Older engineers are a bargain for any company. Their knowleged makes them two or three times more productive and they make fewer mistakes, because they have already tried all of the quick and dirty routes and know that they do not work.
Too many young engineers fail to tap the resource of the older engineers to their detriment. Just a few moments to have them check your approach can save you many hours/days of debugging time.
Yes, older engineers will dash some of your ideas, but would you rather stop and think before you waste a lot of time and money or after you have lost all that time before you ask the question?
Just a thought.
It's important for older engineers to keep that agile mentality. You may have always done it this way, but will this way always be the right way to do it? It's also very important for older engineers to avoid becoming complacent in their jobs. Times are changing quickly.
I do think that in general, employers look for the younger set, and I agree, it can often be to the employers loss.
One thing comes to mind that might help the job seeking engineer though. The younger engineer can't offer the wisdom and experience that a good 50+ engineer can. Over time, of course the engineer will gain it, but then will be 50.
I do, however, think that an older engineer can deliver much of what employees look for in someone new to the job. I think they see younger folks as being full of fresh ideas, the latest techniques and an abundance of energy.
It's incumbent upon us to keep abreast of new technology, to find a way to keep being fascinated with things that are small, powerful and fast. If the world wants C or C++ on 32 bit MCUs, deep knowledge of assembly on an 8-bitter isn't enough.
The real value we can deliver is in having that new knowledge plus the years of experience in the technologies that got us here.
Being one of those engineers.
Old means we 'know' more by intuition than we used to . The new DDR5 or whatever is similar to DDR3, so we need to learn less.
Old means we 'know' more by intuition than we used to. We dont always may be possibly notice / appreciate the new bits. The old way worked, so we keep using it.
two sides of the same coin.
Older Engineers..Younger Engineer here.
I read these articles from time to time, I get some pleasure out of reading the lament and derive excuses about why companies wont "hire us wrinkly ones".
It has nothing to do with what you know, or how up to date you are. I'm sure most old ones are up to date, maybe more so than the younger ones.
This is no conspiracy. If I run an engineering group... I need basically 1 or 2 old engineers and the rest young. Why? Well another way to say this is, I want 2 expensive and the rest cheap. As long as they have one old guy for the young to ask questions to I essentialy get the same productivity I would have if I had all old engineers...Same reason they don't hire an entire company composed of engineers....Can't have everyone be chief's...mystery solved.
There is also a peculiar dynamic occurring in engineering education. I've interviewed hundreds of candidate engineers and I've generally found that the older candidates intuitively understand the fundamentals of computing, while the younger ones, more often than not, blazed past the fundamentals into java and other 4th gen languages and in doing so lost touch with how computers really work.
This tends to make them panic-stricken debuggers, which is 50% of the job.
I believe it's this hard-won, intuitive understanding of the fundamentals that keeps the older engineers such strong competitors for real-world engineering jobs.
Come on guys. It's not a matter of how old and what they (we) can do. It's a cost thing. It's business. Business is only about money.
A hiring manager will buy the best tradeoff of productivity vs. cost. If entry level fits that bill, entry level is hired at entry level wages. Generally, younger persons demand lower pay so the bias is to hire younger persons. It just that simple.
Yes, it's certainly all about the cost. But do you really think older engineers cost that much more than younger engineers? Ever hear of 'graduate creep'? I know a young girl who just graduated with a Nursing degree who is making $80K in NYC. I doubt if it's much different for engineering grads...
And not to forget the total costs of hiring, with health care ones spiraling out of control. A mix of older and younger is probably the most judicious, with those older ones actively staying abreast of developments.
At least some of the more grotesque aberrations of the fashionable Total Quality Management "gurus" have for the most part fallen by the wayside, where older folks were looked at askance and their experience and wisdom discounted. No, they said, just throw all that out and do various design of experiments stuff and Taguchi this-and-that, with inexperienced people, and you will surely trump all those old fogies. One proud expositor of this looked at me with thinly-veiled contempt mingled with pity when I suggested that actual experience and a grasp of basic principles was still key. He had told us about his training in Japan, which included various team-building "exercises" and the ilk. He didn't invite me to do a fire walk but I could see the glimmer in his eyes.
I suspect he's selling used cars now, or maybe life insurance.
In my recent experience, the ones doing the hiring are the HR people. Often these are 20 somethings that hire based on a list of requirements. The one who most closely matches the list gets the job. Looking for somebody with experience on an Intel 8045678B processor? To them the an Intel 8045678C is NOT the same even if they really are the same. Its like looking for a truck driver with experience driving a Ford, driving a Chevy truck is not the same.... even if it is. Plus all of us gray beards learned how to do CAD on the job and never took College classes in it. Why? Because we learned to do it BEFORE it was offered in College. We learn everything before they teach it in College. But to the people in HR it means.... "no formal training". The people actually in the Engineering departments love us because we have a mountain of skills. The people in HR who do the hiring have no idea that its THEM that don't understand the requirements.
I was once teaching a customer class on the Microwave EDA software we sell and about half the students were young guy, just out of college, the other half were older than 50, like myself. After a leacture session, I would give them a hands-on lab to do. The "young guns" would have it all done in a few minutes, while the older guys would tend to work through each step and try to understand what they were doing at each step. I decided to ask some of the the younger guys about what they had just done, and virtually all of them had no clue, they simply had followed the steps to complete the lab. After that I decided to rearrange the class so that one mentor and one young stud sat next to each other. It turned out to be one of the best classes I've ever taught. The younger guys would help the older guys with the computer work, while the older guys would explain to them at each step what was really going on.
I have had very similar experiences while teaching classes! some 'older' engineers would take longer on a couple of examples but were cruising thru the rest and had better understanding of what the problems were attempting to teach.
Older engineers can become a problem for a project when they don't respect the opinion of their younger colleagues. I think, we all should always benefit from the experience of our older colleagues and from the new ideas of the younger ones.
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