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RE: H1-B -Abusers

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I don’t know Dennis.


I see no way to police this type of hiring. I didn’t know what the person sitting next to me was making and I didn’t I feel it was my business to ask. Like Gail has said, if one wants to interview and list ads for engineering positions, but pay lousy, you won’t be getting many hires because generally someone has to be getting a better deal to leave a job. So, then Cheap Engineering Co can justify their fruitless search to Uncle Sam. If someone like me, who basically had little knowledge in what the going rate for engineering salaries were at when I negotiated compensation during an interview, how will some government watchdog know the rates? How will the foreign engineer know? A firm in San Francisco, New York, or Washington DC, could use some national average from an engineering association as a means to justify their H1-B salary, not taking into account the high cost of living in these areas…


We only hear about Hi-Tech jobs (i.e. Dot Coms) who can’t find technical people, and it may be/WAS true. But those rules apply to all professions, and the increase in the number of Visas issued was most likely commesurate with the strong economy of the late 1990’s when unemployment was low. Now, unemployment is higher – I lost my job for one. My employer didn’t give me a severance, or care that I had two small children to support.


When my Father has to pay a journeyman worker nearly 30 bucks an hour in San Francisco (a union job), where is the incentive for someone to enter our profession and make less than half of this at CLA and other firms after spending 4 years in a university and have student loans to pay back? Yes, we can get licensed and start our own company, but is that what we want? A bunch of independent contractors essentially forced into self-employment because they priced themselves out during the good years?


Here is my salary history for all to see before I went into business for myself. I wonder how typical this is??


Year 1: 29k (1995)

Year 2: 35k

Year 3: 40k

Year 4: 45k

Changed Jobs year 4: 60k

Changed Jobs year 5: 62k (although I was offered a position at about 85k but turned it down)

Changed Jobs year 6: 95k

Laid off 5 months later and went into business for myself and make about the same as year 6 but working 1.5 times as many hours with medical insurance from my wife and no retirement plan.


So, while I did okay, it didn’t last long unless I had to fend for myself and go get my own work. I don’t know if the typical engineer makes these kind of salary increases so quickly… I worked very hard, put myself through grad school, and supported my wife through her grad school. I also have some other skills that other engineers don’t have that helped me along.


So, when I see a “structural engineer” get the salary I had in my 2nd year in the most expensive region of the country to live in, I wonder how I compete with that firm, how our profession in the future will look. When I did make good money, I became an easy cost cutting victim when a slow month or two came along.


The salary surveys are a joke in my opinion. There is no way to know if they are “cooked” books or legit. I’m sure people can point to me and say “See – it’s not so bad”, but I don’t think my movements have been typical for the average 30 year old structural engineer.


Couple this with all the other issues (i.e. plan checking nightmares, low balling, poor construction practices, liability etc..) why would someone want to be structural engineer? We all got into this business because we thought buildings and bridges are cool – they are… but making a living at something that demands high intelligence, hard work, and years of constant education after college is a sobering reality I certainly wasn’t expecting. I wasn’t expecting it to be easy, but I wasn’t expecting so many roadblocks self imposed by our own profession.


Those who just say “what problem” while they are chewing there blueberry pancakes have blinders on or just don’t care to look. I support foreign engineers, working in America – but not at the expense of the average engineer trying to make a reasonable living, as advertised when they chose the career in high school or college. I decided on structural engineering after the Loma Prietta earthquake (I was a sophomore in high school) and I thought I could help save lives and be a respected professional – I hope this can be a real thing for all American kids who want to be a SE.



-----Original Message-----
From: Dennis Wish [mailto:dennis.wish(--nospam--at)]
Monday, November 10, 2003 8:00 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: RE: H1-B -Abusers



Enlightenment is not always enjoyable. I am glad you went to the site and I hope others do too. This topic (and all of the sub-topics surrounding it) have created credibility for the argument. But let me ask you one final and important question. The SEAINT Listservice is created with limits. Those who have legitimate complaints can bitch and moan, but nothing comes of the issues – they don’t get resolved and we end up feeling like lambs to the slaughter. So how do we overcome the limitations? I really want to know. I created the Structuralist.Net in order to circumvent political policies that forced engineers with disagreements to actually resolve the issues with the help of SEA. Instead, I made some wrong choices and had my site wiped out twice and have not had the time to rebuild it. So what do we do – with the exception of Stan so far the majority agrees that the profession has a sickness that needs to be cured, but we don’t have a cure or the political pull to make the change.


Give us some ideas and help – anyone!!!!!


Dennis S. Wish, PE



-----Original Message-----
From: Gerard Madden, SE [mailto:gmadden(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Monday, November 10, 2003 6:57 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: H1-B -Abusers


I went to the website Dennis posted for H1-B hires. One of the biggest engineering firms for Tract Homes in Northern CA has had 6 to 7 H1-b employee hires with all making 35,000 or less per year. Some are listed as “Structural Engineer”. CLA (Chien Lee Associates ) should be ashamed of themselves ! This is in San Jose, CA-Silicon Valley, where the cost of living is right there with San Francisco and New York City. Way to go you cheapskates !!! 


I found my friend’s hire data, 46 grand for him, better than I was getting before I got my PE license (pretty sad for 4 years of college and a MS degree though) … but now things are much better…. Gotta have ownership to live semi-comfortably in this line of work.


I’ll never forget the day I got my first engineering job… my dad almost killed me when I told him what I was going to make. All of his employees, with no education, would be making nearly double what I would. He thought I was a terrible negotiator, but I told him it was the going rate (about what Stan was hiring for his recent grad) of course, mine was in 1995 four years earlier.


Maybe collusion isn’t such a bad thing…. seems to have worked well for power, oil, medical insurance, and cable companies. I even think oil companies have these little “accidents” or supply shortages purposely to jack up the price of gas. It’s all just a big conspiracy by The Man.


Our profession is in trouble. Fees are too low making compensation too low to attract new generations from this country. When I graduated from college, there were 42 civil engineers in my graduating class (went to a school with 5,000 undergrads)… last year, 7 grads in civil engineering….


How much would you charge for a new 1 story warehouse building (say 30,000 square feet) in a seismic zone 4, on conventional spread/strip footings, with a design-build panelized roof?  Inquiring minds wanna know?




Gerard “Jared” Madden, SE, PE

California Licensed Structural and Civil Engineer


Madden Engineering

2183 Eaton Drive

Lodi, CA 95242

T: 209.368.9955

F: 209.368.9966

E: gmadden(--nospam--at)