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Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"
15

Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

(OP)
A word for the big three, especially since I have a stake in the matter; I generally buy American brands:

In the spirit of ISO 9000, seek to learn the level of expertise in first and lower tier suppliers. In section 4 of ISO 9000 there is a requirement that engineers should be well qualified to perform the function. You should find it alarming that the engineering department is managed by a non-engr. Further, it should trouble you that team leaders and other "engineers" are not graduate engineers.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

The definitive symptom of incompetence is that an incompetent person is not qualified to assess another's competence.

That said, it may depend who you ask as to whether someone is qualified.

All this machinery making modern music can still be open-hearted.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

2
There is a management theory, which is particularly prevalent in the US, that engineering managers and team leaders need not be engineers but need to be expert in management. In fact management experts will argue that their management skills make them markedly better managers. I can only say from my experience projects managed by non engineers have invariably failed to come in within budget and time whilst those managed by engineers have been a success.

As far as ISO 9000 is concerned the requirement is that there must be procedures for checking. There is no requirement for managers to check the work of the managed. In fact you can argue that ISO 9000 is better satisfied if the manager is an expert in management and not an engineer.

The arguments fail in practice because engineering is an art not a precise science. Design and development is a series of compromises it is balancing act between economics, functionality, reliability, life etc. Theoretically all of these can be quantified but we make subjective decisions based on our engineering experience and expertise. We recognise that mangers must be competent in engineering otherwise they are unable to manage what is a subjective process. They are unable to assess what matters and what does not and are unable to properly allocate resources. In particular they are unable to recognise when an engineering project is turning into a research project and burning resources unnecessarily.  

Where engineers fail as managers is in the fact that they expect to get it right and produce the required deliverables within time and budget whereas management specialist consistently fail but then demonstrate their management expertise in the recovery. The board is more impressed by their ability to turn a potential loss of several millions into only a few million whereas if the project had been managed by an engineer it would have made a small profit and not have gone into a loss in the first place.

The moral is get it wrong then demonstrate how good you are by putting it right. The board will be much more impressed than if you got it right in the first place.

brian  

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

BRIS,
Well said, I thought your synopsis was unique to the aerospace industry.  It is interesting to read it echoed in your industry.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

(OP)
My early experience in engineering after receiving my degree was that all engineering managers were masters/eng. Likewise for higher level managers. This was at a jet engine plant. I heard there thru the grapevine that even technician requirements were filled with engrs. They would rather have engineers in the engineering function than unqualified individuals.

The reason for the original post is that I have discovered an alarming lack of judgement in automotive engineering because the managers and team leaders were largely QC types, promoted draftsmen, not engineers. Here are some of the bonehead comments I got from these types:
- Cut down the gear OD to the pitch line to reduce noise;
- There must have been a good reason that we have 10 deg mismatch between worm and gear; anti-backdrive (!);
- We can't change to a low temp grease to allow cold start; we have only one grease across all product lines;
- we can't go to DuPont Delrin (a stronger plastic); we are standardized to Ticona at this supplier.

I haven't proven it yet, but I suspected one supplier of making critical gears from 100% commodity regrind. We had a rash of field failures that caused loss of contract. This came from bonehead decisions to stay with an unscrupulous supplier.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

Though I don't work in the automotive field, I have spent my professional career as an engineer dealing with global communications and networking equipment. In that time I have had the occasion to work under both engineers and non-engineers. In my experience, there are pros and cons to both.

As a whole, engineers are often too quick to say "Nope, no sir. Absolutely no way we can do it." As engineers, we often develop the habit of sticking to the same tried and true solutions, and are reluctant to move into unfamiliar territory. Often times, working for a non-engineer can be good, as they don't have any prejudices hard-wired in. They often force you to expand in new directions and get you out of your comfort zone. Yet working for a non-engineer is also fraught with poor decisions, unrealistic deadlines and expectations.

But no matter who I find my self reporting to after the quarterly company-wide reorganization, I just accept it as a new set of challenges. As I see it, any one can design an effective solution when there are no limits placed on the design. It takes a real engineer to provide an elegant solution with one hand tied behind his back, poor materials selection, and no budget.

My 2 Cents
Bryan Carter

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

Excuse me, but referencing ISO... anything as a standard for competency for engineering tells me you have lost contact with the real world.  The endless paperwork created by this system has created nothing but a bunch of ex-eng's who know how to check the boxes in a checklist.  Give me a break, how many times do you need to check the box that made sure we checked the last box?!

Sorry, but give me a motivated "un-qualified" engineer who knows how to get things done and who to go to for help and I'll run with them any day!

Our friends in the UK could tell you at great length the uselessness of the ISO system in their country.  Anyone can comply if they pay their way into the system.  Pretty soon the process has no value.

I hope by now, people have figured out the successful companies (and people?!) make decisions long before every last piece of data is available to support their no risk decisions.   Hmmmm... pursue this if you want to know where all the jobs are going...

Signed,
Member of a "Top Heavy Large Tier One Company" caught in the "ISO Web"

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

4
"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds." --Albert Einstein

If I may comment from the "non-degreed" perspective....
What engineering school teaches is where to look in what book and how to play with equations.
Maybe Plasgears had a financially well off family that could send him out for 4 or 5 years and get the little piece of paper to hang on the wall... not all of us had that advantage. I got 2 years into it before the funds ran out and I got drafted. Since then I've taken the majority of the core classes at night but don't have "The Paper" - Instead I've got 30 years experience in Design and Engineering with a number of companies (including that little motorcycle on in Milwaukee), 5 patents, and keystone designs that are still on the market (and I can ride one to work)
Gee.. and I did this without taking Differential Calc, Laser Physics and Micro Circuit Theory???
I've worked with DEGREED engineers - both new and experienced - that can't hit their asses with a map... They specify unavailable sizes for fasteners and materials... can't read drawings, don't understand fits or tolerance stacks, etc. I think you'll find that most of those bad decisions were driven by a manager and dictated by some Accounting type in high places.

The bottom line - it isn't the degree, it's the PERSON. You either have the intellect and intuitive engineering ability or you don't. Mark's Handbook has the equations, XCALC has the calculators, and ProE or AutoCad will put the parts together. You learn on the job and hone your skills with the tools unique to your current profession. And chances are, your best resource is the guy that's been there 30 years who started as a drafter and doesn't have a degree...




Keep the wheels on the ground
Bob
showshine@aol.com

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

I have worked in then managed a textiles applications  laboratory for 10 years, then worked in the technical marketing of engineering plastics for 30 years.

I have a degree in textiles technology, which while not an engineering degree, involved quite a bit of engineering, along with chemistry, physical chemistry and polymer chemistry. I do have an engineering apptitude, and physics was the subject where I never had to bother studying to much to get a good pass.

In the technical marketing role, I worked for a number of years as a "Market Development Engineer".

In this time I have been involved with a very large number of projects, many in the automotive and the appliance industries with companies like GM, Ford, Mitsubishi, Bosh, VDO, Toyota, Electrolux, Black & Decker, Sunbeam, Bendix, Borg warner, Osram, GE, Ramset, Pandrol, just to mention a few.

Many of these involved both qualified and unqualified engineers.

I have seen many good and many bad decisions by both qualified and non qualified engineers.

The main difference between the good and bad decisions was  experience in the type of materials used and the inteligence, overal broad experience (formal education is just one form of experience) and intuition of the engineer involved.

Another major factor is the environment in which they work. Once management overrules engineering and decides to go to production "anyway", despite sturctural problems, or when stylist have the last say, and insist on makeing an unsound structure "because it looks nice", a disaster is iminent.

On the other hand, if we wait for the engineering to be "perfect" or we market a sound but ugly product, a disaster is also iminent.

To calculate stresses in complex , I think an engineering degree is a big help

To come up with effective designs, I think apptitude has a lot more to do with it than a degree, but the degree can't hurt.

I think to get a degree you need to be a good scolar, and apptitude helps, but is not essential.

To get a job in engineering without a degree, you need a  track record that proves apptitude, and some terserary education helps a lot, but university education is not essential.

Like all things it comes down to a sensible ballance and good projects come from team effort where all the necessary skills are present and recognised and respected by all.

Regards
pat

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

sprintcar:
I've seen many 30-year designers running on 5 years worth of knowledge and 25 years of misapplied pseudo-engineering folklore.  Maybe "the paper" itself doesn't mean much, but you did take the time to get the core classes.

There's a prevailing prejudice among the self-trained  that gaining a degree somehow robs one of his common sense.  The majority of degreed engineers are capable of applying what they have learned in a practical sense, and are very open-minded about learning from those with the dirty hands.  There's never any buzz about the quiet competent majority.  Only the funny anecdotes about a couple "characters" seem to live on.

Besides, that little motorcycle manufacturer in Milwaukee has seen the light, and is making sure all of its engineering managers are degreed or pass the PE.  Maybe they will someday reach the point where their parts fit together properly (even in CAD, half the parts don't fit) and brand new bikes don't leak oil.

All this machinery making modern music can still be open-hearted.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

TheTick,

Less oil leaks?  Less "roadside" time?  Sales will plummet!

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

As an 'ex' senior engineer/manager for a reasonably sized ship repair company and over 30 years of working experience I would like to comment that ISO 9001 has nothing to do with engineers, a company without engineers can also be ISO 9001 accredited, in theory even a one man company can. It has to do with common business sense and being able to trace where certain decisions, operational methods and structures etc. come from and it forces the management to think about these questions and see if they can be improved by standardizing. It just takes care that common questions, asked numerous times in organizations on a daily basis, can be answered rapidly and the same way (almost) every time. Saves time, saves money…

I remember when we started to implement ISO 9000 there were endless meetings and everybody had something negative to say about it, but after being accredited and working with the system it all makes so much sense that you wonder how you could have kept track without it. It is a well thought out system that you could have designed yourself given enough time and practice and in the end it will make your organization more competitive and better organized.

Some die-hards (may it be called a bit narrow minded?) will always argument that the paperwork involved is ridiculous, agreed that in the beginning this may appear to be so but ask the claims department how they or anybody else having to cover his ass, would do without such a system. In any organization of reasonable size the people who maintain the quality system would have to be added to the claims department, and maybe a few more.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

I love my paper trail.  It usually says "I told you so" so that I don't have to.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

2

I have experienced the engineering degrees are useless
idea at every job I have ever had.
I have also seen at all these jobs that sometimes the
mathematics and applied physics of an engineering
degree provide a solution to the problem that has left
others saying how did you know how to do that?
Like it or not mathematics is at the base how things
operate.


There is no doubt in my mind that at certain levels of the
profession the math and science are not optional.
I have never liked anyone telling me that my four years
of college and big bucks were wasted.  

On the other hand i have had much experience with paper
engineers who got their degrees but are not curious and
interested in the type of work. They passed the classes
and got their paper but they are allmost impossible to
communicate with because of their pretend knowledge base.
They don't care about really knowing why something works.

As for ISO, my last employer had a training system by
throughing you into the fire and you learn their procedures
by word of mouth. Every person had a different version of
the correct way to do something. When I would get disgusted
and ask where these thing were documented I would get no
response.  This is an ISO 9000 facility.

Engineers are pessimest by nature. Most of the time it is
necessary for an engineer to rapidly envision scenarios
and reject them for a weakness. They must do this to get
their job done. It is far more costly to waste time implementing a dead end idea than to continue though experiments rejecting the ones with holes until a holeless
one is found. I dearly love to here those managers say
"YOU DON'T KNOW IT WONT WORK SO WHY NOT TRY"
To which I think OK there is a 1% chance this this will
happen and so we will stop planning and implement this for the next 3 weeks.
When it does not work, no questions are raised about the loss
of the most precious commidity there is TIME.
The fastest route to a good design is the engineers prototyping in his head and conducting experiments to fill
in missing information as needed to continue the design.
Sorry for the rant but this is my opinion about negative engs.
rodar

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

(OP)
The test for engineers qualified to do the jobs will come in the courtrooms when loss of life is in the equation. Then there will be wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth. The investment in degreed engineers will seem small when disaster happens.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

To be true to the original intent of the thread, we must not confuse degreed vs. non-degreed with qualified vs. non-qualified.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

plasgears writes:
"The test for engineers qualified to do the jobs will come in the courtrooms when loss of life is in the equation. Then there will be wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth. The investment in degreed engineers will seem small when disaster happens."

So courtrooms, who gave us the "engineering" opinion that GM made a boo-boo with their Gasoline tank design on 1973-87 CK series trucks, will be the arbitor? Man, I want out of this place. I am so happy my education will hang in the balance of some sleazebag Lawyer, or a jury composed of High School graduates!

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

patdaly writes
"Man, I want out of this place. I am so happy my education will hang in the balance of some sleazebag Lawyer, or a jury composed of High School graduates!"

I thought a jury had to be of your peers?  I also believed that in court cases similar to the one mentioned peers were quite often just that.  If High School graduates are your peers you had better get that piece of paper on the wall to protect your butt.

If you have an Engineer who does not want to try new things then you have an educated and expensive technician.  Challenge them immediately to be a better Engineer.  As for ISO/QS/16949/Whatever Quality standard you must meet to compete they all boil down to the same thing - paperwork is important.  What the challenge of ANY company at any level is how to make your paperwork work and help you.  If it is paperwork for the sake of paperwork then you have done something definately wrong.

Also I agree with TheTick. A degree means you have the education. It does not determine competancy or qualifications. If I have to design or implement something then I listen to the person making the most sense.  Not the piece of paper on the wall. This applies to all levels.  A creed a grad student once told me which I now use ..

I do not care if you are male, female, white, black or green. I will work and cooperate with you as long as you are competent and support me.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

CanEngJohn writes:

"I thought a jury had to be of your peers?  I also believed that in court cases similar to the one mentioned peers were quite often just that. "

Perhaps in other countries, but in the USA, your "peers" are not necessarialy educated people. In fact, in this country, the seating of jurists can be more important to a case than the actual argument presented.

"I do not care if you are male, female, white, black or green. I will work and cooperate with you as long as you are competent and support me."

I like it, and agree wholeheartedly!

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

Juries scare me.  I often ponder what I would do if charged with a serious crime (in error, of course).  If the facts were in my favor, I might just forgo the jury and be tried by a judge who has more than half a brain, rather than 12 unwilling citizens with half a brain between the lot of them.

As far as engineering qualifications go, I believe the point is to avoid any sort of trial-in-aftermath scenario.  Also, while a degree is not the only means to competency (and experience does not itself guarantee competency), I believe there needs to be standards.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

I'd really like to jump into this one - it could get lengthy but here is my 2 cents: fat chance that anything will change, as a matter of fact the degree is going to the foreign countries. I don't know what kind of qualifications they have, but a degree in the US will cost alot more for sure and the jobs are going overseas where it's cheap. THAT will influence design more than anything, maybe that's why cars are looking so strange lately. Anyway, i'm one of the 30 year plus guys, started on the board, using Catia now for plastics. I still prefer to work with the degreed project manager, preferably an engineer not a manager. We exchange ideas and compromise for a good design. I have a business degree myself, tried my own business, that sucks. I'm very happy now on the tube flying through the 3d world, get paid plenty, and have more fun than ever. At the end of the day, i think i won in life. We are a tier two to the big 3 and the benefits trickle down. ALSO, i ran into alot of degreed engineers that were not born to be engineers or designers, but thought the money was good, or got pushed into it, same as doctors, some are worse than plumbers. SO: surround yourself with road scholars, i do like experience, degree or no, the winner is the one with the best idea - oh by the way ( btw for you young ones ) it's all an idea!!! You gotta have one first, preferably a good one, and most have been thought of before, so don't re-invent the wheel, go with a proven one, it's all based on i - that stands for information - it's out there, find it, you could be president, if you want, but make sure you like your job. That's all - except this: if you don't like it, get the hell out of my life, you are slowing me down, i don't want to share in your missery, go do something you like or know how to do, or just go away - NO WHINING!!!

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

Ok, like everyone else, I just had to get in on this one. Although, unlike many, I choose not to divulge my level of degree. The point of this thread, which we have deviated from, was the connection between ISO standards and degreed personnel. I would agree with the comments made, that ISO does not concern itself with the degree level of company employees. I would also agree that in the event of a crisis such as a lawsuit, a persons degree should match with his/her position. For example, a peice of equipment fails in a steel mill, killing six employees. After investigation, it is discovered that the failure was caused by a poorly sized feedpipe. The design is traced back to the originator, who, it is discovered, is not a degreed engineer. No fluid pressure calcs, no structure calcs, no materials calcs of any kind. Now, put this scenario in front of a jury. What would you do, if you were on that jury?
On the other hand....there is experience and raw know-how. We all have stories about the freshly degreed engineer (or even the old one) who walks blindly on, bumbling through one task after the other, while we laugh up our sleeves at each new failure. Natural, intuitive knowledge does not happen in classrooms, nor is it found in books. So is this person a good engineer? Perhaps.
Bottom line is, the effective manager will know his/her people and their weaknesses, and place them accordingly. Take the mechanically inept engineer off of the plant floor, and put in the "dirt-on-the-hands" tech who knows the job. Oversee everything. At the end of the day, it is the manager who is responsible for the performance of the company. Personnel leadership and management can be more important than degrees.
I have been involved in both environments. Those staffed with degreed personnel, and those that were a mix of both. The most interesting part is, Nine times out of ten, you could not tell who was who.
As a closing, I will insert one of my favorite quotes.
"Success happens in seclusion, failure in full veiw".

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

Actually I was reading this for the umpteenth time and I realised no one here keyed in on a significant issue which really shifts the focus and debate.  (I am particularly ticked at myself for not seeing it since I am a QS9000 auditor and spent 6+ years in Quality dealing with ISO issues).

Only the ISO 9001 level deals with the qualifications of Engineers. Specifically section 4 of the ISO standard only applies to companies that perform a design function on the finished product.  ISO 9002, 9003 and 9004 do not have this clause.

With that said I do not know too many Design Engineering Departments which are not managed by an Engineer.  This section of ISO does not deal with the qualifications of people working on the floor in a Manufacturing Facility.  It specifically deals with the individuals who are design responsible.  So I think we need to start again with the focus on where it should be.  
How Qualified is your Design Group?

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

FINALLY, some more opinions! I don't think there is an answer, especially when the company finds itself thinking that they can get this guy over here really cheap, maybe because he is green, or he needs to work to keep his green card, or he has a doctors ... what was that university again? That said, i think the individuals that are short on know how, experience or educated ability, know that they are! Seems the more they know, the harder they try to convince you that they are really good. SO, there are all kinds out there, including me. I'm just hoping that MANAGEMENT is smart enough to know who is and who is not! I don't even blame the poor sap that made his way past human resources - i do blame management - ALWAYS - no exceptions.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

(OP)
There is a creeping tendency to place non-engineers in positions previously reserved for engineers. I saw this in several major companies.

A long time ago the plant engineering secretary in a large company was trained in drafting to "qualify" as asst plant engineer. She was writing contracts for electrical, HVAC, concrete, etc. work.

At a GM plant recently I discovered a clerical type working in plant engineering writing contracts for plant engineering work. The graduate engineers were long gone from the plant engineering dept.

I would like to know where this tendency is flowing from. In my last company it was flowing from QC types. The whole engineering department was infested with QC types who spoke QS9000 but no engineering. The engineers were sparse and mostly student interns. They were mostly CAD qualified but not versed in the design engineering discipline.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

It is called outsourcing.  Most companies do not like having an expensive Technical Professional doing mostly paperwork.

The contracts can be created by anyone.  The engineering work is being done by Engineers at the HVAC contractor (for example).  There are clauses in the contract specifically places design responsibility on the contractor.  The result is that the plant does not need to have Plant engineers in house because they rely on the contractors to provide the Engineering.

Most of the basics in process control (which is the dominant form of Engineering at the plant level) can be done by people without an Engineering degree.  The good ones usually become Engineering-like from their experience while not necessarily being true engineers from the start.  Get enough of that and liscense yourself and I will call you an Engineer.

Mind you this still does not fall under the ISO clause 4.4.  Personally I belive that what you are seeing is the pushing of Engineers to do more true Engineering. An Engineer intern at the plant level doesn't need design capablilities because the design is usually controlled elsewhere (especially true in automotive).  If he decides to change a design he can't do it without going through head office which has all the design guys.  He is primarily there to gain real world experience on how things go together or are made.

The tendancy is monetary driven though.  Engineers are expensive compared to the bulk of the workforce in a plant.  Why should you pay for an Engineer to do work which is technically below his qualifications?  Typically any plant between 200 and 500 people only needs about 2-5 true Engineers and a bunch of Techs.  Typically only 10% of the actrivities that occur at the plant level without the input from a corporate head office require an Engineering background.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

By the way, have you all seen the reports on the national news these last couple of weeks about white collar jobs going overseas? the design as well as the engineering ...

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

Willi3b,
Yes, and magically, none appear to be CEO positions. I would think corporations could save far more money, I believe they call it "enhancing the shareholder's position", if they outsourced top management...........

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

Wola, shisch bang boom, and Bingo! Of course, we can't say things like that, just unethical. I have long been a proponent of free enterprise, to the extent of unlimited ceilings, thinking the Board, the stockholders or the owners would be smart enough to limit these concerns, but that was wishfull thinking, now it seems that it's totally out of control, not even the owners know what is being voted in, the Board is part of the scheme, it's party time for everyone at the top. Maybe it's time to rethink it all.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

Actually, I was thinking that it's only a mater of time before the "Corp management" goes oversees.  It does make logical sense if you have shifted manufacturing, support (tech & sales) and design there already.  You could then liquidate your large US capital holdings.  This in turn would produce more available revenue for expansion (overseas) and aquisition of other corporations ...  and it'd make the balance sheets look gggrrreeeaaat.
Kevin (mostly tongue-in-cheek)

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

(OP)
Watch for lawyers examining the qualifications of engineering management and engineers in companies involved in loss of life suits. Its not just a license issue like in civil engineering. It's a question of whether management has allowed boneheads to prevail in pivotal engineering positions.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

My current and previous employer accepts experience for a degree. I am the only engineer on my staff with an engineering degree. One of my co workers does not have his degree yet but is close to finishing an Engineering Degree. He as been close to getting an engineering degree but then changed what kind of engineer he want to be before he received the degree. He has all around knowledge which is a good asset to the company. Just because a person does not have a degree does not mean he is not qualified. A professor once told me, you will learn more at your job then you ever will in school. That is why they have Co-Op at most colleges now.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

Still, for every "You can't learn that in school" I receive from a school-of-hard-knock educated engineer, I have equal amounts of vacant stares while explaining fundamental concepts like spring rates, free body diagrams, and simple dynamics to these same folks, usually in the context of explaning to them why their stuff won't work.

If the ladies don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

Surely, in a situation where loss of life resulted from a bad or "bonehead" engineering decision, the fact that the engineers involved hold or do not hold degrees is irrelevant?

Regardless of whether you hold a degree or not, your ability to be a good or bad engineer is unaffected and a bad decision that you make is still a bad decision.

What ISO is for is providing a set of tools to document decision making, controlling drawing issue and process instructions, and ensure that all relevant departments are involved in those processes as necessary. Even a degree qualified engineer can miss a point, and ISO tools help in calling for other department heads and managers to ask the questions that may well catch it.

The provision of ISO doesn't prevent bad decisions from being made, just as a degree doesn't. ISO may be accepted as being best practice, and in such a court case, failure to adhere to those guidelines may be more important than whether the engineer holds a degree or not.

That said, I'd agree that management of engineering departments is something best done by a degree qualified engineer. The department manager is normally a bit distanced from the detail in a project, but represents the department in relation to a number of projects. He therefore needs a broad, but solid understanding of all principles applied at design level in order to appreciate the issues faced by his engineers. He also needs to perhaps see the wood despite the trees when it comes to gateway reviews.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

IMHO Engineering Managers need to be skilled Engineers (1st), & skillful Managers (2nd)...

I believe that it is a falicy to think that non-technical Managers can 'manage' Engineers towards excellent solutions - without the intuition needed to guide/coach engineers towards the optimum solutions...

Managers actually need to be 'Leaders' - they need to be ahead of the game...

Regards,

Des Aubery...
(adTherm Technology - www.adtherm.com - des@adtherm.com )
 

Best regards,

Des Aubery...
(adTherm Technology - www.adtherm.com - info@adtherm.com)

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

I disagree entirely.

My manager is there as an interface to the rest of the company to get me resources that I need, and to set general priorities. For this I do not need an analytical engineer, I need a generalist/politician with a great deal of common sense.

It is 8 years since I have had a manager who was a technical resource, and could understand the details of any problems I had without hours of explanation, and fourteen years since I have had a manager who could consistently teach me anything, technically, about my job.

Cheers

Greg Locock

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

Hi 'Greg',

In my experiences as a Technology Executive & Executive Consultant in the Automotive Component Industry, I have seen both kinds of manager... The technically competent leader generally wins hands-down - especially with rapid hitech development...

The non-tech manager is a typical byproduct of US Management Theory & will work in some cases... but is generally not optimum... in most cases, a dismal failure...

But, there are always exceptions...

Best regards,

Des Aubery...
(adTherm Technology - www.adtherm.com - info@adtherm.com)

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

Des, at last the voice of reason!

I've worked for both Engineer and Non Eng managers and I can honestly say that the engineers win hands down! Far better at determining the possibilities of a concept before work begins in ernest and better idea of what their workforce is up against especially in developmental environments.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

Greg,

Right on the money. A manager's job is to enable and facilitate progress within an organization.

Besides, what about the lousy engineers that get promoted into management?

Best regards,

Matthew Ian Loew
"Luck is the residue of design."
Branch Rickey


Please see FAQ731-376 for tips on how to make the best use of Eng-Tips Fora.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

I'm with daubery on this one.  Someone who is in charge of "facilitating" should have a decent understanding of what those needs are.

One of the few things I miss about the navy is the qualification structure for rank and position.  One needed to demonstrate both technical comptetence in his rating (work specialty) and also understanding of the leadership and management responsibilities of his position ("basic military requirements").  This also applied to officers.  One can not attain command of a sub without also meeting requirements for technical understanding of that ship's operation.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

Tick,

I like your analogy, but it still does not mean that the sub commander is the most knowledgeable person on the ship in all disciplines. My point in agreeing with Greg is that you don't indeed need to be in a position that your manager knows more than you and could teach you about what you do, you just need that manager to help you provide the tools, resources, and environment to do your job well.

Best regards,

Matthew Ian Loew
"Luck is the residue of design."
Branch Rickey


Please see FAQ731-376 for tips on how to make the best use of Eng-Tips Fora.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

It's not a matter of knowledge.  It's a matter of "engineering literacy".

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

Hey MLOWE, I'll tell you what happens to what happens to lousy engineers that get promoted into managerial positions............

very very quickly they become Directors and VP's! (or of course, run out of town by their own subordinates!).

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

Tick,

Agreed!

Finman,

I know. Too much of the former, not enough of the later.

Best regards,

Matthew Ian Loew
"Luck is the residue of design."
Branch Rickey


Please see FAQ731-376 for tips on how to make the best use of Eng-Tips Fora.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

I've had experience working with widely varied supervisors over the years.  If I had to choose between technical competence and interpersonal/management skills I would pick good manager any day.  Of course, both would be the best but that's rare for a supervisor (or anyone for that matter) to excel in both.  I've had one and he was by far the best.  I've had supervisors who were neither and that's awful.

A technically competent bad manager results in micro-management and lack of trust in the relationship.

 

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

It all depends on the structure and were the technical decision making is done.

All technical decisions should be made by compentent engineers. Commercial decisions should be made by commercially compentent people, styling by stylists, non structual dedesign by designers, marketing by experienced marketers, toolmakeing by toolmakers etc.

For a successfull product they need to work together, AS A TEAM, pooling all knowledge, and each individulal being aware of their own strengths and weaknesses.

A good managers main assett IMHO is to be able to assess every team member for their worth, and assign tasks according to their skills. That manager cannot be so multiskilled that he has good knowledge of all disciplines.

If you take the arguement that a manager should know as much as his staff on how to do their job to it's ultimate conclusion, how could you ever get MD's for very large coperations, who employ thousands of experts in a wide range disciplines.

I guess I agree with Greg and Matthew.

One more point, if you have 2 equally qualified engineers on a project, one might naturally be more radical and creative, while the other is more conservative and mathamatical. A good manager does not need to be an engineer to recognise the difference and put one guy on concept design, and the other one on detailed design, then get them involved to alter the concept untill ther numbers work out on the details

Regards
pat

Please see FAQ731-376 for tips on how to make the best use of Eng-Tips Fora.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

I was perhaps, as usual(?), overemphasising my point. In different industries, and in different roles within a given industry, either might be a better solution.

My personal career has been something like 90% intensely technical and analytical. My second manager out of uni  was a great guy, and also experienced in the field in which we worked (automotive NVH). Within two years I was far beyond his help in technical stuff, and have never looked back. One reason I learned so quickly was that he was interested in what I was finding out, so we picked a lot of things up together.

Since then I have had 'technical' managers and 'political' managers, and frankly, the efficiency gains from having someone who knows how to make the company system work and trusts my result without necessarily understanding the underlying details greatly outweigh the additional robustness in the process from having someone second-guess me technically. Oh, I'll make one exception. My first supervisor during, and after, uni was a very very very talented  analyst, working for him was like one long tutorial, and we worked on some fantastic projects.

So, I think in the particular case of analytical automotive engineering it is very useful to have technically gifted engineering supervisors and managers to set the young engineer on the right path, but after the first few years the manager will get a better result by letting the engineer make his own mistakes.

Just thinking about that para, in theory of course the inexperienced engineer could benefit from learning from a technical mentor, rather than his direct supervision, but at least in my case that does not seem to have happened much. I think that is a cultural thing in the UK automotive industry - grunt engineers don't tend to be technical mentors to the kids. If we are working with people on our own percieved level of experience then we learn off each other, but the more 'one way' technical flow in a mentoring role is seen as    what? a waste of effort? boring? training up your future competition? I don't know what, to be honest.

This is a shame, I've found that educating/mentoring the right sort of engineering graduate is very enjoyable (at least for me!) but, having a somewhat prickly manner, they have to be the right fit.

Cheers

Greg Locock

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

Greg

In my experience the best mentors are those with enough confidence to not feel threatened.

I once had a boss, and his approach was that he could not be promoted until he trained someone up to take his place.

That was a great working situation.

On another occasion, we got a boss, and he soon figured out I could probably do his job better than he was, and quite a few people thought so. Unfortunately one or two said so to him as they retired. He was gunning for me from that day on.

He was by nature a political animal rather than an achiever, so it was not a nice, nor productive place to be.

Neither was as technically qualified as I, but one was an excellent manager and when promoted, moved on leaving the unit in fine shape, and one was a poor manager, and took a staff of 150 down to 12 in 5 years and turned a profit into a loss in the process. He also had a staff turnover of 200 in a year with a total staff of 150. Like I said, not a nice place.

Regards
pat

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RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

Please keep in mind that a college degree is only a piece of paper. What a person does with it is what makes the difference.

Over the last 36 years I have worked with and for a lot of non-degreed engineers. Some of the best engineers I've ever known were non-degreed. By the same token, some of the best engineers were degreed but in a totally different field (Ind. Engrg. Mgr with a degree in music; Director of Advanced Engrg. with a degree in Philosophy; Project Engr. with an Ag degree)and performed quite well..

Stereotyping a non-degreed engineer as unqualified is like saying that all people who "generally buy American brands" are not true Americans.

'Nuff said.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

pkelley

"'Nuff said."

If that were true this thread would have been over about 25 posts ago.

A good manager is one who uses a style that complements his background and skillsets.  But woe is the manager who can't do the Engineering when his best Engineers are gone for the day.

A good engineer is one who can do the Engineering theory behind the day to day practical.

There are good and bad examples of both.  Who is truly the authority to judge?

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

I have seen several key comments here that define the best manager I ever worked for.

He was a "manager" rather than an "engineer", but he had an ability to understand with ease the concerns of his engineers. This was imperative, and is probably what we all mean when we say that managers with a background in engneering are the best ones.

From this point, his skills as a manager's manager took over - he'd negotiate, facilitate and motivate. Senior management saw him pushing the team to move forward in the best direction for the company. In his team, I saw him keeping the politics away from us and freeing us up to push ourselves forward.

Ever manager I've worked for since, has been unable to fulfil BOTH of those needs - they either focus wholeheartedly on getting money for the business and appear to be puppets, or are scared of the responsibility they have and are obstructive to progress.

Degree qualified? I don't know - the personal attributes made this guy stand out, not his qualifications.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

Happy New Year to all!
While these topics can be debated for ever, I want to add some words to what you already wrote:
For some reason I feel better if I think that the guy that designed the bridge I'm crossing is a graduated, licensed civil or structural engineer with the skills to design a bridge.
The same aplies when I fly in a plane, I like to think that the people that did the finite elements analysis and calculation of the wings and other parts of that plane have enough skills to perform the calculations.
Let me state this frankly: In a lot of the engineering fields you can find people without degree with a lot of talent and skills, even better than some graduated and licensed engineers, but that is not the Rule. A good graduated engineer with some experince and love for his profession, as a Rule is a better engineer than the people without a degree.If that do not sound logical, lets close the Universities.
Even if in some fields people with no formal education can perform at top level, in some fields you need to have some formal education. From my own experience  -shiprepair and shipbuilding- I have found some good engineers with no degree in the Engine Departments but I have never found a Structural Engineer without a degree.
The fact that there is a lot of people with degree that do not deserve them, doesn't change nothing I said.
Engineering Management:
I think that somebody with management skills with good technical background is always preferable to the guy that do not know at least the basics of the area he is leading. As Patprimmer said, "the technical decisions should be made by competent engineers", but if the Engineering Manager is not an engineer -with or without degree- how he will make decisions not knowing  what the engineers are talking about? You do not need to know all about everything, but you need certain technical background.
Of course all depends on the type of engineering any concrete department is doing. In some cases, a good manager even not  being a technician can make a good work but again, I do not think that is the Rule. The presence of a lot of "Professional Managers" in Engineering Departments and non graduated people doing engineering work is more common here in America. That doesn't mean that it is the correct direction to follow. The main cause of this is MONEY. As a rule a non graduated person gets paid less. This is one of the main reason Engineers are dissapearing from a lot of places.
I've seen a lot in my life: A Lawyer managing a Maintenance and Engineering Department in one pretty big and complex organization ... a Human Resources guy with no formal education or technical background functioning as Project Manager in shipconstruction, making a lot of Technical decisions without a clue about what he was doing ... Of course, with the time this people will get some  knowledge, but in the process a lot of money is just  wasted by poor management.
About the ISO Series 9000.
Even if you do not certify your organization, the knowledge you acquire about your own company  during the ISO implementation is worth the effort.
If all the effort is lost in bureaucratic procedures and bunch of paper it only mean that you do not have an ISO system in place even if you think so.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

I understand both sides of the degree/no degree issue. I'm a mustang engineer, having come up thru the ranks (former master machinist). I do have a lot of respect for those who were fortunate enough to get the chance to go and get a degree. But I also have met those like "sprintcar" said couldn't find their rear end with both hands and a map.
I used to do reverse engineering for a big gas turbine manufacturing company thru a vendor company. As long as I was working for the vendor company, the big manufacturer loved my work. When the vendor company (who hired me to get the manufacturing company's business) laid me off, my first action was to call my contact at the manufacturing company. His response was, he couldn't hire me because of my lack of a degree. I didn't like it, but I understood his position. After all, a degree is mostly a statement of credibility. You can always say you're an engineer, but can you prove it? The company wasn't willing to accept the liability of an undegreed engineer's work, but it was okay as long as the liability was on the vendor company.
I have four years of college, umpteen certifications and 28 years experience in mechanical development, reverse engineering and tooling design. A degree would be nice to have, but at age 47 (mandatory retirement at 60), I can't see the payoff.
Now I work for a well known german auto manufacturer doing equipment maintenance and improvements. The job's more stable that any of the others I've held, and the money's equal or better to what I was making as the automation engineering manager for a company.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

I've read this thread and found so many points of view that reflect the personal experience of a lot of people in our bussiness so now I'll share my point of view with you:

The whole idea of receiving instruction as classes at a university to earn a degree in engineering is to give you the ability to understand the BASIC CONCEPTS of the sciences you are going to be dealing with in the future, they will be math, calc, physics, chem or whatever. The rest of the studies will broaden and interconect those knowledges so that when on your own you will have gotten the abbility of mixing different abstract concepts with practical applications and be able to design that better mouse trap that you will be asked to do.

In practical work when you are a production super or a plant engineer you would be better off with a technical school background as it is better to know how to set up a machine than to understand the forces inside the machines you work with.

When working in design you requiere the abstract science concepts to deal with structural analisys, kinetic forces and so on, but also the concept of how the piece is going to be manufactures, ever received a design that showed a hole bored in a place where a drill is not able to reach?
so here it is a fact that the best design departments are those that mix people with backgrounds in production and what we call desk engineers (no production but high on calc experience) the reason why many experienced draftsmen get promoted or highly valued in design departments is that because of experience they know the design errors that would make production difficult, costly or even not possible and have a memory for past failures that might have not been detected by the desk engineers.

If you get promoted to management then you'll find that you use less your engineering skills and more the management that come from a BA degree, thats why for middle to top management my perfect "recipe" would be an engineering degree with a BA post graduated studies.

Finally the fact that as AngelAlvarez stated I also would prefer to fly on a plane that has been designed by someone holding an engineering degree, at least he should not be guessing when in doubt and should be able either to calculate it or not be afraid to ask another engineer about it.

People who have accumulated a lot of years of experience are many times more valuable for a firm than a new out of the university grad and that should be aknowledged by the firm management but as in an open heart surgery you would only have a certified surgeon do it, if a 100 Ton overhead crane is going to work on top of you better have a certified engineer do the math instead of a long time welder decide the plates to use in the construction of it.

Experience is invaluable but as is only worth if it comes from someone that has the common sense and dedication to learn from it.

In english the term "Engineer" seems to derive from the word "Engine" which is why it is associated with machines and engine operation but in spanish the word use is "Ingeniero" and it is directly conected to "Ingenio" which means "wit" or the ability to design, invent or solve a problem and I think that it is a much more exact meaning of our profession, he who is capable of solving the problems using his brains.

SACEM1

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

(OP)
I wonder how the general population would respond to learn that their medical needs were handled by promoted practical nurses, not even RN. That was the whole point of this thread.
There are management types that are allowing non-degreed individuals, frequently promoted draftsmen, to occupy engineering positions at bargain rates. You frequently find unqualified individuals managing professional graduate engineers. This should be of concern to top managers with quality concerns, and customers, who are paying top money for cars and expecting the best.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

Hi
If a company has a short term outlook for profit, like now
demanded by the stock market it will focus its effors on
the next three months. That makes it likely that people who
are optimist in nature (assume it can be done until proven
otherwise) will get the favor in management. Despite
history proving that real profits come from a long term
consideration in management nobody in management today cares about this because if the next quarter doesnt look good their gone. This is an example of the philosophy that
states the more you try to achieve something the less
succesfull you are. Try first to make a lot of money and you will fail. Try first to make the best darn widget possible then  see if it will sell and you will succeed.
Hiring bargain employees is just a symtom of the overall
problem. I know of some places I have worked where the best
advice i could give them is to fire all of their salaried
staff and hire back half as many for twice the wage of the
previous employees and their effiency would double. I am
sure of it. Short term outlook will kill this economy
rodar

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

Excellent points 'rodar', 'plasgears'& 'sacem1'...

IMHO, an 'Engineering Manager' needs to be a fine balance between a 'good Engineer' & a 'good Manager'... suitably qualified on both counts.

Regards,
Des Aubery...
(adTherm Technology - www.adtherm.com - des@adtherm.com)

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

Our ISO auditor is a smart lady.  She said "managing engineers is like herding cats."

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

I'm no manager, but, like everyone else I'm pretty sure I've known a few good ones and some BAD ones

A few minutes ago while reading this thread I got wondering what a "degreed manager" might have taken in school. So I asked Google to spy on the enemy for me. Google turned up a batch of hits about risk, hotel, hospitality and hospital management.  

This is from the one that sounded most like part of a generic "management" curriculum.

Business Skills – Management
• Moving into a Management Role (MGMT0000)
• Succeeding as a First-Time Manager (MGMT0100)
• Essential Skills for Tomorrow's Manager (MGMT0110)
• Moving from Technical Professional to Management (MGMT0120)
• How to Discipline Employees & Correct Performance Problems (MGMT0130)
• Management Excellence - Performance-Based Appraisals (MGMT0140)
• 360-Degree Performance (MGMT0150)
• Managing Problem Performance (MGMT0160)
• Mentoring Essentials (MGMT0250)
• Delegation Skills (MGMT0260)
• The Successful Facilitator (MGMT0270)
• Coach with Confidence (MGMT0280)
• Managing Technical Professionals (MGMT0290)
• How to Overcome Negativity in the Workplace (MGMT0310)
• Managing Others Through Change (MGMT0330)
• Managing Contractors and Temporary Employees (MGMT0700)

It sounded reasonably reasonable to me.

I did notice that we "technical professionals" have earned their own "how to manage" category, just like those of us with "problem performance".


RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

  Math is the queen servant of science, degree or no degree, without a solid understanding of algebra, calculus, curve fitting etc.,technical people can't communicate.
  Physics and Chemistry must be understood and higher math
is the Rosetta stone of science.
  I once asked an individual with a mathematics degree
how to take a decimal and convert it to a fraction,
I knew how to do it, he couldn't do it.
(example: 0.1738 = 8,769/50,000)and then
the 50,000 can be factored down to 2 to the fourth power
times 5 to the fifth power and then other
constants in a given equation could be cancelled).
 I no longer accepted him as a mathematician.
  If you can do the work and technically communicate,
I don't care if you graduated from kindergarten or
have a PHD from Harvard, the only thing that
means anything are results. I have seen both
types, the individual that doesn't have a degree
and thinks he is an engineer, he is very dangerous
and the person that has a masters degree in engineering
and can't do the work, he is just as dangerous.
  And the idea that non-engineer's can manage
engineers has been around since the '40's when
the "efficiency experts" suddenly began calling
themselves "Industrial Engineers".
The enlightened companies that think non-technically trained individuals can manage technically trained or technically experienced people, exist mainly in industries
where "captive customers" abound, automatic profit
occurs, and plastic man can be promoted to fit
in any where. No matter how much money they waste
profit is guaranteed (Pharmacueticals, Utility Companies ect.).  
But all in all Bris gave a great explanation
as he can view both sides of the problem.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

And now I find that, starting today, I am reporting to a manager who not only is not an engineer,  but he doesn't have a degree at all!
And has in the past exhibited a fine disregard for and a tendency to disparage those who do have degrees.

Oh well, as I've said (and demonstrated) before,  I don't have to put up  with anything I don't like, as long as I can find the front door!
Regards,
 - R

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

(OP)
Rob,
Warm up your resume, keep your eyes and ears open, and when you finally leave, let the top bosses know why you left. It is unconscionable to manage engineers with non-professionals.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

plasgears
   There's a whole lot of "unconscionable"
going around. Managing engineers with non-professionals
is more the norm than the unusual.
Rob45
   Don't jump from the frying pan into the fire,
and don't take less money in your next job.
Be careful with promises of future bonuses,
get your money up front.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

TheTick (Mechanical) Sep 29, 2003
To be true to the original intent of the thread, we must not confuse degreed vs. non-degreed with qualified vs. non-qualified.

the real problem I see is that the people who determine who has what position in a company don't understand what that person really needs to accomplish, im an electrical engeenering technician and have been asked in an interview if I could type 30 words per minute but they didn't care about my ipc soldering certifications. (the job involved component level debug and repair)

I have also been laied off from a job where the document that sealed my fate and 185 others also included a %20 pay raise for all of management because they found a way to meat there spending goals.

what happened to work ethics? not just from the employee but also form the employer?

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

I have a BSME and an MBA from a top US business school, The University of Chicago.  My experience with engineering managers is that a good eng. mgr. need not necessarily have an eng. degree.

A degree is the quickest and most disciplined way of attaining knowledge.  However, knowledge can be obtained by home study, work experience and a host of other ways.  Management is a skill and top quality managers (and CEOs for that matter) have a well developed right hemisphere of the brain, dealing with holistic functions (look elsewhere for explanations).

Top engineers usually have well developed left hemispheres of the brain, dealing with analytical functions.

In humans, it is usually one or the other.

My boss and subsequent colleague is one of the sharpest and smartest engineers in the Midwest and just has 2 years of college from U of I, when U of I had a campus on Chicago's Navy Pier.  The reverse is also true.

A good eng. mgr. must be good at management and very astute in engineering, not necessarily a degreed engineer.

In conclusion, degrees are nice to have, but they should never be the sole yardstick in evaluating competence.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

Hi All
When I started in Engineering as an apprentice I used to think the people with a Degree knew everything and as the years rolled by I realised "How Wrong I Was".
A Degree means you're qualified to do the job but it doesn't mean you can do the job. Whilst I feel it is important to hold some technical Qualification to show a level of understanding in this day and age, I really believe that experience counts just as much.I have worked with other good and bad engineers some Degree qualified some
PHD's and believe me some of these so called qualified engineers I wouldn't pay in washers.
One doesn't have to go back far in history to remember some of the greatest engineers of our time IE:-George Stephenson for instance the father of the railway's in England.This
magnificent engineer couldn't read or write and as time went on he was snubbed by the Institute Of Civil Engineers because of his lack of education, in spite of all the bridges and railways he built.However some engineers talking shelter in an old railway carriage, whilst working on a rail project where discussing this fact, they decided to form their own Institution and invite George to be their President and thus the "Institute Of Mechanical Engineers" was formed. I feel this is quite ironic Considering you cannot join this institute these days without an vey good honours degree.
A good engineer in my definition needs to have a flair,interest in his job and be able to listen to others around him who may not be as well qualified and of course a
good understanding of engineering principles.

regards

desertfox  

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

What we should remember is that engineering is far more complex than anyone on the outside of engineering can even begin to contemplate. They see an engine as lumps of metal bolted together. They cannot begin to conceive the expertise behind each component.  Engineers of all skills and levels of academic aptitude will have made a contribution – some Phd academic probably worked in some back room developing the material properties over many years of research. A practical engineer without a degree may have worked out the best form for the component so that it can be dismantled in the future for maintenance. They all contribute equally to the end product. Try to get the Phd material research engineer to develop a functional model and you could well conclude he is not worth paying in washers. And as in any profession there will always be some more able, more interested and dedicated than others regardless of qualification.

The point I am making is that there is no argument of whether engineers need to be degree qualified – the field is so wide both practical and academic expertise are needed.

When it comes to management of engineers the practical engineer is likely to be the better manager of a production facility where the academic engineer may be the better manager of a research project. Not all engineers can manage and we all know many engineers that would be unable to manage their way out of a paper bag but are expert at their field providing they are pointed in the right direction. .  This is one reason why a manager needs to be an engineer – because he needs to know what the hell is going on inside the paper bag – consequently a good engineering manager who is an engineer whether degree qualified or not will invariably make a better manager than a none engineer.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

(OP)
I agree that some of the best engineers in history came up the hard way, but they are the exception. Lindenthal (Hell's Gate Bridge, et al, NYC, Portland OR, and Pittsburgh) was a great bridge engineer who learned engineering on the way up. I worked with an exceptional engineer, Dudley N., who was sent to MIT by GE to round out his engineering qualifications. The English and American experience during the industrial revolution produced numerous great engineers. Pasteur was an example of an unqualified individual in medicine who introduced landmark improvements in disease control.

To allow unqualified individuals today to act as engineers is playing with fire. I'll enumerate some of the glaring results:
- loss of contract because of degraded material introduced by an unscrupulous supplier supported by a bonehead;
- loss of contract because of uncorrected design causing cyclic noise;
- loss of contract because bonehead hired a consultant who produced an inferior design in a new application.

Hiring unqualified individuals is false economy.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

Hi plasgears

From your list of incompetence I assume the bonehead wasn't qualified, however these errors could easily be made be an incompetent qualified engineer, all I am saying is that someone qualified may well turn out to be as incompetent as
an unqualified person.
I agree with BRIS that a manager should be an engineer who has the knowledge and answers that his subordinates might
require from time to time.
Whether that manager is qualified or not is irrelevant its the quality of his knowledge that counts.

regards desertfox

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

Hi Plasgears,
I really hate to disagree (but only in part I hasten to add).

Qualification is no insurance against screw ups.

I've worked for a Graduate engineering manager who was the perfect political animal and was lacking in any form of common sense, He could wax lyrical about high flying design solutions he had come up with until he lost us a few contracts with badly specified components and poorly executed solutions where experienced but unqualified guys had advised otherwise.

This is just the otherside of the coin to your example, I just don't think you can tar everybody with the same brush it's down the individual on how they use the information they gain during university or life.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

Finman - I am just wondering on what point you disagree with Plasgears - you appear to be selling the same line:

"Whether that manager is qualified or not is irrelevant its the quality of his knowledge that counts".

"it's down the individual on how they use the information they gain during university or life".

I think we all agree engineering is learned by practice.

Brian

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

Hi Bris,

The phrase "Hiring unqualified individuals is false economy" I figured was a bit grim, however I must admit on a second reading I thought to myself "it all depends on your idea of qualified".

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

(OP)
Finman,
Qualified means prepared to carry out the duties of a sector of engineering with appropriate graduate engineering degree and applicable experience. PE license adds proof to qualifications, and that is the reason for establishing engineering licenses.

States aim to protect the public by licensing doctors, surveyors, engineers, dentists, and other professionals. The other side of the coin is the possibility of withdrawal of license for good cause.

I think the general public appreciates this, but Detroit has reconfigured the meaning of qualifications to support low cost operations by using marginally qualified draftsmen and others in the practice of auto engineering and management. Compare automotive QS-9000 with ISO-9000. ISO speaks of qualifications to do engineering work, but QS skirts the issue because it is written by auto QC types, not engineering minded individuals.

RE: Engineering dept staffed with unqualified "engrs"

I would still defend the point that engineers do not have to be "Degree" qualified although there may be a difference in US v UK concepts on degree qualified.
In the UK there are 2 streams to get into engineering, 1 the academic side where one attends university and another seperate stream where one attends Technical college for the theory and gets a good amount of practical training aswell. Only the first stream will get you a degree.
In my experience the degree guys are fantastically educated but lack the practicalities required for what at the end of the day is a practical trade. The scenario of "I can design a space shuttle but can't drill a hole" is as dangerous and expensive as the other extreme.

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