Engineers: Computing first to rebound

Swapping slide rules for crystal balls, select members of an engineering standards group say they think the computer industry will rebound faster than other sectors.

Paul Festa Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Paul Festa
covers browser development and Web standards.
Paul Festa
2 min read
Select members of an engineering standards group said they thought the computer industry would recover sooner than other technology segments, but the semiconductor industry came in a close second.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) said its "fellows" in the computer industry were 20 percent more likely than IEEE fellows on the whole to predict a recovery for their segment in the near future.

The IEEE limited its survey to those it has designated as fellows, or members with "an extraordinary record of accomplishments in the Institute's fields of interest." These number 6,011 out of about 385,000 members overall, who are divided among telecommunications, energy, computer, semiconductor and other segments.

Sixty-nine percent of computer sector engineers thought their industry would be the first to pick up. Semiconductor engineers came in second with 62 percent, energy a distant third with 48 percent, and telecom last with 39 percent.

As a whole, the IEEE fellows were more evenly divided on which sector would rebound first. Forty-nine percent said computers; 44 percent, energy; 43 percent, semiconductors; and 38 percent, telecom.

Computer industry leaders are also divided on the prospects for recovery. Cisco Systems chief executive John Chambers this month expressed optimism that the information technology industry as a whole would rebound, while in late October executives from database companies Oracle and Siebel Systems voiced the opposite view.

The survey results are set to appear in the January issue of IEEE Spectrum, the group's monthly newsmagazine.

Other results of the survey reveal that 52 percent of fellows think Moore's law--Intel co-founder Gordon Moore's theory that computer processing power doubles every 18 months--will go unbroken for another five to 10 years. And 85 percent of the fellows think good students are eschewing the field of engineering because they can make more money elsewhere.