Reader Question: How Has COVID-19 Affected Your Job?

March 28, 2020 by Hannah DeTavis

How is social distancing affecting you, the hands-on engineer?

One of the many cruelties of COVID-19 is its heavy hit on “non-essential” industries, which may bring recreation and entertainment markets to mind. 

But what about highly specialized fields like electrical engineering, which often require access to in-lab equipment that designers can’t easily dupe from home? Additionally, many EEs do fall into that “essential” category, like engineers forging innovations in defense and telecommunications. 


An engineer solders a circuit.

Which of your design tasks requires a lab? And which can you do from home? Image used courtesy of Wladimir. B 

A glimpse at a few semiconductor manufacturers’ response to COVID-19 may give us an idea of how the pandemic affects the individual engineer, but ultimately, we’ll ask for your feedback on your experience.

So, how are companies keeping up production when social distancing so poignantly affects the hands-on engineer?


Segregating Teams

Several weeks ago, an employee at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), one who was in close contact with roughly 30 other team members, tested positive for COVID-19. Those affected went into a 14-day self-quarantine.


Employees at TSMC wearing protective gear.

Employees at TSMC wearing protective gear. Screenshot used courtesy of TSMC

According to Taiwan Times, the company then instated a temporary policy that mandated employees to operate in segregated teams, mitigating the risk of exposure to large groups. All employees are also required to wear protective masks in meetings or training settings.


Scaling Back

Other suppliers are scaling back production altogether. One of our AAC contributors, Luke James, recently explored how COVID-19 could cripple the semiconductor industry as electronics manufacturers reduce output

ST Microelectronics, for example, recently signed an agreement with unions to chop production at its French sites until early April, a Reuters report reveals.


Ramping Up

While some companies are slowing down production to accommodate stay-at-home orders, a select few are ramping up production for live-saving medical devices, like ventilators. PCB manufacturer Calumet Electronics is one such company, reporting that 290 of its employees are “working around the clock” to develop PCBs for breathing ventilators


Calumet Electronics

Calumet Electronics is up and running to respond to ventilator demands. Image used courtesy of Calumet Electronics

The company says that, to the best of their ability, they are following state and federal health recommendations for social distancing and disinfecting their work environment.


So, How Has COVID-19 Affected Your Job? 

We’re reaching out to our AAC community to hear about your experience with COVID-19 so far. 

Have you been sent home to ride out the storm? Or are you expected to come into a lab on an as-needed basis? Is lab occupation restricted to a few people at a time? Or do you try to jimmy-rig solutions from home? Or, have you been among the engineers that are on the frontlines of COVID-19, designing circuit boards for ventilators and other life-saving medical devices for affected persons?

Share your experiences in the comments below. And please, from our AAC editorial team, do stay safe in your neck of the woods.

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    Sam_EETech March 30, 2020

    It has been trying to have to work at home and keep up the same level of productivity. Luckily in my line of work, we are able to function digitally for the most part. Also, the reduction in gas usage and parking fees is really nice.

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    TimGTech April 01, 2020

    Working in the IT industry, the COVID-19 outbreak has many of us running around like crazy.  Many businesses and schools are having to make the shifts to working remotely from home as well as online school from home.  I have been go-go-go every day and getting calls at all hours.  We’ve been extremely busy with setting up VPNs as well as other forms of remote connectivity, and relocating equipment.  Business continuity as well as security is paramount.  Computer and IT companies are considered “essential businesses” because we support the IT infrastructure of other essential businesses.  It has been very busy and very frustrating.  Right now the job security for us looks pretty good.  Unfortunately under these kinds of circumstances though.  Hope all stay safe!

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