The Burdens Of A Lebanese Hardware Design Engineer
The biggest trend in technology right now is the Internet of Things. Connected devices are now everywhere, from smart fridges to smart watches and everything in between. Many tinkerers are able to build their own hardware prototypes, but taking this prototype and making a product out of it is a whole different story. On the technical side of things, this is where the job of Hardware Design Engineer comes in. The Hardware Design market is expanding worldwide, job opportunities are booming in most countries but the sad truth is that in Lebanon we are still lacking behind.
The major electronic component providers in Lebanon are still carrying stock from 10+ years ago. They have completely missed out on the IoT era. PCB designers rarely use through-hole components anymore, and Lebanese sellers rarely provide SMD components. I might understand that the market is small and that they cannot offer a wide range of components, but not having basic SMD components such as passives (0402,0603,1206…) that is a whole different story. Almost everyone in the market today uses ARM CORTEX micro-controllers, well good luck finding these in Lebanon. The conclusion is, if you need to design any product with today’s technologies then you are forced to source the needed components overseas.
Buying overseas leads us to another problem, shipping. If you are not buying in bulk, then most probably the shipping cost will be more expensive than the components cost. If you are not in a hurry and you can wait a longtime for items to be delivered then Aliexpress (or similar) can be an option. As always, buying from Chinese providers online can be tricky and you need to be smart about choosing the right one.
Another alternative would be to use Shop-and-Ship from Aramex, this represents a cost effective alternative for express shipping to Lebanon. If you are interested make sure to check our previous post about it.
You can never estimate the exact cost of custom clearance, that is the bottom line of the story. Furthermore, any wireless connectivity component needs to be sent to the Ministry of Communication for special clearance. In today’s age everything is connected (Internet of Things), so most likely the device you are designing will have a wireless communication part and you will need this clearance. The last items we shipped to Lebanon cost us 230 USD for this clearance knowing that the items price was 300USD, so we had to pay double the price to get them here. I am not aware of any legal workarounds for this, but if you do please let us know.
Hardware Design Engineer Opportunities
I must say that the job market is not that great if you are a Hardware Design Engineer. You will rarely find any job opportunities on the market. But there is another face to the story, employers know that the expertise are not widely available and they are willing (most of the times) to give better working benefits when they find an engineer that is fit for the job. This also means that the demand in the Freelance market is big.
The above problems caused the hardware market in Lebanon to stall. Although the odds seem to be against us, that is usually when hard-work and dedication pays off. In the future there is no running away from the Hardware revolution, and hopefully soon the life of the Lebanese Hardware Design Engineer will get easier.