It's nice to see so many people responding. There was a very interesting reply by Paul E. Bennett, where he referred to embedded systems "training" and lack of people interested in it.
Well, for my case, there are two very strong reasons:
(1). From my professional work experience (Model-based design Engineer, three years, Delphi Automotive Systems), "training" is very specific to the technology at hand, and the problem that is being addressed. So, in short, training does not give me enough insight, nor theoretical knowledge, that I will require to develop solutions to related, but not the same problem instances. So, if I trained for automotive embedded software, I doubt if I will be able to work on stuff, like, full authority digital engine controllers. A PhD essentially helps develop the approach to solve a problem at hand, rather than being tied to a very specific instance of it: theoretical knowledge, skills, analysis and so on.
(2). I am an international student in US, so, for me to find even an internship (or apprenticeship), I would need to demonstrate my skills levels, and convince any company that I am worth the legal hassle. My case, inspite of all the professional exposure, and the awards and certificates, falls flat in the face of companies like GE, where they won't look at my resume if it does not have those magical letters "PhD".
I am also taking this opportunity to pose another question: So, does the way HR screen resumes, essentially looking for "tags" or "keywords" help them get the right person? I am not sure. I have seen lot of positions where my skills were a good match, but my keywords weren't. Does this approach not encourage an entirely different skills set of beefing up your resume to include all the keywords for the position? I am not speaking as a loser here, I have a job! I know tonnes of people who have the right resume but aren't a fit to the job, even by the most lax standards that could be invented.
Yeah, I agree with the opinion of mixing the right kind of internship with formal education. It should work wonders. I will be looking for internships, and I hope that I will find a few when I need them!
As for my PhD, I am following up with a faculty from some universities. Definitely, it is very hard to find a match: right mix of theoretical analysis with hands-on skill development for a PhD course.
Thanks for your opinions,