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Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...
8

Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

(OP)
Well this should elicit some interesting discussion as the editor of 'Machine Design' magazine seems to think so, or at least he appears to be agreeing with someone who's written a book that includes this claim and supposedly has the data to back it up:

http://machinedesign.com/editorial-comment/those-d...

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

pretty bad editorial. As I'm sure moltenmetal will pint ut, if you increase the number of engineering degree graduates without altering the ecology all you get is engineering graduates driving taxis for a living.

Cheers

Greg Locock


New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

Oh, so very wrong.

The reason the "recovery" is slow is because this time the toxicity runs much deeper. This isn't a business cycle low such as is responsible for "routine" recession. It's a debt crisis. Takes close to half a generation to fully recover.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

(OP)
Hence the reason I suspected that it might be interesting to see what some of the comments might be.

BTW, I agree that Mr. Teschler does not always appear to be the sharpest tool in the box. I recall that infamous editorial he penned giving full-throated support for resurrecting of the nuclear power industry in America in the March 17th, 2011, issue of 'Machine Design', that landed in our mailboxes the same week that the tsunami hit the Fukushima power plant in Japan:

http://machinedesign.com/news/nuclear-reactor-rena...

While one could excuse him for what was very bad timing, since the editorial was obviously written well before the disaster in Japan, he didn't let that stop him from doubling-down in the very next issue:

http://machinedesign.com/news/answer-still-nuclear...

And when they finally printed 'letters to the editor' on this topic, there was not a single one posted that could have been construed as being negative about the nuclear industry nor critical of the positions taken by Teschler in his two editorials. In fact, he inserted a comment in the 'Letters' section which acknowledged the fact that people were vocal about nuclear power, but that most of the comments received were in favor of nuclear power and that there was no apparent sign that enthusiasm for nuclear power in America, or the rest of the world, had diminished as a result of what had happened in Japan. Of course these letters were published in the May 19th, 2011, issue so there had been very little time for people to have really come to grips with how big a disaster it had been or what the longterm effects might be and which we are still hearing about today, nearly 3 years later.

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

OMG.

It's a 6th grade book report.

Quote a few things from a book.

Read Wikipedia article about the author.

Add an original "insight".

And this is the guy who is responsible for deciding what articles get published in Machine Design.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

The deeper the hole, the longer it takes to crawl out, unless you invert the hole.

Mike McCann
MMC Engineering

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

Any one can make up stuff, and attempt to make people believe it.

Get real, if there were truly a shortage of engineers, that wages would rise (so states most economic books). Wages are not going up, except to match inflation.

You dumb down the schools you get dumb workers. If you want smarter workers, then pay for smarter workers.

All things consitered, I am as for sale to the highest bidder.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

My own opinion is that it has a lot more to do with the kleptocracy that exists in the US economy than anything going on in college.

Regards,

Mike

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

The "engineering shortage" mythology does not show any signs of stopping. But then again, its never left.

Was reading an article about a year ago about the cold war and the US governments ramp up of technological innovation of the period. After the soviet union launched Sputnik, the US was frightened they would lose technologically to a rising USSR, and part of the reason was because they were minting twice the amount of engineering graduates that the US was. In the 70's and 80's, it was a rising japan. What was the solution? More engineers of course.

According to former CEO of lockheed martin Norman Augstine, engineers and scientists contribute 50-85% of GDP growth, so we're a pretty big deal (US engineers salaries have yet to reflect this?). So more engineers makes great political sense, and the corporations nod approvingly because a saturated labour market is just what they want to see. In a sense it just becomes a reinforcement cycle between government and business with the end result being stagnant wages and engineers driving taxis. Its not just the US, its happening all over the world.

As to the stagnant US economy, from what I've been reading its more to do with rising amount of income inequality and the disappearance of the american middle class that is the likely culprit. How anyone can think a growing economy can exist with a huge amount of unemployed with more to come, entire industries offshored, majority of the population on stagnant wages and huge debt levels is beyond me. Seems like simple economics, but apparently its so much more complicated than that if the business media is to be believed.

Sam
Brisbane, Australia

Young Engineer. American old west enthusiast

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

(OP)
Sam, it's interesting that you mentioned both the Soviet Union and their large numbers of engineers, and the image of underemployed engineers driving taxis as it reminds me of my first visit to Moscow not long after the fall of Communism.

At the time I was working for EDS, then part of GM, and when me and a couple of others from EDS landed at the airport we were met by a GM driver who drove us to our hotel in a nice new Cadillac. After our business was completed I had to fly back to the US while my coworkers either had other business or was heading to other destinations and so it was just me and the driver going to the airport in that Cadillac. Anyway, it turned out that the driver, a guy in his mid-30's, was a local Moscowvite whoes English was VERY good and since we had time he sort of gave me a tour of some parts of Moscow that I hadn't gotten to see while I there. Anyway, I asked him how long had he worked as a driver for GM, which was a few months, and what it was that he had done prior to that. It turns out that he was a nuclear engineer and while I didn't ask him exactly what sort of work had be been involved in he did seem to be very happy with his new job. Later when I asked one of our people who had visited Russia more often than I about this he explained where companies from the US and other Western countries were being urged to hire these former Soviet nuclear engineers and scientists, giving them whatever jobs they could as they wanted them to be able to support their families without being tempted to 'sell' their services to organizations who would put their expertise to use in ways that would not necessarily be good for the rest of the world. That incident made a very big impression on me as to how people, not all that different from me (after all, we were both engineers), had to deal with very different situations as a result of events totally beyond their control.

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

I know at least for myself, i am just unhappy with the goverment policies, and i just don't feel like going to a stupid movie, or buying new things. I'll just stay home.

The thing is the my 104k isen't doing as well, or I had to take on more risk to get the same interest I was 10 or so years ago, so now I have to plow more of my money into my retirement funds. So i have less to spend.
Good news is I can buy a new house, but as it is futher to drive, I am spending more in gas (and medical insurance).

Bottom line is I just don't feel as rich, so I spend less. Apperently other people also don't feel as rich, so they don't spend as much.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

Of course not. Economist understand there is no such thing as a shortage of workers in any field over the long term.

And taking people to task for being 'selfish' and pursuing what interests them is odd coming from someone who more
than likely supports the unfettered free market.

I bet he also thinks engineers are overpaid in the US.

The reason the economy is slow is that the middle class has been spending money on goods manufactured overseas
as their employment prospects simultaneously dwindled. The middle class is poor and the poor are poor so how
to jumpstart consumption with a population where a small percentage are not living check to check.

My opinion on the prospects for middle to high skill work that requires intelligence and knowledge is that they are going down
continually outside of the medical field.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

(OP)
My wife's 401k was up over 25% this past year while mine was up close to 13%, but then her's is about 85% equities and only 15% cash and bonds, whereas I stared doing a bit more 'hedging' when I turned 60 (currently 66) and so my account is now somewhat over 40% cash and bonds. I've been maxing-out my contributions ever since I was given the opportunity to participate in a 401k and so we've just learned to live on what's left. My wife also maxed her contributions until she retired at 62, 6 years ago, and has just let it ride since then (her 'mad money' now comes from her Social Security check). After a couple of years, you don't even think about it any more.

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

To the OP's question: No.

To the article: it's crap. Crap oft repeated is still crap.

Want the facts, with some history showing where, and from whom, the myth of the shortage of engineers originates? Read this IEEE Spectrum article:

http://spectrum.ieee.org/at-work/education/the-ste...

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

"Economist understand there is no such thing as a shortage of workers in any field over the long term."

Because of this true quote, I have to ask, how long has there been a suposid shortage of engineers?

And just to compare, what do Layers and doctors make?

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

Additionally, how long do Lawyers & Doctors go to school, what hours do they work, how much expense & time related to continuing training & certification do they have...

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

Does any of this take into account the inevitable "Education Bubble?" It seems like for the last 20 years there's been big business in educating people. The big push when I was growing up was "go to college, boy! Get that paper 'cause it's the only way you'll survive!" I wonder if the editor / writer looked at enrollment and graduation trends over the last 20 years... it seems like there's not really a shortage of Engineers.

Also, through the 60s and 70s, a lot of the skilled labor jobs which support Engineering, and even Engineering work itself, has been outsourced. Not all of it, but a significant enough of it where the supply of new Engineers certainly out weigh the demand for their education in the "real world."

Someone above mentioned looking at the ecology of it all. If we continue to allow domestic companies to outsource, thus removing the jobs for which so many of us are getting educated, we will end up with a scenario where the debt cannot be repaid. Then we'll be exacerbating an already ridiculous problem thanks to the Housing Bubble and other similar things.

Just my two cents on a random topic.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

(OP)
I think you will find that outsourcing didn't really get moving in any significant way until the mid-80's, after the tax laws were changed creating incentives for large corporations to move their manufacturing operations overseas. Later on, the R&D jobs started to move as well.

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

True, I was just attempting to account for toys my parents handed down as I grew up which said "Made in China." lol

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

(OP)
Exactly how old, or young, are you? When I was a kid, stuff like inexpensive toys were marked "Made in Japan".

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

My Matchbox cars were made in China, or made in Taiwan I think. Some of the stuff they gave me may have been made in Japan. Let's just say I'm a mid life crisis away from early retirement. To a shack. In the woods. Where I grow my beans for soup.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

I wish I still had mine, they were made in England under the name Lesney, if memory serves. Wonder when they were outsourced to Asia?

It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

I think it was about 1984. The Wiki article actually has a lot of info in their history segment. I know how you all LOVE wiki.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

So what do we still make here? We mine oil, gas, and coal. We make cars that burn. We make big airplanes. But what is new that we make?

Maybe that's the problem, we make things somewhere else. We only design part of those things here.

As the number of jobs goes down, so does the demand for many goods, execept staples like food. So by shipping manufacturing, we have also shiped jobs, and created customers some where else (job less people make bad customers).
And the worst is that the assembly instructions of the things we buy, appear to be written by a second grader (bad spelling, bad grammer). Question is if the instructions in other languages are written just as bad?

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

(OP)
Back in college I had a 1965 Honda 305 Superhawk...



...which was a very nice bike, but the owners manual was almost useless since apparently, or at least it felt like it was translated almost word-for-word from Japanese to English. All the needed information was there, just that when you finished reading something it didn't really make all that much sense. Thank God for the pictures as they were often more useful than the included text.

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

"Engine does not start of hard starting" remains one of my favorites (from factory CB/CL 160 shop manual).

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

I keep hearing "death of the middle class". This so-called "death" is really just a silly game with definitions. I recently saw a video that claimed that someone in the US making 1/2 of the poverty level for a family of 4 is better off (more food, more stable housing, better access to transportation, neighborhoods less risky, and much better access to recreation) than the middle class in most of the world. In the rest of the world a poor person is struggling to get enough to eat, clean water, and to avoid predation by gangs (organized and disorganized) and you can identify them by protruding ribs, filthy clothing, and poor health. Not so here. The "poor" person in front of me at Sam's Club last Saturday using her EBT card to purchase steaks hadn't missed many meals and since she had too much stuff to carry on her back I'm going to assume she has a vehicle. The life style looked pretty middle class to me.

Now if we're talking about "working middle class" then there have been declines, but mostly the declines have been due to the poverty line moving upwards by 3-4 times the rate of inflation every year. There are politicians who seem to get some personal benefit from a shrinking middle class. It is far too subtle for me.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

Law is the common force organized to act as an obstacle of injustice Frédéric Bastiat

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

You mean we can be paid to be middle class?
And if I recall correctly SAMS charges a fee to be a member. Poor people can't afford that.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

zdas, not sure if it varies by state but I'm led to believe EBT cards are used by other than those sucking at the teat of welfare per se, for instance I understand some assistance to foster parents is via EBT card.

Now it may well be the person you saw is the poster child for the trailer park queen stereotype, but then they might not.

Then there's how to define 'poor', is it an absolute term and if so what is the line in the sand - if you have some kind of minimal level of shelter, enough food of appropriate quality to avoid gross malnutrition, at least one change of clothes and access to potable water is that the definition? Or is the definition relative, and if so relative to what national median income, national mean income...

As to membership of Sams club, maybe the person did due diligence calculated how much they could save V cost of membership and it made sense for them. Maybe a well meaning friend or family member paid their membership for them.

Anyway veering wildly off topic here.

Back to the OP they did qualify their statement about lack of engineers by saying something about the quality of those grads. Maybe there is something to the idea that some folks drop hard STEM subjects for 'easier' humanities etc - I've seen a number of claims and examples about this. Now if it's the students own money paying for the education & making the wrong choice doesn't somehow lead them onto welfare etc. then what business is it of ours to second guess it? However, if the education is state supported then it is arguably an issue for tax payers to consider - though to lay it as the major factor in the recent economic troubles iseems ridiculous.

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

My Mom raised hell when I wasn't doing so well in school and I wanted to switch to a business major. She thought I would be taking the easy way out.

You really have to want to be an engineer since the pay is awful, its a stressful job, and there is no status in it whatsoever. I am about to turn 35 and this has been my experience so far. The perception of society will probably lead to a decline in engineers. Not to mention this stuff gets really dumbed down when people tack some fancy term to engineer to describe their job. So now the engineering profession is diluted even more. How crazy is it that most of the "engineers" I have met are something very different.

During the Sochi opening ceremony NBC was giving all this praise to the person who dreamt up the show, and that's about it. The closest they got to mentioning any other profession involved in that stadium were the lighting people. And in TV shows and movies how often does an engineer make an experience? Everyone is a doctor, lawyer, Architect who works from home, or killer or all of the above.

Who exactly is pushing for the STEMS besides a parent or some nerdy kid who meets an engineer early on?

B+W Engineering and Design
Los Angeles Civil Engineer and Structural Engineer
http://bwengr.com

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

"Not to mention this stuff gets really dumbed down when people tack some fancy term to engineer to describe their job."

I've always thought that was true.

Experience: accumulated knowledge over time.

Talent: the ability to use experience.

Which is more valuable?

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

Or rather, the misappropriation of the term "Engineer" to glorify their otherwise boring job title.

Experience: accumulated knowledge over time.

Talent: the ability to use experience.

Which is more valuable?

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

If you can retitle everyone then you can paint the world like you want to see it. Nobels and Naves (guess which one we are being painted as)?

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

brandonbw, could be worse, at least they are not showing engineers as killers :)

Regards,

Mike

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

2
"You really have to want to be an engineer since the pay is awful"

What clap trap. While it may vary by location, sector and various other factors...

For having only a bachelors degree engineering typically pays pretty well.

For instance before comparing to other traditional 'professionals' remember not all MDs & lawyers make the kind of money many of us believe (&/or the numbers quoted are before they pay their staff, rent, insurance and other expenses). Also both require significant post grad studies, and the hours/schedule for juniors can be pretty rough.

Sure, I'd like to be paid more, work less, be greeted deferentially by the peons I meet in the rest of the world... but to say the pay is awful as a general statement for all engineers is ridiculous.

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

(OP)
I agree with KENAT, engineering has always provided me and my family with a decent life. Yea, I would like to make more money, who doesn't, but it has never disappointed me. Perhaps I've been lucky working for whom I have and doing what I like doing, but I've changed jobs over the years, both by changing companies and by accepting opportunities offered internally, so I've had a say in what I'm doing which determines how much the company values my contributions and I feel that I've always been compensated appropriately.

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

First hit!

http://www.seek.com.au/jobs-resources/

Now, obviously those stats are for the jobs on that website, but it doesn't look like 'awful' is a very accurate term. And frankly, in 34 years I've been unemployed for a grand total of 2 months.

Cheers

Greg Locock


New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

(OP)
That table is in Australian dollars, which needs to be reduced by about 10% to get US dollars.

Here's a site that will give you median incomes, in local currencies, for most anyplace (just select the 'flag' in the upper-left to change countries). To get a min/max range and other data, just click on a job title.

http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Country=United...

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

So if there is a shortage of engineers, why is the pay so low?

Not that I have a problem with what I make, but apperently many business and HR types have never studied economics.
Or maybe they think none of us have.

The problem with recruting more people into engineering, is some of the people you would attract don't have an appitude. So what you end up with is a bad engineer, which is a problem in itself.

And if an engineer were sucessful, and well paid in there home country, why would they want to come here? Maybe pay, or maybe they aren't that good to start with.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

Most people would give anything to get out of most countries in the world.

Regards,

Mike

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

Greg, you make a primary mistake that most engineers make, in that you over-generalize your own experience and assume that it applies to others. What you meant to say is that your own experience indicates that it's possible to earn a good living as an engineer. Actually, your experience indicates that it WAS possible- for you. And it is- still - for some- especially for people who did manage to break into the profession and now have experience that companies seem to find to be in short supply. But it's nowhere nearly as easy for the average engineering grad to earn a good living as an engineer now as it was fifty or sixty or seventy years ago, and it has been getting steadily worse. Engineering's compensation level has slipped compared with all the other regulated professions, and not by a little, and it's not because they've improved and we've stood still. And the situation for fresh grads from engineering programs has been getting steadily worse also, as has the number of engineering grads working as engineers. That's not based on anecdotes- it's based on measurements, which tell the story for the average person far better than the anecdotes do.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

(OP)
So's mine, but perhaps I'm in a rather unique position considering I left 'traditional' engineering some 33+ years ago and moved into a role where I became part of a totally new 'industry' creating the tools which are now the stock and trade of most every engineer, in one form or another. So I suspect that my current level of compensation does not reflect what's happening in the 'real world', something that I've had to point out to my wife on several occasions over the years when she's suggested that perhaps I should go out and get a 'real' engineering job again and leave all this 'marketing' hype to someone else. As I've alluded to here, and after listening to some of the recent comments, I'm damn glad that I never gave in to her wild ideas winky smile

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

Getting the degree is just the starting point. What people do after that is what makes a real engineer.

There seems to be people who do well as students, but can't seem to translate that into a useful skill. Book smart is the term.

And maybe some of that is the fault of how they are educated, or just that don't really have the right stuff.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

When I did my degree if you had an aptitude for maths and physics, but maybe weren't going to cut it as a mathematician or a scientist, career advisers in the UK had a nasty tendency to recommend engineering as a degree. I also remember the hilariously bad advice not to mention that you fixed cars/motorbikes etc in job interviews. I'm pretty sure I got through my first successful interview because my interviewer was thinking about buying the same lathe as we had at home. Between those two reasons we ended up with a generation of engineering graduates who were a bit light on the hands-on side of things.

To be fair this was recognised to some extent, I was fortunate enough to get on a so-called thick sandwich scheme, which gave me a year in industry , work in the vacations as I did my degree, and another year after uni, in theory. However that covered only a small proportion of engineering students. Some universities specialised in thin sandwich courses where the industrial placements were integrated more tightly into the degree, something that could be excellent if done well.

Cheers

Greg Locock


New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

If you notice my area of engineering, you will see that "Hands on" has a different meaning. But you are correct that many engineers who don't have the hands on just don't seem to have as deep of an understanding.

In the US I believe they call those programs as Coop programs, or internship programs. They help, but it is sad to say many companies don't seem to have those positions, as they were cut in the economic slowdown.

The other thing is we often have to teach students that we don't work with pico, we use Mega. The educations tend to be more in the small electrical world, and not the big stuff.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

Greg: you said "And frankly, in 34 years I've been unemployed for a grand total of 2 months. " It was that I was responding to, not the link. I can point people to salary.com too, and the numbers in there are rubbish- when you compare them with the real Ontario professional engineers salary survey data.

The median salary of a level D professional engineer here in Ontario is equal to the median salary for a schoolteacher, once you adjust for all those extra holidays the teachers get. While teachers do important work and deserve decent pay, that's not a singing endorsement of engineering as a choice of profession.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

Ah OK. That might be a survey worth doing, across professions - how long have people been unemployed in their working lives?

Actually the pay scales I posted from seek seemed a bit on the low side to me, but they are mostly for up to 10 years of experience, not senior engineers and the like.

Cheers

Greg Locock


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RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

(OP)
I had a longer post that I just blew away, so rather then start over I'll just say that in the 51 years since I took my first real job working in a meat market at 15 years of age, until today, I've been without a job a total of perhaps 11 months. And since the majority of THAT time was while I was a freshman in college, I guess you could say that technically, I've NEVER been 'unemployed'.

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RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

Sum total of a week for me since eng grad, over 20 years- but that's the past, which is not a meaningful predictor of the present much less the future. I had a job lined up before I graduated, left it for another, lost that one and had the third about a week after I finished some work on contract for the 2nd one that they had to pay me to complete before they let me go. But I was top 5% of my class at one of the best unis in Canada, with excellent co-op work experience. If I had a hard time finding a good job (and finding that 1st one post grad was no picnic- it was hard work!), then many others were going to be totally screwed. With that first job search, it was timing- staying on to do a Masters delayed my job search from an economic peak to a trough, but it was still good experience for me. Taught me how hard it is to measure anything reliably.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

In 6 years, had a 5 month stint, after a layoff. My layoff happened at the same time a local, major aerospace company layed off 300 people. So the Market is pretty flooded with engineering folk.

Definitely an eye opening experience, being unemployed.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

(OP)
While I agree that "past peformance is no indicator of future returns", since I'm already past the normal retirement age, the next time I'm without a job, it will be entirely my choice and I will NOT be worrying too much about finding a new one winky smile

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
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Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

I am interested to hear that the humanities play a big part in engineering.

Linda Downs issued a statement in response to the statement, offering a defense of the liberal arts:

"Humanities graduates play leading roles in corporations, engineering,..."

All those art historians lolling about in our design meetings, suggesting ways that we should incorporate the Cubist Imperative into suspension design must be her idea.

Cheers

Greg Locock


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RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

Yeah, I wasn't buying it and the President dignifying their ivory tower gnashing of teeth with a hand written note didn't impress me.

However, if we aren't careful this will lead to the old trade school V 'university' debate again.

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RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

Yea, I get it about humanities. As my wife has told me many times, it dosen't look good, so put it in the back yard. The front yard is for what we want the neibors to see.

I think part of it is to rise the cost of going to a university, and justifying staff.

Just maybe if they streamlined the corse work, and got rid of more of the needless stuff they might attract more engineering students.

Or maybe to get a humanities degree they should require calculas II (I like this better). At least that way they can calculate how long they will be in the unemployment line.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

Why do we feel the necessity to jab at the humanities whenever we have topics such as this? Do we feel it validates our professional by insulting and degrading others? Do we feel hard done by given all the attention and praise the humanities get (I can’t even type that with a straight face)?

I’m sick of this debasing of the humanities by not just this forum, but our society at large. At best, we view people who study the humanities as irrelevant and, at worst (which is continually demonstrated here), we treat them as entitled parasites on our otherwise productive society.

There are two things that make us human, that separate us from other species, that define us, that enrich our existence: our ability to understand the natural world and our ability to create and appreciate works of art. I do the former as a part of my vocation, which is predominately why I entered into this field, and attempt to do the latter (poorly) by avocation. If people choose to do it the other way around, all the power to them as we NEED people doing both.

I would add that my most intelligent and interesting friends have backgrounds in the humanities. The humanities really stress clear and critical, yet creative, thought and this allows them to analyze information in a very deep way. They can pull out profound sentiments from even the most (seemingly) trivial subject. They can dissect and critique arguments with great precision. They understand the nuisances of subjectivity and tend to be much more open and welcoming to things that are “different”. It is this critical and logical thought process augmented by openness and creativity that we want in our citizenry, yet sorely lack.

We know this and yet continue to dissuade or downright condemn the study of humanities. We have swallowed the concept that which cannot be commidified, should be shunned. If we can’t turn this knowledge into profit, then it is useless to us. I’ve made this same argument in support of fundamental/curiosity-driven science research. It is shameful that we have, in the name of “economic prosperity”, lost touch with the two most humanizing endeavors.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

rconnor: the arts and humanities from an educational perspective at the university level were just the canaries in the coalmine. Their grads went into oversupply first, decades before the rest, but the sciences followed and so did engineering. The old days when people could make fun of arts students for their uniquely poor job prospects are long gone. Engineering grads are now just as likely as the average uni grad to be out of work six months or two years after graduation, and more likely by far than the grads of any other profession program (including education and accounting) to be working outside their chosen profession. So that old mockery is utterly out of step with the current reality.

As far as the idea that engineers need to take arts and humanities courses to become "well rounded citizens", I think it's a naïve concept at best. I've heard people talk about how they were going to improve society by mandating sustainability courses for engineers, etc., and wondered if the people talking had any experience working outside of a university in their lives... An engineer graduating without a single nontech elective will still be better educated in broad terms (by virtue of the required courses in high school and the typically high marks expectation to enter a uni eng program) than anyone who stops their education after high school or who pursues a tech course at a community college. A writing course should be mandatory, as should a course in professional ethics and law, but beyond that it's a matter of personal interest in my opinion. Mandating the other nontech electives so that you get x courses in arts and y courses in social sciences has little to do with generating well-rounded engineers and more to do with providing funding units (i.e. bums in seats, typically in massive lecture halls) to those programs.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

Actually I took Economics as a humanitys, and thought it very good. But some of the other stuff is pure bilge water. Art is in the eyes of the viewer, and I view much of it as distracting at the least.

I view much of what I do as Art, but I don't have bankers lineing up to put computer code or Boolean equasions on there walls. So yes I do make fun of humanities because it dosen't seem to have a function to me. It just dosen't speek.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

Eisenhower warned of the military industrial complex, perhaps someone should have warned about the academic industrial complex.

When a tiny proportion of the population got the chance to go to university, having a large amount of that small group getting 'education for the sake of education' quite probably made a lot of sense - especially when combined with where they were in scientific progress/history etc.

However, now that a much larger proportion of the population get the chance to attend university does the same emphasis on 'education for the sake of education' scale?

How much of it is more about job security of the academic elites? How much about pretentious self importance? Is Gregorian Chanting for instance really so important that a large proportion of college grads should have studied it?

The humanities or even arts are a broad sector, perhaps too broad to try and generalize as often gets done.

However, I speak as something of a Philistine when it comes to art and culture so take what I say with a big pinch of salt.

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RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

For some inexplicable reason I have a divide in my mind between artists and humanities.

That is, the former makes music, art, etc, that makes life more enjoyable.
The latter studies the former, thereby not contributing a whole lot.

I can't comment on the truth of this division.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

Engineers build the walls of buildings, while artists cover the walls with nonsince.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

Quote (moltenmetal)

As far as the idea that engineers need to take arts and humanities courses to become "well rounded citizens", I think it's a naïve concept at best
I never said that, nor was I trying to imply it. My point was that those that take humanities should not be treated with the level of disdain that is ever present here and in society at large. Their education holds great value to our society due to the critical yet creative thought process that comes from it.

That being said, I’m not in full support of your argument. I do agree that critical thinkers can be developed without needing formal education in the humanities. However, that is dependent on the persons family and social circles. The majority of kids inherent their world views from their parents; they tend to share the same political affinity, religious practices and level of skepticism. There are, of course, exceptions but they are just that – exceptions. It is therefore important, to me at least, that people receive some amount of formal education in subjects such as critiquing arguments, logic, philosophy of thought, ethics, etc. I would also continue to defend that exposure to the arts is important, not just for developing the creative side of people but for the enrichment it offers. I would agree, partly, that this should be done during primary school rather than university.

I believe that the primary role of standardized education, and by that I mean primary level, state-supported education, is to develop a citizenry that can act in its own best interest, not the best interest of the state/those in power. To achieve this, you need to develop critical, creative, skeptical thinkers. The focus should be on developing the thought process, not the capacity to regurgitate answers. The former creates an empowered, effective citizenry, the latter creates drones. There is an obvious benefit to those in power (both politically and economically – if there is any difference between the two left) to create the latter but I believe the systemic issues are more to do with incompetence than malevolence.

I should stress the “partly” bolded above because I feel that the whole argument that the requirement for humanities is “watering-down” technical degrees is just BS from corporations who don’t want to spend a dime on actually training people. I guarantee you that most, if not all, people on this forum only use a handful of classes on a day-to-day basis. I took at least 4 classes on stress analysis but my job does not require me to know it. Heck, I took an aerospace option at school but ended up not working in the aerospace field. Meanwhile, two of my mandatory humanities, Philosophy 101: Critical Thinking and English 101, I use on a day-to-day basis. Furthermore, my ethics class, which was in the Department of Anthropology (historical view of human/technological relations), has allowed me to be a better engineer at my company than my Air and Spacecraft Performance and Design class. So to say that humanities are a waste of time is just not true because you cannot even say that a humanities class is going to be less important than a given technical class.

Engineering and its sub-disciplines are far too broad to tailor the education to any specific job. Frankly, it is impossible for universities to pre-train students for their job as neither knows what that will be. Instead, it is about developing a tool-box of knowledge to draw from; a critical and creative thought process is a huge part of that.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

I had a unique experience when I was a about 12 years old. One of the neighbor girls designed a logo which is an icon for an industry. She was about 20-25 years old and was working for some sort of an industrial design studio. She didn't get paid any royalties but I am sure the company did. Everybody recognizes it and this was done by an "art" graduate.

Some of the people on this site own it and it is revered in some circles.



What is it?

It is the little horse logo we know as mustang.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

Something about goverment schools and watered down, seems to fit. Just about everything in goverment schools is watered down, and that might be why kids are not interested in science, or engineering.
What seems to be the most learned skill is avoiding getting beaten up, which is why the goverment schools are failing to inspire engineers. It all starts in the grade schools.

If you want more people with new ideas, then what is needed is a diversity of thought, not standardized education.

I mean really, the goverment schools should start teaching classes in stocking of store racks.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

(OP)

Quote (cranky108)


Actually I took Economics as a humanitys...

When I was getting my BSME back in the late 60's/early 70's we were required to take three terms of economics; two 'regular' classes covering Micro and Macro Economics, from the School of Business, and then a class in Engineering Economics, from the School of Engineering.

For my mandatory 'social studies and humanities' electives I took three terms of American History, one term of Diplomatic History and one term of Psychology.

As a side note, when I took the second part of my Professional licensing exam (after having gained 5 years of working experience) we were required to include at least one test problem from a group titled 'Economics'. If my recollection is correct, I chose a 'problem' that required the determination of an ideal economic lot size for the manufacture of some machined part. You had to take into account 'parameters' such as material costs, labor, machine tool rates, overhead, etc.

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

Cranky,

Are you talking about Grade school or University? Either way, as far as I can tell the results of public education very extremely by region in the USA, success is mostly a result of socioeconomic's of an individuals parents relative to the local populous. Simply put, if your parents care about your education and have the money to support your education...you will most likely get educated regardless.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

I was talking about Grade/High school.

The problem is education in this country is not important to people. They will say it is, and complain if the public school is not doing what they want, but very few will poney up the money to send there kids to a privite school. I guess a new car, boat, or vacation is more important. And true, some people just don't make enough to be able to afford a privite school.

The issue is all the students are given the same treatment, or special treatment only if they are slow, or speak another language (it's a money thing). But really bright students are often held back to the averidge level. While true enough some schools have advanced classes, the kids are stilled bullied after school.

So the bright students learn to be as invisable as possible. To hide and not be seen.

After college many of them still try to be hidden, and don't speek up. This maybe why many engineers are not good at selling themselves, or there professions.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

"critical yet creative thought process"

I'm still not sold on arts/humanities really showing this across the board, and certainly not more so than most engineers.

I'm sure rconner can find some statistic to back it up but it doesn't ring true to my limited experience.

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RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

Quote (KENAT)

I'm sure rconner can find some statistic to back it up
Haha, I read this as some form of backhanded/sarcastic compliment in response to the global warming threads. Not sure if that was intended but it made me laugh.

Anyways, I’ll bite. Admittedly, this isn’t statistical evidence proving those that study the humanities develop a “critical yet creative thought process”, for that is far too subjective a theory to quantify. However, education professionals, cognitive development scientists, neuroscientists and psychologist tend to agree that exposure to arts education is instrumental to cognitive development. Just a few references to support that statement. Ken Robinson is another good source.

Quote (KENAT)

…certainly not more so than most engineers
Why do we keep comparing the two? My defense of the humanities is not an attack on engineering. My point was “that those that take humanities should not be treated with the level of disdain that is ever present here and in society at large. Their education holds great value to our society.” Nothing comparing the two.

I just find it odd (and annoying) that we whine that engineers are not treated with enough respect (and we do) and then, in the same breath, spit on the humanities. It’s more than hypocritical, it’s illogical. What does an Arts grad have to do with our position in society? How does disrespecting one field make our field more respected?

I love engineering, I love science. Anyone that knows me knows I will never pass up an opportunity to advocate for science and science literacy (to nauseating lengths, according to some…ok most). However, that doesn’t mean that I, therefore, cannot appreciate and respect the humanities. So it always strikes me as odd that whenever I defend the Arts, I’m met with aggressive responses, as if I’m attacking engineering.

Speaking of which…

Quote (cranky108)

Engineers build the walls of buildings, while artists cover the walls with nonsince.
I think that statement would be pretty offensive to those in the Arts, namely English majors…

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

I would hope it is as offensive as some of the stuff they try to pass off as art. And they expect tax dollars to fund that stuff, which is even more offencive.

Humanities can involve things that are useful, and things that are not (like the paintings done by monkeys).

Economists seem to do well in society, and we don't have to feed them goverment peanuts. However some artests don't do well, and expect goverment peanuts.

Singers are artests, and many do well, and some we throw penies at in the subway.

So yes some humanities grads do deserve our distain, just like some bad engineers deserve the same. It's just easer for us to see the bad artests.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

cranky, I think you mised the joke.

As for the rest of your post, it was nonsince and deserves my distain.

RE: Can we really blame the slow recovery of the economy on the lack of engineering students...

Rconner, you got me on the backhanded compliment. While I may not share your viewpoint on a number of topics you've posted about in depth I can't dispute the general quality of your posting.

Quick browse of your links seemed to suggest they were mostly talking about arts in K-12 level education.

I'm certainly not suggesting they be expunged from that so like on so many issues it seems both parties are not actually discussing the same thing.

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