Engineering: Is it bad for your wealth?

Engineering: Is it bad for your wealth?This is just one of the sentiments to come out of this week’s batch of letters from the engineering community. If you agree or disagree with any of the opinions expressed below, waste no time in letting us know on our E-mail hotline: ewhotline@rbi.co.uk Who says tuners are not real engineers? One of your letters from a student who was in his third and final year of his degree at the University of Kent maintained that Channel 5 channel tuners should not be allowed to use the title Engineer, implying that the only true engineers are those with degrees. This I cannot agree with. He has studied for 3 years to get a Degree and become an Engineer. When I was in college (in Ireland) I studied for 3 years also and received a Diploma in Electronic Engineering. As such I would be officially an Electronic Technician. However since graduating I have branched out into other areas including learning various programming languages. I have studies sections of the Open University programs, but have not yet progressed to getting my degree and, due to work and life commitments, may never do so. However I would definitely call myself an Engineer. I would not necessarily add to this with a title of Electronic or Software Engineer in that my work/studies have been over both fields. I would dispute the fact that I have not (as yet) got a degree as being a limit on me being an Engineer. After all I would qualify the Wright Brothers as engineers, but I do not think that Aviation Degrees existed at that time.
Sean Farren,
engineer, Digital Equipment Corp Where are the gifted, engineers? In the last 30 years I worked directly or on a consultancy basis for a number of organisations in the electronics and telecoms fields. Sadly whilst I have worked with a few truly innovative and gifted engineers (mainly Swedish , Japanese and Americans), the majority fall well behind. The truth may well be unpalatable. There appears to be a cadre of “Engineers”, who can not possible perform without the latest state of the art computers, CAD software, Networks, ISDN links etc etc. They spend days or weeks configuring their PC computers for quadrophonic sound and three dimensional graphics, and yet produce defective, sloppy designs that have to be gradually modified/de-bugged throughout the product’s life cycle. In many organisations, hitting an engineering project deadline is an accident, anyone heard of a software project delivered early/under budget? Ladies and gentlemen YOU have a lot to do to change your image, and earn the respect you crave.
Chris Lallis,
materials manager, Crowcon Detection Instruments Ltd Chartered pay belies real salary The Minister John Battle compares graduate engineer salaries with accountancy starting salaries, which I think gives away his own low esteem of engineers. He also claimed an average salary for chartered engineers of ?40,000. This is in no way the average salary of all engineers, and would take a very long time to reach from his own quoted start of ?16,000. This salary simply reflects the type of employee who is inclined or able to become “chartered”, and shows the lack of interest in this status amongst younger, lower paid engineers. I was told 20 years ago at the beginning of my career: “don’t stay in engineering if you want to get rich”, and I still hear it now. I ignored the wealth-warning because it was the work I wanted to do. Young people look at the older generation of engineers and do not see wealth, but they also overlook the job satisfaction. In schools there does not seem to be any regular input of information from practising engineers, or other professions. The satisfaction of a design engineer’s job could so easily be described to children at the age when they are choosing their careers, and at the same time put across a balanced view of the comparative earning power of different careers, so that it is not left to hearsay. If potential engineers are still worried about their status relative to “Kevin the mechanic”, they should work in a company with as many European connections as possible. They will often be reminded of their status. One fellow service technician in my previous job caused great offense in France by introducing himself as an “engineer”. The MD was told not to send him ever again! To finish on a more ironic note. My present boss, who comes from Italy, chooses to ignore his title “Doctor”(of engineering), because it does not seem appropriate in England !!
Charlie Monk,
software engineering manager New name please…  The meaning of a word comes from its common usage. In English, as opposed to German, channel 5 channel tuners ARE engineers and your G.P. is a doctor. We cannot hope to change that. Therefore those that WE refer to as engineers must in fact be something else. We need a NEW word and a new prefix title. J.P.Reeve BSc CEng MIEE Make a date Why can’t people get the date of the new millennium right? In the Inside View article where the Millennium Dome is discussed, the end of the millennium is stated as being December 31, 1999. This is not right, the end of the millennium is 31 December 2000. As there was never a year 0, millennia starts at year 1 and goes through to year 0. You would think that the people involved in the Millennium project would at least be working to the right date! Andy Carpenter,
Kent Forum By Dr Clive Dyson Most of the semiconductor output of the UK (which approaches that of, for example, Taiwan) is produced by inward investors, brought here by a skilled labour force and an attractive manufacturing climate. The other vital ingredient is a highly educated and skilled workforce, capable of designing and making the next generation of semiconductor product. This is in short supply throughout the world. Success will go to those regions that prove capable of developing the necessary skills base. Recognising that maintaining this skills base was vital to their continued success in the UK, the semiconductor manufacturers established the National Microelectronics Institute in late 1996. The NMI’s objective is to promote the operation and growth of the microelectronics industry throughout the UK. Founding members were Fujitsu, GEC Plessey Semiconductors (now owned by Mitel), Motorola, National Semiconductor, NEC, Newport Wafer Fab, Philips, Seagate and Siemens, with the support of the DTI and regional bodies. The NMI is working, with the regions to raise the profile of the industry, to increase the supply of skilled staff and to improve the efficiency of the manufacturing value chain in the UK. It is building a national framework in which industry, academia and the regions can collaborate. The wafer fabs operating in the UK presently employ around 15,000 staff. A conservative estimate is that around 4,000 additional operators and technicians and around 1,000 additional graduate engineers will be added to this number by the year 2000. There will be no growth in the number of operators required, but the number of skilled technicians required will double. Recent years have seen a number of collaborative initiatives (involving industry, academia and regional bodies) aimed at meeting this demand. For example: HNCs and HNDs for the industry have been developed in Scotland, and subsequently adapted in the North East for use in England and Wales.
Dr Clive Dyson is chief executive of the National Microelectronics Institute


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