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Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?
31

Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

(OP)
I have had this discussion with other engineering colleagues of mine. Assuming a student was talented and did well in math in the sciences, would you recommend that they go into engineering, or something else like law or medicine?

The reason for our cynicism is in part due to the lack of jobs and the decrease in manufacturing in the US.

What I would recommend, to say my nephew who is a few years away from graduating high school is that engineering is a great undergraduate major, but for grad school perhaps a law degree or a medical degree may ultimately be more effective.

All in all I don't regret going into engineering, but I do worry about it's future in the US.

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

2
With the "baby boomers" aging, medicine would not be a bad field to enter.  (Insert a "Plenty of work!" joke here.)  However, MD's may soon face the same problems as engineers -i.e.- falling salaries - due to the simple fact that the gov't won't be able to subsidize the industry through medicare/caid (lack of corporate taxes because it's made in China) and people won't be able to afford to pay as much because overall wages will be lower...  All this as a direct result of globalization.

Law is an interesting field, but it takes a special type of person to want to read and write "legalese" for 50 hrs/wk.  I don't forsee foreign competition as a threat to our legal system when we barely manage to understand it ourselves!  :)

The spiral decends beyond only we engineers...  but at least we are thinking about the problem!

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

As a navy vet, I often get asked by parents, "should my son/daughter go into the armed services".  My answer to the prospective engineering students would be the same as I give to the prospective servicemen:

It's what you make of it.  For servicemen: if you want to waste a couple years of living hell and get paid, you'll get just that.  If you want to take advantage of many opportunities for training and self-improvement and have the time of your life doing it, you'll find it.

The decrease in U.S. manufacturing is going to put greater demand on engineers in the long run.  If a person likes engineering and is committed to the profession, there will always be a good place.  If all one is looking for is steady employment regardless of personal satisfaction, then PUH-LEEZ, don't come into engineering.

A few hiccups in the economy affect everyone.  I'd really feel for all those communications majors out there working retail, if I actually had feelings. ;)

Whatever the major, have your nephew wake up to the fact of the global economy and study foreign language AND culture.

I may make you feel, but I can't make you think.

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

2
Simple answer: no.

Engineering is too hard to do well if you aren't really interested. If you are interested you wouldn't want to do anything else, so the question would be moot.

I'd also say it that it sounds as if it is a high risk strategy employment-wise, if you want to stay in the USA, although it does have the up-side that the skills transfer readily into other areas.


Cheers

Greg Locock

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

Based on another thread, I'ld suggest plumbing.

From my own experience if the person is unsure of what they want, then don't rush in. Take a break from schooling and look at the options. Returning to study may be a bit harder latter on but its better than doing something you don't like.

regards
sc

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

Along this line, a buddy of mine and I were recently discussing what would we do if (and possibly when, with the way things are going) if we couldn't work as engineers anymore.

Things we'd enjoy? flying, computers?  those professions are in even worse shape than ours.

Truth be told, it's hard to look at just about any other work with any kind of optimism.  Certainly, as we continue to lose the high paying jobs in engineering, computers, manufacturing, etc. that support our tax base and economy, things like medicine, law, and university will ultimately have to decline as people will no longer will be able to even try to afford the rates currently paid for these services.

My friend and I agreed that we aren't going to be encouraging our two year old daughters to go in to engineering.  But, at this point we're not sure where to direct them to give them a chance at a better life than we have now.

Edward L. Klein
Pipe Stress Engineer
Houston, Texas

All opinions expressed here are my own and not my company's.

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

Match the child's interest with the field.  There is no point being miserable for 30 to 40 years.

With that a career as a pharmacist seems promising.  It is a respected profession and the starting pay is higher than what experienced engineers make.

Note the taxpayer subsidizes what the elected government chooses.  Change the government and it will change the priority of medical care.

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?


pmureiko is correct.  I attended a university that exists largely because of the pharmacy college on campus.  

My friends in pharmacy got offers of 80k - 120k a year, (first year!) plus many rec'd a signing bonus, relocation expenses, or even a new car.  It's unbelievable.  They got treated like pro athletes by companies like Target and Wal-Mart desparate for people to staff in-store pharmacies.   

Pharm school is tough, and shouldn't be attempted unless the idea of being a pharmacist is something that thrills you.  It's kind of like working in a fast food joint: you work there a while and soon you can't stand the sight and smell of food.  Don't be a pharmacist (or engineer) unless you think you'd still like the career even after you've been burned out on it during college.

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?


There is an excellent article from Progressive Engineer, here are a few quotes:

"World population continues to mushroom, environmental problems become ever more complex, energy becomes scarcer, and demands for technology increase. Society needs more engineers than ever before. Yet because of the poor public relations and journalism work done on behalf of engineers, many school children still don't understand what engineers do, and people aren't encouraged to enter the profession."

"Survey after survey shows that much of the public -- including impressionable students making career choices -- doesn't understand what engineering is all about, and this may lead to serious shortages of engineers in the future workforce."

http://www.progressiveengineer.com/frm_what.htm

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

I absolutely would not recommend this as a career choice  - depending on what else was being considered, anyway.

By "this" I mean my experience in engineering which has been in defense R&D, OEM equipment design, and volume manufacturing engineering. I routinely regret the investment of so many years of my life to have this be my career.

At one time I considered aviation, medicine, and air-traffic control - all of which would have been much better choices (I'd be far enough up in the pilot's union by now to be OK).

rhodie's and pmureiko's post makes me smile because I've begun the application process to get into pharmacy school at the age of 40. Haven't decided for sure to go through with the app (also considering MSME or MSCE or nursing).

I like the work and think the education is great but just hate the instability and am scared to death of being an engineer looking for work at 45, 50, 60, ... because I know I'm almost certain to be out of work again and suspect it'll be next to impossible to find a new job.

I just replaced a 62-yr-old ME who died of a heart attack making $47k/yr with no benefits. Before he died, the boss here told me "He can't leave; nobody else would hire him." Gee, I'm sure excited about working here...

Looking at StressGuy's post at the bottom of rhodie's "Free Trade" thread just adds exclamation points.

Bottom line, better off to go into a service profession!! If you must be an engineer, at least be one where success requires a license and being "on site".

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

2
Provided that the student was capable, interested and willing to undertake the study necessary to become an engineer I would recommend the profession to anyone. I would never push it on someone who was not interested, not capable or unwilling.

The profession has been good to me and I hope it will be good to my son who is starting third year in the fall. He picked the profession on his own. I told him about the profession, he had opportunities to see it close up and we discussed at length the pros and cons of the different disciplines.

I do not believe that there is one personality type attracted to engineering. The nerd with black rim glasses with tape on them and a slide rule (in my day) or HP-48SX nowadays hanging off his belt is simply a stereotype why does not truly reflect the personality of an engineer. I’ve known all extremes of personalities from extreme extroverts to extreme introverts. The only characteristic that I believe that we all share is the belief that there is one best answer to every problem and that this can be found logically.

The profession is so vast in scope and tasks that anyone with the capabilities can find something to do that will be interesting, rewarding and exciting for them.

Current economic conditions aside there will always be a demand for engineers. The money may not be as good as in some professions but it is still usually sufficient for an upper middle class lifestyle.

When I was in high school an engineer came to talk to us on career day and I’ll never forget his advice and have passed it on to others. “Having an engineering degree means that you will always be able to find a job. It might not pay much, it might not be what or where you want to be but you will always be able to get a job.” Now 30 years later, I have found this to be true and the only engineers that I have ever meet who were unemployed for any length of time were those who either were too picky about the jobs available or had some serious problem (usually personality related).

One piece of advise that I do give to high school students, unsure of what they want to do, if they are mathematically inclined is to take a general set of courses in first year university math, physics, chemistry etc that will be considered equal to those offered in engineering, computer science, general science etc. That way they get anther year to think about it and will not lose a complete year that might not be applied to whichever course of study that they eventually decide.

Rick Kitson MBA P.Eng

Construction Project Management
From conception to completion
www.kitsonengineering.com

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

This thread is informative.

Current economic conditions aside there will always be a demand for engineers. The money may not be as good as in some professions but it is still usually sufficient for an upper middle class lifestyle.

I disagree with this statement.  $5000/yr is the going rate for manufacturing-type engineers in India.  Why pay me $50k a year, when 10 Indian engineers can be purchased for the same amount?  The communications technology is there to allow for remote project management.  It wouldn't be easy, but it could be done.  There will always be a demand for engineers, sure.  Will there always be a demand for my rather expensive engineering services?  Probably not.   

***

Bottom line, better off to go into a service profession!!

I disagree with this logic, too.  (Sorry Binary)  I've read that for every $1.00 manufacturing creates, $0.76 is created in the service sector.  (somewhere on http://www.tradealert.org)
 
Manufacturing is grass roots in the sense that it is the point at which comparatively valueless raw materials are converted into valueable products.  Without this catalyst for creating cashflow, all other (serivce) economies will die.  While manufacturing creates money, the service industry simply moves money around.  "Trickle-up ecnomics" I guess is a good way to think of it.

There won't be a great demand for services like tanning parlors, cable TV, and cell phones should the economy tank.  This is why the whole "service economy" idea is a lie.  Look to history for an example:  In the 1930's people patched up roofs with tin cans and retreaded tires.  Money was nowhere to be found, and people got by with what they had.

I understand that services like pharmacies and mechanics will always be very necessary, but these jobs will feel the pain of stagnation as well.  Expect to get paid less in these areas, too.

My idea is to open a speakeasy.  Just look at the US's Great Depression, and you realize that booze was one of the few products that people couldn't live without.  Therefore, I'll capitalize on people's inability to deal with reality!
(I'm kidding about this, of course.)

The future of the US is dark and cloudy.  We've got problems now that we have never had to work through before.  The economic mindset of "We always bounce back!" is one that I question increasingly.  Is this pessimism unfounded?

I'd still call myself a pretty happy guy, nonetheless!  College football season is coming!

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

Good points, rhodie.

I guess what I'm thinking WRT service professions like medicine, pharmacy, etc. is that even with the stagnation, their services will always be in demand and can't be provided from overseas (probably could actually but people wouldn't go for it, I think). Therefore, even if their wages fall it probably won't be as far as for the mfg types so comparative std of living will be better.

I guess the fundamental basis of economics that I've never understood is the requirement for continual growth. That just seems impossible. I don't know anything about economics so I'm hoping that it's just my ignorance that confuses me.

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

I guess the fundamental basis of economics that I've never understood is the requirement for continual growth.

That makes two of us.  It's more like the requirement for "growth that exceeds 3%" to boot!

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

Aptitude, Interest, Desire, Opportunity, Awareness.  I have no plans to talk my child into following my footsteps if he does not show these traits.  He will choose his own path and I plan to offer guidance if/as needed.  Children should be given exposure to the engineering profession but ultimately the choice of entering it should be theirs.

Regards

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

There appears to be a few people in this discussion that would not pick engineering as a career or want out of it now.

You were never sentenced by anyone to be an engineer for life. If you are not happy being an engineer then leave the profession and get work in another field. You can go back to school and most universities will give some credit for past degrees towards a second degree. Other professions such as accounting (in Canada at least) do not require any degree and can be obtained through part time study while working.

Life is to short to spend it in a profession that you do not like. While it’s true that one works to live and not lives to work, a 40 hour work week is over a third of the time you are awake and it should be spent at something that you enjoy doing. Personally I like being an engineer and doing engineering things. If you have discovered that it’s not for you then change careers before being unhappy at work starts to hurt you in other areas of your life.

Your mental health will thank-you.

Rick Kitson MBA P.Eng

Construction Project Management
From conception to completion
www.kitsonengineering.com

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

3
Like most engineers, I enjoy engineering. There is great satisfaction in doing a good job completing a difficult project.

However, I am discouraging my kids from persuing a career in engineering. I am encouraging them to pursue a career where they can achieve EMOTIONAL and FINANCIAL satisfaction. As a profession, engineering is decaying and if the trend continues, engineering will soon be a job and not a profession. Many engineers refuse to see what's happening. Our social status is declining and our pay (relative to the cost of living) is dropping. I remember a time when firings didn't exist and layoffs were rare and temporary. I remember when an engineer's career ended with a company sponsored retirement party and a company provided pension. Now, you're just laid off because older employees increase health insurance costs. If you want to celebrate your retirement you can buy yourself a drink on the way home.

Most real professions promote the welfare of their members. They limit the number of people entering the profession and work to improve working conditions and professionalism. Engineering societies work to increase the number of engineers. They promote the attitude thatt engineers should work to improve their technical skills and productivity. They ignore the career and financial needs of the engineers.

The attitude "If you are not happy being an engineer then leave the profession and get work in another field." is a callous attitude towards your fellow engineers. This is the very attitude that is dragging down the profession. One of the trends which is sucking the engineering profession down is the "I've got mine and screw you" attitude of the owners and managers of engineering companies.

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

Dannym

Lets see, you want your children to go into a profession where they will be satisfied emotionally and financially but wish to keep your fellow engineers, who want out, in a profession where they cannot achieve emotional and financial satisfaction?

My statement was not meant to be callous. I once hired a junior engineer, right out of university, who decided before lunch on his first day that he did not want to be an engineer. He only went into engineering because of family pressures. He hated every minute of engineering school and was depressed at spending the rest of his life at something that he just couldn’t get excited about. I felt sorry for him and we had a long talk about it. He really wanted to be an accountant and left saying that that was what he was going to do.

Are you saying that he should have been kept in the profession for some reason?

Here in Manitoba, the professional association is quite cognizant of the financial aspects of the profession. They consider it part of their mandate to protect the public through the regulation of engineering, to include overseeing the profession and helping ensure that it can continue to attract and retain the type of people who will make the profession a better place.

In furtherance of this they are visiting the first year classes and providing them some numbers about the various disciplines and the projected demand and demographics in the profession. They sponsor having engineers visit high school classes to talk to seniors about engineering.  They promote the profession in various other ways.

Also here in Manitoba the pharmacy profession is highly regulated by their society. They severely limit the number of people entering the school of pharmacy and thus tightly control the numbers of new pharmacists in the province. The result is that there is a serious shortage of pharmacists in the province. Starting salaries are around twice that of new engineers.  Rural pharmacies are closing because there are not enough pharmacists to go around and the smaller pharmacies are unable to support them.

Who loses in this situation? Not the pharmacists, their salaries are growing. It’s the public, the very people who our ethics says we should put first.  They cannot get adequate medical care because of the shortage.

Engineering, at least in Canada has chosen to allow as many people to enter the profession as the universities can train and as can become qualified.  They then let market demands set salaries and in a capitalistic economy that is the way it should be.

Rhodie

If there is no demand for your rather expensive services then I see you as having three choices.

Firstly you could lower your price.  You may not want to or may think that you are worth more but the market has spoken and your services are not worth what the market is willing to pay. Sorry, but that appears to be the hard truth.

Secondly you could change the services that you offer.  If there were no demand for industrial, how hard would it be for you to become a mechanical? Aren’t the first couple of years common in both disciplines?

Thirdly you could change where you offer your services. If the demand is for engineers somewhere else then you may have to move.

I realize that none of these are easy or desirable choices. It’s a fact of life in the new economy that no career is set for life. I’ve been an engineer for 26 years and moved 5 times, held 7 jobs, been laid off 3 times and spend most of the last ten years away from home. (That is counting the 10 years on my own as one job. If I counted projects the total would be over 20 jobs.)

You can bemoan the fact that the old economy has gone but you still have to make a life in the new economy.  If you cannot accept the new facts of life then the new economy will pass you by. If you can adapt then there are opportunities out there, you just have to go and find them.

Rick Kitson MBA P.Eng

Construction Project Management
From conception to completion
www.kitsonengineering.com

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

A while ago, I was having a casual conversation with a middle aged matron, and she was talking about the fact that her son was going to go to medical school. "He's not interested in engineering then", I said (or something like that). I remember her exact reply. "Engineers are a dime a dozen dear", she said. I suppose I should have replied that although engineers probably are a dime a dozen, good ones aren't. Instead, I don't think I said anything - just sadly sat and reflected on what she had said. I've been relecting on it ever since.

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

RDK

I'm obviously NOT saying that someone who is unhappy with engineering as a profession should be pressured to stay. That would be VERY stupid. I'm NOT stupid!

You mentioned that pharmacy limits the number of people who can enter pharmacy schools and therefore become licensed, practicing pharmacists. You also mentioned that enrollment in engineering schools is not limited. As you state, pharmacists are much, much better paid.

I agree that what you state is true. And this is distressing to me. For years now, engineering has not attracted the "best and brightest". How is society best served by that? Locally, engineering schools, with the help of engineering societies, are recruiting engineers to mentor (tutor) engineering students to keep them from flunking out. Engineering schools have lowered their standards to keep the seats filled. Our engineering societies have done nothing to counteract this. This results in a flood of cheap but mediocre engineers. This is one of the reasons our industrial base is eroding. The engineering profession seems to be striving for cheap mediocrity.

The pharmacy profession selects the "cream of the crop". They have no problem attracting the "best and brightest". If someone is accepted by a pharmacy school and successfully completes the program, it's a good bet that they are intelligent and well educated.

Over the years, I have seen many engineers, who enjoyed their work; leave the profession because they got tired of the low pay, layoffs, job insecurity, etc. The best young engineer I've ever mentored got disgusted and bought a bar. He enjoyed engineering but hated layoffs. How is this best for society? How is this best for the profession?

Also, the "on the job" training of engineers has greatly suffered over the years. If I have a well paying position because, over the years, I acquired special knowledge or skills and I work in an insecure employment situation, I would have to be VERY STUPID to train anyone. As soon as a cheaper engineer is functional, the higher paid engineer is gone! In the current engineering climate cheap mediocrity is overtaking quality. How is society served by this?  

I'm willing to bet that, in your hiring, you have passed over many more qualified engineers and opted for the cheaper individual.

You spout the philosophy of the "new economy". However, if you think about it, the "real" professionals (lawyers, doctors, pharmacists, etc.) have been protected from the difficulties of the "new economy". I wish engineers were smart enough to stick together and look out for themselves and promote the profession.

Personally, I have been an engineer for 30 years. I've only worked for a few companies. I've never been fired or laid off. I am paid well above the average for an engineer. This is because I've achieved special skills which are fortunately still in demand and can command a much higher than average pay. I will survive in your "new economy". I will also continue to tell my "I remember when" stories. In the past engineering was a better profession than it is now. Unfortunately, engineers were short sighted and let the profession slide. I can only hope that the engineering profession wakes up.

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

This is not as much of an issue in Canada because the profession is somewhat protected by the associations.  Here I feel that we are still considered to be true professionals.

Here to call yourself an engineer you must be a registered professional engineer. There are some exemptions for power engineers (boiler operators), railway engineers (train drivers) and military engineers. There is no industrial exemption.

If you want to proceed in this direction lobby your state government for mandatory registration of all engineers, do away with the industrial exemption, make the profession self regulating instead of being a state license board like carpenters and protection or the title engineer.

Rick Kitson MBA P.Eng

Construction Project Management
From conception to completion
www.kitsonengineering.com

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

The reason that unions work for Doctors, lawyers and realitors is that those jobs require the physical presence of the person doing the job. There aren't alot of situations where that works for engineers espeacily when the factories have allready left the country. Soon the samething will true of managers and everyone else. Unions won't help us anymore than they helped steel workers.


ProEpro
www.whitelightdesign.com

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

RDK

I appreciate the reality you are metering out above, telling me about my options and such.  

I'm sure that I will eventually end up taking less money for my services as an opportunity cost for remaining where I like to live.

I don't, however, agree with your notion that I should accept the enevitable "new economy" and make the best of it.  I refuse to accept this on the grounds that by doing so I am contributing to the death of my country.  That is the simple reality of the situation.  I have a nationalist streak deep and wide, and it is my burden to "right the ship", not "ride it down, and raid the kitchen" as so many of my predecessors have done.

Again, I appreciate what you are saying (and you may be far wiser than I), but I cannot ignore a situation that I have every capability of helping to change.

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

I have to agree with RDK, if you feel strongly about engineering, get registered and press for mandatory registration. Some schools are already acting toward this by requiring passing of the EIT or FE prior to graduation.

There are jobs out there that do pay well and will be around forever. Take for example the power industry - you cannot import power, instead in must be generated locally.

Back to the question of this topic - I believe in exposing children to hobbies that first provide a lot of fun and then require thinking and hands-on mechanical interaction to keep the hobby going. Primarily speaking motorcross, drag racing, street rodding, old tractors, etc. If they find a desire to be involved in these hobbies, the engineering aspects will come on there own and if they do not want to be an engineer, at least they will have a strong understanding of how things work. I have not found one person with a strong mechanical background that was hindered in life by it.

Lastly, nothing should be pushed on anyone but you should be supportive of what ever they want to do. One thing I have told many though is that whatever degree they choose, it should at least provide more of an income than if they did not get a degree.

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

First off, I would say you should never push someone towards Engineering School.  If it is not something that they want to do, it would be wrong to think they could learn to enjoy it.  I remember watching several of the "best and brightest" flunk out of the first semester.  Engineers are born, not made.

Secondly, you are all really depressing me about the future.  I really hope that the situation is not as dire as is being expressed here.  Not to carry the PE/Non-PE argument into another thread, but I am curious how everyone getting a license is going to keep our jobs here.  

Say we assume that a PE will make more money than a non-PE, a PE will have more power to control the work environment and a PE will contract for a little more money but no benefits.  This takes control out of the hands of the company(which they won't like) so they will start a power struggle.  In the end, the ones writing the checks will fire everyone and either ship your duties overseas or hire a few of you back as contractors without having to pay benefits. all of a sudden you will have to do twice the work for the same pay because there are fewer of you.  Since there will be so many engineers out of work, the market will be saturated again making it difficult to refuse.

In essence, being a PE cost a lot of people good steady jobs, shipped more of our work overseas and took away your healthcare and 401K bennies. What did this help?

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

I am amazed that people don't realize that some career options go in circles.  When I started university everyone said we need teachers.  Soon every one was taking education and now surprise - surprise we have too many teachers.  So as a young engineer where 100% of the people of my graduating class have work.  Please keep encouraging people not to go into engineering.  Yeah it sucks over here no jobs.  I had 3 job offers before I graduated.  Some engineering disciplines like engineering physics which only had 10 students.  The whole class received job offers from some companies.

RDK is very correct on engineers in Canada having a very good association to protect their name.  In England in USA you have mechanics and pretty much everyone else calling them engineers.  From what I have seen that would never fly in Canada.  The USA needs to step up and make the public and industry know that engineers are professional and not a dime a dozen like one of the other posts said.

miner00

This is exactly what I'm talking about a PE is an engineer and in my opinion there is no such thing as a non PE.

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

I've read the posts with interest because I am at a point in my life where I am considering leaving the engineering field. I am a 33 year old structural engineer working for a consulting engineering firm in the middle of America. The economy has finally caught up with the construction industry in this area and I fear that my job is not secure. I have been laid off before (2 years after graduating), but was able to find a good job within 2 weeks. Of course this was 8 years ago and it does not appear that it will be that easy again. I now have a child, a car payment and house to pay for and am looking not just for a good salary, but "security". That word doesn't seem to apply anymore in the world and that is too bad. I do enjoy this profession, but I am beginning to realize that it is dying and I don't wnat to be a 45 year old engineer looking for work. I think this latest downslide has all but extinguished any flame I had for engineering.

So, as far as my recommending this profession, I would say yes only if you have the desire to promote yourself, kiss up to the right people and study all that it will take to be an engineer, in that order, because it no longer means as much to be an engineer and that job opportunities are shrinking. I would definitely warn them about the current state of engineering and what the future looks like and to choose an area that will still exist in this country in 20 or 30 years.

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

Sad but True,

A fellow engineer that I worked with a few years ago confided that his teenage son was trying to decide whether to go to engineering school or become a musician.  When his son asked for his advice, he had to truthfully tell him that joining a rock band was probably the more stable career path.

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

3
[I didn't pay attention to the date and the thread's a year older than I thought, but my post is already composed so what the hell.]

Huh. When I was in grad school I thought pretty hard about whether to be an engineer or a musician. I wound up deciding to be an engineer after all. Then again, I'm a civil engineer, and as long as infrastructure keeps falling apart or being rendered obsolete, I have a job.

I can't see comparing engineering to medicine or law. Each takes a different set of skills. Shouldn't the path pursued depend on what the kid likes to do?

Hg

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

2
No one mentioned this in this thread so I'll add it.

To recommend any career to a high school graduate who doesn't have his heart set on engineering, a good idea would be to weigh the cost of education with the income potential for that career. Unfortunately, the cost of an engineering degree is high compared to the income an engineer graduating 4 years from now can expect.

If the student is a person who won't mind putting in long hours away from those he cares about in return for a big paycheck, they might consider a commercial driver's license -- the education is cheap and with hard work you will be making 6 figures a lot sooner than your buddy who went off to an engineering university.

If you value your friends, girlfriend, wife, and eventually children, I would recommend a career where you can move anywhere you want and still pursue your career. Doctor, lawyer, pharmacist, and musician have been mentioned. I'll add dentist (or other medical specialist not usually referred to as "Doctor"), real estate agent (or other sales), vetrinarian, and super market manager.

It's true service-related professions will suffer as we continue to lose our mfg base, lowering exports and the value of the dollar. I blame outsourcing companies less than I do our leaders who continue to run high budget deficits. But that debate is for another forum.

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

Though this thread is old, it appears there is still a lot of interest in it, so I'll put in my 2 cents.

Before commenting on engineering, I'd like everyone to take a step back and change the question by asking:

Would you recommend nursing to a recent high school graduate?

From what I've heard of nursing regarding pay, working conditions, benefits and job security, I would not recommend nursing as a career.  It is certainly not a highly regarded "profession" on par with fields like medicine, dentistry etc.  

However, if a young person felt that nursing was their one true calling, I would advise them NOT to enroll in a 4 year university "Registered Nursing" program.  Instead, I would let them know that they can become a "Licensed Practical Nurse" after only a 2 year program at community college. This is a much less expensive option, and if they become disenchanted with nursing, they will not have lost as much as someone who went through a full 4 year university program.

Now back to engineering.

No, I wouldn't recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate, but if their heart was set on it, I would advise them to enroll in a technologist program at a community college. I say this because I believe in the near future most (but not all) jobs currently held by engineering graduates will be turned over to "Registered Professional Technologists" (let's use "RPTs" for short).

To see why I say this, check out the following link to the Alberta engineering association:

http://www.apegga.org/members/registration/registered_technologists.htm

Click on the link "APPROVED DEFINED SCOPE OF PRACTICE" and you can view a 7 page document listing a total of 109 job classifications that can be undertaken by RPTs:

http://www.apegga.org/pdf/defined_scope.pdf

As far as I can see, technologists in Alberta can now replace engineers in virtually all job functions.  I believe that this is in the process of happening in other Canadian provinces, and some of the threads in this forum have mentioned similar moves in some U.S. states as well.

Now add this to off-shoring, and productivity software that further eliminates engineering jobs, and there doesn't seem to be much left for young people just entering the field.

Sorry to say this folks, but anyone who can face reality has to admit that engineering as a profession is locked in a tailspin.

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

     I have been reading through all the posts in this thread and though it is old in terms of its start it is very informative. Right now my background is in CADD technology specifically I have a mechanical-electro mechanical perspective on that and have learned such applications as solidworks, mechanical desktop, inventor, auto cad, and pads power pcb/power logic. I have been fortunate to find a job doing CAD work though only as a contractual thing right now and that was only after a good 8 months of searching which i started in my final year of my cadd program. I have always been set on engineering. I took 4 yrs of drafting in high school. I started at Umass lowell in the college of engineering and though I failed out of there pretty much I have been focused to stay on the course. Last 2 yrs been deans list and honors society and I now stand ready to make the next decision. I am looking at two distinct professional directions that I could go. I know I can go mechanical engineering because I really enjoy the process of mechanical design and all that goes with it. IN this I would plan on taking the FE and then the PE when the time comes. The other route is to go architechture. Either way i know I would be happy. It is just tough to throw the uncertainty factor into the equation of what the job market will be like in time. Even in Mass. things are tough. that is why i am looking at what my plan should be.

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

7
Maybe I am just lucky, but the negative attitude toward engineering in this thread and several of the others just amazes and confounds me. Engineering has been very very good to me, I have never been without a job, and in fact I typically get one or two offers a year to move to another company. I make excellent money, on par with or beyond the sales people, MBA's, and even some of the lawyers I know. I have been at it 20 years split between three companies, and I have never regretted it for a minute. I have done intersting work that has taken me all over the world. I have also had the opportunity to work with some of the best minds in the world. And I graduated with mediocre grades from a little known cow college in southern New Mexico, not MIT.

Being an engineer kept my grandfather employed through the depression and kept his 8 kids fed and clothed. As an engineer my Dad was able to raise our family in a very comfortable middle class setting, and it has supplied him with a very comfortable retirement.

In a nutshell, not only would I recommend engineering as a career, I often do!

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

Hi sms!

It appears that for the last three generations (75 years or so?), members of your family have chosen wisely and been rewarded with satisfying careers.

But remember, this forum is about "Where is Engineering Going in the Next 5 Years?"  That's about when the next crop of grads will be looking for work, and most of them will be hoping to enjoy the next 30 or so years after that as employed engineers.

You state:

"In a nutshell, not only would I recommend engineering as a career, I often do!"

Is that a blanket recommendation for ALL fields of engineering?  If so, I must say you have an extremely optimistic outlook.  

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

I,ve experienced four lots of redundancy, the last was over 10 months. I too have 20 years experience at all levels I am now completing a BENG Hons degree as a mature student (39) and still cannot attract work in engineering unless I except poor remunerations or relocate for nothing. Now, I have taken the opportunity to get out, its not what I want, but its better than I had when I was in. My experience.

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

I am guessing as a young professional. Getting into things now as a drafter and continuing to through the academic world I will need to have a concrete plan. Not that I have not hadn't laid it out already but I am guessing that it is even more important to develop a skill set that is highly marketable, Push forward with formal education( really hoping to get into a tear 1 Grad school when the time comes maybe MIT if i can get in :) ) then beyond formal education further research, reading, and any activity that can help in my professional development. The other angle I can see is growth and expansion as I go up in degree level undergrad as an engineering major then grad work go for the MBA into the mix. There still are ways to enjoy good engineering careers I guess now is determining what is the formual for success. Always remebering at the same time that it is to be to the good of society at large to.

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

Hi makeup!

Thanks for sharing your experience with the forum, I hope things improve for you.

I note that your specialty is "Mechanical", which is also the area sms has worked in for the last 20 years.  The fact that he has had better experiences leads me to believe that not all areas of mechanical engineering offer equal opportunities.

Perhaps the members of this forum could begin threads to comment on which areas of engineering have the best and/or worst outlook over the next 5 years?  Especially helpful would be any thoughts on fields that offer re-employment for engineers who have been displaced due to off-shoring.

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

If you're not overly fond of money, there will always be a need for civil engineers, and although more and more gets outsourced to private contractors, government work is less likely than private work to get sent overseas.

State budgets are tight these days, hiring freezes on and off, but there's still a certain amount of attrition, and road and bridge construction is still going strong. For that matter, general contractors and fabricators might or might not need engineers. Construction project management is another branch to look into. You can also get an industrial management degree instead of a generic MBA.

Keep in mind, any job that involves routinely putting on a hard hat and going out to a location (a factory, a construction site, etc.) is less likely to be offshored. How fond are you of climate control?

I suppose it might even be possible for a "surplused" mechanical engineer to reconfigure themselves as a structural/civil engineer, but I'd advise getting a degree in the subject (MS; you'd probably be bored by the baccalaureate offerings in CivE) to show on the resume or else you couldn't compete well with the "real" CivEs.

Me, I'm a civil engineer because I have loved the look of steel structures since I was a little kid. After XX years of school, I'm not used to money anyway, and although I'm quite fond of climate control, it's worth braving the heat for relatively short times to go hang around with steel.

Hg

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

My career has been focused on solving dynamics problems in rotating machinery, typically turbines, compressors, large motors, pumps, fans etc, in refining, power generation, paper, and chemicals. I currently work in the central engineering support department of a large chemical company..

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

No I would not.  Engineering is an expendable resource that can be found a lot cheaper in third world countries.  They work harder, faster and longer than most western countries. They are in general brighter and prepared to move anywhere and expect less. Why would I employ you.

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

Okay, what profession *doesn't* this apply to?   Even medical examinations have been known to be accomplished over a remote.

You people are sounding like we should just shut down the universities and tell our kids to be electricians and hairstylists.  Forget about getting an education; that'll just make them overqualified for the tradesman jobs.

Go see the "tailspin" thread (Thread730-101041) for a brighter (and I think more realistic) perspective.

Hg

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

Hello HgTX!

In response to your observation:

"You people are sounding like we should just shut down the universities and tell our kids to be electricians and hairstylists."

Consider metengr's July 30th post in the thread:

Who is to blame for US outsourcing
Thread730-100141

he states:

"If I had kids in high school that were not compelled to go to college, I wouldn't force them to attend college. Instead, I would send them to a trade school and learn an employable trade."

Now remember metengr (who I believe is this week's TipMaster of the week) is a happily employed 20 year veteran engineer.  In the "tailspin" thread he expresses this to sms:

"sms;
Even after 20 years of working in the engineering field, I have no complaints and enjoy my work. I understand  and share your enthusiasm!"


There are a lot of happily employed engineers who are grateful for their careers, but hesitant to recommend engineering to recent high school graduates.  They see changes that lead them to believe there will be fewer opportunities in future.  Again referring to the outsourcing thread, consider Dorfer's August 2nd post:

"Fortunately I have convinced my five kids to stay out of manufacturing and go into the health sciences, or research. As a professional engineering manager I cringe every time I talk to a graduating high schooler who wants to be a mechanical engineer. There are still jobs available but I tell them be flexible, willing to relocate, and work some pretty long hours."

I will say though, that I think you personally have chosen wisely and that your field is likely to fare much better than average (compared to other areas of engineering).

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

So many good points put forward.  I tend to agree that engineers in western countries will have to look at positioning themselves in the niche product and development arena. Maybe looking at servicing local markets, those where it is not practical or to sensitive to allow our countries in.  The problem will be that the number of opportunities available will be few. This will mean that we will need fewer engineers and the job market will become extremely competitive. Therefore I have come to the opinion that if a young person is set on engineering and has the potential to be very good then yes I would say go for it.  If however the person is unlikely to achieve the best results I would advice against and to try something else. Also as the training for engineers becomes more specialised and fewer people go into engineering it becomes extremely difficult for educational centres to put together appropriate training programmes and this will lead to having a few engineering centres of excellence with limited places. I except that there are many other issues that will affect the future of engineering, but in the UK we have allegedly lost 102,000 maunfacturing jobs in the three months to June 2004 so the job market is getting tighter. The industry is not getting bigger.

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

Hi makeup!

I think having a few "centres of excellence" would be a good idea. But sadly, I cannot imagine universities with poor engineering schools willingly forfeiting tuitions by closing their doors.

And that raises a question: how do you differentiate a good engineering faculty from a poor one?  

I've heard some people say that good schools publish more journal papers and have more graduate students.  By this criteria, a faculty that kept enrollments at levels far above local industry needs would really shine.  A large number of their graduates would have difficulty finding work and opt to continue their studies.  More graduate students leads to more publications and (by the above criteria) a higher ranking for the university.  

I think a better indicator of an engineering school's quality is provided by surveying how much success their graduates achieve once they are employed in industry.  By this criteria, I would have to say that sms went to a first rate school even if it does not have the prestige of an MIT.

By the way makeup, would it be possible for you to transition yourself into the same field as sms?  (He works solving dynamics problems in rotating machinery, see his Aug 10 post.)

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

Hi Lorentz,

One of the main reasons for doing the degree  was to be able to diversify from my original career root and learn about other subjects including: fluids and thermodynamics etc.   The problem that I am having is finding a company who is prepared to invest in a mature person starting near ground zero.  Most companys are looking for x years experience and there is only one way to get that.  This unfortunately excludes me from many positions for which I know that I would be up and running a lot quicker than a fresh grad.  But its up to the companies at the end of the day, I like to think of it as their loss rather than get all upset about it.  

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

Lorentz say: "I've heard some people say that good schools publish more journal papers and have more graduate students."

Nah, that's a diploma mill. At least the "more graduate students" part. A really good program needs to be selective and not accept too many students. You're absolutely right--the worth of a program is to be measured in what its graduates achieve. There are two standards there, though--one for the students who go on to academic careers and one for those who go to the real world. For example, MIT is not very good at all for structural engineering--unless you happen to want a PhD in one of a handful of highly specialized programs that they do excel in. They'll admit this themselves.

But what I'm really here to say...

Maybe we need to clarify what the topic is really about. Would you recommend engineering to a student who is debating between engineering and chemistry? Medicine? Law? English Lit? Education? Fine arts? Or to a student who is debating between a 4-year engineering program and a 2-year technician program? Or to a student who is debating between engineering and being a car mechanic? Or is the question not would you recommend engineering to someone who's just asking, but would you strongly push engineering to someone who's not really thrilled? A number of these questions have been answered in this thread--but they're all different questions.

Because of my own prejudices, I assumed we were talking about a college-bound high school senior who is trying to decide what major to pick for college. They are, conceivably, actively considering engienering. To say "not recommend" to me means "advise against". And I don't think I'd go there--I can think of very, very few fields that aren't subject to outsourcing, downsizing, etc., which is the point I was trying to make.

Look at what I was listing above. Research fields? Those can be done overseas. Education, fine arts? No money in it. Medicine? So far, so good. Law? Same. What if they don't want to be a doctor or a lawyer? What's left?

The answer is engineering, education, fine arts, chemistry, and all those other "non-recommendable" fields which are nonetheless producing thousands of graduates across the US, and yet we don't seem to be buried in a sea of homeless who have all finished college in the last 10 years.

The first time I saw some really snazzy design software I thought, "Okay, there goes engineering--we've all been automated." But that's not true--the rote number-crunching is being stripped away by newer tools, and what remains is Engineering Judgement. You're faced with a situation not exactly like something in the book--now what do you do? *That* is what we're really here for. And that's harder to ship to some engineering "factory" overseas. It requires direct contact with the site/product, other parties, etc. It's at least as much communication as calculation. An engineer who has that kind of skill, not just one who can run design calcs, stands a pretty good chance of survival. It's the faceless Dilberts that are in trouble. Not that anyone deliberatly aims at being a faceless drone, but for those who are attracted to engineering because they think it'll let them avoid people and just play with numbers--that vision of engineering is more likely to land them in a vulnerable position.

Your mileage, as they say, may vary.

Hg

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

Hi HgTX!

Great post!

I agree with you when you say:

"....we don't seem to be buried in a sea of homeless who have all finished college in the last 10 years."

We are far from buried, but that's not to say there are not people like that out there.  Check out this link that dannym provided:

Career Guide for Engineers and Computer Scientists or http://philip.greenspun.com/careers/

For the record, about half of the Ph.Ds I know (from my age group) are tenured professors or at least employed in jobs deserving of their advanced degrees (I'm speaking here only of scientists and engineers).  But the other half are for the most part under-employed.  And sadly, I know of one poor Post-Doc who was left high and dry when his mentor jumped ship for greener pastures.  The last time I saw him was decades ago, and he was literally in rags.

The choices open to high school graduates can be broadly grouped into three classes; university/college, trades programs, or jumping right into the workforce.  I can think of examples of successful people for each of these groups.
 
I agree with you that "Dilbert" has the most to worry about, but I'll bet the professors who teach "Dilbert-type" courses are still telling naive high school students that things could very well turn around by the time they graduate (that one is a classic).

I think everyone agrees that the fields with the best outlook are those that require some type of ongoing physical presence. However, while these are difficult to offshore, a lot of those jobs can be done more economically by a technician or technologist.  And in future I think most of them will as I stated in my heretical August 8th post.

If this thread has accomplished anything, I hope it will have been to encourage high schoolers and their parents to "think outside the university box."

Well time to say goodnight and take Dogbert out for a walk. (Oops! I said too much.)

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

Nursing is a good example of a stable career where you can practice your trade anywhere and won't be affected much by outsourcing. I wouldn't recommend it to someone who feints at the sight of blood, or doesn't like mandatory overtime, or wants to live in a $500,000 house, drive a Jag and retire when they are 40. Such riches are not common for the engineering graduate either. The reality is there will always be a need for engineers, but if you are looking to get rich, or even pay back your student loans likety split, don't go there.

I like what I do, even if it takes me far from home where I am alone for weeks at a time, or requires 70-hour weeks when I am home. With 3 small kids it can be hard. It's not the perfect lifestyle and my wife resents it because this was not the situation when we got married - I worked at a Fortune 100 company in a division that's since been completely offshored. Then I was at Fortune 10 company where I trained the 2 Satyam engineers who would do my work after I was laid off. I am lucky because my projects now are all defense-related, so I don't feel direct offshoring pressure. Pressure may come indirectly from a job market full of engineers displaced by offshoring. Without violating recruiting rules I would encourage them to look at defense contractors as billions of dollars in bids have been won and these firms are out looking. Just don't expect a cushy 40-hour week with <5% travel required. It's not going to happen.

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

Hello All!

I don't mean to beat a dead horse, but oldluddite provided a most informative link in the "outsourcing" thread that I think might be missed, so I'd like to discuss it here.

Many have offered the opinion that even if the prospects for engineering may not be the best, other fields may be no better, so a young person might as well be encouraged to take a chance on doing "something they love."

The problem with this, is that most young people I have spoken with know little of the realities of engineering. (Unless they personally know an engineer how could they know otherwise?) They may be in love with a dream job that doesn't even exist.

For example, there is a popular misconception that most engineers are engaged in exciting work developing new products.  The paradox here is that while most products are designed by engineering teams, the majority of engineers will never be involved in such jobs.  Far more engineers work in construction design, commisioning new facilities, project management,  maintenance, or even sales .  So if a young person is not interested in these areas, the odds are slim that they will find an engineering job they enjoy.

(Note that HgTX became a civil engineer "because I have loved the look of steel structures since I was a little kid."  THAT'S a good reason for going into engineering.)

And the number of product design jobs in the 1st world is getting smaller as can be seen from the following article:
 
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/msid-816337,curpg-1.cms

A Vice President of one of the leading CAD/CAM firms is quoted as saying:

"Now that offshore delivery has been proved to work, huge amounts of product development and design will shift from high cost regions such as the US, Western Europe and Japan to India, China, Russia."

So for young people in India, China or Russia who are interested in product design, my adice would be to sign up for an engineering program.  For young people in the 1st world, take a look at other options.

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

I think it's probably true, as some here have said, that kids don't have that good an idea of what it is that engineers do. I sure didn't and my mother and grandfather were engineers; I grew up playing on a factory floor. (Those steel coils that collect under the drill press? Not good toys.) If I'd really understood which engineers do what, I might have started out in the right field and spared myself eight years "out in right field". (Then again there's something to be said for not being a teenager any more when I got my engineering education.)

So here's the opposite face of the original question: I get the occasional mass-mailed solicitation to participate in some kind of educational program for kids--career days, that sort of thing. I'm usually feeling too swamped by life in general to commit to them, but (and here's the question) should I be making the effort to go to these programs and talk about what it is I actually do? Why? (Or why not?) Profengmen advises well not to spread doom and gloom, but should an effort be made to spread information, period?

Hg

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

Can we step back, on both sides, from the hyperbole?

1. Most of us do come into contact with college-bound kids. Some are raising them right now. We are all qualified to tell them about our own experiences and what we observe directly.

2. As mentioned before, different fields have different situations. I think "the profession" is a bad notion--there is no single profession of engineering. Besides, at least in my experience, you have to put something more specific than just "engineering" as a proposed major on the college application. So there will be different answers for different fields.

3. For those fields in trouble, the job market is tight; it is not nonexistent. How much of a risk-taker is this hypothetical high-schooler? How likely are they to stand out above the crowd? How strongly do they feel about the subject matter? If they really love it, they gotta try (as long as they really do have a good understanding of what they might be doing when they come out). There's no job market for artists and musicians either. (Then again, I don't know whether I'd encourage any child of mine to "follow their dream" into the fine arts at my expense for four years...)

4. For a kid you have extended contact with (and who actually wants a serious answer), consider helping them do the research for what kind of job prospects they might have for various fields--and not just engineering, but anything they think they might be interested in. It's hard stuff to think about when you're 17.

Hg

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

(showing hand)

I hope my comments about engineering are not contrued as "doom-and-gloom". If a neighbor's child was considering engineering, and they asked me if I would recommend it, I would concede I am not a qualified career guidance counselor. Being an engineer, I would present the requirements and information I know about the problem and let the parent and child choose for themselves whether they want to tackle it.

Engineering degrees are currently overpriced and the likelihood of walking off the graduation stage and into an engineering job is diminishing, especially when there is a recession. Engineering is highly competitive and becoming more so due to offshoring trends, and this leads careers for the most part to require long hours and travel. You will often toss and turn in the night about a problem you're working on, and sometimes might even dream (or have nightmares) about it. If you don't have good problem-solving skills, you are likely to fail or make unnecessary work for yourself.

Advising there will be tough competition and hardship is not being doom-and-gloom. These are just risks and challenges that do offer rewards when you are successful. It is merely a good idea for a student to know what to expect when they follow a recommendation to pursue engineering.

If a fully-informed student understood and accepted the challenges ahead, then YES, I would recommend engineering.

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

It is that true (but obviously trivial) that future is unclear. However, the best predictor of near term events is current trends. In engineering the trend is currently negative and that trend does not seem to be reversing itself. In fact, it is getting worse.

No matter what skill set an engineer possesses, how much he enjoys engineering or how proficient he is at engineering, in my experience, an unemployed or under employed engineer is not a happy, fulfilled individual. Encouraging a young man or woman to go into a profession where they are not likely to enjoy a fulfilling prosperous life long career is morally offensive to me. I wouldn’t feel good about myself if I was less than honest with a young person.

Even though several people have posted unrealistically optimistic and intellectually appealing projections of the current and future of engineering, there is nothing in the real world to bear out your opinions. Possibly the impact of off shoring and the other problems affecting most engineers have passed you by. You’re lucky.

One person asked in his post for a show of hands of people who lost their jobs “a direct result of it going over seas”. I (and hundreds of others who I know directly) have lost jobs to off shoring. I lost 3 jobs due to off shoring: I was a field engineer for a steel producer who scaled back due to foreign competition. I was a systems analyst for a manufacturing automation company who closed as the machine tool industry went overseas. I was an engineer of a consulting company who moved their engineering operation to the Philippines.

Fortunately, I have never actually been laid off. I have always been able to arrange a new job before the old job actually ended. However, my luck probably won’t last forever.

I don’t understand the challenge to document job loss. A person would have to be very narrow-minded not to be impacted by all the off sourcing information in the news for the last decade. I’m sure that even the issuer of the challenge knows many engineers who have “hit the bricks” due to either jobs going overseas, loss of business to foreign competition or cheap foreign workers being imported.

If engineers opened their minds, kept abreast of current events, had apathy for those less lucky than themselves and avoided the “I’ve got mine and to hell with you” attitudes, then, maybe engineers could improve their profession.

Encouraging large numbers of young men and women to enter engineering serves only the desires of employers by keeping a large supply of highly intelligent, well educated engineers available in the labor pool and “hungry” for employment. It also guarantees lower wages and lower turnover due to excessive competition for jobs. An excess of engineers is detrimental to the goals of the individual engineer.


RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

You have my vote.

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

I guess I am narrow minded, but I am still positive on engineering. I have recommended it to my 5 kids (including 3 teenagers), and as I come across kids with an interest in math and science I recommend it to them as well.

A large supply of highly intelligent, well educated engineers available in the labor pool will not be “hungry” for employment. They will change the world!

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

Speaking of trends, it looks like there are plenty of advertised openings right now, and that is an improvement over 6 months ago (go to hot jobs or monster or dice and do a general search in your discipline). Many are for the 1-3 years experience range, so high-ranking graduates with co-op experience should be doing very well, providing a willingness to relocate. This trend also means more opportunities in the "invisible job market", where positions are filled without ever being advertised.

Along with recommendations for engineering, supply plenty of pep talks. Engineers who don't plan on being the best at what they do are most likely the ones who will be replaced by those $5/hr Satyam (Indian) engineers.

"The harder I work, the luckier I get."

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

I posted this elsewhere, but this is more reason to recommend engineering IMHO> I received the following from Langer regarding their pay survey of ASME members. Based on this it appears that at least mechanical engineers that are members of the ASME are doing pretty well! Junior engineer has a median salary of $50000. That has got to be better than a cell phone salesman.....

This unique, 576-page publication reports the base salaries, other cash compensation, and total cash compensation of 8,963 members of ASME.

Nationwide, the median income of survey participants is $83,236.
The median income of some of the benchmark jobs investigated
were:

Research Director/Vice President ... $135,000
"Distinguished" Researcher ... $131,000
College/University Dept. Heads (11-12 mo. appt.) ...$125,000 Engineering Director/Vice President ... $123,100 Professor (11-12 month appointment) ... $120,000 Chief Marketing & Sales Executive ... $113,700 Environmental Manager ... $110,000 Consulting Branch Manager ... $103,500 Principal Consultant ... $102,000 Project Manager ... $95,000 Senior Engineer ... $84,000 Sales Representative ... $77,775 Intermediate Researcher ... $70,000 Project Engineer ... $63,775 Junior Researcher ... $50,047 Junior Engineer ... $50,000 Junior Consultant ... $42,700

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

I've been an engineer for almost 30 years and have never regretted the decision. I absolutely love what I do. Through my training and experience I have the skills  and know-how to invent, design and build things that have never existed before, and solve problems that can benefit millions of people in a small or large way.

We are so overly concerned in the West about money, money, money. Money is a lousy motivator. If you love what you do and are dilligent in pursuing it, money will come to you. You may or may not live in a $500k home. But take a look at all the high-tech start-up companies and note how many were started and run by...you guessed it...engineers.

Engineering is an ancient and noble profession. We have accomplished great things and will accomplish even greater things in the future. Engineers are some of the finest people I have ever known. Generally speaking, we're straight-shooters, creative, optimistic, practical and imbued with a "can do" attitude. We are generally viewed in a positive manner by the public...like Dilbert. (g)

Like sms, my area of specialization is rotating equipment. I chose this field long ago as it offerred an immense and life-long technical challenge, and the pool of experts is relatively small worldwide. The more experienced we become, the more we are worth. I paid my dues working around the world in remote locations for many years and got my hands plenty dirty. Over the past 15 years I have honed and polished my analytical capabilities and design skills...even taught myself machining. You have to keep learning and pushing yourself...it keeps you sharp and enthusiastic.

If I had any advice to offer someone contemplating entering the field of engineering, I would tell them it's a great profession, but competition is becoming increasingly fierce. You must commit to being the very best you can be...for your entire career. Adopt the "restaurant" business model...you're only as good as your last meal.

Got my PE in 1992 after returning from overseas. Hadn't studies calculus in 17 years. Studied 8 hrs a day for months on end and aced the exams. The professional benefits and personal satisfaction gained from such an intense and comprehensive mid-career review were enormous. I believe our intellectual powers expand as we age, but the brain muscle needs to be exercised continuosly. If you've been putting off getting your PE..just do it.

Cheer up and be positive. If the same old, same old isn't working for you...try something different. You'll live. You meet a lot more interesting people when you're living on the edge. ;)

Kind Regards,

Tom
Turbosystems Engineering Inc.
www.turbosynthesis.com

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

I am an engineer through and through and wouldnt change who or what I am for the world, there is a great sense of achievement being an engineer and I would never willingly change that. However as I have said on another post else where, I left engineering 4 years ago to move into IT to gain programming experience that would enable me to move into the control/automation side of engineering. However having completed my goal of being able to programme I am finding it EXTREMELY difficult moving back into engineering with these EXTRA (not replacement) skills that I have. I am being looked at now like I can just about build mechano. Have I done something wrong I ask myself. I can only keep trying.

But if the engineering industry needs information thirsty, hard working allways learning why and how and what type people (such as myself) then why oh why am I finding it so hard to get back in?

RE: Would you recommend engineering to a recent high school graduate?

Kevstar,

there are many of us out here in a simlar boat to you. I have been forced from enginering through redundancy. I am still continuing with my Beng but I'm not is an environment to really exploit it.  Agreed its hard finding worth while positions but just keep trying. Ive looked at what the others have said and see valid points, but I maybe look at things differently.  Ok you left to do soemthing completely different, dont look at it as a waste of time all things add value whether it be interpersonal, the way the organisation did things, you must have learned something that adds value to your worth.  Agree with the statement that you cant do two jobs at once but you can do two different jobs, theres value added.  

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