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Mama Don't Let your sons grow up Engineers

Discussion in 'Issues Around the World' started by ethics, Dec 27, 2002.

  1. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    For people who view this as a career, engineering is in worse shape now than it's been in years, says LeEarl Bryant, president of the Institute of Electronic and Electronic Engineers (IEEE-USA), which represents 235,000 professional members.

    At the peak of the dotcom era, according to the IEEE-USA, huge bonuses pushed the median salary for its members to $93,100. This year telecommunications and computer makers have laid off nearly 400,000 workers; last year, 500,000. Dilbert creator Scott Adam, a former engineer, observes that 'The general balance of power has swung. Engineers had it for a while, now the bosses have it back.'

    <a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/1226/p02s01-usec.htm">Engineers are increasingly frustrated and dissatisfied</a> with a career that once promised lifelong security.

    Twenty-nine-year-old Paul Porter, who is leaving the profession after his employer, Nortel Networks, slashed 50,000 employees, sees his master's degree as little more than 'a base.... I spent seven years in school, and it resulted in a six-year career.' Many are finding it more and more difficult to keep up with changing technology.

    According to William Wulf, president of the National Academy of Engineering, lifelong learning is more critical than ever: 'The half-life of engineering knowledge, the time it takes for something to become obsolete, is from seven to 2 1/2 years.'

    Perhaps the main cause of concern for engineers, though, is the influx of foreign workers. In 2000 Congress doubled the number of H-1B visas, bringing in up to 195,000 skilled foreign workers. IEEE-USA's President LeEarl Bryant is lobbying Congress to lower the number of visas allowed: 'About 80,000 engineers were unemployed a few months ago. If you take out the H-1Bs who came in, you'd have jobs for all of them.'

    But U.S. companies may increasingly be stuck in a Catch-22 situation that raises questions about America's ability to remain at the forefront of technology: According to the National Science Foundation, demand for engineering courses in the U.S. is on the wane, and the number of graduates has decreased, down from 63,000 in 1996 to 59,000 in 2000. Not low enough, imho.
  2. FrankF

    FrankF #55170-054

    There is a whole lot more to real engineering than knowing how to build a PC or a website, having a BS or MS or MSCE, and knowing how to design a chip using the latest automated CAE software.

    It is a field where you really have to understand what you are doing, and why things work the way the do, and keep up with technology.

    Many read about that $93,100 median salary and decided to become engineers. Many people who go into engineering do not possess the skills required to keep their jobs once they obtain all of the much hyped credentials that will supposedly guarantee success. And people moving from job to job to job every three years to jack up their salaries doesn't help either (employers get tired of hiring job hoppers).

    As is true with most careers, there are a few who are cut out to be Marines or Seabees... and others should do something else.
  3. Coot

    Coot Passed Away January 7, 2010

    The line between real engineering and software types, systems integrators and the like has been imho, intentionally blurred by the likes of microsoft et.al. in order to bump up salaries and add to their own prestige.

    Add to that a buttload of boneheads that make their way through school in hard engineering disciplines and end up as 10 percenters and salesmen and that just makes it even more unclear.

    There will always be a substantial need for good engineers, unfortunately for companies, wading through all the incompetents that have flooded the various disciplines is arduous and time consuming.

    Lots of people can pick things out of a catalog or catalogs, assemble them and make a widget that works...a real engineer can design a better widget.
  4. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    Shoot, I made more than that when I was employed...now if that's not a crime, I don't know what is. :)

    I'm also guilty of hiring two H-1B Visa workers back in 2000...and they're still employed. ;)

  5. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    In a related news...

    The San Francisco Chronicle <a href="http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2002/12/22/BU63139.DTL&type=tech">has a story</a> about laid-off techies getting desperate and going to work for, well, nothing.

    No offense to these people, if you're up against the wall you do whatever you can, but I hope they're aware that most of them are not going to get even the slightest compensation for their time? Have we learned nothing from the dot coms years?
  6. Biker

    Biker Administrator Staff Member

    It's not only bad career wise, but there's the added stigma of being middle aged as well.

    I took a few years off to be with my kids. Greatest thing I ever did, but it appears to have killed any chance of rejoining the technical sector. 8 months and lord knows how many applications and resumes later, I'm still working in a completely unrelated field for peanuts.
  7. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    I'd still do what you did. That, to me, would be priceless.

    Technical jobs insist that if you miss a few months of work, your knowledge goes bye bye. Not sure where this came from but I can tell you that I've seen people take years off and not miss a beat rather than some whippersnappers, fresh out of school, who are clueless not only about the paper they hold, but logic in general.

    There's an intrinsic ability to troubleshoot a computer, be it UNIX, Midrange like AS/400, or PC, and too damn many people lack that knowledge and logic. I hate to say this but some people just don't have the mind for it.
  8. Sir Joseph

    Sir Joseph Registered User

    I always thought that an H-1B had to be let go if an American or legal resident was qualified for the job??
  9. Coot

    Coot Passed Away January 7, 2010

    Ohhh...despite the dubious title, this thread is about computer geeks that have fallen out of favor rather than real engineers who seem to have no shortage of work...My Bad...I'll bow out of this one now.
  10. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    I can vouch for that...but then and again, I'm still jobless. Albeit with income.

  11. mikepd

    mikepd Veteran Member

    To excel at any technical job requires a certain mindset. You must have a strong desire to learn new things (not just in your own specialty), good study habits, work ethic, communication skills.

    If you work with customers, you must have a high degree of inter-personal communication skill with the ability to not let you personal feelings get in the way of doing the task at hand.

    I have worked with computers in a technical capacity in one form or another since 1974. I have helped maintain them as part of computerized x-ray scanning systems, built hobby kits from parts, done system integration with pcs, done break/fix work for CompUSA and now hope to at least supplement my disability check by doing SOHO computer consulting work within my existing limitations.

    I have experience, certifications, ethics (apologies Leon ;) ) and a desire to give something back to all those service engineers who over the years taught me so very much.

    I don't give a damn what employers or 'conventional wisdom' thinks.

    My mother had a saying and it was much better in Italian- 'Make sure you know what you want, for if you set your heart on it, you will surely get it.'

    My heart says I have to try this even with all my medical problems. To try and fail is one thing. Not to try at all is abject cowardice.

    My apologies for going OT.
  12. Pyrion

    Pyrion Liquid Metal Nanomorph

    It depends on what area of "engineering" you get into. There's this neat concept called "security clearance" that pretty much guarantees my dad's "job security".

    Now "IT Engineers", there's no "job security" around for them at all. ;)

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