Economy and Shortages Affect the European Job Outlook

The bigger high-tech companies in Europe are recruiting EEs. Talent is in short supply, especially for smaller firms looking for very specific skills

8 min read

Despite the painful recession, the job market for electrical and electronics engineers in Europe presents a decidedly mixed picture, as job losses are more than offset by the aging of the technical workforce and a shortage of qualified engineers. The result is a seller’s market for talented technical professionals across Europe, including those just graduating from universities. Unemployment across Europe is only about 3 percent for electrical and electronics engineers, contrasted with an overall rate of about 10 percent in most locales, rising to 20 percent in a few places, like Spain and Latvia.

The need for engineers is especially high in the United Kingdom. ”Just about every type of engineer with two years experience or more will find excellent opportunities,” according to Workgateways UK, a Web site for people from abroad seeking jobs in the UK. ”Within the Mechanical and Electrical engineering discipline, jobs for building services design engineers are in high demand; in particular for commercial, office and institutional (Health, Education) projects in the UK.”

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Apptronik Developing General-Purpose Humanoid Robot

Apollo will be a practical bipedal platform that can do useful tasks

6 min read
A photo of a sliver and black humanoid robot

Apptronik’s Quick Development Humanoid (QDH) is the prototype for its general-purpose humanoid robot, Apollo.

There’s a handful of robotics companies currently working on what could be called general-purpose humanoid robots. That is, human-size, human-shaped robots with legs for mobility and arms for manipulation that can (or, may one day be able to) perform useful tasks in environments designed primarily for humans. The value proposition is obvious—drop-in replacement of humans for dull, dirty, or dangerous tasks. This sounds a little ominous, but the fact is that people don’t want to be doing the jobs that these robots are intended to do in the short term, and there just aren’t enough people to do these jobs as it is.

We tend to look at claims of commercializable general-purpose humanoid robots with some skepticism, because humanoids are really, really hard. They’re still really hard in a research context, which is usually where things have to get easier before anyone starts thinking about commercialization. There are certainly companies out there doing some amazing work toward practical legged systems, but at this point, “practical” is more about not falling over than it is about performance or cost effectiveness. The overall approach toward solving humanoids in this way tends to be to build something complex and expensive that does what you want, with the goal of cost reduction over time to get it to a point where it’s affordable enough to be a practical solution to a real problem.

Apptronik, based in Austin, Texas, is the latest company to attempt to figure out how to make a practical general-purpose robot. Its approach is to focus on things like cost and reliability from the start, developing (for example) its own actuators from scratch in a way that it can be sure will be cost effective and supply-chain friendly. Apptronik’s goal is to develop a platform that costs well under US $100,000 of which it hopes to be able to deliver a million by 2030, although the plan is to demonstrate a prototype early this year. Based on what we’ve seen of commercial humanoid robots recently, this seems like a huge challenge. And in part two of this story (to be posted tomorrow), we will be talking in depth to Apptronik’s cofounders to learn more about how they’re going to make general-purpose humanoids happen.

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A World-Class Tech MBA on Your Own Schedule

Purdue University offers professionals around the world a flexible, STEM-focused, all-online MBA from a top-ranked business school

9 min read
Photo of Purdue campus showing a sculpture of a rock topped with a large metal P letter.

Purdue is one of the world’s premier engineering universities.

Purdue University

This sponsored article is brought to you by Purdue University’s online MBA program.

A Master of Business Administration degree can be a passport to broader career horizons—especially for ambitious young (and young-ish) engineers.

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