With embedded controls engineers in short supply, recruiters are in hot pursuit of these and other talented specialists.
"There's a big-time shortage in the market for electronic controls engineers. We have a customer in the Midwest who has 96 projects on hold because they can't find the engineers who have the embedded controls background.
"The need is as bad as it's ever been. We would take a hundred of them today. We really would, but so would everybody else here," said Janene Stotts, President of the Engineering Resource Division at LHP Software.
LHP Software was one of 60 companies with representatives looking to recruit engineering experts during the SAE 2012 World Congress Career Fair on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Continental Automotive Systems recruiters were particularly interested in electrical, mechanical, as well as software engineers.
"We're always looking for embedded software engineers with automotive experience," said Kristin Kostan, a contracted human resources business partner for Continental Automotive Systems.
Engineers with a coveted skill set are likely to hear one or more recruiters say, "How soon can you start?"
Janice Charlton, Human Resources Recruiter for the Hyundai Kia America Technical Center Inc. (HATCI), said the company needs to find job candidates for the approximately 30 engineering, design, and manager positions available in Michigan, California, and Georgia.
For more than six months, Charlton has been on the hunt for a body structure engineer. "That's been my needle-in-a-haystack position," she said, noting that the sought-after candidate needs to have body component design and development experience.
Over the past 10 years, Satyam-Venture Engineering Services (Satven) has placed 700 engineers at 57 locations, mostly in India. The firm's recruiters have a number of available positions, including mechanical engineers, design engineers, and product engineers.
"The industry is definitely picking up (in terms of) positions for engineers and designers," said Donna Giannone, a technical recruiter for Satven.
Marvin Davenport hopes the industry's upward swing bodes well for his job search.
"I'm looking in the technical arena, but I'm looking more for a position that's marketing engineering products," said Davenport, who has an electrical engineering background. "So far, it looks promising."
Lance Wojewuczki, a recruiter for the staffing and recruiting firm Aerotek, shared the good expectations sentiment.
"This (career fair) looks like it's going to be a lot better year than last year in terms of the amount of candidates and the amount of opportunities that are available," said Wojewuczki.
Chris de Boer, Vice President of Research and Development for Transonic Combustion, said the California firm has openings for full-time engineers as well as engineering internships for the summer. The start-up company's engineers are developing a novel fuel injection system that would improve the efficiency of gasoline engines.
"We've had a very good experience with interns. We give them good projects to work on related to their interests," said de Boer.
One the firm's previous interns earned a materials technology patent during his job assignment. "We gave him a project to do, and the rest is history as they say," de Boer said, adding, "He'll be doing his PhD based on that subject matter."
Ryan Spencer, Director of Human Resources for Pierburg Inc. said the company is at the SAE career fair to scout applications engineers as well as interns for engineering positions. "We had a steady flow of potential candidates," Spencer said after Tuesday's session.
"Next year, Pierburg will have several new product launches, so we need to fill job positions to meet that demand," Spencer said.
Over the next year, the Toyota Technical Center (TTC) in Michigan will fill more than 100 job openings for engineers, technicians, and scientists.
Craig Veresh, a recruiter for TTC said the SAE World Congress career fair "is not one of our larger recruiting fairs because many of the people we see are already employed. But it's a very good networking career fair."
Paul Corrado, Human Resources Manager for Magna E-Car Systems, agrees that the career fair is a networking hotbed. Since engineers know other engineers, Corrado said that professional connection provides a gateway for finding candidates to fill specific job positions.
SAE World Congress relaunched its career fair in 2006. Sixty companies had exhibit space in Cobo Center's lobby at this year's event. "It's the largest number in the history of career fairs for SAE," said Martha Schanno, Recruitment Sales Manager for SAE International.