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Advance Degrees and Structural Engineering

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It struck me late this night that by raising the bar on the amount of education that some of the professionals in large practices seem to believe we need to license young engineers may be the catalyst that wipes out the structural engineering profession in the United States. The majority of engineers end up as independents or small office practitioners in time. Students may start out with high ideals and hopes, but the sad fact is that few make it up the corporate ladder and more are laid off during economic swings.
My parents wanted me to join the family business (non-professional) in the 70's because my uncles started the business in Chicago prior to prohibition. My folks honestly thought that you worked for a company until the day you retired and then you went out to pasture with a decent pension and social security. They were talking about security and as of 1974, security went out the window in the United States. When Mazda motors was producing the first of the Rotary engines, the Japanese were proud to teach the Americans about automobile manufacturing and about how industry should be run. The proud spouting that was done fell to the wayside when the Japanese learned about credit card debt.
 
My point is that by raising the bar on educational requirements necessary to procure a license as a structural engineer (or as a civil engineer or structural I) Americans will out price themselves on the labor market in order to try and make a living while recouping their educational cost. It's impractical in an era where we must compete with outsourcing, NAFTA and GATT (failed programs that cost Americans billions) and now the loop-holes played in the H-1b programs by those who are backing the increased education rules for future students.
 
Worse is the fact that our lower education math and science skills are poorly inadequate in this country. Raising my granddaughter, I can't produce any interest in her in math and science and the teachers can't convey the concepts to students regardless of the excellent books they have available to them in classroom work. This is the fault of our federal system that cuts budgets to education and creates opportunities for those outside the US to bring revenue in to save the failing college system at the expense of the future of the students in this country.
 
Bob Johnson (S.E. of Illinois) has been trying to open the eyes of the professional community to the potential loss of our future as service providers and he is not the only visionary who can see the outcome when our children shy away from the field of science even though the have the aptitude to excel. We don't need to leave the education of the apprentices to higher education in the United States, because the outcome is so clear - students will simply choose other more lucrative professions and shy away from structural engineering - leaving us even more vulnerable to outsourcing and non-immigrant status labor such as those brought about by H-1b contracts. As I implied, the same professionals in our field who have the political and financial strength to impose change on our profession are railroading the future of structural engineering by forcing American companies to seek lower labor costs by professionals who have the forethought to gain their education here but use it to set up sweatshops in other countries. For American citizens it means too great an investment in education for too much of a gamble that our children will recoup their educational costs before they get laid off or forced into independent practice where their debt must be considered in their ability to earn money based on greater competition outside the U.S.
 
I realized that I am a full protectionist - I'm not a racist and those who know me understand that what I want is not to lose the service industry after losing manufacturing. There won't be much left. If forced to compete with much lower labor rates, we will be forced to seek other professions where the earning potential is greater - such as services that can't be outsourced  - the manual labors.
 
Structural Engineers and students in the country can have a voice on this topic - but you can't do it by hiding your head in the sand. The train is on the track to take the financial responsibility to Sheppard a graduate through the apprenticeship in a company where it belongs and make it the responsibility of the educational system where the burden of cost is laid upon the student and the practical benefits are not realistically met. Unless the majority of you start to take an interest in these issues and instruct SEA and other associations supposedly acting in our best interest that you don't agree with the direction the profession licensing is going, we are doomed to another dying profession. Get your wrenches ready for car repair and make sure they are metric.
 
Dennis S. Wish, PE
another zealot who cares about young engineers and the future of our profession in the U.S.