To the editor:
I found your article "Engineering is not boring" interesting in what you did not explore: that is, whether engineering is still a rewarding profession for those of us practicing it (as opposed to editing techie magazines), and thus worthwhile recommending to the younger generation.
I became an engineer because I really had no other choice. I am a constant tinkerer. I got my ham radio license, not because I enjoy talking on the radio, but because I enjoy designing and building RF equipment. I usually have two or three ongoing design projects for my personal amusement in my head at any given moment.
At work, I count myself lucky if I get to spend one week per year actually doing any design work. The rest of the time is spent creating PowerPoint presentations, writing and editing various documents, chasing parts for production, or dozens of other tasks that while necessary, are far from fulfilling. I often wonder whether this was worth the effort to get my BSEE.
And then there is the lack of job security (so far, I am still employed, but many of my colleagues are not), the incessant outsourcing of engineering to low-cost countries, and the general "commoditization" of engineers. One of my colleagues described himself as "an M5 screw." The company figured they could replace him easily enough with someone else.
Why would I recommend that any kid follow in my shoes unless they were driven to it as I was? Getting kids to consider some idealized concept of engineering as a career choice, when the realities are so different, is among the cruelest bait-and-switch scams going.