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Re: Use of foreign engineers

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"Madden, Gerard" wrote:
> My only objection was the generalizations directed toward young engineers
> and more specifically, those not born in the USA.

Gerard, you said it yourself: My comments are GENERALIZATIONS.

Do they account for every case? Of course not.

Do they account for a preponderance of cases? I submit that they do.

> I'm sure all the young
> engineers could make some stereotypical comments about all the geezers they
> have had to work with.

And perhaps there would be some validity, but in the main, age and experience
are good indicators of competence.

Are they infallible? Of course not. But human activity never is.

> Age and or years of experience does not necessarily
> equate with knowledge, an bad attitudes can exist on both sides, young and
> not so young.

But these are all the "not necessarilys". I was making generalizations.

My experience has shown that MOST young engineers do not know what they don't
know. That is to say, their lack of experience is such that they don't have the
ability even to foresee the consequences of their actions. That simply takes
time to acquire, and that is true for nearly every one of us, the "brilliant
exceptions" notwithstanding.

Also, my experience has been that the technical culture here in the U.S., where
it is and pretty much always has been relatively easy to obtain a college-level
degree in engineering (among many disciplines) because of our concentration over
the last two hundred years on proliferating public institutions of higher
learning, is much more cautious than it is in most other countries.

We are not "easily impressed" here with the fact that someone has a college
degree, whereas in many countries the opportunity even to obtain such a degree
is rare. This leads to a "worship" of the capabilities of someone who is of this
"elite" status. I've often been told, by colleagues who were foreign-born and
foreign-educated, that it is very difficult for them to adjust to the "loss of
status" resulting from their relocating to the U.S.

I had one young engineer who worked under me when I was Chief Structural at a
local consulting firm, a man with a B.S. from his home country (People's
Republic of China) and an M.S. from the University of Houston. He obtained his
P.E. while working under my supervision. He was a very sharp guy, but TWICE
after he had left the firm, I found that some work that was performed by him,
and sealed by me, had problems in the construction phase that came down to his
lack of practical understanding of basic structural engineering principles. This
guy was a FOUNTAIN of esoteric knowledge concerning research in behavior of
materials, etc. But he was very difficult to depend upon (as I found out later,
much to my chagrin) because he found it tedious to "sweat the details". Work
that had been done by others and checked by him, for example, turns out NOT to
have been checked at all.

Now, this is an individual who was very unhappy with the fact that many of his
classmates in China were, in his words, "already senior engineers, even though I
have a higher degree than they do". He was continually disgruntled by his
so-called "junior" status, and claimed that had he still been in China, he'd
probably already have his own company.

I realize this is anecdotal, but in my case it is also evidence of a trend I've
seen with younger engineers in general, and the foreign-born in particular. My
opinion is, I believe, an informed one.