It's always great to get young people involved. I love engineering in it's true form. I have just learned to dislike the way it is used in the US these days. I wish I could share the optimismsome of you have for this field. I used to be optimistic about engineering when I was that age. You go to engineering school under this fantasy of working on skyscrapers in Dubai or spaceships or some other lofty crap like that.
Any high schooler that asks me about engineering I'll tell them not to. I agree with the writer ( I forget his/her name) who said we need to tell our kids to be plumbers. Engineering can be done for $10/hr by somebody in Mumbai. Fixing your toilet can't.
I surely would have liked my engineering career if I did work on spaceships or skyscrapers in Dubai. But I don't. For me, and many of those I went to engineering school with it's been a lousy ride. (We graduated a decade ago right in the middle of the post-9/11 slump).
A few snippets from a life with a couple of Fortune 500 employers:
Marking up prints for Chinese vandors so you can layoff staff here. Validating cheap Chiness fasteners. Loosening test standards so you can validate the cheap Chinese parts that corporate purchasing demands you buy. Filling books full of failing quality audits because you don't have time to fix quality problems when your only goal is to fill the audit book. Getting yelled at because something isn't done because the other engineer you needed to help you is out on corporate mandated layoff for a week. Developing a process improvement that will save $1000 a week but being denied because it requires a $5000 machine when the capital budget is zero. No education because the training budget is zero. No conferences, seminars, or trade shows because the travel budget is zero. Profit sharing taken away. 401 match taken away. Bonus earned and never paid. Severance owed and never paid.
I could go on and on. I hate to sound so negative but that's been my life (and that of many of my contemporaries) as a 20/30 something Gen Y engineer in the "lost decade." Every month when I write that $300 check I ask myself if that engineering masters was worth it. My plumber makes more money than I do and seems to like his job better.
I agree, Rob, I was just thinking that it was so great last year to have a woman win the contest in what is still a predominantly male field. It would be cool this year to find a very promising new engineer or perhaps is just starting out after graduation from a university program but already stands out in their field. There are some very clever young minds out there--I think they get younger every year! Guess we'll just have to wait and see.
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