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Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn
5

Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn

Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn

(OP)
Every engineering discipline is being affected by the present economic conditions. But I was somewhat surprised by the following article posted, of all things, on a website that more centric on scientific articles and issues.

http://www.physorg.com/news166208581.html

The information originates with the IEEE - perhaps the main organization for engineers working in all types of electrical and electronic engineering. The article indicates that unemployment among EE is much higher than other engineering and professional areas.

I would like to see from this post a discussion about job/unemployment trends from other electrical, or other types of engineers who's own jobs are closely tied to electrical/electronics companies or industries.
 

RE: Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn

3
Funny the article failed to mention the IEEE's complicity in the fabled 'engineer shortage', which has apparently evaporated overnight.

The IEEE, and its analogs, are not really organizations for engineers; their mission has more to do with ensuring an oversupply of engineers, so as to keep the price down.  Their real customers are _employers_of_ engineers.

 

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn

MikeHalloran

Squarly hit the nail with that one.  
The purpsoe of the IEEE was ( still is I tink ) was to keep college professors employed ( that's why english used to be a second language in many engineering classes ) and to provide cheap engineers for industry.

The people who rant the IEEE were always achedemics or management.  

RE: Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn

Regardless, I still see a lot of ads for EE's, but very few for Civils or Structurals...  EE's are not being hit as hard from my perspective.

The most ads I see are for the Merdical profession.

Mike McCann
MMC Engineering

RE: Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn

2
Electronics manufacturing is taking a battering for sure.

The heavy electrical industries like generation, transmission, distribution are riding the storm fairly well because or the high retirement rate and the generation gap of guys between 30 and about 45 who are virtually missing from the industry, in the UK at least (part of Thatcher's legacy: I hope she burns for all eternity). Experienced power engineers are commanding a premium from employers and are being actively pursued by headhunters even at this point in the economic troubles.
  

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If we learn from our mistakes I'm getting a great education!
 

RE: Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn

I take it you are not old enough to remember what a mess the country was in prior to Maggie then Scotty?

She was the saviour of this country, unfortunately the automotive industry is still feeling the effects of the lunatic union leaders from around the same period in time. I only wish there was another Maggie to clear up the mess we are currently in.
 

RE: Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn

Your cricket team is in disarray, and you guys waste your time arguing about Dame Maggie.

RE: Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn

Oh yeah, I remember the mess it was in. I grew up through it. One of the reasons I'm not a huge fan of unions is the mess they made of the country when they had too much power in the sixties and seventies. Without the unions Thatcher would never have risen to power in the first place so I agree that they are equally to blame. Unfortunately her method of curing the problem with the unions was akin to a doctor curing a patient of flu by shooting them in the head.

Surrendering control of key national infrastructure such as the electrical, water and gas utilities to the private control of foreign companies was an act of absolute folly and is one of the main reasons why there is no long-term energy policy and why there has been so little investment in our utilties for the past 20 years. Shareholders want short and medium profit, not to invest for the next forty or fifty years. I'm from the utility industry: I see the quality of the plants built by the CEGB and compare them to the private venture plants. The CEGB sites will still be there when the newer ones have dropped to bits. I see the quality of the engineering done 30 years ago and it is far far better than what we are allowed to do today. Everything is built down to a price, not up to a standard. That's more of Thatcher's legacy.

The likes of British Leyland and British Shipbuilders desperately needed to change but the Thatcher government did fail to force through the positive changes and modernisation needed to help those companies compete internationally and it did take the easy option which was to let those companies fold rather than take the hard option which would have kept the industries alive by breaking the union stranglehold and modernising.


Hokie,

lol.
  

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If we learn from our mistakes I'm getting a great education!
 

RE: Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn

I assume you guys are speaking of Maggie Smith?  smile

Mike McCann
MMC Engineering

RE: Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn

MikeHallorin and BJC
I could not agree with you more!
I guess I am part of the problem because I have been paying my IEEE dues for a long time and wodering why I continue!
I guess becaue I signed up in college.
JIM
 

RE: Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn

The shortage of experenced power engineers also includes the states. However we still haven't enough schools to teach the number of power engineers needed.

Presently we are seeing other electrical engineers entering into this industry. They don't do bad, but they don't have power background.

 

RE: Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn

Are power engineers on the list of 'critical skills' or whatever the US calls it who get priority at the immigration desk? I hope not, because we need all ours in Europe! tongue
  

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If we learn from our mistakes I'm getting a great education!
 

RE: Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn

I don't know about being consitered critical skills. But I do know there are open positions at several companies.

On the other hand, there would have to be a good reason to make such a move. And if there is such a shortage there they should be doing something to keep you (Like throwing money your way). So what reason would someone have to move unless they are just unhappy there.

 

RE: Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn

"So what reason would someone have to move unless they are just unhappy there."

Well, the UK is fast becoming a third world economy. I don't see it getting any better any time: to be honest I'd ship out to either Canada or NZ tomorrow. Maybe Oz if the other options didn't work out. My wife doesn't want to go though, which complicates things a little. sad
  

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If we learn from our mistakes I'm getting a great education!
 

RE: Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn

Not that I live in the warmest place in the world, but NZ and Canada sound so cold.
Besides my wife would not want to move to those places either.

I had look for a new place a couple of years ago, but I saw very few outside the US. Maybe people don't think we would want to leave.

I think the worst thing about living in another country is the driving is different.

RE: Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn

Having worked as an electrical utility engineer in both Canada and New Zealand, I can highly recommend both of them.  NZ probably has a better climate than the UK & Ireland if you're worried about the cold, but Canada pays a lot better.  Both have a wonderful outdoor-orientated life-style, take your pick between rugby and ice hockey.

RE: Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn

<quote> Funny the article failed to mention the IEEE's complicity in the fabled 'engineer shortage', which has apparently evaporated overnight.The IEEE, and its analogs, are not really organizations for engineers; their mission has more to do with ensuring an oversupply of engineers, so as to keep the price down.  Their real customers are _employers_of_ engineers.  Mike HalloranPembroke Pines, FL, USA <end quote>

I've heard that before & it may be valid.  IEEE seems to feel beholden to employers since they employ engineers.  Also, by assuring high EE college enrollment, it keeps the supply of EE's high which holds the salaries down.

In the 1980's I worked at an aerospace firm in Baltimore.  One of my colleagues was a contract engr named Irwin Feerst, who passed on around 2001.  Over the table at lunch, Irwin & I discussed everything from IEEE, H1B visas, Soviet escalation in Afghanistan, etc.  Irwin had some strong beliefs on the "engineering shortage" issue, which he insisted was an industry fabrication.

Irwin headed a group called "Committee For Concerned EE's", in Massapequ**, NY (I can't remember the name of the city).  I read his newsletters.  He was articulate & smart, but I don't entirely believe the position he held.

There has always been since day 1, an overabundance of EE's, and at the same time, a shortage of EE's.  A company who needs a very specialized EE, such as RF, microwave, etc. will struggle to find one.  Also, employers in the rust belt, or other parts of the country may have trouble attracting an EE, since candidates prefer the south & west.

Depending on the needs of the company, & location, the pool of available candidates can be small, large, or in between.  I do believe, however, that corporations have a vested interest in declaring an "engineering shortage" 24/7/365.  But what if the supply of EE's was limited?  If there were fewer EE's would that be good for us?

I don't know.  Sure, our pay would increase.  The big companies could afford to pay it, but the small companies may not be.  Many jobs which now exist may be gone.  As far as too many EE's go, who should exit the EE field and go elsewhere?  It's easy to say that there are too many, but who should go?

Things are not bad.  We must keep our skills sharp & up to date.  There are opportunities but they are not as abundent as before.  The 70's, 80's, & 90's were a pipe dream in the USA.  If I wanted an upscale job with an upscale company, I had to - *show up for the interview*.

Not any more.  It is tougher, but still, it's not that bad.  Keep the faith.  Get more education.  Study and improve.  Most employers would rather hire their own citizens.  Less hassle.

Claude

RE: Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn

ScottyUK - You mention that turning over infrstructure to foriegn private firms was a mistale. Could you expound upon that? Here in the states, government, as well as a work starved industry is pushing hard for what we call Public Private Partnerships where governments seek prive ivestors to build large infrastructure and then secure a revenue stream, such as tolls for bridges. I am not a big fan, but since this is new I do not have a lot of data over here. It sounds similar to what you described over on your side of the pond. Also who is CEGB?
Thanks a Lot!

RE: Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn

Hi DRC,

The CEGB was the Central Electricity Generating Board., which was pre-dated by the British Electricty Authority. The history goes back to the period immediately after the war when a number of key indsutries were nationalised. In the decades that followed, the nationalised industry developed the UK's transmission system to a very high standard of reliability and technical excellence and did some groundbreaking research, but also became bloated and dominated by powerful unions.

Why do I think it was a mistake to privatise the industry? Primarily because the privatisation was not done in the national interest, it was done because of Thatcher's personal vendetta with the unions which grew out of the 1984 miner's strike. The CEGB was a prime target because between the coal industry and the CEGB they effectively controlled the nation's power supply. Thatcher rightly believed that situation placed an unacceptable amount of power in the hands of the unions so rather than tackle the unions directly she embarked upon a massive de-nationalisation programme. It was asset-stripping on a national scale, halting major investment in generation for nearly a decade and in transmission for nearly two decades, closing the research laboratories and laying of thousands of staff across the organisations. An organisation focussed on the long term operation of a power generation, transmission and distribution system was replaced by lots of small companies whose focus was short term profit for shareholders. It was not a happy time for consumers, and two decades later the promised benefits of 'competition' among electricity suppliers - perhaps 'cartel' was what they really meant - have still not appeared.

There has not been an energy policy worthy of the name in this country for 20 years: the CCGT stations which popped up like mushrooms during the first few years of this century have all but used up the natural gas from the North Sea, and the coal mining industry has all but gone. We are reliant on imported energy from Russia and points further east, while we sit above coal resources which will last another 300 years. The nuclear engineering expertise in this country has retired in old age leaving a hole in the UK skill base. There is generation gap in the industry because of the freeze on recruitment, meaning the people my age will soon be the 'old men' of the industry before we see our 50th birthdays: the amount of expertise which has been lost to the industry is incredible. Our world-leading manufacturers such as GEC, Parsons, Bonar Long, Ferranti and Peebles to name a few have all closed or are shadows of what they once were because of the lack of investment in the system which took away a huge part of their customer base.

In some ways the CEGB was too good: the plants they designed for a 25 year life are still in service as they approach fifty, testament to the quality specified by the CEGB engineers and to the quality of the companies who built them.
  

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If we learn from our mistakes I'm getting a great education!
 

RE: Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn

Scotty - Thanks for the great information. Here our powersupply and transmission has been traditionally run by regulated utilities. In an effort to foster more competition on pricing, the generation was semi privatized. In some aspects it worked older plants were modernized and as demand increased so did pricing. Transmission lagged behind until a major blackout about 5 years ago. Then there was a big rush to upgrade in our area from a 115kV line to 345. A lot of the transmission structures are over 40 years old with some approching 70. There was a big program until the credit markets feel apart. Now it is mostly on hold.
I was interested more from the aspect of roads and bridges, as we have a big push to privatize these on the promise they will bring in projects cheaper with better maintance. Most of the ventures are with foriegn companies. I have been worried about the situation you describe, but so far I think I am in a small minority. It is nice to have an actual example to point to. This will really help. Thank you.

RE: Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn

Anyone feel like this economy has been grounded?

Mike McCann
MMC Engineering

RE: Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn

It seems it is slower, but the projects are not stopping. However the chip EE's seem to be struggling.

RE: Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn

Investment in the transmissions system is continuing over here, mainly because there's no real alternative other than to lose parts of the network. A few new-build CCGTs are in construction further south and should enter service within the next year, fuelled by Russian gas. The nuclear programme seems to be gearing up but in doing so it is stealing staff from the allied industries who can't afford to lose the engineers they have. The real engineering for nuclear new-build will be done overseas, in either France or the US I suspect. Hopefully reactor construction won't take place in China, although the thought will no doubt have occured to the accountants trying to save a few pounds.
  

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If we learn from our mistakes I'm getting a great education!
 

RE: Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn

Man if there's a shortage of engineers in power then that's where I want to go!  It's hard to change paths though.  I'm 50 and stuck fixing broken power supplies and crap.  Never thought I'd be able to paint myself into a corner after having a BSEE but it seems I have.

RE: Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn

To hear stories of people who can't find a job in there profession, could be a statment of bad ecomoney, or it could be a statment of bad learning.

But truthfuly, not everyone who gets a degree is worthy of that degree. These people need to find jobs there they can't hurt other people, like engineering sales.

 

RE: Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn

cranky--

Oh, what a prescription for disaster...

The "engineer" who couldn't engineer and ended up in sales meets with the "engineer" who schmoozed and smooched his way up into procurement, and between the two of them they wheel and deal and I end up trying to make some kludged up monstrosity work while they play golf and pat each other on the back...

old field guy

RE: Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn

You sound almost as bitter and cynical as I am. And that takes some doing - congratulations! wink
  

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If we learn from our mistakes I'm getting a great education!
 

RE: Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn

I was hired about 2 years ago with a Utility in Canda (almost fresh out of my 6 year university program).  The company I work for has been on a hiring frenzy the past 2 years.  Hiring 100+ for the past three years.  I have to say it is strange not feeling any turn in the economy whatsoever.  I've even gotten a couple raises, while my buddies working for oil companies have had their bonuses and raises squashed.  

It seems like universities have neglected power engineering for a long time.  Considering the new technologies available just around the corner in P&C (my field) and the opportunity to move up with all the retierments it is an exciting time to work in Power.

Head Hunters are welcome to msg me via this forum winky smile  

RE: Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn

oldfieldguy, I feel your pain. It's sort of like having to fix your bosses mess that he made when he was doing your job.
Or that 20 year old thing that has never worked, but is just hanging around.

Have you heard, "trust us we're XXXXX", from a salesman?

RE: Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn

(OP)
An update on my original post that started this thread. New article at the same science website. Again, the source is the IEEE quoting Labor Bureau statistics. The new article also mentions Civil, Mechanical, and Software engineering unemployment numbers.

http://www.physorg.com/news174154061.html

RE: Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn

Dumb b*stards- again relying on unemployment rates, as if engineers working at Walmart or driving taxis are a good thing!

THe problem for engineers isn't unemployment- it's UNDER employment.

RE: Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn

If you take a career path like I did of being in the field for 14 years installing radar systems you never develop things like design, testing, all the fricken s/w packages that everyone wants you to know and have used for at least 5 years.  All you did was physically assemble the radar and then do a lot of trouble shooting to fix everything.  You also don't know any other engineers because you've been removed from the office for so long.  I started when I was 30 (BSEE) and am 50 now.  I still work in an environment fixing things and never learn anything new.  Most of the courses in college are so general and theoretical that it's almost a waste of time/energy for me to take them to make up for this lack of experience.  I hate my job and would leave for another in a heartbeat but no one wants an engineer with the experience I have (or lack of).  Especially at 50.  I've sent my resume to hundreds of places and no interviews.  Not even within my company, big ole Northrop Grumman, can I get an interview.  They have me at this satellite location 20 miles from the main plant (which employs thousands) so I can't network.  Been to career counseling where I work, ask friends what to do, and get no answers.  I'm very frustrated.  As far as brains go I'm somewhere in the middle, not super-smart but not dumb.  Soon I'll need a therapist.

RE: Electrical Engineering being hit hard by the economic downturn

My personal experience is that EE power distribution positions in the western USA were held for too long by the older generation, that should have retired or otherwise moved on, from about 1980 through mid 90's.

Since then it seems I have seen more opportunity and it seems the opportunity will get even better as many of the previous generation now in their 70's simply cannot be expected to work much longer.
   

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