me the promotion, or the opportunity for a challenging job, etc. These 12 skills are the subjects for my future e-Book in pcb007 and are listed here:

1. TQC / Six-Sigma / Statistics / Curve Fitting

2. Problem Solving

3. Design of Experiments


5. Information Research on the Internet

6. Technical Writing

7. Design for Manufacturing / Assembly Depending on group

8. Managing Management Time

9. Project / Program Management

10. Quality Functional Deployment (House of Quality)

11. 10-Step Business Plan- Growth Plan?

12. Lean Manufacturing / JIT / TOC

About the Presenter:

Happy Holden is the retired Director of Electronics & Innovations for GENTEX Corporation. Formerly, he was the PCB Technologist and Chief Technical Officer for Foxconn Advanced Technology of Taiwan and China. Prior, he was the Senior PCB Technologist for Mentor Graphics System Design Div in Longmont, CO. Prior to MCG, he had been a Senior Consultant at TechLead Corp, Merix and Westwood Associates. He retired from Hewlett-Packard after over 28 years in 1998. Mr. Holden formerly managed Hewlett Packard's application organizations in Taiwan and Hong Kong This consulting group specialized in printed circuit manufacturing, automation planning and implementing Computer Integrated Manufacturing. Mr. Holden's prior assignments with Hewlett-Packard had been in pcb manufacturing, software marketing and packaging R&D. He hold a bachelors degree from Oregon State in Chemical Engineering as well as a Masters in Computer Science.

He is a frequent speaker on Printed Circuit Topics and CIM Strategies and has had over 100 technical papers published on Automation, printed circuits, advanced packaging, DFM and process engineering, as well as chapters in three books on HDI Technology and Design Planning/DFM, including the new 7th Edition of Coomb's PCB Handbook. He is on the IPC's T/MRC Steering Council and was the Technical Chairman for IPC EXPO '95. In 1991 , Mr. Holden received the IPC President's Award for outstanding contribution to the programs of the IPC worldwide and in 2002, the prestigious Atomic Giant "Most Influential" in printed circuits. He lectures for the IPC in Asia on PWB Design and Advanced Processes. He also holds several patents on chemical sensor technologies.

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