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As an English engineer I was horrified when I read the details of this award. It is funded exclusively by foreign-owned companies and the prize will most likely be awarded to a foreign company too; probably to an employee of one of the sponsoring companies. (yes, they can nominate their own employees)
If the few remaining engineers on our little island have to compete with 7 billion other people for the prize, then the odds of our winning are negligible. I know we tend to "punch above our weight" in innovation, but it's still hard to believe we could win this.
How on earth is this supposed to "inspire Britain’s talented and creative young men and women to embrace engineering as their career of choice"?
This is a missed opportunity to apply 'CPR' at a time when British industry is in its last death-throes and a double-dip recession. We are down to only 4.2% of the population employed in manufacturing of any kind. Most of those will be manual factory workers, so the number of actual engineers doing product design work is tiny, and most of those work for foreign owned companies.
Many engineers come from India and Asian countries. Probably some of these will get the prize. It seems true that engineering is diminished however, many politicians are getting aware of this and doing something about it. Like this prize and like some other programs from Obama’s administration to support STEM studies. If politicians are seeing that this is a problem and it’s worth it to do things to fix this then it means that engineering is a worth it career. Is funny how things are. Every career is necessary and provides it’s functional benefits within a company, but the raw wealth (not money) is created by the scientists and engineers. But for the technology and products to become money from the consumers, a long chain of people is required. And the funny thing is, the closer one is to the revenue stream, the more money they make. That is why young guys think is better to go for a marketing, sales or something alike career. That is why engineering has diminished. Perhaps all this system structure should be revised and corrected so that us engineers get a better pay. Would a better pay increase innovation?
Gordon, I agree with your assertion in principle but the reasoning is more interesting to me. Is this exclusively a UK phenomenon? I ask because although there is title inflation and subsequent career confusion going on over here I don't see that overall lack of respect for me or my contemporaries. Now looks of bewilderment are common for sure but no lack of respect. And the money? While certainly not nearly commensurate with my massive contributions to my company (due in part to managerial under-appreciation but also my being a sucker), it's better than many other careers, including most of the ones your list.
Maybe you should consider a move across the pond? We love Brits over here, mostly because of the way you talk. All you have to do is incorporate a healthy dose of the word 'absolutely' into your vernacular and you're in. (I submit Simon Cowell's career as evidence.) Keeping the open praise of King George III to a minimum is also advisable.
I think you might be confusing theoretical physics with engineering. I was early taught that the very definition of engineering is the application of physics to solve real world problems within constraints. The perfect device can never be built as it would be too big, too heavy, too slippery, or too expensive, or take too long. The art of engineering is to build it anyway, as best possible, within the constraints.
Speaking as a UK engineer, right now what I'd like to see is the title "Engineer" returned to it's rightful status. At present it seems anyone can use the term. So a telephone repair man is a "telephone engineer", etc.
Many young people who are bright, capable and suitably intelligent make the obvious choice .. "engineering is hard, but the money's poor and the respect is poor .. "I'm better off doing business studies or sales or marketing or law or medicine or almost anything else but engineering".
I think that's great; but what would really inspire engineers across the board in the workplace, is a reduction in the kind of production pressure (money is everything) and the rule of political factors (don't always tell the truth) that kill creativity, and more opportunity to be creative, to brainstorm and explore creative concepts
Queen Elizabeth II is an under appreciated entrepreneur. Revenues from Wind Power generation on royal lands are a significant factor in the Crown Estate's increased revenues this year. Currently 1.5% of the UK's electric power comes from these innovative projects (1). These projects also trigger innovation in the industry (I believe one of the wind turbine orders was for a substantially larger unit than had been previously produced).
(1) "Bloomberg Business Week" June 25, 2012 pages 44-45)