Re: Do'ers and Doubters (was observation about engineers)

Subject: Re: Do'ers and Doubters (was observation about engineers)
From: Iggy <iggy_1996dp -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2001 10:07:21 -0700 (PDT)

> The problem I have with this is that, at least in my
> generation (so
> maybe I'm out of touch), the people who went to
> engineering school were
> the kids who had torn down and rebuilt engines (or
> at least
> wristwatches) when they were in high school. Or they
> had built their own
> computers from Tandy kits. They were the ones who
> knew where to whack
> the recalcitrant vending machine to make it cough up
> a Coke.
>
> So either the engineering schools have radically
> changed their intake
> filtering, or somewhere in the course of five years
> they beat any
> hands-on tendencies out of their students.

It's not the fault of the schools so much as it is the
general society we live in. I know both kinds of
engineers (those who *still* take things apart and
build things for the sake of doing so, and those who'd
rather have someone else do it, document it, and then
learn through "formal" education).

I think it's like the doctor scenario... years ago
people went into the profession for the profession -
it was what they wanted to do. Now it seems (and I
base my judgment on what I hear from close friends and
family who are doctors of medicine) many people are
becoming doctors for the sake of a good paycheck. The
majority of new doctors lack some of the basic skills
necessary to perform their daily tasks (putting in
IVs, properly checking blood pressure, etc.), relying
on their nurses and aids to do these things for them.
I think the same can be said of some of the younger
engineers... Many of the "doubters" (as Andrew labeled
them) would rather study schematics and trends rather
than, for example, head down to the machinists' floor
and disassemble/reassemble/use the product to solve a
problem.

One of my friends is a mechanical engineer working for
a company that manufactures lasers to perform
microscopic welding. All his co-workers sit at their
computers all day, working in various software apps to
design and troubleshoot products. They had a problem
with an earlier yet more powerful product - it was
overheating (not to the point a car would, but the
safety trip would go off). They couldn't pinpoint the
problem. He decided to try to figure it out. They gave
him a test lab (at his request) to work in ON HIS OWN
TIME. He took 3 of the models in, and discovered that
it was a manufacturing flaw... when sealing the area
around the lens, a tiny bit of moisture was trapped
inside the thermal layer, causing a very slight mist
when the unit was running at peak power, thus sightly
refracting the beam. He solved the problem by
reworking the assembly process, and they then had
another product ready to ship.

So yes, there are some engineers who are "doubters",
but the "doers" are definitely out there. Seems they
get the higher exposure at work too... all for doing
their jobs the way they'd like to. Whether it's the
appropriate way or not is not my call to make, but it
seems you can't adequately design without "getting
your hands dirty".

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References:
Re: Do'ers and Doubters (was observation about engineers): From: Dick Margulis

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