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.