I'm used to getting tons of press releases in the mail each week. But I frankly was surprised (and pleased) by the volume of letters I received from our readers over the past few weeks (see a sampling on page 11). Most took me to task for an editorial I wrote (07.08.02) claiming that being an engineer isn't about the money.
Many readers raised some excellent points and exposed my argument for the oversimplification that it was. One of my favorite letters pointed out that there is a term for doing unpaid work: It's called volunteering.
I suspect (and hope) that for most of you, the reasons you do what you do are a lot more complicated than the size of the paychecks you bring home. That's because engineering is one of those rare professions that offers the potential for people to be creative, make discoveries, and have an impact.
In fact, at the risk of sounding like a pop-psychologist, I believe that most engineers derive a profound sense of personal accomplishment, achievement, and independence from their work. Being an engineer is such an integral part of who they are that they simply can't imagine doing anything else. Maslow really knew what he was talking about!
But just because engineers love their work doesn't mean they ought to do it for free, or for less than they're worth. Nor should they forego the right to expect to receive recognition, appreciation, and acknowledgement for a job well done.
As many readers pointed out, money is one important way that a company can signal it values the contributions of its employees. I agree. It's criminal that more companies today don't place a higher value on the engineers who work for them. We'll be studying that problem in upcoming issues of Design News.
If you love being an engineer and you work hard, you should be well-compensated for your efforts. Tell your boss right now! (And check out our annual career survey at www.designnews.com to see how your salary stacks up.)
If, on the other hand, you really are miserable in your job as an engineer and aren't willing to give it all you've got, my last editorial still stands.