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What Engineering Shortage?

Posted February 28, 2008 8:34 AM

Recently there have been numerous predictions about a looming engineering shortage, but is this really going to happen? Could it be that engineering — like many other professional disciplines in our society — benefits from the increase of productivity from advanced software tools such as PLM and CAD/CAM, so that it takes fewer engineers to get the job done?

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Guru

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#1

Re: What Engineering Shortage?

02/29/2008 7:14 AM

What if there were insufficient Engineers available to comment on this thread?

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#2

Re: What Engineering Shortage?

02/29/2008 7:36 AM

Computers can (and always will) only do so much. They've already taken us from full rooms of drawing boards to just a couple cad stations and operators...hundreds of slide ruler calcs to microseconds of time on a processor.

Engineering is not about reproducing the same result (which we can teach/program a computer to do)...it's about innovation and optimization.

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#3

Re: What Engineering Shortage?

02/29/2008 9:07 AM

It has already happened in the Civil, Electrical, and MEP Engineering realm of the US.

Look at the trend in SAT scores. The average scores have fallen by over 80 points in the last 30 years. The most dramtic areas is in science and math. Just google some of the studies by William Bennett, former Director of US Department of Education.

I don't know what PLM is. As far as drafting, (CAD/CAM) production is up but they still have to be trained and I have seen some really stupid drafters coming out of school that know how to manipulate the program but don't know squat about what they are doing.

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#5
In reply to #3

Re: What Engineering Shortage?

02/29/2008 5:31 PM

I have seen some really stupid drafters coming out of school that know how to manipulate the program but don't know squat about what they are doing."

One can say the same for any discipline (in science or engineering in particular). The issue seems to me to be an interest more in getting the degree and making money, rater than actually learning their discipline. Few engineering/science graduates actually know what they are doing; only after many years experience do they get a "clue". I once sent out a simple engineering/science question to colleagues. Not 1 in 10 got the correct answer. We need more EXPERIENCED engineers.

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: What Engineering Shortage?

03/02/2008 5:20 AM

Well said...
But the HR morons would rather employ a shiny new graduate (with a MBA too) for less money than someone who actually knows/understands what the are doing.

It amazes me when I go into establishments (with my humble persona in place...stop laughing) I ask for their help and expertise as they are doing their specialised job.... only to find that despite being patronised, I'm the one who ends up understanding the problems better than them!

Del

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#4

Re: What Engineering Shortage?

02/29/2008 9:23 AM

The shortage is a myth spread by corporations that want to increase the labor supply, thus reducing labor expense. Some years ago, buisness tried to get congress to increase the immigration quota, claiming a shortage of engineeers. At the time, I (and several other engineeers I know) were unemployed and needed 6 months or more to find a new job.

Even now, engineers with more than 10 years are being forced out of the profession. I've seen Senior Engineer positions advertised, asking for 5-7 yr experience. Since Sr. Engineer is as far as you can go without entering management, It seems to me that 10-15 yr is more appropriate. I suspect that the HR people are thinking that this level of experience would increase cost (true) and forgetting that it would also increase quality/productivity (also true).

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#7

Re: What Engineering Shortage?

03/02/2008 10:38 AM

There certainly isn't any shortage of engineers in my specialties (manufacturing, automation, product/process optimization). Nor in my region for any engineering specialty. (I live in the midwestern United States.) What we have is a serious shortage of employers willing to pay fairly for education and experience. Instead, there seem to be a lot of employers who think should be they be able to to hire skilled, creative folks with a BS, up-to-date skills on expensive CAD and CAE SW and 5 years of experience in their industry for $45,000 / year plus minimal benefits. Then whine about a shortage of engineers when it turns out that, mostly, they can't.

From what I see on national job boards, etc. this is true throughout North America.

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#8

Re: What Engineering Shortage?

03/06/2008 11:44 PM

engineer shortage is there but skilled engineer shortage only not hard worker engineer.software tools only make easy our job but that tools not have capability to think.only engineers do that job.In my opinion we must get together to share thoughts for the particular project solution then the organisation should not face the shortage of skilled and hard worker engineers.

thank u.

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#9

Re: What Engineering Shortage?

03/07/2008 8:57 AM

"They" have been claiming there is an engineering shortage for as long as I can remember. "They", of course, are corporations that want cheap technical labor and schools that are marketing for enrollment. Manufacturing and Engineering in the US has been on the decline for years, so there is less demand for engineers, salaries are flat, and fewer people see it as an attractive career choice. Post Y2K/dot com bust, unemployment for EE's was above the general rate. Age discrimination is also rampant- among big & small companies alike, older workers are forced out and replaced with (or as) contractors. Hiring is limited to recent grads and less experienced (younger, cheaper) workers. Software and productivity tools are insignificant compared to corporate policies and market forces.

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#10

Re: What Engineering Shortage?

03/31/2008 9:47 AM

Being old and a toolmaker I noticed something surprising after working temporarily in a tool shop after retirement. Thirty years ago you would occasionally run into a print that was wrong in some way. Diminisions not adding up and that sort of thing.

The prints I used in my short stay were almost always unusable in some way and the bosses secretary was constantly on the phone straightening out the mess. I went into the wilderness and fasted for three days and nights and the answer came to me. Management thinks that with CAD, most anyone can draw prints so "let the kid do it".

I would be at least suspicious of any figures from Robert Bennett. If I remember correctly he is in the camp that wants to reform (read destroy) the public education system. The one that really scares me is Newt Gingrich. He is a truly great speaker and could convince me of almost anything if I didn't know that most everything that comes out of his mouth is a lie. He is presently on the speaking circuit with his plan to "reform" public education.

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#11

Re: What Engineering Shortage?

05/30/2008 10:55 PM

Wow! Good thread! There is NO shortage of engineers, especially if one includes those classified as an engineer solely because he/she just completed engineering college. To me, that type of person is an apprentice engineer, but i digress.

Think there is a shortage of engineers? Think again if you are unemployed for a while due to shifts in industry. There are plenty of bright young people fresh from the university who are hungry and looking for work-your work, my work, our work.

Does current technology allow fewer engineers to get the job done? One would certainly think so, as my TI-83 is faster than my father's slide rules. Sorry about that one, father. But I think that advancing technology is always hungry and must feed itself to some degree, so it provides more employment opportunities for certain engineering disciplines. If you are lucky, it just happens to be your discipline that is needed.

Business needs to remove its head from nether places. Many of us have seen, read about, or been a consequence of the trend to replaced seasoned experience and intellect with bright young faces that possess only intellect. I think we will all survive this trend, as painful as it can be.

Best Regards,

Ing. Robert Forbus

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#12

Re: What Engineering Shortage?

06/20/2008 1:06 PM

I see our mediocre pay as a symptom of people not thinking of engineering as a profession. You have to be certified to be a doctor, lawyer, electrician, etc. To be an engineer, you probably need a degree. Not all companies require a degree. Very few engineers are required to be certified or do any continuous training. Therefore management does not think of us as anything "special".

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Anonymous Poster
#13

Re: What Engineering Shortage?

08/04/2008 10:23 AM

There does appear to be an engineer shortage in the midwest. Every engineering consulting firm in my area has openings for P.E.s with 5-10 years of experience - civil, mechanical and structural.

It is possible that there is not a shortage and these companies just aren't offering enough money or benefits to attract engineers. But, these people are smart, their engineers! They will do what they have to do to get the job done.

And there are an awful lot of engineers that are about 5-10 years away from retirement. So, I don't see this issue going away anytime soon.

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agua_doc (1); AnnafromA2 (1); Anonymous Poster (3); billg (1); Crabtree (1); Del the cat (1); HarryBurt (1); Ing. Robert Forbus (1); jrpeck (1); kkjensen (1); Skelley (1)

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