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ScienceNostalgia101

CAN there be too many engineers?

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Majoring in engineering's kind of a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't these days.

 

If you major in engineering, you're told there's an excess of engineers anyway and it's on you if you don't find a job with it.

 

If you DON'T major in engineering in, you're trash-talked on the basis of whatever else you studied supposedly being worthless.

 

What I'm wondering is, how can there be too many engineers in the first place? Surely all those other jobs could eventually be done by robots, and the more engineers we have, the sooner we'll get there. Why isn't the government hiring the "excess" engineers to design robots to do all the other jobs?

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11 hours ago, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

Surely all those other jobs could eventually be done by robots,

Engineer job is intellectual rather than mechanical. Engineer is instructing workers, what they should do.. and/or verifying whether worker did job correctly, and eventually how to fix it (if it's done inappropriately)..

 

 

Edited by Sensei

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Just now, Sensei said:

Engineer job is intellectual rather than mechanical. Engineer is instructing workers, what they should do.. and/or verifying whether worker did job correctly, and eventually how it fix it..

I guess there are many types of engineering. Your description doesn't match anything in my working life!

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46 minutes ago, Strange said:

I guess there are many types of engineering. Your description doesn't match anything in my working life!

You (and I!), are too used to software engineers.. :)

In my description, I was thinking about building engineer. Somebody who is managing group of workers to make building, or something like that.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Building_engineer

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_engineer

Somebody who is responsible for finishing building project at a right time, within budget..

 

"Software engineer" I am simply calling "programmer", therefor misunderstanding.. :)

(including "senior software engineer" aka "project manager" etc. etc.)

 

Edited by Sensei

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4 hours ago, Sensei said:

In my description, I was thinking about building engineer. Somebody who is managing group of workers to make building, or something like that.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Building_engineer

I have never heard of a building engineer before, so it is much broader title than I imagined!

4 hours ago, Sensei said:

You (and I!), are too used to software engineers..

More hardware than software in my case, but there is a lot of overlap nowadays.

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More hardware than software ?

I remember the old BYTE magazine in the 80s, had a hardware project each month, and when asked what programming language he preferred, Steve Ciarcia ( the EE who did the monthly hardware project ) replied "I program in solder".

What I tell all the junior engineers at my work...
"All the fancy little equations/formulas for stresses, flows, heat transfer, etc. that you use, I derived from first principles"

( I don't add that I don't remember how to do half of it nowdays )

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14 minutes ago, MigL said:

I remember the old BYTE magazine in the 80s, had a hardware project each month, and when asked what programming language he preferred, Steve Ciarcia ( the EE who did the monthly hardware project ) replied "I program in solder".

That brings back memories! Except *cough* 70s *cough*

Edited by Strange

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18 hours ago, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

If you major in engineering, you're told there's an excess of engineers anyway and it's on you if you don't find a job with it.

That is true for any discipline. While it varies quite a bit, there are no areas that I am aware of where a job is guaranteed with a degree (it does increase chances, though).

 

18 hours ago, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

If you DON'T major in engineering in, you're trash-talked on the basis of whatever else you studied supposedly being worthless.

That is outright stupid and is usually a sign of ignorance and limited perspective

 

18 hours ago, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

What I'm wondering is, how can there be too many engineers in the first place? Surely all those other jobs could eventually be done by robots, and the more engineers we have, the sooner we'll get there. Why isn't the government hiring the "excess" engineers to design robots to do all the other jobs?

Well, this is not how the job market works. First of all, the government is not where most of the jobs are. You will generally find more in the private sector. Excess for engineers is the same for every other discipline. Job markets shift, with changing focus, needs and opportunities. 

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18 hours ago, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

Majoring in engineering's kind of a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't these days.

 

If you major in engineering, you're told there's an excess of engineers anyway and it's on you if you don't find a job with it.

 

If you DON'T major in engineering in, you're trash-talked on the basis of whatever else you studied supposedly being worthless.

 

What I'm wondering is, how can there be too many engineers in the first place? Surely all those other jobs could eventually be done by robots, and the more engineers we have, the sooner we'll get there. Why isn't the government hiring the "excess" engineers to design robots to do all the other jobs?

Just a few weeks ago my boss mentioned that his kid, starting their senior year in college, already has a job offer for when they graduate. At a salary higher than the government could offer. We can't easily hire qualified engineers, because we can't offer competitive wages.

YMMV, but from where I'm sitting, I don't see that there are too many engineers.

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If you take a narrow view-- as in which field of engineering designs which products, there could be an excess in some fields now and then.  However, one of the value-added aspects of engineering is that you learn to approach problems and find solutions.  It can demand considerable creativity.   The engineers with creativity and the necessary education in the science and math needed to apply the creativity are very rarely without well-paying and fun work.  Of course, Engineering is not the only field that benefits from creativity-- but its creativity coupled with knowledge of science and math that makes fields like engineering stay in demand.

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On 9/11/2018 at 4:03 PM, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

If you DON'T major in engineering in, you're trash-talked on the basis of whatever else you studied supposedly being worthless.

I'm having a hard time believing this actually occurs. Presumably it would be the engineers doing the trash-talking. If so, do you really want to spend the rest of your life working with these people?

 

Quote

Surely all those other jobs could eventually be done by robots, and the more engineers we have, the sooner we'll get there. Why isn't the government hiring the "excess" engineers to design robots to do all the other jobs?

I'm not sure you understand the role of government.

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I’m unsure I understand the role of givernment anymore, but that’s surely another thread 

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4 hours ago, iNow said:

I’m unsure I understand the role of givernment anymore, but that’s surely another thread 

I’m not sure government understands the role of government 

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On 9/12/2018 at 6:36 AM, Sensei said:

You (and I!), are too used to software engineers.. :)

In my description, I was thinking about building engineer. Somebody who is managing group of workers to make building, or something like that.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Building_engineer

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_engineer

Somebody who is responsible for finishing building project at a right time, within budget..

 

"Software engineer" I am simply calling "programmer", therefor misunderstanding.. :)

(including "senior software engineer" aka "project manager" etc. etc.)

 

So the same question applies. Can there be too many engineers, even if a large enough fraction of them are software engineers hired by a government program designed to make as many other jobs obsolete as possible?

 

(Forgot I even had this thread until now, sorry about that.)

Edited by ScienceNostalgia101

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28 minutes ago, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

So the same question applies. Can there be too many engineers, 

Well there could be too many. But there aren’t. 

Quote

even if a large enough fraction of them are software engineers hired by a government program designed to make as many other jobs obsolete as possible?

Luckily there is no such program. 

What are you talking about?

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I'm talking about how the usual reasoning for such bashing of every other degree program (though I more often hear it from conservative pundits than from actual engineers, granted) was about how we'll always need technology, yet now I'm being told using engineering to design robots to do the other jobs is unfeasible.

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1 minute ago, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

I'm talking about how the usual reasoning for such bashing of every other degree program

What bashing? Please provide some examples so we know what you are talking about 

2 minutes ago, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

yet now I'm being told using engineering to design robots to do the other jobs is unfeasible.

Who told you that? Robots are already doing many jobs and, in future, will probably do many more. 

 

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1 hour ago, Strange said:

What bashing? Please provide some examples so we know what you are talking about 

Who told you that? Robots are already doing many jobs and, in future, will probably do many more. 

 

Well, for starters, conservative pundit Gavin McInnes insists he's always called everything that isn't STEM "Marxist-Leninist brainwashing school" and blamed parents who sent kids there for them going into student debt. His fandom, which correlates with the large voting blocs of conservatives with whom colleges have to compromise in order to receive voter support for public funding, seems to for the most part agree with this.

 

More broadly, TV news in general from time to time talks about automation and the replacing of old jobs with new jobs maintaining the robots that do the old jobs, but no particular names come to mind.

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On 13.09.2018 at 6:14 AM, iNow said:

I’m unsure I understand the role of government anymore, but that’s surely another thread 

Then read George Orwell's "Animal Farm".. ;)

 

13 hours ago, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

Can there be too many engineers,

There can be as many programmers as there is people. IMHO, children should start learn programming in the primary school.

You can be programmer, and have any other job, at the same time.

 

 

13 hours ago, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

Can there be too many engineers, even if a large enough fraction of them are software engineers hired by a government program designed to make as many other jobs obsolete as possible?

Perhaps you're thinking about "digitalization of offices", and "digitalization of businesses". It's process in which repeatable, stupefying, too much time taking tasks are replaced by computer programs, and scripts, which do it faster, better and cheaper. Digital office requires less low educated staff, instead requires IT educated staff.

e.g. in on-line bank people are making transfers of money using their own smartphones and computers, connected to central bank server through Internet, but they used to in the past, having to go to the real bank office personally and wasting time in queue to cashier. Banks hired IT specialists, but fired cashiers and security guards and reduced quantity of offices to minimum required to handle their clients personally.

e.g. digitalized cow's farm will have monitoring (in visible spectrum and IR spectrum, analyzed in the real-time by computer, to find whether some cow is ill (has larger temperature than normal).. or it's acting abnormally, has not it's normal activity.. and warn personnel about it).. it'll have detectors of pathogens.. it'll have feed and water remote controlled from room.. it'll have cow's boxes automatically cleaned by robots designed for this job.. etc. etc. Because these unpleasant tasks are done by robots (don't confuse with human looking cyborgs!), there is needed less the real human farmers. Instead there are needed programmers (with Arduino, or other microcontroller knowledge) and engineers who will build and maintain such farm and its electronics.

Edited by Sensei

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So it sounds to me like computer programming is the more crucial of engineering-related skills for the modern workplace than engineering physics or engineering chemistry. Why the high school emphasis on physics and chemistry, then?

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On 10/6/2018 at 3:55 PM, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

Well, for starters, conservative pundit Gavin McInnes insists he's always called everything that isn't STEM "Marxist-Leninist brainwashing school" and blamed parents who sent kids there for them going into student debt. His fandom, which correlates with the large voting blocs of conservatives with whom colleges have to compromise in order to receive voter support for public funding, seems to for the most part agree with this.

So that is the danger of taking random folks without any sort of relevant qualifications seriously. As others have mentioned, college is should not be seen as a vocational school. What you learn are transferable skills. There are no guaranteed jobs for any college graduate degree now, though it may be easier with some than in others. However, the take home message is that especially with e.g. a bachelor's, you are supposed to have a broad idea (without really specialized knowledge) in a given field, but should have learned a lot of soft skills, including information gathering and presentation, communication, critical thinking etc. 

To state that a given field will guarantee a job is fairly difficult to predict as the job market keeps moving. Also, if someone throws around terms like Marxist in this context can typically be safely ignored.

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If one IS an Engineer, and has had exposure to the manufacturing field, wherein a plant having skilled trades-people employed in various Maintenance positions depends on interaction between them, successful interaction, and, say, a Facilities Engineer, you know that invariably such workers tend to sneer at Engineering ability, demean it, have difficulty accepting sound convictions voiced regarding their work habits.

I overcame such occurrence by successfully welding a crack in a hydraulic pipe below floor level in a pit, when my Welder voiced the opinion that he did not think he could do the job successfully. I secured permission to try, shelving the possibility of a Union Grievance, watched them snicker, got dirty as hell doing the job, the weld held, continuing to feed 385 degree F oil to hydraulic presses. After that incident, they were like puppies. I was fortunate to have spent my mid to late teen years building fast cars, with little money to spend on skills, and learnt them myself.

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I suppose it depends on what area of engineering you wish to pursue. All aspect of engineering requires strong mental faculties, therefore engineering doesn't necessarily mean if you're good with your hands you'd make a good engineer.
Here in the UK, we don't have a surplus amount of engineers; they're always wanted. When I was a Ph.D. student, I was offered many engineering jobs that employers were finding difficult to fill, however, I can only speak on the UK situation. 
Engineering is always useful! My doctoral adviser always said to me "you may study engineering, however, engineering is more than being an engineer, engineering is focus, logic and an unbiased outlook of the work through mathematics and formula - you see things others don't; and these skills are transferable to any job or task".
The world needs engineers - that's a fact.

Remember: you don't need a piece of paper to make you an engineer - many of my colleagues have never sat an exam and are extremely bright and paid very handsomely; their work and thought processes have got them where they are today without ever sitting an exam.

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On 10/10/2018 at 12:56 AM, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

So it sounds to me like computer programming is the more crucial of engineering-related skills for the modern workplace than engineering physics or engineering chemistry. Why the high school emphasis on physics and chemistry, then?

Computer programming is very useful in science and engineering because it helps scientists to better understand the world we are living in and engineers to construct things (whatever they are) in order to make our world a better place (hopefully :rolleyes:). Without scientists and engineers there would be no computers to program.

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