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If I Only Knew Then...

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OLD_CURMUDGEON
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Re: People Skills
OLD_CURMUDGEON   10/24/2012 7:48:17 AM
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Not having any immediate youngsters in our lives now, I can only base my opinions on observations that are noteworthy when in the company of friends & relatives who DO have youngsters in their families.  And, ONE thing that I've definitely noticed is that youngsters, including some of the 30-something parents who are totally immersed in this new "i" phenomenon are NOT able to effectively verbally communicate with others using eye-to-eye contact.  They seem to be totally ill at ease in this ability, preferring to look down or away instead.  I wonder IF any of the corporations who created these new "communicators" ever sought to solicit the research of psychologists and/or sociologists to determine these severely negative consequences??????

For me, personally, a simple wireless telephone is all I need, and my better half has none!  I guess that really dates us, but at this point I don't care!

Greg M. Jung
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Re: People Skills
Greg M. Jung   10/23/2012 8:59:53 PM
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I agree.  Studies have shown that non-verbal communication (tone, body language, facial expressions, etc.) is more effective than just the spoken word only.  While texting technology offers more quantity of communication, it does not improve quality of communication.  I already am seeing where my teenage daughters do not have as well-developed non-verbal communication as I saw with teenagers in previous generations.  (Perhaps getting them to Skype more often will help address this issue....)

OLD_CURMUDGEON
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Re: People Skills
OLD_CURMUDGEON   10/23/2012 1:46:18 PM
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Greg, etal: 

Your experience IS exactly why I added my comment at the end of my original comments about the fundamental importance of a strong mathematics background for any engineering discipline.

My concern now is that too many of the younger generations, from grammar school through recent college graduates, have totally embraced communicating through the marvels of the iPad, Droid, etc.  IF these people are to be called in front of an audience to justify a design, or comment on a design, WILL THEY BE ABLE TO DO IT SUCCESSFULY without their electronic communicators????  I fear they will not!

While I do not suggest these devices are evil, I DO think that they degree they've been adopted to communicate with one another is appalling, to say the least.  People will always be required to speak to one another in a face-to-face, casual manner, using only their inate bodily apparati. (tongues & voiceboxes!)

Greg M. Jung
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Re: People Skills
Greg M. Jung   9/24/2012 9:34:14 PM
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Thanks and well said.  Developing into a 'total' person helps us to quickly advance in the workplace (and in life).

Charles Murray
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Re: People Skills
Charles Murray   9/24/2012 8:14:37 PM
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Good point, Greg. In a lot of engineering jobs, everyone is on a similar level in terms of mathematics. Often, it's the other areas -- the "soft" people skills, as you say -- that make the difference between stagnation and promotion.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: If I had only known then...
Rob Spiegel   9/21/2012 1:05:12 PM
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That makes sense, William. Sometimes taking basic skills and applying them to a wide range of topics is the best route. I started out writing about Native American art many years ago. And there were many journalistic adventures between that and Design News. But the basic skill set is the same.

Greg M. Jung
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People Skills
Greg M. Jung   9/20/2012 10:40:35 PM
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Placing greater value on people skills would be the main adjustment I would make if I only knew then what I know now.  In my younger days, I focused extensively on engineering mathematics and rational problem solving, without placing much value on the 'softer skills' .  Now that I am more experienced in the workplace, I would have placed much greater emphasis on team building and leadership and also communicating my ideas to the general population with better clarity.

William K.
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Re: If I had only known then...
William K.   9/20/2012 7:04:54 PM
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An explanation: The first sentence was a blast of irony, in that while most people regard a benefit as a positive thing, that is not always the case.

And about the value of the education: I had a co-worker who had ust earned his masters degree in electronic engineering He proposed designing an asic for one of our products, asserting that the cost would be less than $40,000 for the design. This was a product that we sold perhaps 50 units in a good year, and the 5 ICs involved cost a total of less than $5 per unit. So I wondered about how much economics he had learned, regarding return on investments of effort.

He also had a problem with getting his shoes on the correct foot. remember, this fellow just got his masters degree with a good GPA, at Oakland University, in Michigan. He was intensly qualified (only) in a small area. Hence my opening sentence.

OLD_CURMUDGEON
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IF I ONLY KNEW .....
OLD_CURMUDGEON   9/19/2012 1:47:08 PM
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I AGREE with many of these entries either in part or in toto.  As a youngster, I was always curious to learn how things worked, and to that end "unrepaired" many working apparati in our household, much to the consternation of my parents.  As college loomed near, I decided that I could do NO other work (profession) than to continue in that mode.  Because finances were very limited for us in the '50s, I chose a cooperative program (a new concept then) in which I would spend 3 years at the primary school, and transfer for 2 additional years of concentrated engineering curriculum.  Unfortunately, as I was to embark on phase 2, the program was cancelled, so I stayed at the primary school for the additional year, getting a Bachelors in Mathematics & Physics.  (Never really took to Chemistry!)

Since I had so much practical experience based on my personal investigations, I was immediately hired by a fairly large communications-oriented company.  The unadvertised benefit?  They had a rather liberal Tuition-refund program for employees.... a C average or better got an enrolee 100% reimbursemnt of ALL costs, including the administrative fees.  Obviously, although my grades were all A's (well,maybe one A-!), I got full reimbursement.  When I left that company & went on, I was able to appreciate their largesse again.  This time I went for my Masters in Computer Science.

My point to relating all this?  It IS fundamental to ALL good engineering understanding to have a FIRM, FUNCTIONAL, & FAR-REACHING knowledge of Mathematics.  One cannot succeed without it!

My parents were typical pre-WW II parents, in that they were hard-working, conservative (NOT the political, conservative!) people who grew up before, during the Great Depression.  In that regard, they had only their primary education as a tool to guide them through life.  They were awestruck when I exploded on the scene w/ valid technical advice & explanations.

I DO NOT for one millisecond believe that today's youngsters of college age, and pre-college age, will make the same impression amongst their elders when it comes to communications skills.  With such a proliferation of non-verbal communication devices being invented daily, it is my firm belief that in just a few generations, the spoken word will be almost obsolete, and in a short time after that, newborn will NOT have tongues shaped as they are now to aid in verbalizing.  While I'm NOT against the modern technology of iPhones, etal., I believe that the social conscious has to be reined in or else I fear my prognostications WILL come true.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: If I had only known then...
Rob Spiegel   9/19/2012 12:06:19 PM
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Good points Gsmith120. I can't imagine having the ability to force kids into any particular course. Having been a rebellious kid, I've often been surprised that my kids haven't rebelled more. At any rate, I think the surest course is to encourage kids to find their individual talent and calling.

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