Letters - 12/13/2007

Dec. 13, 2007
Haunted factories

Factories have always had a foreboding appearance (“What is a factory?” Nov. 8). As a child in South Bend, I recall walking by the factory where my father worked and having some of the sensations described in the editorial. But that hardly scared me away or any others for that matter. Generation after generation of our city’s people worked in those factories as long as jobs existed.

No one was scared away by their ugliness. Now most of those factories are empty. Most good-paying blue and whitecollar jobs are gone. Factories that still exist and operate look worse than ever because U.S. industry is straining to stay competitive. This leaves few with the money they need for maintenance. For example, I now live in Pennsylvania where many once-profitable companies fell on hard times long ago and are preoccupied with survival. Huge amounts of money could be spent building visually appealing factories that no one would fear, but unfortunately there still wouldn’t be any jobs in the buildings. That is the real problem, and it has been facing us since the 70s.
Bruce B. Myers

Which is the right degree?
Thank you, thank you, thank you for your editorial(“What good is an M.S. degree?” Oct. 11). For many years, I have felt that before engineers are turned loose to design something, they should spend some time on the bench (so to speak) working on the devices and equipment they have been hired to design. Engineering is the only career that does not require an apprenticeship program, this is why the U.S. engineers are behind their counterparts in Germany, Finland, Japan, and most of the rest of the world. I have spent many an hour training new “engineers” in concepts that should have been taught in school. I also have to introduce them to working in the real world. They may have earned a 4.0 average, but when it comes to hands-on work, they aren’t worth a pinch of salt. I doubt if your editorial will have much effect on the future but I still thank you for your insights.
Chuck Simpson

I’m tired of hearing about two common problems with simple solutions that the engineering community refuses accept. These problems are the lack of perceived professionalism in engineering and the lack of realworld engineering skills in socalled engineers. Too many of today’s engineers don’t know how to design something that works and be easily manufactured. It is all a CAD-video game to them.

In many states, you cannot call yourself an engineer unless you are professionally licensed. Licensing is based on experience and skills. And you cannot take the test unless the state boards see you have engineering experience. If you can’t pass the test, then you probably should not be called an engineer. Perhaps we need a new term, like technologist, for people who manipulat e technology or work in technical fields. Earning a B.S. in engineering makes you an engineer only after you are licensed. It is the same way with doctors and lawyers. Going to medical or law school doesn’t make you a lawyer or doctor until you pass your board exams.

Until we all share the same definition of engineering, we will continue to have problems. I know there are those who chafe at this, but if you cannot qualify for or pass the test, you have no rock to stand on in this argument.

PE indicates more than just Passed Exam.
William G. Gillette

I don’t discount an M.S. degree as valuable, but if you want to direct a company’s technology, you need to know your market, and a masters in engineering will not show you how to determine the market for a product. I would say an M.S. and M.B.A. is the best combination, followed by a B.S. and an M.B.A. with some experience, and then strictly an M.S. degree. An M.S. degree will help you be technically proficient in a specialty area while an M.B.A. gives you the knowledge to make competent business decisions and deal with people, which will be more helpful in managing a department or business.
T. Kharms

Dialing in the right inventor
Please note that in the October issue (page 128) it is incorrectly stated that radio was invented by Guglielmo Marconi, the article is called “Bringing back the oldies”. The radio was in fact invented by Nikola Tesla years before Marconi did first his transatlantic radio transmissions. A 1944 U.S. Supreme court decision confirms that.
Jiri Toman

The item cited referred to Antonio Pasin, who founded Radio Flyer in 1930 and named it partially for his hero and fellow countryman, Marconi. You can hardly blame Pasin for thinking Marconi invented the radio. After all, it would take 14 years and the Supreme Court before the issue was finally decided.
— Editor

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