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V8Eng09/07/2021 15:54:46
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Seems to me that making real money at present involves becoming an Internet Influencer (not seen a job spec though).

Edited By V8Eng on 09/07/2021 15:57:36

SillyOldDuffer09/07/2021 16:50:05
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Posted by brian jones 11 on 09/07/2021 15:20:15:...

The question is - would you advise your kid to go into engineering?

...

Yes but it's important to select the right sort of engineering. I'd be very wary of taking specific advice from anyone over 55 because the world is changing so quickly Advice that made good sense when I started work, or even when I retired, is now positively unwise.

To give advice today, it's necessary to understand what skills are going to be valued in ten or twenty years. Many changes are in progress. Globalisation, climate change, and impending resource shortages. An apparent shift from West to East. Youngsters are already unlikely to follow a single trade through their working lives. Services generate three or four times more wealth than manufacturing. Manufacturing employs fewer skilled staff every year, and many office jobs are threatened by AI. Electric cars will have a major impact on the motor trade, and I foresee less call for motor mechanics and car salesmen. Driverless vehicles too. Fewer gas engineers and far more electrical jobs.

Qualified engineers have some of the highest paid jobs in the UK and that will persist. These are designers, planners, organisers and supervisors rather than persons with practical skills: what separates them from the rest of us is their ability to innovate by applying higher mathematics and deep knowledge. Academia is the main way into this world. While there will be plenty of opportunities for practical men, it's difficult to predict what they will be. Replacing existing infrastructure with greener alternatives is probably a good bet as is anything related to convergence. The sort of chap who can cheerfully put his hand to anything will do well.

I pointed a technically minded nephew at computing when he left school, which worked, except his job is nothing like mine was! He's well paid to manage telecommunications. This he does on a grand scale from his bedroom, mostly after midnight. He rarely goes into the office, and he doesn't have a desk or a space in the car park. Instead he's constantly in touch with colleagues with instant messaging and zoom. Cocking up causes major outages, far more costly than most physical mistooks, though less likely to spill blood than them. All change!

Dave

brian jones 1109/07/2021 21:20:48
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Very wise observation SOD

Andrew Johnston09/07/2021 22:08:25
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Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 09/07/2021 16:50:05:

Qualified engineers have some of the highest paid jobs in the UK and that will persist. These are designers, planners, organisers and supervisors rather than persons with practical skills: what separates them from the rest of us is their ability to innovate by applying higher mathematics and deep knowledge. Academia is the main way into this world.

That must be one of the daftest statements ever made on this forum, and there's been some pretty stiff competition. smile o

It presupposes that an engineer with academic qualifications is, ipso facto, not practical. Of course some aren't, but conversely some are. The reverse is also true, some practical people are hopeless at basic arithmetic, but others are good.

The best, and best paid, people in both categories are those that are comfortable with both aspects.

Andrew

Andrew Johnston09/07/2021 22:23:03
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Posted by brian jones 11 on 09/07/2021 15:20:15:

Anyone done that here - been self employed

Yep, been self-employed, as a sole trader, for the last 20+ years, and for short periods before that in between working for a variety of companies ranging from engineering and scientific consultancies to electric vehicles and high end motor racing. I've also been an academic doing research, mostly mathematically based. So, in the gospel according to SoD I must be practically useless. embarrassed Also a director of a small company doing gas sensing equipment for air quality and medical research.

Andrew

Bill Phinn09/07/2021 22:25:45
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Posted by brian jones 11 on 09/07/2021 15:20:15:

The question is - would you advise your kid to go into engineering?

It depends, firstly, where the kid's inclination and aptitudes lie, and secondly to what extent a chosen field's ultimate earning potential is a deciding factor.

If you believe the research, in the long term Humanities are a route to higher earnings than STEM.

brian jones 1109/07/2021 22:53:36
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q

Also a director of a small company doing gas sensing equipment for air quality and medical research.

uq

did you use the Taguchi semiconductor gas sensor

Andrew Johnston10/07/2021 09:52:30
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Posted by brian jones 11 on 09/07/2021 22:53:36:

did you use the Taguchi semiconductor gas sensor

We hold some patents on metal oxide gas sensors and designed a circuit some years ago that would allow AC interrogation of same. There is some evidence that additional information can be obtained by looking at the complex response of the sensor rather than making a simple DC measurement. We have a business tie up with a company that makes gas sensors, including metal oxide. Our current products use electrochemical, NDIR and PID sensors and an optical particle counter.

Andrew

brian jones 1110/07/2021 10:08:34
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I did some evalutaion of the tin oxide sensors (a few quid from RS components at the time were were looking at flammable gas detection. these were used in the leisure boating to "detect" build up of lpg in bilges

we could only say that they had a reaction but its extent was unreliable an unrepeatable. what worked one day didnt the the next, they could become saturated, poisoned (hairspray) react to many other gases,

in short no one could figure out what was happening and why.

They got a lot of industry fraudulent hype at the time

Andrew Johnston10/07/2021 10:33:57
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Posted by brian jones 11 on 10/07/2021 10:08:34:

......................react to many other gases.................

Cross-sensitivity is an ongoing problem. There is some evidence that it can be reduced by altering the hotplate temperature for different gases. The sensors we work with have sening elements consisting of a mix of transition metal oxides.

Andrew

SillyOldDuffer10/07/2021 12:13:15
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Posted by Andrew Johnston on 09/07/2021 22:08:25:

Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 09/07/2021 16:50:05:

Qualified engineers have some of the highest paid jobs in the UK and that will persist. These are designers, planners, organisers and supervisors rather than persons with practical skills: what separates them from the rest of us is their ability to innovate by applying higher mathematics and deep knowledge. Academia is the main way into this world.

That must be one of the daftest statements ever made on this forum, and there's been some pretty stiff competition. smile o

It presupposes that an engineer with academic qualifications is, ipso facto, not practical. Of course some aren't, but conversely some are. The reverse is also true, some practical people are hopeless at basic arithmetic, but others are good.

The best, and best paid, people in both categories are those that are comfortable with both aspects.

Andrew

Making the daftest statement ever on this forum would be high honour indeed, but Andrew has misunderstood me.

I certainly don't presuppose engineers with academic qualifications are impractical, or that practical men are incapable of innovation. I was only meant the highest paid jobs in engineering require an academic start, not suggesting all well-paid engineering jobs are closed to lesser mortals.

I'm thinking of big hitters like James Watt, John Smeaton, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Charles Babbage, James Clerk-Maxwell, Oliver Heaviside, Nikola Tesla, Henry Ford, Marconi, Frank Whittle, Werner von Braun, Robert Oppenheimer, Soichiro Honda, Fazlur Rahman Khan, Elon Musk and similar. (An observation: many of these individuals had serious character flaws up to and including devastating mental illness. High-end success is no bed of roses.)

In the early days of engineering, it was possible to rise from practical beginnings to top of the profession without much formal education. But as technology has developed over time, the need for deep knowledge has increased well beyond what can be picked up on the job, essential as practical experience is. This goes back a long way: James Watt wasn't a simple practical man. He worked at the University of Glasgow, at a time when Scottish learning was leading the world. In addition to being a trained Instrument Maker, Watt knew many key scientists of his day, including Joseph Black, and was thoroughly familiar with current scientific thinking in his field of interest. Not just a clever chap with a workshop, he had access to a first rate university. High quality thinking, plus practical skills and well-planned experiments, carefully aimed at solving a series of difficult engineering problems. Nothing amateur about his methods.

Otherwise, I see engineering very much as team work. James Watt succeeded only after partnering with Matthew Boulton, who added essential business skills. James Watt was a miserable failure as a businessman! When Fazlur Rahman Khan designs a skyscraper, it won't be built unless someone organises the money and the mass of skills needed to build it: surveyors, bricklayers, steelworkers, crane-drivers, electricians, and interior decorators etc. All these depend on other clever people; for example the average bricklayer couldn't make his own cement or bricks from first principles, let alone a cement mixer. Nor should he: brickmaking and bricklaying are different skills. It's always better to leave it to the experts. (But make sure they really are experts!)

Most engineering depends heavily on work already done by someone else, and everyone involved deserves credit for adding value. It's not about individuals though. Dependent hierarchies were obvious in my line of work, with different engineering skills required at all levels.

  • Copper and fibre optic cables are useless unless connected by routers, gateways and switches to make a network
  • Networks are useless until computers are connected to them
  • Computers are useless until they've been programmed
  • Computer programs are useless until they are applied to a purpose by a human being
  • Human beings are useless until they are educated and trained sufficient to apply themselves to a purpose
  • Purposes are useless unless they have some value to society
  • Societies are useless unless they provide value to their members
  • The whole stack is liable to collapse in a power cut.

Society tends to value innovative skills more than trained skills because training doesn't cater for change. However, I'd rather be an ordinary sparks than Nikola Tesla, because Tesla was maddened by his genius. Society benefited, he didn't.

Money and fame aren't all they're cracked up to be. I'd rather be comfortable and happy! However, whatever is done to make a living, it's essential someone else wants it. That's what's important when choosing a job, and these days youngsters have to be ready to change, ideally without stressing out. Choices were more straightforward when I left school; not now. To misquote LP Hartley: 'the future is a foreign country, they do things differently there.'

Dave

J Hancock10/07/2021 13:55:08
832 forum posts

It would be hard to disagree with every word you have written S o D.

Just how cheaply 'the team' gave away all the technical achievements to the 'Services lot' to exploit for the only form of 'value' (money) we have to live , is a debate yet to be had.

Gates certainly covered all the legal options before imposing his OS on us. A clever move, made him worth a lot of money.

brian jones 1110/07/2021 17:21:13
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Well my question was "would you encourage a kid to become an engineer"

Sadly the becoming a professional engineer is to start on a long road of disappointments. The training is long and arduous as is gaining experience and credibility

At a party for yuppies

What do you do?"

"Im an engineer"

"oh good could you come and fix my washing machine"

Industry in general gives talented engineers a very paltry prestige level

But you are probably pursuing this lost cause out of a sense of vocation - as many of the best do,

As you move up in the heirarchy you may get to "Chief Engineer". At this level you do almost no real engineering and your time is taken up with man management and board room politics.

The politic clowns make a nonesense out of you work for personal aggrandisment (just look at Bojo)

Look how his two chief scientists = pre-eminent in their fields of virology and epidemics (Messrs Whitty and Valance)

See how they were publicly humiliated and discredited for their cautious but scientific approach.

Thats what you can expect when you rise up as a chief engineer - you become a political football and you have neither the patience nor interest in fighting off these clowns.

Prime example was the development of the Rolls Royce jet engine

In 1946, the UK government agreed to sell Rolls Royce Nene jet engines to the USSR as long as they don't use it for military purposes. The Soviets quickly started putting them into jet fighter aircraft. Was the British government really that naive?

Sir Stafford Cripps, whose decision it was, leaned heavily to the left of the political spectrum (and was expelled from the Labour Party before the war because of that) and was in addition extremely naive. He managed to rejoin the Labour Party in 1945, and was made President of the Board of Trade in the 1945 Labour government.

He was besotted with Communist Russia and the Soviet regime, and so was naturally inclined to agree when a Russian trade delegation asked to buy a few Nene engines and a licence to produce the Nene.

Soviet technicians reverse-engineered the Nene, produced their own version, the Klimov VK-1. Rolls-Royce, of course, never saw a penny in license fees. Installed in the MiG-15, the engine was responsible for many British and Allied deaths during the Korean War.

Jason Thompson10/07/2021 18:06:58
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I have noticed that most of the put down comments have come from those who are academics/engineers in the well-paid jobs. Nobody was accusing you of not earning your money although that may be a matter of opinion. It should be recognised that very few were defending the lower levels of the profession. Are we so woke, leftist and constipated that we no longer give a c**p about the lower levels of our profession? The philanthropists of old encouraged skills, education and invention, now all anyone wants to do is make money and look down on those less fortunate so they can go on a jolly in a spaceship with their brother. how many of those earning 60k plus go down onto the shop floor and show an interest in the people actually making the parts and the money. No far too important they would rather head of home at 5pm to plan yet another family holiday to somewhere exotic. having this superiority and lack of interest in others is what is destroying society and worse our profession. We will always need skilled workers (or grunts as we treat them as) to make the parts for PCs, Robots, manufacturing machines, cars, lifestyle goods. Industry 4 is pure fiction created by academic boffins to show their superiority and present their image of the future. Personally i think the future will be more localised and cooperative based. Covid has shown us what happens when the supply chain is disrupted or if there is an event which stress tests the large corporations. Aircraft manufacturing is going to take years to recover, big shops were forced into closing. Small operators were kept going throughout the pandemic and managed to ride the storm far easier. Having a situation where we have a local builder who works in the local town and is kept going for work without having to go to far like the 1700/1800s - bit of a Larkrise to Candleford would sustain the planet and population far better that the current failing capitalist model. I’m not WOKE by the way, i just spend a great deal of time using my un diagnosed OCD and Autism to look at our industry and wonder who are the heroes and who are the leaches. As for STEM, when i was at school it was the 3 R's so now we give it a fancy title which means the same thing, just like banning the word black from our vocabulary. Science, Technology, English and Math. Like normal lessons then. If we don’t encourage the next generation to enter engineering and don’t act as role models then the skills shortage is going to be a much greater pandemic. China is already teaching us a lesson as we recover from covid, steel and goods prices have risen sharply. Sad thing is we sold out. Would i encourage a young person into engineering, yes with serious reservations? where lean is a mind-set to improve productivity we also need a mind set to sort this attitude our and make the profession more inviting and if i dare say it professional - we are hardly acting like it at this present time. we all need to take a good hard look at our selves and give the whole profession a shake. Why do we insist on treating skilled craftspeople like they are worthless and should be grateful for little more than the minimum wage.

Edited By JasonB on 10/07/2021 18:32:23

Roger Best10/07/2021 18:22:31
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Wow this thread has gone all over the place.

I am a senior engineer, chartered a good long while ago, in the business for a third of a century. I still work for a manufacturing company, albeit one that produces high-tech items in a non-competitive environment. My previous employers all crashed and burned, so this was a good choice.

By golly the world has changed in my lifetime.

UK manufacturing is not what it was concerning pay by a huge margin. However if you take a wider view at technical services, and construction, a skilled job is worth a good wage. There is the problem that those skills now favour a graduate over time-served, but any engineering manager worth his salt understands the power of diversity and keeps a balanced team.

"A good wage" is not what it was, it has shrunk relative to inflation and youngsters are getting hit hard. My own income has barely kept pace with inflation, only promotions have kept me ahead. But working in a large wealth-creating company is still the best form of employment outside of the city. Everyone else pays pants.

As for the city, yes it still pays obscene amounts, but only to a few people. Its very competitive and there is a price to pay. I would recommend that people give it serious consideration and have a go if they wish. It was the same a long time ago and won't change any time soon.

Bazyle10/07/2021 20:36:45
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All this linking engineers to high pay must be from er? not engineers. It is the ones who move on from engineering into management of engineers that may get better pay.
As for "applying higher mathematics" I've never needed even algebra at work, yes needed it for getting the degree but not for real work but other jobs may need a bit more.
"and deep knowledge" well not really these days as things change so quickly anything learned more than 3 years ogo is probably no longer true.
Degrees seem to be regarded as essential but actually only used to mention at the interview. Will they check? Might be an interesting test for a reasearch journalist to blag their way into some jobs to check that out. Nowadays without business cards used much there is nowhere to show off the letters after your name so only if people check out Linkedin (which can be hoccum) will they be impressed.

Nick Welburn10/07/2021 21:43:42
123 forum posts

Interesting discussion, I think the crux is probably the definition of engineering. For me I’d say that’s the use of abstract science in a creative manner to solve a problem.
I think this will always be an area of value.
So onto fabrication, machine operating. That can be engineering, but it could also be the work of a technician. The crux being does the operator add value or follow rote?

My lad will be an engineer, he’s 8. His hero is Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

The nature of his engineering in the physical / technology / philosophical domain I couldn’t answer you. My father was an aircraft engineer, I’m trained in electronics but work in software. As for my lad maybe it’ll be effective use of AI?
Time will tell but the engineers will still engineer.

Calum Galleitch11/07/2021 00:55:20
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I think one point not perhaps clearly set out here is that it is the natural fate of the engineer for his or her work to be standardised and simplified and ultimately commodified: to be ripped off by rivals is the mark of a well designed product. For Brunel a well made bridge was a triumph: for us it is a project which will run more or less to plan, perhaps a little late, a little over budget, but it will be done to plan and no-one will die and the design will work. Whatever your place in the foodchain, from the guy that sweeps the floor to the pipe-smoker examining plans in the swanky HQ building far away from the dust and grime, that process of commodification is always at work and if you aren't constantly looking at your own place in the world someone will find a way to reduce your importance.

Andrew Johnston11/07/2021 16:55:09
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Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 10/07/2021 12:13:15:

...........................but Andrew has misunderstood me.

Oooopsie, and it wouldn't be the first time. embarrassed

Andrew

old mart11/07/2021 17:45:57
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15 years ago I was taking home just over £300 for 50 hours skilled fitting in aircraft parts and subassemblies. £25 an hour seems a huge ammount to me.

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