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Americans See Engineers as Society’s Chief Innovators

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naperlou
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Creativity
naperlou   3/18/2014 11:49:32 AM
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Rob, interesting survey.  I fully agree with the results.  What is the angst in the US over our education system today?  It is that we do not prodcue enough engineers.  The plain fact is that many people with engineer in their degree title would not be considered so in the West.  Many of the schools outside of the US or Europe would not get accreditation.  Engineering is not an easy subject. 

It is good to see that people are starting to recognize the role of the engineer.  Engineering, as opposed to science, is a creative activity.  The scientist explains what is.  The engineer creates things that do not exist.  I know that not all engineers are doing fully groundbreaking work, but many do.  I worked for years in the aerospace industry on various types of satellites.  All of them did something that had never been done before.  In many cases these were ground breaking technologies.  I was/am lucky.  In any case, the engineer that creates a device that helps make our life better is often making something new.  The added caveat, which makes the field even more interesting and challenging, is that in many cases, the cost and or size and or power consumption is a limiting factor.  Taking all of this together and making something successful is a very creative activity. 

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Creativity
Rob Spiegel   3/18/2014 12:51:50 PM
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Goodf pointds Naperlou. It was good to see engineers get credit for innovation. So much innovation has been in technology in the past few decades, and that means engineers. So the public's got it right.

Charles Murray
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Re: Creativity
Charles Murray   3/18/2014 6:22:50 PM
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Yes, the public's got it right. Although the survey respondents probably didn't say this, I think their response has something to do with the fact that engineers create wealth, whereas accountants and lawyers do not.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Creativity
Rob Spiegel   3/18/2014 6:27:53 PM
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That's true, Chuck. Also, engineers make things that can be produced and sent out into the world, unlike attorneys and accountants.

fm
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Re: Creativity
fm   3/19/2014 5:41:31 PM
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As an engineer, i'm encouraged by your article; thanks. It's nice to have a good report now & again.

Actually, the accountants and attorneys highlight the necessary minefield through which we must walk - most engineers despise it, but we need it! If the thing we're designing doesn't make sense economically, it should get shot down. If the thing we're designing injures people, it should get shot down. The point where the accountants and attorneys cause problems is when they overreach and fail to apply some basic common sense. Frivolous lawsuits and financial restrictions that force risky shortcuts are the opposite of good engineering. It's good to have boundaries, but sometimes those boundaries are drawn way too tightly.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Creativity
Rob Spiegel   3/19/2014 6:43:28 PM
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I agree with you about the boundaries, FM, and it is good to report on good news for engineers. I was surprised by the growing number of engineers. I had heard -- apparently wrongly -- that engineering was in decline in the US.

Charles Murray
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Re: Creativity
Charles Murray   3/19/2014 8:10:37 PM
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There's always a lot of debate over whether we have enough engineers. I have no idea who's right, but the number we usually hear of graduating engineers in the U.S. is between 65,000 and 75,000 in any given year.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Creativity
Rob Spiegel   3/19/2014 10:43:41 PM
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It is hard to tell if there is a sufficient number of engineers. Anecdotally, I hear encouraging news. There is a shortage of industrial engineers. That is apparently getting to be a bigger problem with the Baby Boomers retiring. When asked what the toughest challenge is for Facebook, Zuckerberg said, "Finding talent."

Charles Murray
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Re: Creativity
Charles Murray   3/20/2014 7:29:17 PM
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Rob, there's an interesting story on the shortage topic in The Atlantic today. It's titled, "The Myth of the Science and Engineering Shortage." It says unemployment is still rather high among engineers and scientists, and concludes that wouldn't be the case if there was a real shortage. I do wonder, though, how much it would change the discussion if you took away the H1B visas. I don't claim to know the truth on this complicated issue, but I've heard it said that the shortage is really just a shortage of American engineers, not of engineers in general. Here's the link to the Atlantic story:

http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/03/the-myth-of-the-science-and-engineering-shortage/284359/

 

Cabe Atwell
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Re: Creativity
Cabe Atwell   3/26/2014 4:39:50 PM
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Engineers have even made 3D printers that are able to print body organs, so we should be looked upon as more than 'society's chief innovators'.

Debera Harward
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Re: Creativity
Debera Harward   4/22/2014 5:24:17 AM
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Rob thanks alot for such an informative article no doubt it is worth reading . Yes our engineers are the chief innovators and their work is in front of our eyes we cannot deny what ever they are doing .Every now and then we come to hear about a new technology and invention and thy are working very hard to eliminate or solve the issues faced by the public . We can see how the engineers of MIT have invented machine for the people suffering from diabetic sensation with in the veins. We can say that they are doing social work as well to some extent .

Debera Harward
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Re: Creativity
Debera Harward   4/22/2014 5:12:52 AM
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Charles, no doub the number of engineers graduating each year in US is from 65000 to 75000 but the thing is we cant say that every one is an engineer . However by degree they are definitely engineers but according to me every one getting an engineering degree is not an engineer . Engineering is related to creativity and that is only present in few students , usually it is god gifted but some students polish their skills as well. 

tekochip
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Re: Creativity
tekochip   4/22/2014 8:32:27 AM
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Debra, you couldn't be more right.  I can't tell you how many engineers I've met that were simply in sales.  Many years ago I had a cubemate that was a terrible engineer.  He couldn't create a paper envelope, yet he was a Phd, and if you had a problem with something he would happily sit down with his notepad and sketch out the theory of some obscure physical law. He would patiently spend as much time with you as necessary until you fully understood every aspect and could apply the law to your problem.  About a year later he returned to school as a professor, it was his true calling.


Debera Harward
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Re: Creativity
Debera Harward   6/18/2014 4:39:04 AM
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Tekochip I agree with you in the mentioned scenario the reason for such engineers to move into another field is that from deep inside they are not engineers. Every one cant be an engineer, engineering is basically creativity and usually it is god gifted . Students usually get themselves enrolled in engineering universities but when the time comes to enter professional life they consider themselves suitable for some other positions . Over here i may say that sometimes student suffer from lack of career councelling .

Debera Harward
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Re: Creativity
Debera Harward   6/18/2014 4:41:23 AM
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I have many of my friends who did engineering aand they considered themselves to be very good engineers not only this but they were very passionate about their field as well but then few of them turned towards Sales and few toward marketing so I guess it also depends upon the available market situations and we have to mould our careers accordingly .

Debera Harward
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Re: Creativity
Debera Harward   6/9/2014 2:39:18 AM
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You are absolutely correct being an engineer sometimes it is frustrating when there is an excellent idea in your mind and you cant implement it just because of legal regulations, goverment policies not only this but also sometimes you are restricted in your own organisation for implementations due to some factors.

Debera Harward
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Re: Creativity
Debera Harward   6/9/2014 2:42:21 AM
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No doubt engineers are innvators because they are the one who generate a new idea and execute them every now and then we see a new technology comming and helping us not only this but they are also working for the welfare of the society like they are developing devices to help diabetic patients, solar panels , energy generation EVs and many more.

Debera Harward
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Silver
Re: Creativity
Debera Harward   6/13/2014 4:14:29 AM
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Engineers are called the society innovators because they are not instructed to do XYZ instead they think what to do they develop a very unique and creative idea and then put all energies to make the project successfull and feasible. 

bobjengr
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CHIEF INNOVATORS
bobjengr   3/19/2014 6:08:52 PM
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I think it's wonderful that (finally) the engineering profession is gaining in perceived importance and actual importance.  As stated by one comment, we have always had "good reviews" and, to a degree, respect.   One of the nagging problems we seem to have is the number of graduate engineers who leave the profession for one reason or another.  We really need to correct this and maybe the way is through improved status.   We are one of the few professions in which creativity displays itself with "things" that can be fabricated and used to benefit or society.  Great post Rob. 

Rob Spiegel
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Re: CHIEF INNOVATORS
Rob Spiegel   3/19/2014 6:46:37 PM
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Thanks Bobjengr. I wasn't aware that many engineers were leaving the profession. I know that some of them have come to write for Design News. It wojuld be interesting to know why an engineer would leave the engineering field.

bobjengr
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Re: CHIEF INNOVATORS
bobjengr   3/20/2014 4:39:19 PM
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Rob.  I think we all have friends, made over the years, who are engineers.  Most of them do stay in our profession.  I have one friend who moved from engineering to the CIA.  He is retired now but made the move some years ago.  Another friend who worked as an engineer for several years then went to law school and is now a patent attorney.  Another, believe it or not, never worked as an engineer even though he has a degree in electrical.  He went into the coffee distribution business.  (Go figure!).  I think people jump for several reasons.  Today, several of my engineering friends have basically been left in the lurch because their job responsibilities have been eliminated due to off-shoring.  They have been laid off and are in their 60's so work is very difficult for them to come by.  They jump at the opportunity to work contract jobs using their engineering skills.  One friend is 71--a programmer, and he has no difficulty in getting assignments but he is the exception rather than the rule.  To your point, I don't know of anyone who is really that dissatisfied with the profession to the point of jumping to others. Again, great post.

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