In May 2013, Shanshan Du and Yu Qin, wife and husband, were convicted of taking confidential General Motors information about hybrid vehicles and trying to pass it to competitors in China. Du, right, a former GM engineer, was sentenced to a year and a day in prison and her husband was sentenced to three years for conspiring to sell trade secrets. Prosecutors said that GM estimated that the value of the stolen documents exceeded $40 million. (Source: Google Images/Salon.com)
On the other hand...I know a full professor of engineering mechanics (I won't name the university), who never tinkered with anything, is completely incapable of fixing the simplest mechanisms and yet has a Ph.D. in engineering and is now a Fellow in a prestigious engineering association.
Thinking outside the bix. What box ?
Sorry for dragging this thread off track, but one Dilbert strip: our hero,, as a child, is diagnosed as "being an engineer". In the time that it takes the doctor to tell the parents, Dilbert has fixed the water cooler.
sbkenn, i totally agree with you engineers are not produced or manufactured they are born . Engineers usually think out of the box and no one can force a person to be an engineer due to preasure he may study hard but he cannot creat the qualities of good engineer that are god gifted . Everyone cant be a good engineer just hard work cant make someone a good engineer to be a good engineer engineering should be inside you . You should be creative you should have different physique, should think out of the box .
One example. My daughter, now 20 and finished 2nd year as a science student aiming for environmentsl zooñogy. When she was 4, she saw a road barrier, the loose end of which was resting on the ground. She proceeded to describe a better way, ibvolving a cunterweight and sliding barrier só that when open, it would balance, but when closed, some weight would rest on the cradle. She may have transferred the principle from a seesaw(teeter totter to americans i think) where i had rigged a sliding balance weight for different sized kids. She has done almost no tinkering, but frequently shows that she understands mechanisms
I'm not sure where I ultimately come down on the "nature versus nurture" issue. Most of the mechanical and electrical engineers I've known have had long histories, starting back when they were kids, of taking things apart and figuring out how they worked. On the other hand, some of the systems, industrial and structural engineers I've known seemed to fall into their professions because they were good at math and science, and didn't seem to have a history of working on their cars or tinkering.
I have to disagree on one point. I believe that most engineers are born, not produced by a decent education. It is more to do with the way our mind works, understanding the fundamentals and applying them to find solutions. Education teaches us the maths involved, conventions which allow ithers to understand the work of others, the standards which industry requires etc, but the core of the individual has to be right to start with. I have come across degree qualified people who could calculate a factor to the n'th decimal point on something that they were familiar with, but present the same thing in a different way, and they are stumped.
I guess this article lends support to the thought that engineers as a group are probably no less affected by mental illness and bad judgment calls than the general populace. I once worked with an engineer that would take his teddy bear to work to sooth himself when he was depressed. Someone should do thoose numbers to see whether there is in fact a difference. It should however take into account whether there is a difference between true engineers that live and breathe their profession and those that fell into the job not knowing what else to do.
In general, I think engineers are a pretty law-abiding bunch, Debera. I had a hard time tracking down wayward engineers for this column. I like the comment made by bobjengr below: "...the engineering profession has one fatal flaw -- it has to take its practioners from the human race."
The question of whether engineers could have foreseen the shortcut maintenance procedures that led to the crash of American Airlines Flight 191 in 1979 will probably linger for as long as there is an engineering profession.
More than 35 years later, the post-mortem on one of the country’s worst engineering disasters appears to be simple. A contractor asked for a change in an original design. The change was approved by engineers, later resulting in a mammoth structural collapse that killed 114 people and injured 216 more.
If you’re an embedded systems engineer whose analog capabilities are getting a little bit rusty, then you’ll want to take note of an upcoming Design News Continuing Education Center class, “Analog Design for the Digital World,” running Monday, Nov. 17 through Friday, Nov. 21.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.