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SparkyWatt
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Talent
SparkyWatt   10/19/2012 2:02:05 PM
@Jammags: I don't like being negative, but a creative person without math skills is not an engineer.  The difference between an engineer and others is that the engineer can analyze a problem and give you a quantitative result.  An engineer can ensure a feedback circuit will be stable under all conditions, not just the few that have been tried.  An engineer can tell you how thick the cables need to be on a suspension bridge, or how long the road bed will be when those cables have stretched into position.

I don't care how creative you are.  If you can't do the analysis, you aren't an engineer and it doesn't matter who slaps the title on you, it doesn't fit.

I don't want to minimize the importance of creative people.  There are an awful lot of engineers that do a wonderful job of solving problems, but couldn't come up with a new product idea if their lives depended on it.  Both are needed.  The creative people set the direction, the engineers work out how to actually get there.  The best startups are started by people that are both (and there are quite a few that are).  Or by partners in which one is creative and the other is the engineer.

It is really scary to me the number of times that I see people with no analysis capability designing products.  I have seen some really dangerous or unreliable things on the market, and it is all because some creative person thought he could do an engineer's work.

wishboneash
User Rank
Iron
Re: Sounds like BS to me
wishboneash   10/19/2012 1:57:20 PM
NO RATINGS
I have an EV and a CNG car. For both to be viable, we need *significant* infrastructure upgrade. More so for the CNG car. At least an EV can be charged overnight with a 120V AC system. No such option for a CNG, unless you are willing to spring for a subsidized $2,000 natural gas charging station at home. There are very few high pressure CNG charging stations and they typically only charge one vehicle at a time even when there are multiple pumps. No one wants to fund these and Republicans who are so gung-ho about CNG will not talk about the massive infrastructure upgrades or subsidies needed. That requires government money and tax increases. Private industry is not capable of this. Once this done, hydrogen could also be part of the solution, although it requires even high pressures (10,000 psi). It's cool to throw CNG option out as if it is a panacea, but it is not that easy and painless.

Rigby5
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Partnership is key
Rigby5   10/19/2012 1:39:31 PM
We have more than enough of the intelligent and educated people.  Our problem is in management, not technical.  We can make anything, but management has to correctly decide what to make.

SparkyWatt
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Partnership is key
SparkyWatt   10/19/2012 1:39:12 PM
NO RATINGS
@Dave Palmer:  I agree with what you said, I want to take it to the next level.  I have been shocked as my kids grew up by the contrast between their education and mine.  I was also horrendously disappointed when I took my oldest son to college and was given a tour by a college junior in engineering that couldn't put together a coherent sentence and couldn't stay on topic for more than three sentences.  I also would pit the best US students against the best in the world, but based on what I have seen, the gap between our best and our average is HUGE.  It is the average education that will determine our prosperity, not the top 5%.  I don't care how good our top 5% are, if the rest of the country doesn't get it, they will drag us all down and the top 5% will leave.

The first thing that we need to do is set world class standards for education.  We need as a country to say 90% of our kids will have aquired this skill, knowledge, or understanding by this age.  That target needs to compete with the best countries out there (like Finland), and be realistic.  We need to measure both kids and schools performance against that metric, and we need to do something about the ones that don't meet it.  Before you say, "this sounds like no child left behind", No Child Left Behind was terribly implemented and did more harm than good.  But, it did get one thing right, we have to measure if we are going to improve.

Second, we need to make teaching a respected and valuable profession.  We need to end the days of "Those who can do, those who can't teach."  We need a few of our best and brightest to pitch in and lead the way and we need to make it worth their while to do so.  Having math taught by someone who has never used it for more than their checkbook is not acceptable.  A teacher should be an example of someone who is GOOD at their subject.  Someone who the students will never outshine while they remain students.  Someone that they can look up to.

Third, we must show kids the VALUE of education early.  Even in Kindergarden kids can understand the idea that learning is about being able to do things that you otherwise couldn't do.  If they believe that our lives are ruled by the rich, and we will never get our due, there is simply no reason for them to do better than retail clerk.  If union labor makes more than an engineer, why get your degree?  If they see amazing opportunities out there that they must climb the educational ladder to reach, but if they do so they are guaranteed to have them, they will make that climb.  But they have to see them, and they have to see the need for education to get there.  Media plays a role in this.  Unfortunately, most screenwriters are very nearly technically illiterate and couldn't portray a technical hero accurately if they tried.  That needs to change, too.

Rigby5
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Sounds like BS to me
Rigby5   10/19/2012 1:37:29 PM
NO RATINGS
I agree that dual fuel is the best solution right now, but in the long run, electric might make more sense.  Propane will continue to go up with oil prices, and liquid natural gas is still going to be more difficult to refill and has pollution problems of its own.

J. Williams
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Sounds like BS to me
J. Williams   10/19/2012 12:31:30 PM
EV's are a solution in search of a problem.  For the life of me, I cannot comprehend why manufacturers are not marketing dual-fuel vehicles in this country.  So many people have access to natural gas that is domestically produced, burns clean and provides so much more energy density than rechargeable batteries.  Compressed natural gas (CNG) would easily provide the kind of range used by the majority of daily drivers.  You eliminate a huge weight penalty of batteries, there is no wear out mechanism like batteries, and you could fuel at home if you had the time for a low-volume, high pressure pump, or you could fuel at CNG stations.  For long distance trips, you burn gasoline when CNG is not available or convenient.  There is some weight and volume penalty when compared to a petrol only car but the market would eventually tell the manufacturers how many cubic feet of gas people really want and the penalty it extracts.  This fixation on EV's is asinine. 

J. Williams
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Sounds like BS to me
J. Williams   10/19/2012 12:15:46 PM
NO RATINGS
Agree.  Like others have said before me, GM is beholden to the whims of the federal government.  When folks say "educate" what they really mean is force it on you because these paternalistic folks believe the public at large are too stupid to do what is best for themselves.  GM is foolish to push a product on the consumers.  Yes, there will be a market for EV's, just not the market the they want see as enlightened scholars in ivory towers.  The backlash from consumers will be swift and certain.  If the "successes" of the Volt don't drive that point home to these clueless Dolts, nothing will.

GTOlover
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Sounds like BS to me
GTOlover   10/19/2012 11:26:56 AM
NO RATINGS
Here, here. I agree. Also add in the cost of collage skyrocketing, why? Because they can get those students to take out exorbitant loans so they can get their degree in Intergenerational Modal Reflexive Apprecitation with out actually teaching them any useful skills!

My wife and I decided long ago to homeschool our children and my two oldest sons (18 and 19) learned basic calculus by 12th grade. So everyone's comment of parental invlovement not only includes being involved in educational structure but also in educational expectations. We have set the bar low and we feel good about it.

7ACdriver
User Rank
Iron
Re: Partnership is key
7ACdriver   10/19/2012 11:16:54 AM
NO RATINGS
I agree with many of the comments posted on this subject, but no one has hit on the biggest problem when it comes to encouraging and attracting talent to US EV auto manufacturing - i.e. The false front on the achievements. To build a viable industry, building viable products, anyone, engineers included (especially), must believe in the product - must bleieve that his or her time is well spent. This is true in school as well as industry. The individual must believe that he is making a contribution to society that society wants. The false front is created when the government decrees behaviors that the observer can see don't make sense, aren't practical and or can't succeed in the marketplace. EV is a prime example.

EVs can't be forced on society not because they can't be built, but because their cost/performance envelope doesn't make sense in today's (nor the forseable future's) economics. Why would an engineer want to work for a company producing a product that is doomed in the rational marketplace. Challenging an engineer to innovate in this space is quite another matter, but to make that happen there has to be a potential for success not precluded by the laws of physics and economics. A lone wolf entropreuner might take up the challenge to create a breakthru and thus stimulate this market. It is also possible for large companies to fund R&D that might result in a breakthru or combination of breakthrus that have the same effect, but to put people to work designing upholstry for EVs until that time is a dead end and engineers assigned to that task either won't stay very long or they are not the kind of engineers this country is looking for.

Education is important, but without motivation it will not succeed. Govt. mandate is a push, the opportunity to innovate is a pull. You can't push a chain!

mrdon
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Partnership is key
mrdon   10/19/2012 10:26:29 AM
NO RATINGS
Charles, I believe Reuss was more concern about replenishing the Automotive Engineering pool with his comment on engineers being drawn to the Silicon Valley and not the Midwest Rust Belt. I'm not knocking the Auto Industry because my engineering origins started with GM in a Detroit suburban manufacturing plant but the big picture is educating kids to be technically and scientifically literate. With this diverse knowledge, all problems confronting business and industry sectors would have a good chance of being resolved. STEM is a very good initiative that can accomplish resolving challenges in the business and industry sectors. Also, the engineering knowledge pool should be spread throughout the nation and the world to help make life a little  better.  

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