As the Gulf oil leak debate rages over
who's to blame, who will pay what to whom and how much they owe, one thing
remains clear: Bypassing recommended engineering process and materials is what
led to this disaster and it will require some creative engineering to fix the
problem. Which brings us to the crux of this issue - engineering has
demonstrable value not just to the businesses for which it is carried out, but
in its impact on our everyday lives.
why is it that so many engineers feel overlooked or under-appreciated (as
indicated by nearly 20 percent of respondents to our annual salary survey)?
there may be no clear answer to this perception, I see four clear trends that
will serve to bring engineering more to the forefront in the coming years:
A growing regulatory environment - Issues like the oil spill tend to create a more hyperactive regulatory
environment across the board, thus
directly engaging engineers to address these issues in the design stage
of system and product development.
Globalization - This is not a new issue, of course, but it certainly hasn't
reached its peak yet either. As more companies make their products and services
available globally, more national and regional requirements will have to be
faced (such as RoHS and WEEE). And this is not just an issue for lawyers; the
rubber meets the road on these issues with product design engineering.
Sustainability - Industries such as wind and solar are barely in their infancy,
not to mention all the benefits to be gained from increasing efficiencies of the products and
systems we use regularly today.
Heightened end-user expectations - While we may not have witnessed jaw-dropping
engineering achievements in the past 20 years on par with the creation of the
steam engine, the airplane or space travel, we have certainly seen a number of
life-altering technology advances. Think about how much cell phones, the
Internet and e-mail have changed our lives. Now look at what's happening with
tablet devices such as the iPad. This rapid introduction and evolution of
products is the new norm, and none of it happens without engineering.
his book "The Post-American World," author Fareed Zakaria refers to a U-shaped
curve that represents the product development, production and sales process. At
the high, left edge of the U is the product idea development and high-level
industrial design; lower down on the left side of the U is the detailed
engineering plan; at the bottom of the U is manufacturing, assembly and
shipping; rising up the right side of the U are distribution, marketing, sales,
service, parts and accessories.
contends that the left and right ends of the U will largely remain in the
developed world, thereby requiring a strong emphasis on engineering - an area
in which the U.S. still leads on a per capita basis,
despite numerous reports to the contrary.
clearly need those engineers based on just the few obvious trends I've noted
here. So it's a good thing that the majority of engineers responding to our
salary survey indicated that they would recommend engineering to a son,
daughter or friend. You can read more about this in the July 2010 cover story,
Engineering Salary and Career Insight