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Fwd: Final response to T. Springer - Civil Engineering News - long!

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Terry Stringer PE wrote:

"I'm not sure how to respond to your recent e-mail to me. I'll give it =
thought while you cool down. I must admit that your private e-mail was
slightly more professional (minus the grammatical errors) than your =
posts to the seaoc server. (I lurk on that list from time to time).

By the way, according to the National Society of Professional Engineer's
(NSPE) 1996 Income and Salary Survey, the median annual income for =
was $62,500. It is up from $60,346 in 1995.=20

Best Regards,

Terry G. Stringer PE
CE News, Inc."

Dear Terry:
I have "cooled down" and still find your statements to be incredulous. =
Nowhere in your article do you quote the source of your statistics. NSPE =
represents all Professional Engineers, not specifically Civils and =
Structural which CE News caters to. To be fair, suppose we take a look =
at the members of NSPE that represent the Professional Engineer in =
Private Practice.
Let us take a little trip to and look at =
those firms that are considered "Professional Engineering in Private =
Practice (PEPP) - member sustaining firms". Specifically lets see just =
what lies in the western United States:
California - possibly the largest representation of the west coast, =
sustaining firms contain a listing of 13 companies. Of the 13 listed =
only one (A.C.T. International, Beverly Hills CA) specializes in Civil =
(Laboratory Services), Forensic Engineering, Safety Engineering and =
Quality Engineering - no building designs. The other 12 comprise widely =
dispersed fields including (in each firm), Geotechnical, Highway and =
Streets, Environmental, Mechanical (PE?), Industrial, Material Failure =
Analysis, Electronics (PE?), Architectural (Interior Design) Site and =
space planning, Underground Storage tanks, Chemical (PE?) Computer, =
Manufacturing (Hydraulics and Pneumatics), Mining,  Electrolysis AND =
only one firm lists Structural Engineering as a field of Practice (J.R. =
Miller & Associates), Inc.
Now let's see, NSPE claims 63,000 members. These 13 firms employ a total =
of 68 employee's. Assuming all 68 are NSPE members, California =
represents less than 0.001% of the total - hardly representative of the =
National Average.

Digging deeper - surprisingly no firms listed in Nevada. Maybe there are =
no engineers in Nevada!

Arizona - 1 firm, 15 employee's (TESCO, Inc, Phoenix), again Computer, =
Architectural, Control Systems, Costs, Electrical, Electronics, =
Environmental, Industrial, Manufacturing, Mechanical etc -=20

Oregon, 2 firms, 16 employee's no specific structural engineering, but =
services in all of the above mentioned fields. Types of projects typical =
of each include manufacturing plants, hospitals and medical facilities

Washington, 2 firms, 5 employee's same gamut of services, non-specific =
to the structural engineering community.

Utah, 1 firm, 5 employees - same as the above, no structural engineering =

Idaho, 1 firm 10 employees and yes they do structural - Airports, =
Hospitals, Condominiums, Prisons etc.=20

Montana - no representation

New Mexico - 1 firm 13 employees - no structural.

So, Terry, the average $60,000 per year statistic that you can pulled =
from the NSPE numbers represent less than one hundredth of one percent =
of the private sector communities. Less than one percent of these even =
differentiates structural engineering as a primary field of expertise. =
It would be easy to conclude that the statistics reported for the =
national average does not accurately reflect the Civil/Structural =
Engineering community.=20

None of the firms listed build homes, stores, light industrial =
buildings, retaining walls, foundations, low rise Apartment buildings =
etc. This appears to be more of a representative sampling of the CE/SE =

Let us see just what is representative of NSPE:
Professional Engineers in Construction (PEC)
Professional Engineers in Education (PEE)
Professional Engineers in Government (PEG)
Professional Engineers in Industry (PEI)
Professional Engineers in Private Practice (PEPP)

Now for the final question. How does the editor of a Civil Engineering =
magazine have the nerve to draw conclusions such as you did from =
statistics other than those of ASCE, CASE or SEA? "Me thinks", you =
wanted to drive home your personal issue without checking your facts.=20

This makes one wonder if you did any real digging into NSPE to see if =
the figures properly represented the community you report to. =
Personally, I don't believe that you intended to include Chemical =
Engineers, Industrial Engineers, Mechanical Engineers or any other =
engineer capable of using the title PE in your statistics since your =
readership is primarily CE and SE (including students, EIT's, Land =
Surveyors etc.). Yet these are the members included in the NSPE =
statistics.  I believe that this is very irresponsible of you.

You have offended thousands of engineers in private practice who =
struggle hard each week to make ends meet and maintain a standard of =
living that tremendously harder to achieve than you "statistally" would =
have experienced. You attempt to negate our concerns by comparing our =
plight to underdeveloped nations and countries under civil unrest. Yet, =
you suggest nothing to help engineers maintain or better their =

Many of us will never own a Lexus or travel overseas to view the =
conditions in other country's because we can no longer afford to do =
this. The standard of living that exists today is not equivalent to what =
flourished after the second world war. It is getting worse as the cost =
to live rises higher than the average family income. It does not matter =
what the average is if a family can not meet the basics necessities in =

You suggest in your editorial that we "revisit America before the second =
World War, we would find a country that seems almost primitive by =
present stands, a place similar to the former Soviet Union as it is =
today...."  Personally, I don't believe it is much different today than =
it was before the Second World War. I stated in my last post that, =
although the unemployment rate had dropped, those employed are working =
fewer hours with less benefits. The standards to reduce unemployment are =
not unique. In 1934, Albert Einstein published his Thoughts on the World =
Economic Crisis in (Mein Weltbild, Ansterdam: Querido Verlag, 1934). =
Here he suggests " In each branch of industry the number of working =
hours per week ought so to be reduced by law that unemployment is =
systematically abolished. At the same time minimum wages must be fixed =
in such as way that the purchasing power of the workers keeps pace with =
production." Today companies have reduced the workers hours and hired =
the unemployed, but not for such a noble cause as Einstein suggests. =
Instead, the number of workers hours are reduced to allow the employer =
to legally remove benefits - driving him further into despair while =
systematically improving business profit margins.

Einstein further suggested; "In this way it might perhaps be possible to =
establish a proper balance between production and consummation without =
too great a limitation of free enterprise and at the same time to stop =
the intolerable tyranny of the owners of the means of production (land =
and machinery) over the wage-earners, in the widest sense of the term."  =

Surprisingly, times are not so much different from Pre-W.W.II era. =
Production essentially died as the workers (you identify in sub-standard =
conditions) are forced to remain subjugated ("victimized") in order to =
compete for the work that we do in this country. Pre-W.W.II era was a =
time of production where today we are in an era of Technology gains and =
service industries.=20

You seem to think work was harder before the war. Have you once =
considered what is involved in becoming an independent engineer. To =
compensate for reduced work hours, pay and benefits, the popularity of =
independent engineers is growing. With this growth comes competition =
that yield reduced fee's. There are few tax benefits, increased =
overhead, liabilities and work hours to yield the comparably lower =
financial yields. The overall lack of job security and an unknown =
ecconomic future yields more psychological and physical health problems. =
I believe that I can safely guess that you would never know the amount =
of pressure applied to the "average" working household today.

How long do you think it will be before our fee's are seriously =
challenged by lower labor rates overseas. Presently, our skills are of =
value to companys overseas, but how long will it take before the =
knowledge is assimilated across the oceans and the labor cost is =
maintained well below that of the United States.  We will become a =
financial target for new thriving engineers living in other parts of the =
world which are experiencing the same growth that existed in our country =
after the second world war.=20

You lecture us in how good we have compared to the Russian worker who is =
lucky to get $200.00 per month for his services. Yes, the Russian worker =
has it bad, but this is similar to the choices that our forefathers made =
during the evolution of this counrty. Many of us are from Russian =
decent. My relatives left soviet Russia to escape the slaughter of =
Russian Jews during the early years of this century. Unfortunately, the =
road ahead is not easy for them.=20
Do you really believe that it is easier to sit down in front of a desk =
and try to distribute funds into bills that exceed the income? Yes, you =
can blame this on the overspending public, but you must also recognize =
those families that must rely upon credit for diapers, staples and the =
basic necessities during financial crisis.  The stress that the working =
public faces today is many times greater than those you faced in growth.

I am fortunate enough to have few debts. I don't represent the average =
engineering community - in many ways I'm much better off. Still, I don't =
turn a blind eye on my professional peers. But like the rest, I am aware =
of just how fragile our existence is. It is easier today to lose =
everything on a catastrophic event such as illness, professional =
liability, or economic depression. Do you honestly believe that any =
creditor in this country would write off your mortgage or help you back =
on your feet once forced into bankruptcy.

My apologies to our Listservice for this long post. Consider this =
additional response, while I "cool off" once again.

Dennis S. Wish PE (with restraint)

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Subject: Final response to T. Springer - Civil Engineering News - long!
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Richard Lewis, P.E.
Missionary TECH Team

The service mission like-minded Christian organizations
may turn to for technical assistance and know-how.