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Patk0317
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
Patk0317   3/29/2011 2:53:16 AM
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I'd be interested to know how this compares with data from the annual EE Times survey?

Brian Fuller2
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
Brian Fuller2   3/29/2011 3:39:35 PM
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Good call on that comparison. I'll write that up this week after I track down the survey results (fielded last summer/fall).

Brian Fuller2
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
Brian Fuller2   3/29/2011 4:56:17 PM
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Patrick, here's the short answer: The results are fairly aligned. In the 2010 Salary and Opinion Survey we asked in question #20: "20. How would you describe yourself in terms of your engineering career?" The choices (and North American results) were: 1. Satisfied with career and employer (64%) 2. Actively seeking employer change (17%) 3. Actively seeking career change (5%) 4. Not satisfied with career (14%) The question's phrasing is different and the choices are different, but i think the distribution is roughly the same. If you take results one and two of the happiness survey, you get 60% in the positive zone. People seeking a new career were 9% compared with 5% for the Salary Survey. I'm interested in how we can take an admittedly spongey happiness thread (which we all care about but struggle to quantify) and build a survey that can yield data that enables us to write stories that might (just might) affect some cultural change in electronics companies. Spring's here, summer's coming and it's time to disturb the peace!

elctrnx_lyf
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
elctrnx_lyf   3/29/2011 5:01:39 PM
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Any field is not that rosy when you don't have a passion for it. And about sacrificing life for the job and not happy at the end, my heart goes for you man. Engineering is still an interesting since you always solve problems which aren't really going to affect anyone much if you don't solve them.

Scope Guru
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
Scope Guru   3/29/2011 7:26:58 PM
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I still believe that the opportunity to innovate and be successful is there and big breakthroughs (start-ups/venture $) will return as the economy comes out of this slower period. I find many engineers working at smallish firms who are excited about their role in creating/innovating and hopefully, looking for that big IPO/bonus in the near futureÖ. Chris Loberg Technical Marketing Manager Tektronix, Inc.

Big Bad John
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
Big Bad John   3/30/2011 8:39:35 PM
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I am working at a small firm; two years ago I was the 3rd employee, now there are almost 30. But there is no IPO, stock options, etc, And 30 years of writing software it is all the same.

jewilson
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
jewilson   3/29/2011 7:28:44 PM
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The problem is engineering jobs don't last and you have to be concerned about your future. With the current economic situation even Cop make as much as engineers. Employers want to to sacrifice for the company but there is no capitulation. While engineering can be fun there are fewer and fewer job that or. I would not recommend engineering field to any one unless they have a green card. Yes the engineer field use to be good years ago.

NukeProtect
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
NukeProtect   3/29/2011 7:38:44 PM
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I think that in engineering (and any other professional field, except finance) there is a huge gap between engineering (professional) activities, knowledge, application and experience, and those of the layman. The engineer or professional, however, necessarily does non-engineering and non-professional functions - and the more you have to do, the less happy you are in your job.

gkidwell
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
gkidwell   3/29/2011 7:58:16 PM
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I believe one problem with the survey is the word "completely". Engineers being engineers are very literal people and completely means 100%... there are very few who are 100% satisfied with their job. The question should have been worded "Very Content"

old account Frank Eory
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
old account Frank Eory   3/30/2011 1:18:22 AM
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I thought exactly the same thing. I know many happy engineers who love their jobs, but I doubt very many would say they are "completely content," especially given that the next choice was to "tweak a few things" if they could. Show me an engineer, any engineer, who doesn't want to tweak a few things! I'd like to know more about those 13% who don't see any room for improvement.

cdhmanning
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
cdhmanning   3/30/2011 3:51:47 AM
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That was my thinking too. Engineers are also active problem seekers. We identify problems in what we do and also in the workplace. If we see something we think can be improved then we are no longer completely happy. The general population, on the other hand, are happy to let things slide and be someone else's problem. There has been some resentment in the industry in the last few years due to the bursting bubble of the dotcom era. Many engineers look back at 1999 with an over inflated sense of entitlement and are resentful that things are no longer like that. The reality of course is that dotcom was not the norm; it was a bubble and we should think of it as such.

Reagan.Thomas
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
Reagan.Thomas   4/5/2011 12:59:12 PM
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I came here to say what gkidwell said. A real engineer (in it to reward the passion, not just the pocketbook) would almost always find something that could be "tweaked", so I'm sure that particular word attracted the "some things could be tweaked" response.

Reagan.Thomas
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
Reagan.Thomas   4/5/2011 1:00:56 PM
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"I'd like to know more about those 13% who don't see any room for improvement." Dare I say it? Perhaps they are not *real* engineers? ;) /ducks

Ovidiu.Carnu
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
Ovidiu.Carnu   3/29/2011 7:58:48 PM
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The problem with engineering is the reward vs. benefit ratio. You have to be highly skilled, intelligent and educated to be a good engineer. This means you could also do a lot of other better paying jobs and you have high expectations. In top of this you have the schedule. The long working hours, short vacations etc are the main problems in this job, IMO. At least in the US. Loving your job does not mean you are not allowed to love anything.

OCOgghy
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
OCOgghy   2/10/2013 10:47:53 PM
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Best comment here.Short but direct to the point.

Ovidiu.Carnu
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
Ovidiu.Carnu   3/29/2011 7:59:05 PM
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anything else i meant.

Ismaila.Rafiu
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
Ismaila.Rafiu   3/30/2011 7:46:30 AM
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reward vs benefit ?, thought those two words refer to same thing; gratification!.

danlutes
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
danlutes   3/29/2011 8:02:22 PM
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I realize it doesn't make as good a headline, but my take-away is that just 13% of the engineers willing to take an online poll are completely happy. I theorize that those who are happy don't take as many online polls, because they're not as likely to be looking for a break from their job.

anon3887601
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
anon3887601   3/29/2011 8:08:05 PM
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The poll results don't surprise me. For 40+ years I have seen too many people enticed to enter the electronics profession with promises of an exciting career, yet having no real interest or passion for it. And should have picked some other career. I will bet you the majority of the unhappy poll respondents were never amateur radio operators, never built their own stereo, alarm system or guitar amplifier, don't have a bench of test equipment at home, and probably wouldn't know which end of a soldering iron to hold. If it isn't in your blood from the start, you're probably better off doing something else.

gkidwell
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
gkidwell   3/29/2011 8:23:46 PM
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Well said and I agree! It seems that those who get an EE degree and do not have a passion for electronics are either complaining or are now in technical sales/marketing positions. Nothing wrong with the latter by the way, that degree still paid off for them.

r3son8tr
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
r3son8tr   3/29/2011 8:18:38 PM
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I think I'm done. Been at it 30 years, the last 18+ or so in management of one form or another. Engineers are not generally appreciated since we are viewed as just skilled labor.

Ismaila.Rafiu
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
Ismaila.Rafiu   3/30/2011 7:48:19 AM
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loves your pretty (or is it handsome)dear professional colleague!.

Ismaila.Rafiu
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
Ismaila.Rafiu   3/30/2011 7:49:29 AM
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loves your pretty (or is it handsome) face, dear colleague!.

rll_sb
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
rll_sb   3/29/2011 8:27:24 PM
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I resigned a six figure R&D scientist job because an incredibly bad manager just about a year ago. In the interim, I've been lucky enough to get some consulting work including a lucrative expert technologist position with a law firm that lasted a few months. I am not sure whether I will ever be fully employed again as I am 59 and live in a smaller west coast city with limited employment in my field. I do not regret leaving my previous position as I was unable to sleep most nights. I keep in touch with my previous colleagues who tell my how bad the working conditions continue to be at my previous employers. I would rate my stress level now as minimal. I was careful with my earnings and have no bills, a house that's paid off, and a very understanding wife who is a senior-level manager (and still working). You only live once and continuing in a stressful position is simply not worth it. I made the right decision. I would be happy to be working part time just to earn some additional money, but I will take opportunities as they come.

fmotta
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
fmotta   3/29/2011 8:28:04 PM
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It is the nature under "GAS" (geek answer syndrome) to want to make things better. In the case of those who solve problems most problems are there to be solved and... well nothing is perfect for an engineer. That is not inherently representative of discontent. It is the most common response I get from engineers. I'd like to tweek it a bit.

tyrant
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
tyrant   3/29/2011 9:19:06 PM
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Normally all engineers are motivated towards creativity. However, when the management focus is penny wise and pound foolish, in the hands of non-engineers, then all hell breaks loose. That is the part I would like to tweak. Another question I have is why engineers do not have the same status in society as lawyers and doctors? Why are engineers treated as second class citizens, when the fact of the matter is that society would not have been at the current state of the art without engineers?

geekmaster
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
geekmaster   3/29/2011 9:22:20 PM
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I wonder how the results would be in other countries/cultures?

DickH
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
DickH   3/29/2011 10:59:43 PM
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the same, or even worse (UK)

Jose_engineer
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
Jose_engineer   3/29/2011 9:39:49 PM
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Go to any engineering school in the Sillicon Valley area, and look at how many native born studendts are enrolled in engineering programs. Is the lack of native born students because: 1. They are lazy and don't want to study? Only the neive and racist believe that. 2. They don't have the inherent talent? Same as above. 3. They have caught on to the fact that this is not where the rewards are and recent immigrants haven't? Most likely This article is right on the money. It's all about the incentives baby. Bust your ass, and end up having to report to an Art or Bus major? Only one person in a family does that 'once'!

kkersey
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
kkersey   3/29/2011 9:54:18 PM
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Good question about other cultures - I find it an interesting comparison that while in the USA the leaders are mainly lawyers, in China they seem to be generally scientists and engineers. I fear that the social culture in the USA has drifted such that it is no longer "cool" to be a techie.

LarryM99
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
LarryM99   3/29/2011 11:27:01 PM
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Every once in a while when I am at a fast-food joint or a grocery store I look at the people working there and think "Is this where they really want to be working?" I have a friend who is constantly upset because engineers (and he in particular) aren't revered at what he considers to be the proper level in our society. Myself? I suppose that I'm not perfectly happy, but I make good money and I am more secure than most. If I weren't I would do something about it. Think of Richard Corey (obscure song reference...). Larry M.

easy_eddie
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
easy_eddie   3/29/2011 11:34:19 PM
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I have a fantasy that I might actually be appreciated ... when I am gone. Not only do we have no appreciation, we are subject to nasty toteming and GE inspired 'nine block' categorization (good up, left; bad right,down) with an actual quota system to put 8% in the dreaded elbow, where you get a kick in the ass and no raise or bonus. This is how corporate America treats its 'professionals'? It's no wonder the bright kids are exploring other options.

randombox
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
randombox   3/29/2011 11:46:01 PM
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Passion and dedication in any profession win over fame and fortune, every day. Us engineers have to take solace in that we tend to be more realistic about the material world that surrounds us and be content that it allows us to cope with it better. Since "happiness" is a subset of mental health, it would be quite telling what the comparative MHUs (Mental Health Units(?)) are for engineers (re: other professions).

Brian Fuller2
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
Brian Fuller2   3/30/2011 12:51:56 AM
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Corporate cultures can be changed. There's no reason we can't do something similar here (this is responding to @easy_eddie's comment)... smoking used to be acceptable in the office and sexual harassment wasn't even a phrase 30 years ago. I'm not sure where to start, but here is as good a place as any with your collective wisdom.

Ed88_#1
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
Ed88_#1   3/30/2011 2:25:54 AM
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How exactly was it quantified that engineers are appreciated less than other professionals? I suspect there might be a bit of a "grass is greener..." complex going on here. Sure our jobs are inherently difficult and often thankless, but I don't think it's necessarily all roses for other professionals either. Besides from my experience, whining about lack of appreciation and respect is a surefire way to never get any!

ftl
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
ftl   3/30/2011 2:31:56 AM
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what I can see is that engineering jobs are complex, lot of interdependency like research,design, manufacturing till to get the product sold and we do not deal direct with the investor who will pay our bonus, but we are working under corporate structure that made us as engineer to be like a fixed capital than a high potential revenue generator just like sales department does. Bottom line it is economic law again, what is the revenue potential and where it may seem to have direct relationship with. And This is mostly done by biz grad instead of eng grad. So the only way to reverse this, when all engineers decided to start their own venture themselves just like HP day. Because what I believe, without engineer the sales can sell nothing, but the otherwise still can be done. I was working under medium size biotech company which I deal direct with the owner of the company, so from here I can see how my above analysis come about.

lifewingmate
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
lifewingmate   3/30/2011 6:09:51 AM
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This is a helpful, subjective piece of firsthand research into a representative mindset of the modern engineer. I strongly believe that engineering firms, human resources, and executive teams should consider the factors described to help with: 1)Retention 2)Innovation 3)Recruiting Happy engineers feel that they have the resources, support, and environment to problem solve. Engineers don't just want to go with the flow. If they can successfully and positively impact a situation, they will. If leaders will help limit bureaucracy and other hindering factors, I believe engineers will be happy at their jobs as well.

jackOfManyTrades
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
jackOfManyTrades   3/30/2011 7:25:19 AM
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"If you get a charge out of computers, radios, guitar amps, teeny tiny accelerometers, etc. then" I think you've got yourself a safety issue.

Reagan.Thomas
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
Reagan.Thomas   4/5/2011 1:07:58 PM
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LOL!

mrwood
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
mrwood   3/30/2011 11:14:37 AM
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I've been at this engineering gig for 30 years and still love the challenge of solving interesting problems. Real engineers arenít motivated by money management is. It is their only motivation, and they view engineers as a cost center to be off-shored where, as one HR type said to me, ďI can get three Indian engineers for one American engineer.Ē. So until that mindset goes away real engineers will never be viewed as an asset to a company. Sure, we all want enough money to pay for the house, put bread on the table and put the kids through college. But corporate management sees that as greed on the part of everyone outside of management. Donít get me wrong, put an interesting problem in front of me and Iíll be jumping in both feet and my anger at management types will be shoved to the background only to surface as the solution to that problem takes form and requires less of my brainpower. I remember during the moon shots science was important to us as a nation. Parents told their kids to go into a technical field. This is probably why so many engineers my age are engineers. Now science is scoffed at and basic fundamental principals are called wrong by politicians and media types who know nothing about science or engineering but do know how to count money. So yes these are bad times but letís remember that no matter the damage done by the corporate and political typeís real, working engineers, not managers, will come to clean up the mess. Itís what we do, solve problems.

twk
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
twk   3/30/2011 4:14:59 PM
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The commentary is interesting, having come through the post WWII growth in technology and really having fun with new TV, space exploration, automobile development, communications explosion, exploding recreation industries, and the like to day appears kind of bland with most observable engineering being much like the TV world - working mostly on reruns. I feel I went through the "best of times" and they are gone. I have two sons who are engineers but am surly not recommending engineering to my grandsons. I watched more than one truly innovative and creative business get smaller and less significant as their leadership was taken over by individuals with law, finance, and business degrees and there were no technical people in leaderdhip. I watched one being proud of no longer consulting with their corporate technical council and beginning to consult with their wall street analysts. They are now less than 20% of what they were. When technology makes life easy people begin to concern themselves with social issues and go to work to impose their visions of society on others. Things go down hill rapidly because there is no set of facts (like the laws of physics) with which to test the proposals and it reduces to chaos. I now consult, post retirement. I hope I have enough to survive my tenure on this world but am not sure. (there are so many trying to steal it from me) I truly enjoyed the good times, still live a pretty good life, and watch the whole of society deteriorate. Study a little history and you find we are repeating the past. The Romans rose on technology and declined on social chaos and did not manage to recover. Hope we are good enough to recover!

rfindley
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
rfindley   3/30/2011 6:51:49 PM
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@twk, that's the best analysis I've seen. Follow the rise and fall of civilizations, and you'll see strong parallels to many engineering companies. Maybe it's time for engineers to sail to the Americas and form colonies modeled on their own vision. It may be a struggle at first, but it's certainly easier than overthrowing the empire, eh? I've already sailed the Atlantic, and I'm back to enjoying life.

Big Bad John
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
Big Bad John   3/30/2011 8:30:43 PM
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Today I heard from an engineer at a company we're co-developing a product with. This company cut every engineers salary 50% and had to write to the CEO why they desired their full salary back. Also the engineers should should be thinking about their jobs 24/7. This company is doing very well on increasing sales and apparently on profits. What in world is going on in this CEOs mind?

zeeglen
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
zeeglen   3/30/2011 10:33:39 PM
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Easy. -$Engineers = +$CEO CEO Mindset: Engineers are a dimadozen and should be grateful for their jobs. If they don't like their pay they can quit, easy enough to replace them.

KB3001
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
KB3001   4/6/2011 2:16:51 PM
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Sadly this is the truth. It is a very globalised profession and supply is higher than demand. Engineers should take their destiny into their own hands, get trained in business management and set up their own businesses.

Brian Fuller2
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
Brian Fuller2   3/30/2011 10:48:44 PM
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@jackOfManyTrades as the kids would say I'm LMAO!

Brian Fuller2
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
Brian Fuller2   3/30/2011 10:51:55 PM
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@Big Bad John: With my news hat on, that 50% cut and weird CEO-appeasing exercise seem like a news story to me...

BobSound
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
BobSound   3/31/2011 1:35:09 AM
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I'd be interested in seeing the results of this survey sorted by years on the job. From my experience, the newer engineers are treated very differently and probably have higher satisfaction than those with a few decades of experience. New engineers are still getting good raises because their salaries have not yet approached the asymptotic ceiling.

Neo10
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
Neo10   3/31/2011 6:17:00 AM
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This unhappiness which people are whining about is not because the managers are paying them poorly or giving them dirt jobs but because the rosy picture of engineering as a destination to aim for is no longer rosy. This is not very different from the dotcom bubble. The bubble burst when the companies found out that there are engineers in other parts if the world who would work with same passion for much less $$. So, yeah the leveling off is taking it's toll but I think it will find an equilibrium in about 5-10 years. Why are young American engineers so unadventurous, why are they so reluctant to travel the world, work in different countries and get to be a part of the churn. It's all about the "comfort zone".

Sheetal.Pandey
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
Sheetal.Pandey   3/31/2011 10:39:07 AM
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Ya because most of the engineers are very serious and think around their designs. But those who are clear with their basics really sounds happy.

LarryM99
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
LarryM99   4/1/2011 2:02:22 AM
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Again, everything is relative. I have friends that are legal secretaries and paralegals who work for real tyrants under extremely high stress. Most mid-level managers are frantically trying to justify their existence because they are even more vulnerable to cost-cutting than billing engineers. Anyone in the service industries has increasingly had to deal with a public which is willing to vent stress at them at every opportunity. Compared to what I am seeing around me I'm actually feeling pretty good. Larry M.

Makki
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
Makki   4/1/2011 12:29:42 PM
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I am one of the 31%. I just went into EE so I could come and live in US - this was 85. I have been working since 94 but am no more content now (2011) then I was back in 94. I do think EE is an awesome field - esp digitally communications. The thing is I am not an engineer mentally and this gets to be eventually frustrating. A second factor is engineering education - I think my university could have done a better job balancing the theoretical and practical - to this day I don't have a good feel on how to find an impulse system response !! Bottom line- don't enter a field if you don't have a passion for it

Reagan.Thomas
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Reagan.Thomas   4/5/2011 1:17:05 PM
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Wow. It's interesting to hear directly from one of those who entered engineering as a tactical decision, not a passionate decision. I remember when I was about 8 years old.. my mother had thrown a clock radio in the trash (the old kind with the numbers that flipped over while keeping time). I took it apart and was fascinated by the mechanical parts, mystified by the electronics. I remember twisting a ceramic capacitor back and forth until the leads broke. That when I decided that, someday, I would understand how it all worked. Fate. Sealed.

PunchBuggy
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PunchBuggy   4/6/2011 12:26:29 AM
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This has been a good thread. Maybe this sounds egotistical but I have loved engineering when I was implementing my ideas and it became insufferable when I was subsumed by my managers ideas.

anon9303122
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
anon9303122   4/14/2011 9:50:04 PM
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The happy people are busy working and not replying to these blogs.

tfc
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
tfc   4/19/2011 8:50:35 PM
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So true. You are not going to tell the boss you're happy and risk getting more work piled on and you are not going to tell the boss you are unhappy or he will figure you cannot do your job and replace you. That leaves this blog to vent else you may cause the boss to "think".

ibrowej
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
ibrowej   10/13/2011 10:48:14 PM
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For those of you that are contemplating a career change, here is a site that is offering free job search training: www.RelationshipCapital.Co/JobNetworkingPrimer

rob18767
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
rob18767   10/26/2012 6:12:08 PM
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Could you imagine if we had to have licensed engineers as medical professionals have to be? Perhaps we wouldn't get dumped on so much.....

meterman
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re: Engineers not generally happy at work
meterman   1/26/2013 6:44:42 PM
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I too have been at it for 30+ years. The past was exciting. I started at the dawn of the microprocessor revolution. I knew my career would involve putting these smart little devices into just about everything. And I knew it would change the world. But as good as the past was, the present and future WILL BE even more exciting. The pace of technical change is getting faster. When I look back at the pre-Internet, pre-cell phone, pre-WiFi, pre-digital TV, pre-Information Age world it seems quaint. I do agree that the best engineers are those with a passion. I know I always had that curiosity and passion. I had a father that encouraged me to know everything and to be able to make or build or fix anything. Unfortunately, these days I am unemployed. The company I worked for refused to listen to the engineers that tried to bring change that would make the 90 year old company relevant. The management that was non-technical just did not have the vision. Now I find that I canít even get interviews for jobs in my profession, partly because of where I live, but probably because I am over 50.

Rick Brett
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Rick Brett   6/20/2013 2:48:31 AM
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As a roofing contractor, I am really happy with my work. I love and enjoy doing the construction of roofs over buildings, homes and others.I think happiness is a choice and it comes from within. I am really satisfied with my employer and just in case you need to have a new roof, here's something to read: http://generalcontractorsbethlehem.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/how-do-i-know-if-i-need-a-new-roof/



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American Thanksgiving is next week, and while some people watch (American) football all day, the real competition on TV has become Punkin Chunkin. But there will be no Punkin Chunkin on TV ...

Rich Quinnell

Making the Grade in Industrial Design
Rich Quinnell
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As every developer knows, there are the paper specifications for a product design, and then there are the real requirements. The paper specs are dry, bland, and rigidly numeric, making ...

Martin Rowe

Book Review: Controlling Radiated Emissions by Design
Martin Rowe
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Controlling Radiated Emissions by Design, Third Edition, by Michel Mardiguian. Contributions by Donald L. Sweeney and Roger Swanberg. List price: $89.99 (e-book), $119 (hardcover).