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RE: A Farewell to Structural Engineering

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First, let me say I'll miss your posts on the SEAINT listserver. Although I haven't always agreed 
with you nor your political viewpoints, you have offered your opinions in a straight forward and 
honest manner without trying to play games. And you weren't afraid to admit when you didn't 
know something.  That is hard for most people.

As to your newly chosen path, I wish you the very best with it. I have a sister-in-law and a 
brother-in-law in academia in fields very closely allied to history and they are both quite happy
with what they are doing. It is, however, every bit as competitive as engineering. My sister-in-law 
visited us for Thanksgiving and commented that the worst spats in academic issues are about 
the most trivial matters. Sound like Engineering?

I have always told my kids to not worry so much about what they choose to do but to choose something 
they really enjoy because they will be spending a lot of hours doing it. So far, they are doing just that
and seem quite happy with their lives (I have five sons ranging from 27 to 42). One recently tired of what he 
was doing, hit the reset button and has chosen a new path, one he is very happy with.

As for the history of engineering and/or technology, there are many interesting and important 
contributions to be made in this area. The old adage that those who don't pay attention to history 
are destined to repeat it is true.  With your perspective of having been in the field for a significant 
period of time, you can bring an important view point and an understanding that would escape a 
younger person.

Much of your depression likely comes from your dissatisfaction with your engineering career.  
Having recognized you needed a change should do wonders for your outlook. If you approach 
your newly chosen field with the same fervor you've shown at times in your postings on the
listserver, I have no doubt you will succeed. In fact, you seem to be the type of individual
who can overcome much adversity when you have a goal in mind.

Best wishes as you continue on your life's journey. Check in with all of us from time to time. 
From the comments I've seen since your post, I'm sure many of us would enjoy hearing from


Bill Cain, S.E.
Berkeley, CA

> Date: Tue, 23 Nov 2010 15:46:09 -0600
> From: bill(--nospam--at)
> To: seaint(--nospam--at)
> Subject: A Farewell to Structural Engineering
> Hello, SEAINTers. Long time since I've checked in personally.
> I am now going on the sixth month of my current spate of unemployment.
> The phone does not ring. Such employment openings as I do see
> advertised, are for entry-level positions, or require expertise that I
> do not have (such as offshore platform design).
> I have also been struggling, not entirely coincidentally, with one of
> the worst bouts of depression with which I've ever had the misfortune to
> deal. No one's fault, really; it is what it is. But it has forced me
> into self-examination at an uncomfortable level.
> I haven't been happy or fulfilled as an engineer in years. I think the
> profession and I simply grew apart. If you are not a world-class expert
> - as I am not - in any particular subfield, you must perforce be content
> with "management" or some-such. And I am not that either.
> I have made up my mind to drop out altogether. In fact, I am changing
> course radically - something I probably should have done years ago but
> was too caught up in the practicalities of earning a living to realize it.
> I have decided to apply to graduate school with the aim of earning a
> Ph.D. in History, and remain in academia for the remainder of my life.
> It's not exactly entering the monastery, but it's almost as radical a
> departure. I have always been fascinated with all aspects of history -
> especially that of engineering and technological progress. I will
> probably focus on that, perhaps even civil and structural engineering
> history. Wouldn't that be something.
> At any rate, I just felt it incumbent upon me to write a brief swansong
> in this vein. Not that I expect any of you to really care, but it might
> be of interest to one or two, and so it would serve a purpose.
> Thank you all for services rendered in the fifteen-plus years that I've
> participated on this forum, and I wish all of you the very best of good
> luck in all you do.
> William L. Polhemus, P.E.
> Katy, Texas
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