You know, I knew there was a reason I liked coming here more than reading Fortune Magazine's website. It seems that - and correct me if I am wrong here - engineers have a better grasp on reality than C-suite executives. now, our job is to convince the C-suite people of that.
"David Cole, chairman emeritus for the Center for Automotive Research, told us that manufacturing has rebounded strongly in the US, especially among makers of large products. "iPhones will probably never come back to the US," Cole said."
Apparently David does not know about the Motorola X - which is assembled in US.
Well, phantasyconcepts, that's quite a story. It's so deeply personal, I can only respond to your last sentence in agreement. American corporations have billions of dollars in offshore accounts. We need to figure out a good tax code that will make sure that capital gets invested in jobs here -- not over there.
It's tempting to say we should just cut 'em some slack and let them repatriate the cash with little or no tax. But then we have to be sure they don't launder the profit to look like it was made in Ireland so as to escape tax that should have been paid for sales here (in the U.S.). I think your point is that U.S. corporations need to quit laying off their customers. If they hire and enrich the middle class, they will have a vast customer base under the protection of the Red White & Blue.
Thanks, Tool_Maker. My Dad was a tool and die maker. The Cessna engineers would come to him to ask if it's possible to make this part they had drawn. They didn't have ear protection in those days. He helped me get through college, and I wouldn't trade my education for anything even if most of the courses were irrelevant to my profession. Tuition then was $400 a year at a state university.
For job security, it seems best to do what someone in China can't do: Style your hair, fix your plumbing or your car, install a pool.
But I say that parents need to take the lead by finding what their children are interested in, then keep pressing that button. What if Jim Hensen's parents had said, "Would you quit playing with those stupid puppets and do your homework?" What if Steven Spielberg's parents had said, "Put down that farkakte [Yiddish] movie camera and mow the lawn"?
I have to say that I read this article and all of the comments before posting. I wanted to be sure that nobody said the same thing I was going to say. I have seen similar stories about how someone worked in a field and then went to college in that field, and lived happily ever after. Unfortunately, that is not my case.
I worked my first job out of high school in a minimum-wage sweatshop where they made artificial Christmas trees. I got to spray the artificial snow on the trees day-in, day-out. I made the mistake of reading the MSDS on the glue and the snow. "Prolonged exposure to fumes may cause neurological damage" Well, I thought, I came out of the honors program in high school to this job to earn money for college. It isn't going to happen. I went to the Air Force recruiter and signed up. When I went into his office, I had a bit of an advantage. I had been denied entry into the Navy's nuclear program because I was too honest on my medical forms about the reason for the tracheotomy I had at an age of 18 months. I went to the recruiter and asked him what field I was qualified for. He looked at my scores, opened his book of jobs and said "Pick two. You are qualified for any two jobs in this book." Well, I decided that I wanted to be an aerospace engineer, which required me to start with mechanical or electrical engineering, so I decided to start my career off as a mechanic. That turned out to be a mistake. I hated my job. After getting out of the military, I spent nearly a year unemployed - as many veterans did in the early 1990's. I would work a temporary job here and there, but never found anything I liked. I went from one minimum wage factory job to another, because in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, employers are afraid to pay workers any real salaries. I ended up working for one of the three places where they paid a decent wage, a company called Lunaire Limited. It has changed its name several times since then, so many people might not know its current name. I enjoyed my time there, working on different things every now and then, but I was stuck as an assembler, the lowest paying job in the place. I could not move into the electrician field, despite my having worked on multi-million-dollar electrical systems in the Air Force. I could not work in the refrigeration department, despite my repairing multi-million-dollar air conditioning systems in the Air Force either. I could not go into the engineering room, despite knowing more about calculus and physics than any of their 'engineers' (many of them were actually draftsmen at the time, but they had been doing it so long that nobody actually made them get degrees). They had a training program, where if you were already a certified electrician, welder, refrigeration mechanic, or draftsman, they would train you to go into one of the other departments. They had a tuition assistance program, too. They would pay you to learn the skills that directly related to your job - but not the ones you would need to change to another job within the company. So, for example, I could get them to pay my tuition to learn welding, but not refrigeration mechanics or electrical engineering, or mechanical drawing. Of course, if I wanted to get a degree, my English and math courses would have to come out of my pocket, too. I was okay with it, but I ended up throwing my back out at the ripe old age of 29. I did it the day before my birthday. The woman I was seeing at the time had bought us tickets to see a play that night, and I was late getting to her place because I worked all day with a hurt back and then went to the workers medicine center to see a doctor (they had a funny policy about you had to do that or the emergency room, and the two hospitals in town split up who took which cases, and nobody remembered which had which services except the hospitals). Needless to say, she acutally encouraged me to go back to college, since I could take one look at her Uniquery code, and having never seen the syntax, still tell her where her logic errors were, and suggest improvements. I agreed with her because I knew that if I continued in the factory work, my back would be shot by the time I was 40. I am coming up on my 44th birthday next month, and I am still walking, lifting weights, wearing my SCA armor and fighting, and doing things that I probably should not do.
So, what am I getting at? Well, simply this. Not everyone is supposed to go to college. That much is true. On the flip side, some of us go to college to get away from the factory work, not just because it is dark and dirty, but because it is harming our health. I saw many people who worked as a 'plant manager' or 'Vice President of Production' whose only claim to their position is that they once were managers somewhere else, or came in from purchasing. In these cases, the college degree counted for more than the experience. So, until we start looking at the companies and stop hiring people with MBAs to run manufacturing companies and stop taking people with advanced technical degrees and casting them aside as 'too expensive', we won't attract young people to the field. I do not regret pursuing my Master's degree, nor do I regret getting my Bachelor's degree, but I am starting to regret having the audacity to be born an American citizen since I have my degrees in Information Technology and the management thereof. If I could afford to get a job at Harley-Davidson or Hershey foods on the assembly line, I would do so, but I cannot - not with student loan debt, a mortgage, and a car payment. American companies need to look at where they sell most of their goods and services, and invest in labor in those areas, not just offshore where the workers are cheaper. Quick quiz: If you sell one million units a month, and four of those units are sold in India, while 10,000 are sold in Europe and 900,000 are sold in the U.S., where should you be producing those units? If you work for Nissan, Toyota, or Subaru, you have an unfair advantage.
@kf2qd. If I could reach through this screen I would shake your hand. Somehow or other grease on your hands has become synonomous with "Second Class." I get my hands dirty. I have gotten oil in my hair. I have ruined more shirts than I care to count while debugging a die I designed. It happens and just as you say, "What used to be heroic is now looked down on."
High school advisers are a joke. Count the times you have heard, "At least he can work with his hands", when they are counting out a kid who may not be college material.
I always preach the same sermon: It started when companies began being run by MBA's instead of people who came up through the shop and horror of horrors, actually got their hands dirty. Colleges are run by and for academics and shame on anyone who really wants to make something.
Would I advise my kids to go into manufacturing? Well I have three and two work in construction and the other teaches Kg. When each of my daughters moved out I gave them a toolbox with those tools required for most household repairs. Any time I am asked to fix, or install or do, the daughter is right there so they can do it themselves the next time. (It drives my sons-in-laws nuts, but what should I expect from a lawyer and a softwear tech?) However, none of them ever feel shame or embarrassment when the have to get their hands dirty. By the way there is one BA and one ME in my girls with minimal debt. My son is in the last year of his apprenticeship, which pays well while learning. My 2 sons-in-law owe thousands and neither currently make what their wives do.
Mike Rowe (remember him from "Dirty Jobs") has some very interesting things to say about "alternative education" at http://www.dirtyjobsmikerowe.com/2011/04/11/mike-rowes-take-on-alternative-education/. I'd have to say I agree. Mine is the story of the nerdy kid who was intensely interested in anything electronic from a very early age. My dad got me a Weller soldering gun for my 7th birthday ... which was in 1951. I loved science and math ... and was in the 7th grade when "accelerated math and science" programs were introduced right after Sputnik started the space-race. I had my own radio-TV repair business going in high school. I knew I wanted to persue engineering, so I started junior college. But after 3 semesters, I was asking myself "where are the engineering classes". I dropped out and enrolled in a brand-new "technical school". I loved it ... and graduated after 3 years, with highest honors (I was already largely self-taught). I had several jobs that eventually led me to my "dream job" as a design engineer with a professional audio equipment manufacturer (they gave me a small consulting project first, to prove myself since I didn't have a "formal degree"). I've had a career doing design work that I'd have never dreamed of as a kid. Since I now own my own company (and have several patents, lots of published work, etc.), I'm in a position to hire engineers and technicians. For my money, I'll take the grad of a good technical school any day over what passes as an EE these days. Our country is making a big mistake, as well as disillusioning lots of students, by holding out a "college degree" as the only way to get a good-paying career. We seem to be sending the message that, if you can't get a college degree, you'll be forever flipping burgers ... and that's just plain wrong!! --- Bill Whitlock, president/chief engineer, Jensen Transformers, Inc., Audio Engineering Society Life Fellow, IEEE Life Senior
In my first 3 years with Boeing as an electronics technician I was sent to a total of 52 weeks of training on machine tools including mechanical, electrical and control systems. Boeing invested in the training to provide a better workforce. Unfortunately in 1970 along with many other I was laid off from Boeing in a down turn. I took the opportuniity to use my unemployment and GI bill benefits to complete a degee in Electrical Engineering. When I went back out seeking employment after college Boeing snapped me up. Since then I have been working for Boeing on production equipment, sometimes modifying the same equipment I was trained on as a technician. I now have 43+ years with Boeing. I would say that their early investment has paid off.
bob from maine: Correct IF I'm wrong, but doesn't the byline on the Maine vehicle tags say "VACATIONLAND"? Maybe that's why the young folks leave Maine for warmer climates, not only meteorlogical, but also employment.....
I think there is and always has been a stigma attached to 'trade' schools and students who wish to attend them. Living in Maine, it is depressing that the majority of our high-school graduates go on to college out of state, and stay out of state due to lack of suitable employment opportunities here. We changed the name of our "Vocational" schools to Vocational Colleges and then to Universities. While the material taught changed a bit, the purpose of the change was to try and remove the stigma of being a vocational school graduate, which was apparently one step above graduating from reform school (now youth training centers). We all dream our children will graduate college and someday stand to accept the Nobel prize for physics or biology or something. The reality is we will still need someone to build our houses, fix our cars, and assemble our widgets.
What should be the perception of a product’s real-world performance with regard to the published spec sheet? While it is easy to assume that the product will operate according to spec, what variables should be considered, and is that a designer obligation or a customer responsibility? Or both?
Biomimicry has already found its way into the development of robots and new materials, with researchers studying animals and nature to come up with new innovations. Now thanks to researchers in Boston, biomimicry could even inform the future of electrical networks for next-generation displays.
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