Industry Buzz from the Bay Area MEMS Happy Hour

Contributed by Paul Werbaneth, VP, Marketing & Applications, Tegal Corporation.

Well if they have farms, milk, butter, and cheese in Berkeley, CA, then having MEMS in Berkeley is the next logical step, right?

And if you had stumbled in, or otherwise found yourself in, the Pyramid Alehouse on Gilman in Berkeley Wednesday evening, you would have found they not only have MEMS in Berkeley (Al? Clark?), they also have excellent draft beers (that wasn’t moo juice we were drinking), good pizzas, healthy (?) sweet potato fries, and a whole bunch of MEMS people standing outside on the Alehouse patio enthusiastically networking over the aforementioned imbiss.

It’s the monthly roving Bay Area MEMS after-work get-together, and it’s attracted more people tonight than anyone (including the loose band of organizers: Dave Cook, Alissa Fitzgerald, Roger Grace, Mary Ann Maher, Magnus Rimskog, among others) thought would make the trek up from Silicon Valley, or from campus up the hill.  (31 miles from Petaluma to Berkeley for me, a trip the car knows well, owing to two daughters who are now both Cal grads.)

Here we are heading into the holiday season in late 2009, a year we will mostly remember as our annus horribilus,  and yet I hear repeated again and again in the floating conversations tonight phrases like “we just filled our job posting”, “we just hired more engineers”, “we have engineering recs open”, “I need to hire a sales manager”, or “I’m here recruiting.”

The US government is on record saying the recession is easing, but I’m not believing it until the jobs come back.  It’s a historical fact that many of the jobs (sexing chickens in Petaluma) never come back. This is surely to be the case in Silicon Valley moving forward, just like it’s been the case in Pittsburgh, PA, from my grandfather’s time to today.  (Anyone need an experienced Linotype operator?)

But as they say in hip-hop (check out the excellent recorded work from Atmosphere, if that’s how you roll), “When life gives you lemons, you paint that s— gold.”

I think a lot of silicon lemons are turning into MEMS gold right now. If the party chatter is any sign, I think 2010 may be an annus mirabilis for MEMS and for the MEMS workforce, at least by 2009 standards.

And that’s not the whiskey talking tonight, that’s the wisdom of the crowd.

From the beautiful copper-covered bar at the Pyramid Alehouse, thanks for reading.

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