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Engineers Working Harder for Their Paycheck 268

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the more-fun-every-year dept.
Editorgirl35 writes to tell us Design News has posted their annual engineering salary survey. While it does offer encouraging results with salaries up a bit from last year it also shows that engineers are, on the average, doing a lot more to earn that paycheck including supervisory and budgetary functions. From the article: "Kody Baker, a 28-year-old mechanical engineer agrees, "Yes, we are doing far more than just designing products," he says. He's a project manager, manufacturing engineer, product designer, R&D engineer, test engineer, CAD systems specialist, CAD instructor/mentor, and more, juggling many roles in his job as a mechanical application engineer at Honeywell."
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Engineers Working Harder for Their Paycheck

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  • Welcome to life (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tweekster (949766) on Sunday July 23, 2006 @07:42PM (#15767216)
    and the fact that your actual job duties will entail far more than what your job description said.

    Seriously, someone managed to write an article about this concept?
    • Re:Welcome to life (Score:2, Insightful)

      by NIK282000 (737852)
      Agreed, ask any trades person if their job consists only of work discribed by the name of their trade.
    • Re:Welcome to life (Score:5, Informative)

      by Monkelectric (546685) <slashdot AT monkelectric DOT com> on Sunday July 23, 2006 @08:11PM (#15767299)
      Eh, my company routinely offers people "Management" positions with no pay increase whatsoever. In one case it actually offered someone a substantial *DECREASE* in pay to take a management position.

      Thats the first thing I thought of when I read this.

      • Re:Welcome to life (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Stephen Tennant (936097) on Sunday July 23, 2006 @08:18PM (#15767313) Journal
        Important to note that in most places, if you're in management, you cannot join the union, or start one, for that matter, as you're not representative. The REAL management may nominally promote its workers pre-emptively just to avoid workers organizing.
        • Re:Welcome to life (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Monkelectric (546685) <slashdot AT monkelectric DOT com> on Sunday July 23, 2006 @08:26PM (#15767335)
          Thats a *VERY* good point. However, it this particular case, the upper management completely undermines the middle management with unrealstic projects, deadlines, budgets and staffing levels. Nothing gets done. And they blame the manager. Everyone sees this, and nobody will ACCEPT any middle management positions. Far more so when they offfer *NO* pay increase whatsoever, yet you'll soon be the scape goat for their problems.
    • by patio11 (857072) on Sunday July 23, 2006 @08:47PM (#15767398)
      I got my current job on the expectation that I'd be doing mostly non-engineering work. My main day to day function is being a research, to the extent that I introduce myself as one rather than give my actual title (because people wonder "Then WTF are you doing in front of the computer all day"). In any given workweek I might do PR presentations, translate documents, interpret for clients, hold an internal lecture about SEO, help the web team out a bit, or actually do some research/programming. And you know what? It doesn't matter to me. I'm still getting the same salary we agreed on and I'm still working the (absurdly low) number of hours they request from me. My thought is if they're paying me for my brain and my time then they can use both however they want to, within reason.
    • Re:Welcome to life (Score:4, Insightful)

      by yintercept (517362) on Monday July 24, 2006 @12:11AM (#15767861) Homepage Journal
      and the fact that your actual job duties will entail far more than what your job description said.

      I think the article was trying to say that the number of job duties foisted on engineers was increasing. You are right, if all the article said was that people do things outside their job requirement, then the article says nothing interesting. I believe the article is trying to say that people are doing more things outside their job duty. This second statement (the differential) would be something interesting. The differential would be worth studying.

      Unfortunately, the article in question is based on a survey that sounds highly subjective to me. It doesn't sound like they have a substantial data set to substantiate the claim of increased work loads. I suspect many people feel like their work load increases with time; a survey based on feelings would not be sufficient to substantiate a claim of an increased work load.

  • by jt2377 (933506) on Sunday July 23, 2006 @07:46PM (#15767227)
    "Engineers earned an average of $73,000 last year," if you can find a job that pay the "average" salary, half of people that i know get far less than that.
    • by Mozk (844858) on Sunday July 23, 2006 @08:00PM (#15767268)
      And half get paid far more? So it all evens out to the average, right? I do remember something like that in math.
      • by ncmusic (31531) on Sunday July 23, 2006 @10:13PM (#15767588)
        You're thinking median not average. It's possible to have an average where say 10% of the people make more than average.
      • by Aceticon (140883) on Monday July 24, 2006 @05:26AM (#15768299)
        Actually if 1 person eats a whole chicken and 3 other persons eat no chicken at all then in average they each eat 1/4 of a chicken.

        Not that it really maters for the chicken in question though.
    • "Engineers earned an average of $73,000 last year," if you can find a job that pay the "average" salary, half of people that i know get far less than that.
      Yes, and the other half of the people you know get more than that. That's why we call it the average salary. ;)
    • Holy crap, so many people jumping in to show off how they know the difference between the mean and the median. Newsflash - we all had rudimentary statistics as part of some highschool math course or other. In like 9th grade? Probably earlier.

      The guy was just pointing out that real-world jobs pay a lot less, and the statistics are probably skewed by a small percentage that pay a lot more - and good luck getting one of those jobs.
  • by Stephen Tennant (936097) on Sunday July 23, 2006 @07:51PM (#15767232) Journal
    But to earn that paycheck, you're doing more than ever.

    As I understand it, people across America have been working harder for the same pay for some time now. This trend is exemplified by less vacation time taken by Americans, greater hours worked for the same relative pay, and fewer benefits offered than even a decade ago.

    I believe the Economist had a special on this a while ago, showing that Americans are four times less likely to achieve high net worth status than Canadians, even though they work more hours and take on more responsibilities.

    • 60 Minutes - CBS (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      As I understand it, people across America have been working harder for the same pay for some time now

      It was just on a rerun of 60 Minutes tonight saying the same thing. Thanks to technology (especially the Crackberry) and this social more were quantity is more important than quality - hence all of the stupid meetings and being in the office for the sake of being there. It's too bad that the jobs that pay based on results are only in sales. I'd go there, but I suck at it.

    • by mordors9 (665662) on Sunday July 23, 2006 @08:00PM (#15767267)
      I think the reason we are less likely to acheive more net worth is because we all spend like drunken sailors. We spend every dime we get and when that isn't enough, we run up credit card debt at 20-30% interest (the mafia gives better rates). As an aside, we then wonder why our government carries on the same way. We get what we deserve.
      • re: spending (Score:5, Informative)

        by King_TJ (85913) on Sunday July 23, 2006 @08:46PM (#15767392) Journal
        I have to disagree, although I grant you it's true that *some* people are incredibly irresponsible when it comes to their finances.
        In the cases of most people I know (and even in my own case), we're in that majority of Americans who are expected to do more work for less pay - and yet, we're striving to scrape together some kind of lifestyle we aren't ashamed to have around our friends and family.

        EG. I could theoretically "put away" more of each paycheck in investments, rather than spending all of it, BUT I'm just about out of corners I can cut. My current salary is thousands less per year than I was paid to do a job involving LESS responsibility, 6 or 7 years ago - and that's after a long stint of unemployment/self-employment and heavy job hunting. Meanwhile, gasoline costs roughly 3x as much as it did back then, and even little things like going out to lunch are about double the cost. (I remember around 1997 or 98, it was quite possible to buy lunch for under $4.00. I used to go to Subway and get a 6-inch cold cut trio sandwich with chips and a drink for about $3.90. To do the same today is around $6.00-$6.50 depending on the store and local taxes.) I get paid bi-weekly and the check I receive at the end of each month is completely wiped out by just my house payment, car payment, and my choice of one smaller bill such as electric, gas, or telephone. The other check is well over half gone just paying for my other utility bills and car insurance. That leaves me with maybe $300-400 for everything else, including groceries, gasoline, car repairs and maintenance, home repairs or improvement, and so on. And I don't even live in a good neighborhood or a "big house" by any means!

        I have 2 credit cards, but one has only a $500 balance and the other a $250 balance. Even maxxing those out and paying their outrageous interest rates - that's not going to bury me financially. (And for the record, I have a 0 balance on the $500 limit card and try to keep it that way 90% of the time.)

        It just bothers me to get "the lecture" from people about not saving for a "rainy day" -- when doing what they suggest would involve something like going without electricity for a month, or running out of food for my kid. There are a growing number of people out there just like me ... working 2 jobs and struggling like mad to keep our heads above water without stooping to government assistance and subsidized housing - but to an outsider, we appear to be fairly "middle class".
        • Re: spending (Score:2, Insightful)

          by jellomizer (103300) *

          scrape together some kind of lifestyle we aren't ashamed to have around our friends and family

          And we hit the point of debt. We are trained to live the correct life style we need things to show off status. Debt allows us to show this status to friends and family to make them feel like you did something with your life. If we realized our standard of living is not a G/god given right, then we may be able to stay out of debt. So lets assume you live in the North East US not NYC. What you need.
          Shelter: Studi

        • Re: spending (Score:5, Insightful)

          by mmortal03 (607958) on Monday July 24, 2006 @01:53AM (#15768030)
          I am not criticizing your overall cutting of corners, because I don't know what you are already doing, but sometimes when you think that you can't cut anymore corners, you actually can. You gave the example of Subway, and what the price is now. I actually go to Subway as well, but I don't get a drink; I drink water. If I want chips, I buy my own chips in bulk at the supermarket instead. That saves more than you might guess. It gets the price down to about what you used to pay for the meal with the drink. Yes, you did originally get the drink for the same price, but that doesn't mean that you really ever needed to. We Americans "just get the drink" due to habit, and this applies to many other categories of our spending in our daily lives as well. And, back to the Subway example, it is true that most businesses really do get your money with the pricing of their drinks. Speaking of which, all of the fast food options have high fructose corn syrup in them, which isn't good for us anyway, and extra calories.

          Obviously, the above is not a solution to all of your problems, and I am not meaning it to be, but instead I am simply reminding everyone that EVERYTHING adds up, not just the big purchases. Good Luck!
          • I actually go to Subway as well, but I don't get a drink; I drink water. If I want chips, I buy my own chips in bulk at the supermarket instead.

            I take that one step further - I almost always bring my lunch to work. The combination of a sandwich, chips, a soda, and a piece of fruit works out to be around a dollar or so.
        • Re: spending (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Sax Maniac (88550)
          I'm not going to disagree with you, the small things can add up quickly. But, there's a philosophy of how you spend things. I view spending as two very distinct categories, there's spending cash and there's spending income.

          Buying a TV for cash is spending money. Getting a car loan or an apartment is spending income - you are committing that amount for a long time. Have a kid and feed him for 20 years, etc.

          You have to be ten times as careful spending your income than when spending your cash - $50 here, $
      • Actually, a drunken sailor spends all his money on alcohol and gambling, then, when he run out, takes a job on another ship to a new port. No debt involved, unless he was really bad at gambling.

        Not to say that this doesn't accurately describe how i spend my money, but you might wanna watch your similes.
      • by monoqlith (610041) on Sunday July 23, 2006 @09:25PM (#15767489)
        we run up credit card debt at 20-30% interest (the mafia gives better rates).


        Actually, the mafia has a tiered compounding interest rate for all of their loans..I've seen their policy. IIRC, the rate chart looks something like this:

        1 week: Veiled threat to kill your family.
        2 weeks: Tiretreads of a '76 Buick LeSabre or 82' Cadillac Deville over your arm
        3 weeks: A lead pipe to the knee cap or lower back - your choice
        4 weeks: Gunshot wound to your shoulder, courtesy of Bambino "the Stallion" Carmatsi
        5 weeks: A free face stabbing

        The chart I saw only has listing for the five weeks, but I hear they have long-term plans as well.
        • 5 weeks: A free face stabbing

          They're going to be rich if they can hook it up to a web interface.
        • by Artifakt (700173) on Monday July 24, 2006 @12:59AM (#15767947)
          I know you're being humorous, but for those who don't know how these things work, organized crime very seldom breaks arms, or worse yet kills, over loansharking. Instead, they get the debtor to pay back, even if it looks like the debtor doesn't have the money.
                  For example, the borrower parks his car where it can be conveniently stolen, and waits to report it missing until the chop shop has had 48 hours to strip it. He then collects $20,000 in insurance, but somehow, he ends up driving an old beater. The rest of that payout goes to the loanshark. (The victim usually gets to keep a junker so he can keep working, to get those paychecks that will serve as part of the "renegotiated" payments).
                  Or, the debtor sells his house for $30,000 less than the going rate to a buyer his loan shark refers. The homebuyer gives an agent connected to the mob a fee of about $15,000 on that 30, for a sweet deal from his point of view. Under lots of pressure, the debtor passes on information that lets the mob rob his workplace, maybe leaves a door conveniently unlocked or even does the pilferage himself. Organized crime squeezes him like a sponge until they don't see anything left to bother with, and then he still gose on their bad list, and they will never loan him money again because they had to go to the trouble of squeezing.
                  If they can't get a good profit, THEN they get physical, but just like legitimate lenders, loansharks can run background checks and pre-inspect collateral, and they do. After all, it's far better to get the cash than vengance and a short envelope to pass uphill to the boss. Victims almost invariably have some way to give the loanshark at least 50% total profit.
                    "Getting closer to back on topic, "the mafia gives better rates" is the point. Organized crime still makes lots of money from illegal gambling, because they pay out 80% or better, and State lotteries pay only about 50% on average. Of course lots of Americans will work exceptionally hard for less chance of moving up with the company than in Canada (and parts of Western Europe, which the earlier poster didn't mention). Of course, the USA is where a company can offer people a chance to take a serious drop in salary to join management and get volunteers. Of course some companies can avoid union problems by co-opting employees to become pseudo-management. The same people who go along with all this are the ones who don't see how stupid state lotteries are. They're also the ones who could have saved enough for retirement, but never got around to it, etc.
               
      • by shadowbearer (554144) on Sunday July 23, 2006 @11:16PM (#15767729) Homepage Journal
        Excellent post, but I'd like to point out that not all of us spend like that, nor vote like that, but still are penalized by the backlashes in the system. ... and yes, some of us are considering leaving. I live simply and way "under the radar" yet the increasing regulation is going to force me out sooner or later no matter what my worth. Sorry, but there is entirely too much bullshit.

          While I'm not one of the best or brightest, there are many who are among the best and brightest who simply don't want to deal with it.

          A good friend of mine who is a brilliant engineer, worked for Lockheed Martin for two decades and had his own consulting company since '97, decided last winter that it's not worth living here anymore and that he'd have better fortunes elsewhere.

          He's thriving in the Phillipines right now, doing productive work that, in his own words, "isn't constricted by the viewpoints of the many and narrow combined." Half a dozen (out of twenty) of his employees went with him. Can't say I blame them.

        SB
    • That's why everyone's goal should be to become a professor in some obscure topic that they enjoy (say philsophy, see .sig) which allows you to take summers off and write incomprehensible papers about the subject you love, for the small price of teaching a bunch of ungrateful students. (yes this was tongue-in-cheek)
    • Competition. Well it is an issue of competition. What happened was guy A worked harder and got a raise. Person B worked normal and didn't. Person B wanting a raise worked harder. Now this continues down the line and the company cant afford to give everyone raises but all the engineers are working there butts off and the ones who aren't look like the slackers. Also with massive layoffs of the past few years it has shifted to a Employers market.
    • If I make $500,000 each year and spend the same, I have zero net worth. Meanwhile, if you make $20,000 but only spend $19,000, you gain $1000 in net worth each year. Yet who would you rather be?

      The only relevant statistic is how much we earn per hour (ie, productivity), and yes, we beat Canada, Europe, Japan, etc. The fact that we choose to work more and spend more on average is not a public policy issue. If someone is using "net worth" in a political debate, they are probably full of it, and in almo
      • by lawpoop (604919) on Monday July 24, 2006 @12:49AM (#15767928) Homepage Journal
        "If I make $500,000 each year and spend the same, I have zero net worth. Meanwhile, if you make $20,000 but only spend $19,000, you gain $1000 in net worth each year. Yet who would you rather be? "

        I would rather make half a mill each year. If I'm in a position where I make that much, chances are I have a nice pension and health insurance. Even if I have no savings, I can easily save thousands of dollars in future years if the $#!t hit the fan one year. I also probably have an incredible education, resume, job experience, credit, capital, and network to rely on. I could easily get a loan or sell some posessions if I really had to.

        If I'm making $20,000 a year, or $5 an hour working full time, $10 part time, I might manage to save $1,000 over the course of a year. One trip to the emergency room eats that right up. I probably don't have health insurance nor any kind of pension. Chances are most of my friends and family are making the same money I am. If I run into any kind of financial emergency, I'm pretty much SOL.

        After thinking it over, I'd rather be the person making 0.5 mill a year.
    • What you point out is only one facet of the present American socio-economic system.

      It might be Trickle-down Economics, but it's a firehose going back up.

      What I find even more interesting is that so few people are bothered by this information. With all the technological developments of the last XX years, people still have to work harder than before? What is the point of the technology, then? If the PDA means I only have to work 37 hours a week instead of 40 to get my requried work done, that would s
    • I believe the Economist had a special on this a while ago, showing that Americans are four times less likely to achieve high net worth status than Canadians, even though they work more hours and take on more responsibilities.

      Hmm... I wonder if this takes into account the generally higher 'welfare-stateness' of Canada. It would be interesting to see the same statistics conducted with the lowest tax brackets from both countries dropped (or some other measure that lets you reasonably predict that certain pe

  • by unity100 (970058) * on Sunday July 23, 2006 @07:52PM (#15767237) Homepage Journal
    compared to the workload they dump on people 30-40 years ago. however less pay.
    • It's not the workload, it's the monitary policy. Over the last 90 years the value of money has slowly been watered down putting a bigger and bigger squeese on middle income families. For example, in 1920 gold was about $25 per ounce, but today it is about $620. One would think that the price of gold would go down because it isn't even demanded or accepted in stores as a currency anymore, but the fact that it's gone up really means that over that amount of time the dollar has lost at least 95% of it's va

    • Point is.... (Score:3, Informative)

      we've had 50 years to become more efficient. We shouldn't be working anywhere near the same amount. If everybody gave their job a solid 6 hours of work, 5 days a week, and everyone pulled their weight, we'd only have to work 3 hours.
  • Nothing new here (Score:5, Interesting)

    by overshoot (39700) on Sunday July 23, 2006 @07:53PM (#15767240)
    After thirty-plus years in engineering I don't see anything new here. Then again, I mostly worked in small companies or small-team groups in medium-sized companies.

    What this may be showing is the trend towards smaller companies (already noted elsewhere) or larger companies using smaller, self-organized teams rather than groups of hundreds or thousands who have several layers of management for one project. My current project team has less than twenty staff assigned, including support and management -- and it's the largest team I've worked on since 1979.

  • The real world (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 23, 2006 @07:54PM (#15767246)
    As a mechanical contractor, working with Honeywell products, and having to apply the engineering to real world application, I find, that the leadership that many contractors are looking for, is lacking. Many times, actual project engineers are sub-par, and it is the contractors' experience that get's the job done, with the engineer walking away with not having to use his insurance to cover mistakes.
    It is not that the engineer is not intellegent, but in fact is he/she is over worked, dealing with multiple projects, with impossible dead lines. Many contractors are able to get away with sub-par work, because the job for the engineer is very stressed. Many engineers don't understand what they are engineering, since mechanical engineering is a wide field. They use rule of thumb. And when the contractor uses rule of thumb, we have a recipe for disaster.
    More engineers need to go in to the real world, as a helper, or technician. Understand the way things are done, and then become the leadership that a company and a project needs.
  • by Oz0ne (13272) on Sunday July 23, 2006 @07:57PM (#15767258) Homepage
    I have been one of these hat-wearers since 1997. The reason being, I tend to stick to smaller businesses. The agile ones instead of the corporate behemoths. I do contract to the larger corps occasionally but it's not a working environment I enjoy. My salary has increased every year I have been employed through three companies and various contracts. Moving up is about expanding your experience as well as your spectrum of abilities.

    But it's not about being able to do everyone's job! It's about being able to understand what other departments are doing, knowing enough of their job so you can work with them efficiently. Not only is it important in a communication perspective, but it's priceless in the troubleshooting and design phases of product development.

    Bottom line is, every employee of value--anywhere--needs to be able to step back and see the bigger picture of the corporation/foundation/office/whatever. Technical specialists that can't see beyond their single language, single router, server, whatever are a dime a dozen. It's great to have someone with extreme expertise, but they are also easily replaceable.
  • by uarch (637449) on Sunday July 23, 2006 @08:39PM (#15767365)
    FTFA:
    On average, engineers are working 46 hours per week and more than 40 percent have a bachelor's degree in engineering.
    Wait a minute... That implies ~60% don't have at least Bachelor's degree.
    Is this article talking about real engineering or does it simply accept that anything with the word engineering in the title falls under engineering (eg. Refuse Disposal Engineer)?
    • That would perhaps account for why this article concludes that engineers having multiple responsibilities is somehow surprising. Everything I'm seeing in the article strikes me as pretty normal expectations for an engineer holding a degree.

      From TFA:
      "From taking on supervisory and budgetary functions to learning new skill sets, to broadening their responsibilities, today's design engineers are doing far more than they ever had before."

      In other circles, that's generally defined as "career progression".

      It's k
    • At my co-op job, we had a biologist, among others. Also, we had a about a quarter to a third of the people with associate's degrees + a lot of experience. Also, our drafters were considered "engineers" though their actual design work may have been minimal.

    • I know a couple of registered Civil Engineers whom don't have degrees. In California, all you have to do is pass the EIT exam, and work in the industry 6 years in the industry. Then if you can pass the PE exam, then you can become a registered Engineer.
    • That implies ~60% don't have at least Bachelor's degree.

      No, it implies that 50-60% of "engineers" don't have a Bachelor's degree in engineering. The article is unclear, but the following possibilities exist:
      • people with a master's or doctorate in engineering
      • people with a non-engineering degree (sciences, math, etc)
      • people who are certified engineers yet did not get a degree in it
      • people whose job title is "engineer" but don't do any actual engineering
  • by twitter (104583) on Sunday July 23, 2006 @08:56PM (#15767421) Homepage Journal
    The limit of the trend is a single "engineer" responsible for all aspects of the business, a single person company, owned by millions of shareholders (IP owners) and one or two CEOs who extract all but $60,000/year of value. The BOFH replaced everyone in sales, accounting, customer relations with shell scripts where the functions could not be merged into the engineering position. The BOFH then disappeared in a cloud of keyboard clatters as one of his scripts replaced him. No one was able to tell what the CEO did, so they left him alone.

  • that given a choice whether to do a lot of things in mediocrity or 1 area very well, choose the specific thing. The old jack of all trades analogy. Rennaissance men like Leonardo Da Vinci are few and far in between, and even they had to concentrate at some point on one thing before moving onto the next.

    When I hit college, I think I experienced this more keenly, as the first two years were broad classes (what I considered BS classes, public school was all BS but then I wasn't paying for it directly either)
  • Graduate Degrees? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by AugustZephyr (989775)
    I read this article quickly, but didnt see any notes on graduate degrees. I would guess that many of the people that feel like they are juggling different tasks in management/finance role have a graduate degree in management or business (versus an masters or doctorate in engineering). As a student an engineering intern this is something that I am still contemplating. I wonder how much difference a latter degree can make in the carrer path of a professional engineer.
    • Re:Graduate Degrees? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by entropy123 (660150)
      My advice is not to bother with a graduate degree in engineering. The rate at which jobs in engineering are being outsourced to other countries tells me that, by and large, the real salaries of engineers will continue to decline. If you want a post-grad degree go get something in Law or an MBA. (I have a PhD and it wasn't worth it). I could go on and on about the interesting projects I work on .... but in reality I make too little to raise a family...
  • Not just engineers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SocialEngineer (673690) <invertedpanda@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Sunday July 23, 2006 @09:25PM (#15767487) Homepage

    I've found this to be true for almost any somewhat technical field, nowadays. If you have the skills, they will (ab)use you.

    I work at a local paper - my primary job description is "Graphic Artist", but I also work with the page layout, do organizational tasks, web development, troubleshooting, sales on rare occasions, and even photography.

    All this for only $10 an hour. I don't necessarily mind, but I get overwhelmed quite often, thanks to deadlines (we don't usually have deadlines of a week or so - more like a day, a few hours, or even minutes, on a number of occasions)

  • It's a puzzlement (Score:3, Insightful)

    by crmartin (98227) on Sunday July 23, 2006 @10:07PM (#15767576)
    I'll grant I've only been an active engineer since about 1978, but I know a bunch of guys who've really been at it a long time, and none of them remember a time when a reasonably senior engineer wasn't expected to be a decent drafter (we called them draughtsmen and used pencils, but it's much the same), do his own computations, supervise junior engineers, make budgets, and do costing.

    Other than another demonstration that people writing for magazines think "time immemorial" is anything before about 1994, I don't see much surprising here.
    • It seems that the overwhelming tone of the slashdot story as well as most of the comments consider the idea of engineers doing management do be a bad thing. This I fail to understand. I'm only 26 and have only been in the professional workforce (i.e. not a job as a service tech or some crap) for about 5 years. One thing I have learned (and it's a lesson I take from my dad as well) is that it is in one's best interest to do some "management" work.

      Likewise, managers need to get their hands dirty on a regu

  • by florescent_beige (608235) on Sunday July 23, 2006 @10:24PM (#15767605) Journal

    I started in the '80's at a large Canadian aerospace company which a couple of years after I arrived got sold (er, given) to a family of the Canadian Establishment. They promply thereafter exported all the materials R&D work I was doing to Ireland. Then they started playing games trying to lock me into a pension plan, to which I replied screw this, I'll do my own. That didn't go down well.

    When I left to become a (much better paid) contractor, my boss took me into his office and told me, "You know, I can't approve of this." Apparently, what bosses really mean when they say they want you to show initiative is "Do what I want even if I don't know what it is, oh and make my life easier and make me look good." Well I know thats true, I'm a boss now too.

    The real issue as I have come to know it is not that people are being multitasked like crazy (they are), but that its not easy enough to take that kind of experience and translate it into a startup of your own. Companies want their people to act and think like entrepeneurs, but they don't actually want them to become one, and the governments IMHO help them out with that.

  • When do we...... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mindcruft (990434)
    .....Take a stand. I always hear everyone complain, sometimes including myself. We generally do as we are directed but there is a point where you just say no, hire someone else if you want that done!
  • by C. Alan (623148) on Sunday July 23, 2006 @10:34PM (#15767635)
    I am an Engineering supervisor for a mid-sized Civil Engineering Firm. I have 4 junior engineers working for me. Three of them have BS, and one has a Master degree.

    I can honestly say that most engineers that come out of schools today are pretty poorly prepared for the work environment. Of the 4 engineers I have working for me now, all of them came out of school not knowing how to write a report, or do autocad. It generally takes me at least one year for me and the office manager to take some one raw out of school, and make them billable.

    During that first year I have to be an autocad instructor, an English teacher, and hope they don't move on during the year.

    Right now at work I am dealing with an engineer whom has a master's degree specializing in water resources, and yet I took 2 hours trying to explain to her how to do basic rational method hydrology.

    If I had one request for engineering school, it would be make the students take at least 2 autocad courses. The first course should be a basic course for all engineering disciplines, and then an advanced course dealing with the software that each discipline typically has to use. Teach civils Autodesk land development desktop, teach mechanicals autodesk inventor, ect... I hate the fact that most took a basic course their freshman year, and never even touched autocad during the rest of their time at school.

    --C. Alan Whitten
    California RCE 63332
    • Eh, that's how highly skilled professions work. There is no substitute for actually learning these skills in the field, so the schools basically don't even pretend to try. Rather, they try to (theoretically) teach the theoretical underpinnings of the given field, as well as produce well-rounded, more or less cultivated individuals who will be able to do well in their field; once they get some actual work experience under their belts.

      Universities are not vocational schools.
    • i'm a mechanical engineer. i would not want any job that required me to use autocad as the primary cadd tool. 3d parametric cadd systems are much better. you actually end up designing something instead of just moving lines around.

      now if your design is truly 2d, then autocad is a good tool, but most useful things are not 2d.
    • I hate the fact that most took a basic course their freshman year, and never even touched autocad during the rest of their time at school.

      In my 25 years of experience in engineering, design and drafting (mostly for process plant facilities) it has always been the civil engineers that knew how to make good drawings and sketches by hand. Now you're telling me that the civil engineering students don't even bother to become proficient at CAD?

      Perhaps this is because they realize that they risk getting pigeo
    • The first course should be a basic course for all engineering disciplines, and then an advanced course dealing with the software that each discipline typically has to use.

      It would be pointless to teach all engineering disciplines AutoCad, because disciplines such as electrical engineering and computer engineering will never use it.
  • Personally, for example, I am formally employed as a software engineer, but I read Slashdot far more than I did a few years back.
  • by 70Bang (805280) on Sunday July 23, 2006 @10:53PM (#15767682)


    After the bubble broke and a lot of management thought they could save money by going over-shoring[1], management knew they still had to find some warm bodies locally. So they added water to the equation and all of the boats would rise. Added water as in effort poured into the body of water. You will generally find people who have director and VP in their titles (and not with seven or eight people in the company) doing hands-on. Directors generally have to be power users of Excel and Access. VPs aren't required to be quite as expensive, tool-wise.

    The bottom line of this is the higher the leven of people a company has writing code, the smaller the number of people they have to hire, even if you have enough chimps sitting at enough keyboards.
    ____________________________________

    [1] I've learned by experience, off-shoring is good if you aren't ever going to be managing the [source] code once you get it back. The quality code is generally illegable to anyone except to those who wrote it. It reminds me of the people who wrote code, then passed what they had thru file editors and changed COBOL variable names from "ADD CUSTOMER-WEEKLY-SALES TO CUSTOMER-CURRENT-TOTAL-SALES". to "ADD a3rafas TO awdfasdva-afws-Tasdffgas". i.e., obfuscated code guaranteeing job security. No, it's not apocryphal. I encountered this numerous times with my high school and college clients 20-25 years ago and writing the code to parse the variables proved to be quite a handy tool.


  • ... or we don't know what we want, and just let it happen to us. Worse yet, some of us do know what we want but do nothing about it for fear of losing our precious jobs. Now, for those of you with kids or other serious obligations, there is a certain logic to this. For the rest of you, the simple fact is that you've let it become expected of you and your testicular fortitude is too weak to potentially risk your job over saying 'no.' Several years back it finally dawned on me - I was not born to serve my
  • P.H. Boss, Manager of [department]: [Insert some completely random, infeasable, unmarketable request here]
    Joe Engineer, Engineer: That won't work, because [insert perfectly good analysis here]
    PHB: (Irate.) Why are you always rejecting my ideas? You're such a nay-sayer! You could never do my job!
    Joe P. Eng, Engineer: ...
    Upper management: Hmm, that might not be a bad idea.
    Joe P. Eng, Manager of [department]: ...
  • by nuggz (69912) on Monday July 24, 2006 @06:41AM (#15768392) Homepage
    At an average wage of $73k/yr, or about $36/hr you might have some added responsibility.
    When you're making over $0.50/minute isn't it reasonable to expect some larger responsibility and decision making ability?
  • Lower quality (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Metasquares (555685) <slashdot&metasquared,com> on Monday July 24, 2006 @08:49AM (#15768738) Homepage
    Expecting the engineers to do more than design products ensures that the resulting products are lower quality. It helps to have some versatility, but work tends to be most efficient when everyone is able to do the job that they applied for (and thus, theoretically, have the most competence in).

Air pollution is really making us pay through the nose.

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