Need a book? Engineering books recommendations...

Return to index: [Subject] [Thread] [Date] [Author]

RE: Future Generations of Engineers

[Subject Prev][Subject Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
Title: Message
Dennis:
 
At first, I wasn't going to respond to your lengthy (blue) post, but then I felt compelled to at least set a few facts straight.  My brief comments are inserted (black) below.  Obviously, we live and work in two very different worlds.  Let's just agree to leave it at that and be done with this subject!
 
Your patient friend,
 
Stan Caldwell, P.E.
Dallas, Texas
 
You are fortunate to have done so well and for your children to have done equally as well, but your observations of the earning potential of an attorney and doctor is much outdated. As I do expert witness work, I find that the high-rollers in the legal profession are large office attorneys who a pushed to bill as many hours as can be productive in a 60 to 80-hour week. Once these attorneys realize that they won't make partnership (considering that there are only a limited number of partner positions available) the lawyer ends up moving into private practice and/or another firm breaking his butt to log billable hours.  
 
Having two young attorneys in the immediate family, my knowledge is very much up-to-date, thank you.  Starting salaries for attorneys in Dallas and Houston range from $100K to $150K, with work weeks averaging 40-45 hours.  As a diabetic, I see doctors more frequently than most people.  They all seem to live in big $1M+ houses, drive expensive cars, have vacation homes and lots of other expensive toys, etc.  Consequently, I assume that the majority of them make a nice living.  Either that, or there is a whole lot of medical fraud going on in North Texas!
   
So, your children are truly unique and gifted and for this I applaud you in your guidance of your family, but when you step out of your world and take a closer look at the rest, the picture is not so rosy. Professionals close to the border do have to worry about low priced competition and those who design low-rise structures are more vulnerable to loss of work due to overseas labor than engineers practicing on high-rise or essential facilities. All it takes is one professional in another country who is licensed to practice in the US but who lives in India, Korea, Mexico, or any number of areas of the world where people are anxious to work for a small fraction of what we earn and our clients, who are no different than the large global corporations that ran from the US to areas of cheaper labor and destroyed our manufacturing industry.  
 
How responsive is that engineer in India, Korea, or Mexico with respect to short-notice coordination meetings, emergency site visits to resolve problems in the field, etc?  If you structure your practice to provide services rather than products, foreign competition becomes theoretical rather than actual.
 
Simply put, Banks don't forgive loans and they do foreclose. There is no relieve for the millions who have lost their jobs to lower paid labor overseas and the Non-Immigrant Status programs have led to the layoff of many professionals during slow periods as it is less expensive for an employer to lay-off an American employee than to renige on a contract with a Non-Immigrant Status employee. If you will check the records, most of the top twenty engineering firms save money on H-1B employees and this, in the written agreement of the law, becomes a threat to American Services. 
 
I am not aware of even a single American structural engineer who has lost his/her job as a result of H-1B.  My firm (Halff Associates) has been trashed on the "hall of shame" website for hiring H-1B workers.  When I researched this to find what great crime we had committed, it turned out that we have hired a few foreign-born engineers with American MSCE degrees over the past decade or so.  They were hired based on their qualifications, as full-time permanent employees with salaries and benefits entirely equal to their American-born counterparts.  Some have grown to become principals in the firm.  How can anyone criticize that?     
 
One final point - while you assume that your children are professionals and married to professionals - you describe the need of two working professionals to support a home and family that was supported on one income prior to 1974. Since then, non-professionals families are both working multiple jobs to get ahead and those with higher aspirations require two incomes.  
 
It is true that my son and daughter and their spouses all work, but by choice rather than by necessity since neither are ready to start families yet.  However, each couple would still make over $100K with only one spouse working.