Hikes in engineers' salaries outpace rise
The typical salary of an engineer rose 6.8% to $60,700 in the past year. That
compares with 2.65% inflation for the same period. The figures are from the
American Association of Engineering Societies, based in Washington, DC. It
surveyed more than 90,000 engineers in industry and government for the 12 months
ending February 1, 1996. The survey showed that the median starting pay for
engineers rose 6.93% to $37,550. Remuneration of engineers with 25 or more years
of experience, however, climbed to $68,650, up 7.52%. Rebounding from a setback
two years earlier, salaries in non-manufacturing jobs shot up an average of
12.8%. But engineers in manufacturing had a gain of only 3.1%, after a 5.1% jump
the prior year. Top engineering pay is in the petroleum industry; the lowest in
Patent Office aims for 12-month limit on processing
The U.S. Patent Office has launched a fresh effort to improve the speed and quality of its services. A prime goal is to take no more than 12 months to issue or deny a patent on any invention. The average has been 19 months, with some actions lasting up to three years. The need for faster processing has become more critical because patent terms now start from the date of filing for a patent rather than the date a patent is issued. The Patent Office has embarked on a series of roundtable discussions with inventors to get reactions to some of its "re-engineering plans." One plan is to establish industry sectors within the patent corps. Bruce A. Lehman, Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks, wants to phase in six such industry sectors starting in November. Examining groups dealing with related technologies will com-prise each sector. Already underway is a pilot pro-gram with a Design Examination Group. Another pilot program tests electronic receipt and processing of patent applications.
Energy Department overhauls rulemaking on appliances
The Department of Energy (DOE) has de-cided to pay more attention to people outside the agency before setting energy-efficiency standards for consumer appliances. The policy follows a one-year moratorium that Congress imposed on issuance of such rules by the DOE. During that year, the agency had to work with members of the appliance community to examine the impacts of its appliance program. In addition to providing for more public input, the resulting DOE policy calls for improved analytical approaches in rulemaking. To tap outside technical expertise, the department is setting up an Advisory Committee on Appliance Efficiency Standards. DOE officials say they will strive to eliminate early those design options that seem impractical or problematic. They also say the new approach should reduce the time and cost of developing appliance standards. Finally, the agency pledges to give more consideration to nonregulatory ways of increasing the energy efficiency of appliances.
Can Internet link design tools to materials databases?
Linking materials databases directly to product designers' workstations through the Internet seems like a fine idea. You could easily stay abreast of the latest findings on properties of various composites and quickly let researchers know what new materials your designs could sorely use. The Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems of the National Research Council held a workshop to explore ways to bring that link about. Participants' conclusion: it won't be easy. At present the Internet offers little useful information and data on materials and process (M&P) research. The workshop's report cites several reasons: The cost of developing capabilities in electronic publishing is high. Research groups fear loss of revenue from disuse of their paper publications. Many sources of M&P data withhold information because of proprietary concerns--that is particularly true for materials users, who invest large sums to test and qualify materials for their products. Workshop participants suggested that professional socie-ties and the National Institute of Standards and Technology spearhead an effort to overcome such barriers. They say that electronic publishing would be merely an extension of the groups' current roles in providing information in print.
Government-wide quality policy considered for procurement
A contractor should have a single quality system that purchasing personnel at all federal agencies accept. That is the aim of a new panel of government and industry representatives who are developing quality standards for procurement. Officials of the National Institute of Standards & Technology head the group, which has been meeting with the Interagency Committee on Standards Policy. Panel leaders also hope to promote use of modern quality concepts in procurement by both government and industry.