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RE: Recommended Reading, Part 2 of 2

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Some food for thought......

>1. If you want M.S. and the first professional degree, what do you
>expect a graduate to be able to do?

Have the willingness to learn "more", continuously seek to know "more", and
combine their "book" knowledge with some "practical knowledge" as provided
by the senior engineers.

>2. Are you willing to go to the mat with you clients so you can afford
>to compensate someone with 6 years (or more) of school?

As with many things in this world, you are only worth what people are
willing to pay.  As long as an uneducated client can go buy engineering
services for cheaper $, they will.  Your employers willing to "go to the mat
for you" mean naught.  I foresee the future of engineering (if not already
present) divided between three worlds.  

(a)A huge number of "typical" small-to-mid size firms who have no single
feature distinguishing them except their fee (i.e., commodity providers).
They have gained this reputation because they do projects of low to average
complexity that many others can also do.  Bottom line, if you don't have a
"political in" you're bidding for the job.
(b)A smaller number of "large" firms who have the mass resources to complete
huge jobs in a timely fashion who bode particular expertise's in some areas.
They have the shear "horsepower" but complement it with folks who can tackle
jobs of above-average to high complexity.
(c)A number of "niche" firms who specialize in particular types of
engineering.  They have specialized experts who have seen the highly complex
on numerous occasions and can do it like nobody else.

I believe what many are advocating is that by raising the bar to become
"registered professionals" we are only licensing those who have the ability
to be associated with any of the three firm types I've noted above.  Thus
making this licensed professional more "valuable" thereby increasing their
political and monetary status among all professions.  Think about it this
way....... how many registered nurses, nurses, and aides complement a
physician's practice.  Similarly, 4-year folks (analogous to registered
nurses), 2 year folks (technology graduates) and aides (drafters)would
complement the "professional engineer".

>3. Supply and demand is the law of economics (this has been argued here
>before).  If the supply of engineers drops, are you willing to pay more
>to get an engineer out of school?  Side note - are you aware that there
>is a quota for M.D.'s?  Schools can only train so many a years.  This
>keeps the supply of M.D.'s artificially low so salaries stay high. 
>Theoretically so does quality, but that is another topic.

In short, yes, if 6 years of college are required to even be considered for
licensing I believe those grads will get paid higher (however,  those
graduating initially in the first # of years may suffer the consequences of
a hybrid system).

>4. Everyone likes to point fingers.  This speech was very good.  My last
>question is this.  Name one very specific task someone in my shoes can
>do make a difference.  Not the general "run for office" or "take
>responsibility" - those are not practical for someone who can't even

I like to tell this to every "EI" I meet:  Always understand the assumptions
and knowledge you are applying.  If I had a dime for everytime I heard
"that's what I was told to use....." or "I just assumed it ......" or
"everybody else does it that way....." or "I'm not real sure how the
software comes up with that value...." I'd be a rich man.  If you don't know
the basis behind what you're doing... you cheapen the profession.  If you do
things and don't understand why, then you are no better than a trained
gerbil who was taught to replicate calculations.

Making a difference means also "self-policing" your profession.  If you see
bad calcs, erroneous assumptions, poor documents, you have a responsibility
to take an engineer to task on those items.  You need to be diplomatic and
professional about it, but you still bear a responsibility.   If senior
engineers can't explain why they are telling you to do something a certain
way ... then they need taken to task on it.  

How can you make a difference ?  By understanding that we are providing a
"professional service" and that their exist differences in the way those
services are rendered.  Seek to know, seek to understand, and most of
all.... educate people about the differences in quality.  The unfortunate
thing about structural systems is that they are not easily discernable as
deficient (like an electrical or mechanical operating system) but the
consequences of any deficiency can be catastrophic.  This is what the client
has to be continually reminded of...... Do you want a "low" bidder when so
much is at stake ?

Robert C. Rogers, PE