Much of life is serendipity, whether we choose to embrace it or not. Such was the force that brought us David Knuth, the unemployed EE who wrote five columns for us under the heading "Diary of an Unemployed Engineer." We first heard from Knuth when he wrote to thank us for a scholarship program that our trade show group offers some people to attend the Embedded Systems Conference.
Knuth was out of work and took advantage of the scholarship program to keep his skills up. He was so eloquent and thoughtful that I asked him to write the diary. It is arguably one of the best series you'll read in these pages in this year of unemployment anxiety and offshore outsourcing: insightful, poignant and almost entirely bereft of the cynicism and bitterness that rightly can overtake the unemployed.
Perhaps we shouldn't have been surprised: Last week, I received an e-mail from his father, David Knuth Sr.
"I am an engineer myself with 35 years' experience-34 at Rockwell Collins. I have been wonderfully blessed in that I never had to personally deal with unemployment, although I have seen many close friends and acquaintances get laid off over the years. It tears me up inside to see what my son and his family have to contend with. I look forward to the day when our economy truly recovers, and engineering jobs become available again. Thank you for providing this forum and for articles that represent real engineers and real engineering."
There's some pretty special DNA in that family, but there's also some pretty special DNA throughout the North American engineering community. Its members are already pushing higher into the food chain as bioelectronics emerges from the labs, serving as witnesses to a decades-old professional evolution. It's in the genes.
Knuth's contributions are over, and I offer my heartfelt thanks for his courage to write about his situation. We want to keep the "diary" alive, though. To that end, I'm taking submissions to keep it going and to continue to lend a sounding board for engineers affected not only by a cyclical recession but also by some larger transformation in the profession that we're only starting to understand.
Fuller takes "diary" contributions at email@example.com