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Going up!

Going up!

Despite the growing demand for engineers, the number of students pursuing technical degrees has remained nearly constant. This phenomenon presents an opportunity for engineers to get ahead, the theory being that with an insufficient number of engineers to fill key positions, those already employed should start receiving more power, authority, and responsibility-finally!

Wrong. With not enough incoming engineers to fill the slots vacated by others moving up the executive ladder, talented technical people remained trapped in their existing positions. Once again, we're left with just a couple options for getting ahead in the corporate environment.

One foolproof strategy is to go to work for an elevator company; a second is to go to work for an escalator firm. As long as an engineer's lift system design and its operating controls function as intended, no one can prevent him or her from rising on the job. But seriously, you're probably asking how an elevator or escalator company can help an engineer get ahead in the business world. The answer is actually quite simple.

Consider the challenges for an elevator engineering specialist wanting to get ahead-given the fact that most buildings and factories are pretty short. The contractor can essentially buy an off-the-shelf elevator and no challenging work is available for the engineer. But consider a 120-story skyscraper: Just figuring out how to design, power, and lift the elevator presents us with a worthy challenge, but it's still just an engineering problem. What we're looking for is a way to get the engineer elevated into the executive ranks, and that's going to take some real ingenuity.

I believe that a sales-savvy engineer could successfully market an elevator to a company working out of a single story building. With some advanced engineering design and use of virtual reality technologies, it's possible to create the feeling of being elevated and lowered without moving a single inch! Allowing a small company to offer the same office environment as many large corporations would provide a huge morale boost for its workers and customers. Not to mention providing the CEO with his or her own penthouse suite! The marketing approach for such a program should incorporate both the "push" and "pull" sales techniques.

The "push" system requires the engineering/marketing team to convince OSHA to develop new regulations for office elevators-regulations that require even single story businesses to install elevators/escalators. The "pull" approach requires the team to engineer an executive image elevator/escalator with new features that the business owner will desperately want and feel is needed.

It will be absolutely essential for these elevators to have multiple doors. This feature presents customers with a first floor office scene as they enter the elevator through its front doors, and a distinctly different scene as they exit through a door on one of the remaining three sides. Convincing everyone that the single story building they enter is merely the top floor of an underground skyscraper is a whole different problem-but one the engineer who seriously wants to get ahead is sure to figure out.

This report is one of a series of occasional columns exploring the not-altogether-serious side of engineering by Ken Foote, a mechanical engineer at GDLS. You can reach Ken at [email protected] or e-mail your comments to us at [email protected].

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