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Engineers are less valued in the UK than in the US (even more extreme value placed on MBAs from what I've seen). From the impression I get, France and Germany hold engineers in the same esteem as the US.

Myself and most of my engineering friends are treated pretty darn well. Most of us are in the semiconductor or biomedical industry which probably makes a difference. In low or negative growth industries like aerospace the picture is different.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Tue Aug 7th, 2007 at 12:55:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I know nothing of Germany, but what is certain is that engineers are held in pretty high esteem in France. Not in the political class (where indeed, people with taste for power but no science/technology abilities go) but certainly in large companies : that is where a many CEO's and a lot of the lower management is recruited...

Top tier engineering schools tend to open a lots of doors in France.

However, it is expected of those engineers not to remain in "production" facilities for too long and to move quickly into management.

Also a note for techno : one of the main French engineering schools, the ENSAM (Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts et Métiers, i.e. National Superior School of Arts and Crafts) specializes in engineers that can actually use their hands to make stuff...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Aug 7th, 2007 at 05:56:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think the situation is significantly different in the US. I have a few engineer friends that now work in Germany and the environment is similar. Management ranks in the US have a fair number of engineers in them as well for the same reasons. An engineering degree from MIT or Stanford opens the same doors (maybe even more) than MBA degrees from the same schools. While managers make more money than engineers in the corporate world, MBA degrees are to some extent disrespected by the public, known as "a dime a dozen," and certainly do not guarantee you a management track job.

The UK quip came from myself looking for a job there - the pay was about 50-70% of what it is in the US. Good luck living anywhere near London on that sort of money. Some programmers I know from the internet working for banks in London seem to a lot better, so my view is admittedly anecdotal.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Tue Aug 7th, 2007 at 06:39:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In France, some doors simply won't open if you don't come from the proper school - Polytechnique. The top levels of many Industrial or Finance companies are open only to engineers - although that is slowly changing.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Aug 7th, 2007 at 07:20:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the US I think that's only common on Wall Street - you have to have gone to the right Ivy League school and probably been a member of the right fraternity (or have the right parents).

In my engineering experience there is very little of that. Some of it is probably due to being in the semiconductor industry my whole career. There just isn't room in the budget for non-functional employees in such a high cost, competitive industry.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Tue Aug 7th, 2007 at 07:31:52 PM EST
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I didn't say they were non-functional...

Note that you can't bribe your way into Polytechnique (it's the school Jérôme went to, BTW), and graduating there as a top student is very hard. It is a meritocracy that selects early.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Aug 7th, 2007 at 07:55:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Three cultural indicators in USA.

  1. You never see an engineer on TV.  Or anywhere else.  

  2. Engineers are NOT considered a "catch" like, for example, an MD.  In fact, engineers are considered quite unhip.  Ask any woman.

  3. People who run business in USA will actually fire parts of their engineering departments to meet a profit target and actually win approval from Wall Street for this insanity.


"Remember the I35W bridge--who needs terrorists when there are Republicans"
by techno (reply@elegant-technology.com) on Wed Aug 8th, 2007 at 12:08:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. I see about 1000 engineers every day. Ok bad joke. TV is all entertainers and journalists (haha, no difference either). It's not a problem with engineering, it's the dumbing down of TV and media, which IMO reached the point of no return during the OJ Simpson car chase back in 94.

  2. Engineers ARE less hip than average. Leave the hipsterness to English majors that need to make up for their lack of income when it comes to attracting mates. Also "catch" roughly correlates to income, so engineers are fairly high on the list. Based on most women I've talked to they'd consider doctors even less hip than engineers. 100 hours a week in the hospital doesn't leave much time to work on your cultural stylin', unless a BMW 3 series is hip (5 series once they're 40 years old).

  3. I think the problem here is management laying off everyone (ie, the makers and the builders) but themselves, resulting in a less severe form of this scenario. Yes, it IS madness, but the problem has little to do with engineers.

Culture creators (authors, artists, etc) get the most respect in this country, followed by all the white collar occupations (minus lawyers of course). Who actually gets the money is sorted out in a completely different manner. I don't have the energy for a 2000 word essay on the topic at the moment, but it's in my head. Needless to say I sit in the gray area on both points.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Wed Aug 8th, 2007 at 12:44:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As far as hipness goes, it seems almost inversely proportional to income.  Stereotypical "hip" jobs are working at a coffee shop or a record store.  As such, English and History majors score pretty well on the hipness scale, both because they have no route to gainful employment, and because what gainful employment they can find doesn't care too much about silly fashions and whatnot, allowing them more time to practice being hip.

The rise of computers and the internet has, I think, actually helped the overall "hipness" of engineer types, at least by association.  In that most are stereotypical "geeks," and that the class of "geek" suffers from a good deal less stigma than it once did.

However, native-born American engineering students, and in particular graduate students, are sort of rare these days, for the reasons cited earlier.

by Zwackus on Wed Aug 8th, 2007 at 07:48:23 PM EST
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Q. What's the difference between an extrovert geek and an introvert geek?

A. The introvert geek looks at HIS shoes when he's talking to you....

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Wed Aug 8th, 2007 at 07:51:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Geek" is another interesting example of a pejorative being reclaimed and used proudly. Cf "Gay" etc.
by Number 6 on Fri Aug 10th, 2007 at 06:31:52 AM EST
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You never see an engineer on TV.  Or anywhere else.
 

Except on Star Trek . . .

by Zwackus on Wed Aug 8th, 2007 at 07:44:51 PM EST
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And Star Trek was produced, when?

And even the Star Trek engineers never actually did any engineering.

Actually, there are some engineers shown on cable shows on Discovery.

"Remember the I35W bridge--who needs terrorists when there are Republicans"

by techno (reply@elegant-technology.com) on Thu Aug 9th, 2007 at 01:09:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have to mention my favourite engineer, Barney Collier on  Mission Impossible. I'll be damned if I'm going to sit here and let anyone call Barney un-hip!

True, 60's again.

by Number 6 on Fri Aug 10th, 2007 at 06:35:36 AM EST
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That takes me back to being picked up by my grandparents from junior school. They had a TV, and it was either Mission Impossible, or Star Trek on on the nights I used to be picked up.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Aug 10th, 2007 at 06:52:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, good times.
Or, rather: thank goodness for DVDs, as I was at most -10 years at the time.
by Number 6 on Fri Aug 10th, 2007 at 07:08:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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