From: "John P. Riley" <jpriley485(--nospam--at)peoplepc.com>
Date: Thu, 26 Apr 2001 03:33:16 -0500
This is probably howling at the moon, poking swords at windmills; possibly I
can express part of the problem at getting volunteers.
We are engineers. For many of us, our natures guided us to become engineers
(or draftsmen, or accountants, or "fill in the blank"
technical-type-people). Many of us cannot fathom being lawyers, et al,
where too much of the work-task would be foreign to our little pea-brains,
where accuracy and ethics are not goals, where dress codes and social
nuances are supreme.
Personally, I refuse to work in an environment where I'd be expected to say
something is red, when it is blue. I've worked in engineering departments
where accuracy and honesty were secondary to expeditiousness. I felt like a
fish out of water. I will not say I cannot succeed in such an environment,
because I could; but I will say I will not try.
Of course, I want the money that is associated with success, but I am
willing to forgo monetary gain for my own self-esteem. I really don't care
a rat's ruby-red what you, or anyone else, thinks about me; I'm only
concerned with my own impression of me. In this regard, I think I am not
uncommon among engineers. And THAT makes me proud to be an engineer. The
word "engineer" really means something to me! It connotes a level of
integrity not associated with other professions.
The point is, many of us engineers try to be as accurate and honest as
possible in our endeavors. This forces some of us to be self-limiting,
professionally. A few of us recognize and honor our limitations. For
instance, I've pulled WAY back from acting as expert witness, because I'm
loath to say "it isn't possible that it happened that way." Just about
anything is possible, and my ability to think forensically is limited. I'll
be damned if I let myself be a poster child for the Peter Principle! (For
the record, I've got an impressive track record against opposing
"credentialed" engineers, because professors, et al, are willing to say just
about anything for money, but the attorneys on their side can smell vinegar
at deposition . . . out-of-court settlement. LOL . . . For you young
engineers: dot your i's and cross your t's and you'll smoke the smoke &
mirrors of the professors . . . the laymen (lawyers) can understand simple
engineering logic, which the professors are quick to abandon.)
Competence? Am I competent? I know a lot about what I do, but certainly
not all. I am careful, but not infallible. Am I an expert? Naw, I'll
leave that moniker to those who wear three-piece suits and fly airplanes to
I don't mean to be cruel, but our leaders . . . or at least, people who
describe themselves thus:
"former Chairman of the Public Advocacy of NCSEA"
"Present Chair SEAOI PR committee"
"Former member of ASCE's Commitee on Public Involevement"
write sentences such as this:
"I have to sadly state the later is true"
"Are we are own worst enemy??"
"When will STEP FORWARD AND BE HEARD??"
This is embarrassing to me. I hope my son, an architect, doesn't find out
this is the way we talk to each other. I hope my oldest daughter, 3rd year
medical student, doesn't see this and judge ME and my profession. My 6th
grader can write better than this. My 3rd grader can write better than
this. My two kindergarteners probably wouldn't notice anything wrong with
I think I can hack my way through this life as an engineer and make enough
money to survive. Of course, my expectations are low, I just want to hack
my way through this life and make enough money to survive. But I'm not
unproud. I'm proud of the work ethic that would cause Thomas Edison to
sleep in his lab . . . and I have that same work ethic. I can outwork most
people. But Thomas Edison was a genius, and I'm not. Thomas Edison
probably made a lot of money, but that may not be in the cards for me. I'm
comfortable with that. Do I think I'm deserving of something more for
designing a building than a gold-toothed, suit-wearing, Cadillac-driving
realtor is for selling it? Hell yes! Is that going to be a reality for me?
Am I willing to go on the warpath to make the public aware? Well, I don't
think so . . . after all, I'm just an engineer. Believe it or not, I'm
happy to be just an engineer. And believe it or not, the public is aware of
our engineering prowess. Most people are in awe.
If you are embarrassed to be an engineer, then become a mortician, or
something that has a modicum of respect in your mind.
Point fingers if you must, Mr. Johnson. But I think there are plenty of
engineers out there who would be willing to carry the banner if the load
wasn't encumbered by the lame.
John P. Riley, PE, SE
20 Oakwood Drive, Blue Grass, Iowa 52726
Tel & Fax: 319-381-3949
As former Chairman of the Public Advocacy of NCSEA
Present Chair SEAOI PR committee
Former member of ASCE's Commitee on Public Involevement (until ASCE in
it's infinite wisdom terminated the committee !!)
I have to sadly state the later is true
As Richard Weingardt just commented in the April issue of STRUCTURAL
Are we are own worst enemy??
Or put another way - When will STEP FORWARD AND BE HEARD ??
PS NSPE is trying it again ---- yet another attempt to bring a
public awarness of the engineering profession.
check the new website: www.americanengineeringcampaign.org
also check the following: http://www.technotimes.org/010225A.htm
* This email was sent to you via Structural Engineers
* Association of Southern California (SEAOSC) server. To
* subscribe (no fee) or UnSubscribe, please go to:
* Questions to seaint-ad(--nospam--at)seaint.org. Remember, any email you
* send to the list is public domain and may be re-posted
* without your permission. Make sure you visit our web
* site at: http://www.seaint.org