Engineering jobs set record, but mergers portend layoffs
A new high of 1.9 million persons held engineering jobs as this year began. Correspondingly, the unemployment rate for engineering professionals plunged to 2.6% from its peak of 4% just a year earlier. The figures come from the American Association of Engineering Societies. The group adds that salary offers to graduating bachelor-level engineers remain "substantially better than those for all other major professionals." The average offer for B.S. degrees in mechanical engineering for 1993-94 was $35,051, up 1.7% from 1992-93. That was second only to the $39,204 offered graduates in chemical engineering. The average offer to holders of M.S. degrees in mechanical engineering was $41,450, up 2.5%. Despite those signs of improvement, the trend is iffy. Early data from the first quarter of 1995 suggest that engineer employment has slipped back under 1.9 million. Among reasons: recent cutbacks and layoffs at NASA and newly merged organizations like Lockheed-Martin.
Lemelson gives $10.4 million to launch invention center
Prolific inventor Jerome Lemelson has taken another big step in his campaign to lift the image of America's innovators. He gave the Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, DC, its largest-ever cash donation--$10.4 million. The funds will set up the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation. Based on the first floor of the National Museum of American History, the center will organize exhibitions, demonstrations, lectures, conferences and youth programs. It also will sponsor fellowships to promising innovators. One plan is to use the Internet to present educational programs over world-wide computer links. The center will build a database of inventors, collecting oral and video histories from living inventors.
Lawn mowers, other garden gear must be much cleaner in 1997
Starting with 1997 models, most motorized equipment used on lawns and gardens must be much kinder to the atmosphere. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued new rules for small spark-ignition equipment. Included are lawn mowers, chain saws, and garden tractors. Agency officials suggest that equipment designers attain better combustion by improving fuel and air mixtures. EPA plans to impose still-tighter standards on emissions from garden and lawn equipment next year. Meanwhile, the agency has ordered secondary lead smelters to install air-pollution controls. The smelters, which recycle most auto batteries, recover lead from scrap.
Safety advisors want standard for anchoring child seats
Should all new vehicles carry the same system for anchoring child restraints? Yes, says an advisory committee to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The panel urges NHTSA to step up its testing of ISOFIX, a restraint system that a European consortium is developing. ISOFIX uses a built-in lock on a child seat. The lock snaps into a receptacle, which, in turn, anchors to the vehicle frame at four points. Consortium engineers hope the final design will replace the wide variety of restraint configurations on cars. NHTSA's Blue Ribbon Committee on Child Restraint and Vehicle Compatibility reports that many seats don't work in some cars. Parents cannot fasten the seats securely. Committee leaders say NHTSA should push ahead with a recommendation for a uniform restraint system--not wait for the International Organization for Standardization to issue such a standard. One reason: the ISOFIX consortium does not meet again until the fall. Ford Motor Co. already plans to design ISOFIX systems into some future cars.
How men and women engineers perceive each other
Men and women engineers hold views of one another that are far from laudable. That, at least, was the finding of a survey unveiled at the Women in Engineering Conference in Washington, DC, June 4-6. Tamar A. Elkeles, manager of training and development at Qualcomm Inc., of San Diego, CA, conducted the survey as part of her doctorate studies. She surveyed 620 male and female engineers at a high-tech firm in Southern California. She based her survey on a 92-item Schein descriptive index, framed to detect stereotyped prejudices in interviewees. Among findings: The men feel a woman engineer is likely to be more talkative, more interested in appearance, and more easily influenced than they. Also the woman is apt to be less logical, frank, self-reliant, curious, decisive, and direct than they. The men view the typical woman engineer as having less analytical ability and a stronger need to achieve. Male engineers fancy themselves to be more creative and persistent than women in engineering. But the men admit that women engineers are more cheerful, prompt, and skilled in business matters. The women get in their licks, too. They consider themselves neater, more understanding, and more knowledgeable about "the way of the world." And, they add, they are exceedingly less vulgar than the typical male engineer.