Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The State of Engineering, Sorta

Thanks to a coworker, today I read this article in “Design News” magazine which discusses the results of a survey of 2000 engineers on the state of engineering careers. I had a great deal of trouble taking this article seriously when, in one of the graphics, it lists the average engineer’s salary as $86,194(!). Um, maybe in the computing industry.....

Another amusing part of the article was when they asked engineers in their survey what would they change if they were CEOs of their companies? While some of the items listed are worthwhile goals, several were wildly infeasible. Here is my favorite suggestion of the bunch:

“Get rid of bureaucracy”
I think pretty much every corporate employee in the history of mankind has had this recommendation. Bureaucracy is very, very frustrating. However, how many bad ideas are (thankfully) prevented from being implemented because of bureaucracy? Imagine how much worse things would be if red tape didn’t hold back the “shoot from the hip without thinking” ideas that needed to be held back. Good bureaucracy acts as a filter without overwhelming or swamping its participants in paperwork. Whether your company has good or bad bureaucracy is a different question, but guys, entirely “getting rid of bureaucracy” is like wishing for the sky to be purple...and on fire.

The article did have one absolutely brilliant quote about working in engineering:
“In general, engineering is a very demanding and relentless pursuit, mixed with periods of chaos and panic and brief moments of satisfaction. After months of hard work and finally pulling the proverbial rabbit out of a hat, there is a brief moment of satisfaction and accomplishment. Then, your boss hands you your next assignment – and this one involves two rabbits and a smaller hat.”
Very well said.

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