Bits and Bytes

The Good Ol Days of Semiconductors Part 2

By Bill Giovino
Jan 29, 2013 - 11:27:35 AM

More stories and songs of the Semiconductor Professional. Everybody Sing Along Now! Feel our pain!

In Part One of the Good Ol Days of the Semiconductor Industry, I discussed how we got here. I went from being a cubicle-dwelling design engineering resident, to the world of a distributor Field Applications Engineer (FAE). My office now had a front seat and a back seat.

Typical FAEI was an FAE dedicated to the National Semiconductor product line and life would never be the same. It's been over a year since Texas Instruments acquired National Semiconductor. For many of us, the memory lives on.

You learn many new words and phrases at a semiconductor company. "Phone tag" was one. When I worked for STMicroelectronics my vocabulary expanded even more. Sitting at my desk talking to Agrate Italy, if I asked my friendly Italian co-worker on the phone for an action item, sometimes I would hear in response "Yes, but no". Translated, that means "I like you, but I can't help you". I could write a book on my experiences at ST but those of you that never worked for a semiconductor company might get upset seeing how the sausages are really made.

Starting with my work as an Electrical Engineer, I used to keep Quote Logs. That's a text file containing some of the more unusual things overheard at the office (ex: "What time is the 10:00 meeting?" - that's not as ridiculous as it sounds). I might publish some of these quotes if I can find a safe place to hide first.

Quoting to a customer a custom ASIC that headquarters refused to make was always exciting. Win the Business was the mantra; once awarded the business you browbeat headquarters into building it for the customer because, hey, look at the size of that order! Size always matters. I'm happy to say I know that's true.

There was another song sung at the 1989 National Semiconductor Field Applications Engineering Conference. The German FAEs - big, friendly, blond, amazing guys - all got up an sang a song that had us all falling on the floor in laughter. I can still remember the tune, I think they invented it themselves. Luckily, I still have the handout of songs they gave everyone and so, for posterity, here is:


Slowly the day begins to dawn
in old Ger-man-y
No one's there except a guy
he's an F-A-E
He has done his work all night
everything's com-plete
Marketing comes in at 10
now the part is ob-so-lete.

We've been at National very long
we know something will go wrong
Our job is high tech stuff
On my God our job is tough.
We study fisa-bili-ty
even if our salesman can not see
While they're out having lunch
we're answering questions, there's a bunch

We can ex-e-cute
without a tie or a suit
we are your F-A-Es,
friendly guys from Ger-man-y.

Presentations we do best
raise our customer's interest
Even if our voice gets faint
on the flip-chart we can paint
If an RSM is sitting in
he just sits there with a grin
We know he doesn't understand,
We hope he doesn't lend a hand


Q-A says they're always right
insult our clients day and night
It's not long until all is lost
who's at fault, who pays the cost?
The FAE's will sort it out
they know what's wrong without a doubt
With hard work and a little time
they'll win back your lost design


Now we hope that you can see
life is hard for an FAE
Everyday we give our best,
even at Ok-tober-fest
Join our team to be astute,
we'll teach you how to execute
What we have we hold so dear,
our pretty girls and German beer


The Good Ol Days of Semiconductors Part 2

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