I have to disagree with your opinion. The main reason is progress. The early engineers were pioneers in their areas, they were discovering new territories. Now most areas of regular engineering are clearly chartered and understood, except software which is still quite bad when it comes to big projects. It looks like that you expect that every new people which reach South Pole to receive same honors as Amundsen and Scott.
I'm reminded of some of the science fiction stories of Isaac Asimov, Clarke's contemporary, where he predicted that the computer operators of the future would be the high priests of society; clearly we've failed to generate sufficient awe for that to happen!
Yep, engineers are getting the Rodney Dangerfield treatment, for sure! It is a little scary to see technology and design authority leaving the US at an alarming rate, and all the politicians are clammering for are more H1B visas to let more non-residents into the country. They do not see the trend: 1) come to America, 2) Learn the technology, 3) return to your home country and startup a new business, 4) steal away the business! Another alarming trend--go to any US engineering school, and count the % foreign students walking around! What is wrong with teaching young US students to be engineers??? There seems to be a myth that American engineers are more creative, and that that will somehow keep the US innovating. Unfortunately, as another poster had stated, if the manufacturing is done overseas, there is less opportunity for that US engineer to learn how to build ANYTHING.
Celebrities and sports figures benefit their investors if they receive more press. More press = profits. On the other hand, press and fame for engineers and scientists means they can demand more pay, will be able to dictate company policy, or will be snatched up by other businesses. More press = less profits. Now in days the only time the engineer or scientist receives any press is when they mess up or when they are disgruntled employees who are not team players.
The loss of respect for engineering in particular, and all science in general, is at least partly due to moving production so far away from design. A current example is indeed the newest handsets: designed in the USA (and other places by collaboration), they are produced in other parts of the world, and then "magicaly" appear on store shelves. Who created them? Nobody that we knnow, they came from "far away". That is part of the problem.
Another cause has been the general attitude in management that talent and skill are interchangeable commodities, and that as a result, engineers and other technically skilled individuals can be treated like any other commodity item, purchased when needed and discarded when not needed at that moment.
Perhaps engineers are to blame for allowing this attitude to spread, since for many of us the desire to create exceeds the desire to get rich. Thus, our priorities have not been always directed at demanding the most that we can get. Unfortunately, other areas of expertise have been far more dedicated to extracting the most they can get, and probably the situation will not recover unless it is "reset to zero", which will probably be much worse than it sounds.
We often hear the words about needing/wanting more engineers from the governmental types, but then they refuse to back it up with action. Pres. Obama's dumping of the NASA engineers while telling them they can build another booster four years from now is one example. The mayor in San Diego is another; he just outsourced the city's IT department to a company that will use India-based support, while proclaiming that the city department was "overpaid." Obviously, they've both bought into the idea (like IBM in New York) that engineers should only earn enough to live comfortably in India, and any wage higher than that is "overpaid."
They all forget that engineers and possible future engineers are among the few who can "do the math." It doesn't take much mathematical talent to see that there are many other professions that will earn far more money and have far more respect than an engineer. That's what's driving people away from engineering, not the fame aspect. People still want to live in this country, and if they aren't going to get paid enough as engineers to do it, then they'll find something else to do.
Instead of an Engineering Week in February, we should all (including the offshore folks) take the same two weeks off one summer and let everyone realize how much a part of today's world we are. No one to keep production flowing, no meetings with customers where the marketing person gets six figures because you could answer the question that made the sale (and then be told you spent too much for lunch on your expense report), no development schedule worries, etc. It would wake a lot of people up to the hidden world of engineering.
All of this is true, and more. Why are US engineering students so hard to come by? It is because the pay of a student who had to work hard and gather debts to get a 5-year degree in 5 or 6 years (because of the game the universities now play with classes availability), is today quite comparable to or less than a 4-year "bull major" (meaning non-engineering/non-hard-sciences). Engineers ARE becoming commodity because we are IMPORTING them. What has been missed is we EXPORT them after 7 years (H-1 visa, different issue) and lose the expertise, training, and technologies back to wherever they came from. As such, we have traded short-term gain for long term poverty. Oh well, I'll be retiring in a few years. Maybe I should consider retiring overseas...
All great civilization eventually comes to end. Western civilization is still in advantage with advance technology but even now is clear that this will not last long.
New generation ? new seeds are not being plant for continuing progress today. Atomic bombs and stock market are not enough to ensure grows.
Short term interest is main strategy today. Take money and run. And there is no choice as all setup is wrong. For real progress it is necessary extreme changes to be made and there are no will for that, there is no recognition that extreme changes are needed urgently.
Just take one example from our engineers and scientist point of view?
Today most exciting time for the science is genetic research. It is so obvious that this will be next if not biggest challenge in human history ever.
If strategy is different we will be in position today, that genetic research is progressed by fast pace as ?Moore laws? in electronic.
There is no wide exciting about that. There is no vision what that really means. What can be done! How life can be transformed.
Instead, there is even a fear to work in that field. There is few ready to come forward to inspire new generations about most exciting times ever and opportunities possible today.
Human rights movement working against human rights by preventing advantage in genetic research and taking us back 10 or more years ?and still counting?
While human right make ?big clever discussion? about poor human cells suffering, for million real fully develop human souls will be too late.
At the same time virus mutation is continue to progress as biggest threat to human races and I hope that we will be technologically ready to answer when time is come.
I am not angry on Human rights movement, politicians, peoples? forgive them they don?t know what they are doing?
But there are no excuses for us spineless scientist and engineers not taking a stand for our self and for the others as we are the ones who are chosen to stand for progress. Scientist and engineers had much more power then they think.
Can we connect spine with the brain and make impact to society? How can we expect respect today? Scientist and engineers in the past are respected as they being courage?s peoples risking their own lives for the science not like today generations afraid even to raise the voice, let alone to fight and risk life for good causes?
I am refusing to be spineless any more ? can you have courage and join the club?
What you can do? Let make a plan and go for it? it is worth to take steps forward?and we are privileged to be in position to do!
Attaboys are few.
You're only as good as
your last miracle, and
that only lasts 3 mo.
Booboos last forever.
Longevity is like that of an athlete.
Next time, I'll pick a different career, and
keep electronics as a hobby only.