Microelectronics is a specialised field of engineering that exclusively deals with the study and understanding of the design and development of microchips. A variant of electronic engineering, microelectronic engineering deals only with components at the micrometre-scale or smaller.
We cannot overlook the prevalence of micro-electronic components in our common world—we find it in almost everything these days—computers, mobile phones, automotive vehicles to list a few.
A microelectronics engineer is responsible for devising and micro-manufacturing bespoke microchips to suit a particular function. The engineer’s in-depth understanding of small-scale electronic components allows him/her to be involved in the design, planning and organisation process of producing the appropriate microchip. The devices are frequently made using semiconductor materials and includes transistors, inductors, capacitors, diodes, resistors, insulators and conductors. For such a small-scale and unusually small size of the individual components, expensive techniques necessitating specialised equipment like wire bonding are employed. With every passing year, the scale of components in microelectronics has continued to decrease and the goal of microelectronics engineers are to devise techniques to minimise parasitic effects (such as interconnections) while simultaneously producing faster, cheaper and smaller devices.
Students wishing to pursue a career in microelectronic engineering must have a thorough understanding of the theories in play when it comes to electronic components systems and processes. A strong knowledge base in Physics is mandatory. Students who seek to become experts in fields like processor design, IC fabrication or chip design would do well in the field of microengineering. Strong analytical abilities, logical and spatial reasoning to anticipate and eventually solve size-related problems can help students excel in the field of microelectronic engineering.
As more and more companies are setting their own technology hubs in India, there would come a day when semiconductor fabrication plants will be set up here, and not just the design houses. However, as there are quite a number of such design houses—both fabless as well as with fabs—there is a huge scope for microelectronics engineer for future jobs. Microelectronics engineers can would get placed straight from into MNCs that design chips. Some of the jobs that microelectronics engineer can look at are:
Micro-electronics Engineer: These specialist engineers design and construct prototypes and conduct experimental tests and collate data regarding the performance of new microelectronic models. Microelectronics engineers are employed across fields ranging from biomedicine, aerospace and information technology.
Bioelectronics Engineer : This is the branch of the sciences that applies principles from mathematics and engineering to assess and eventually manipulate human organs like the heart and the nervous system in favour of eliminating disability or disease. It is an expansion beyond the regular applications of technology in health sciences and ranges from pacemakers and biosensors to the continuous innovations as in the case of artificial limbs.
Opto-electronics/ Photonics Engineer : These professionals, after extensive research, create photonic prototypes of systems and components that deal with harnessing or converting light information and energy to assist with day-to-day functions. Examples include fiber optics technology and lasers.