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Mistral's training division builds talent pool of embedded systems engineers

Posted: 30 Oct 2006     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Embedded Competency Centre  Mistral Software  ECC 

Embedded Competency Centre (ECC), Mistral Software's training division, has trained over 3,000 engineers since its inception. Of these, 1,000 were engineering graduates fresh from college and the balance were employed professionals with two to 10 years of designing experience.

ECC provides specialised training in real-time embedded systems to fresh engineering graduates aiming to build a career in that area and technology skill development training to the corporate segment. Mistral Software has a 10 member team dedicated for ECC's operations, comprising people from academic and embedded industry backgrounds.

The company has been able to meet a significant part of its requirement of fresh engineering graduates from the ECC. In 2005-06, the company was able to meet over 50 per cent of its fresher induction needs from the division.

"Primarily, the ECC was established to meet Mistral's own needs for embedded professionals. This mission still continues and plays a vital role in the company's needs for manpower development. Along the way, recognising the value addition that the group provides, the same training programmes were made available for industry professionals as well," Prabhakar Koushik, Mistral Software's vice president - training and manpower development, shared with EE Times India.

In embedded systems, the ECC offers training programmes in application development, device driver development, and board support package development in a real-time operating system context. For working professionals in industry, each of these programs spans about four full days. ECC's full-fledged courses for fresh engineer graduates have duration of four months. These courses cover modules in Embedded C, microcontrollers, specialised microprocessors, Linux systems programming, Linux device drivers, VxWorks application development, and VxWorks device drivers.

Embedded systems are generally not part of a standard university course curriculum for BE or B.Tech. academic streams in India. This has presented the ECC with a challenge in training fresh graduate engineers. "The exposure of engineering graduates to concepts of embedded and real-time systems is variable depending on the university and the college attended. With the exception of some of the more established academic institutions, there is a major disparity in the needs of the industry and the curriculum of universities," Koushik pointed out.

"Driving adoption of industrial practices into fresh graduates, while at the same time teaching them the technology and the tools that they need to use is a significant challenge. ECC strives to excel in providing exposure to both these elements, while at the same time inculcating a continuous learning culture," he added.

Training working engineers on real time embedded systems poses a different nature of challenge – inter-relating the learning content to a familiar application context for the engineer. "Training working engineers only in technology platforms is of limited utility. Relating the application context of the technology to what is being taught; that is, customising the end use aspect allows those engineers to relate more easily to the knowledge being imparted. This is always a significant challenge for any trainer as it calls for diversity of domain experience. At ECC, we believe very strongly in imparting domain exposure along with technology training," Koushik elabourated.

According to the company, research studies forecast that the worldwide market for embedded systems will touch about Rs.1,374,900 crore ($300 billion) over the next five years. In the company's assessment, in India as also worldwide, the growth of embedded systems market will be driven by applications such as replacement of mechanical metres with digital metres, cell phones, MP3 players, GPS receivers, and a host of other consumer durables. "It is estimated that in the area of mobile handsets alone, over 6 million new handsets may be added in the next couple of years in India," Koushik substantiated.

In the face of this strong demand growth, the gap between requirement and availability of engineers is widening, in terms of the number of engineers required, and also their capability.

- Krishnan Sivaramakrishnan
  EE Times India

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