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'[OT] Non-degree holders as an engineer'
2007\10\12@213437 by Xiaofan Chen

face picon face
How difficult a non-degree holder in engineering can be promoted
as an engineer?

In my previous job, a diploma holder will start as a technician. Then he
needs to be promoted several times (senior technician, technical
specialist, senior technical specialist, associate engineer and then
senior associate engineer) in order to be an engineer B. On the
other hand, an engineering graduate will start as an Engineer B.

I think that is an extreme case. How about the situation in your
company?

Xiaofan

2007\10\12@222711 by Marcel Duchamp

picon face
Xiaofan Chen wrote:
> How difficult a non-degree holder in engineering can be promoted
> as an engineer?
>
> In my previous job, a diploma holder will start as a technician. Then he
> needs to be promoted several times (senior technician, technical
> specialist, senior technical specialist, associate engineer and then
> senior associate engineer) in order to be an engineer B. On the
> other hand, an engineering graduate will start as an Engineer B.
>
> I think that is an extreme case. How about the situation in your
> company?
>
> Xiaofan

The situation varies quite a bit in the US.  In my limited experience,
the biggest problem for techies lacking a Bachelors degree (4 year) is
getting *in* the door at anything above a technician level.  Most
companies that have an HR department staff it full of non engineer types
who don't have a clue about how to separate the "chaff from the wheat".
 So they base it right from the start on "what degree do you have?"

If a good non-degreed person gets into a company, most will put the
person to work after a while at the highest level that the person can
do, in general.  In other words, the "peter principle" goes to work.
They rise up to doing a level of work that they can achieve well.

While in a given company, a good tech can end up doing engineering or
supervising or whatever.  But if put out on the street, it is difficult
to go to a new company and start at the level they recently left off at.
 Once again, the HR department says "what degree do you have?"

Again, in my limited experience, the really good non-degreed techies
spin off into consulting.  I worked in the consulting business for a
dozen years or so and *never* was asked about credentials.  Only results.








2007\10\13@002135 by Sean Breheny

face picon face
Another perspective:

At the company I work for (70 employee startup, 4 years old), things
are still pretty much run by the techie types, not the pure management
types. The HR department asks US, the engineers, what we want the
requirements to be.

We still (almost) require a BS degree for engineers we hire. Why? Not
because HR says so, but because engineering says so. We are biased
(rightly or wrongly) toward thinking that people with the degree AND
the enthusiasm for the subject make the best employees in our
high-responsibility, high degree of independence environment. For
example, I often have to use a wide range of skills in my job
(physics, chemistry, people skills, math, etc.) which I largely
learned in school (except people skills :-) as opposed to my EE skills
(which I learned about 50% in school, 50% on my own). Most of the good
non-degreed people we see are people with a lot of experience in one
area and that is not broad enough for us.

We made one exception to this policy that I know of and in that case,
it was a really good exception to make. However, it was completely
clear from his years and years of experience and his interview that he
could handle the job well.

Sean


On 10/12/07, Marcel Duchamp <spam_OUTmarcel.duchampTakeThisOuTspamsbcglobal.net> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

> -

2007\10\13@005037 by Rich

picon face
I wonder how one becomes an engineer without a degree.  In the US, I think,
it would be very unusual.  I know many engineers who have a degree in math
or phusics, usually a graduate degree.  But I cannot think of anyone I have
met with no degree, at least in recent years.


{Original Message removed}

2007\10\13@015936 by Marcel Birthelmer
picon face
This is also the situation I'm in - I have a BA in Math, and I'm
working at an OK job as a software engineer, but I'd really like to
make the jump to electronics. And yet the only way I see this
happening is by getting an EE degree. So I'm working on a BSEE in the
background (online, at the University of North Dakota).
I don't mind doing the school work, but I also think that I already
have a fair amount of knowledge that would be applicable to an entry
level position, and yet I have no way of really making that evident to
a potential employer.
- Marcel

On 10/12/07, Rich <.....rgrazia1KILLspamspam@spam@rochester.rr.com> wrote:
> I wonder how one becomes an engineer without a degree.  In the US, I think,
> it would be very unusual.  I know many engineers who have a degree in math
> or phusics, usually a graduate degree.  But I cannot think of anyone I have
> met with no degree, at least in recent years.
>
>
> {Original Message removed}

2007\10\13@093801 by M. Adam Davis

face picon face
Electrical engineering is an established profession in the US, so
nearly any job is going to have a degree requirement.  Partly because
the paper is important, and partly because there ar enough degree
holders that you don't _need_ to hire someone without a degree.  If
you do, you can likely pay them much less because they find it hard to
get jobs without that piece of paper.

I started off doing computers and IT work.  That is an area that is
not established, and while a company can hire only degree holders (and
generally list that as a requirement) many companies still accept IT
and computer engineers that don't have degrees.  So I was able to do
computer work to support myself and family while I worked through the
engineering program at the university.

I suspect that in the early days of radio one did not need a degree to
get a job if one's hobby radio experience was good.  Likewise I
suspect that eventually computer work will become more professionally
oriented (commoditized) and holding a degree will be that much more
important.  And just like engineering there will be exceptions for
some people and some companies.

-Adam

On 10/12/07, Xiaofan Chen <xiaofancspamKILLspamgmail.com> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

> -

2007\10\13@095631 by Chris Smolinski

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At a company I used to work for, we had several "engineers" who were
techs, typically with 2 year degrees, who worked their way up from
the test / field service dept. They generally did project engineering
/ management type work, although one did software also (he was pretty
good at it in fact, better than many of our degreed guys). In general
they were very good, well above our median new-hire. Most likely
because they had worked there for several years already, and had
proven themselves. They generally didn't do circuit design work, we
didn't have a lot of such work to do, and I ended up doing most of it
;-)

--

---
Chris Smolinski
Black Cat Systems
http://www.blackcatsystems.com

2007\10\13@121536 by Bob Axtell

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Chris Smolinski wrote:
> At a company I used to work for, we had several "engineers" who were
> techs, typically with 2 year degrees, who worked their way up from
> the test / field service dept. They generally did project engineering
> / management type work, although one did software also (he was pretty
> good at it in fact, better than many of our degreed guys). In general
> they were very good, well above our median new-hire. Most likely
> because they had worked there for several years already, and had
> proven themselves. They generally didn't do circuit design work, we
> didn't have a lot of such work to do, and I ended up doing most of it
> ;-)
>
>  
My experience has been very positive with non-degreed technicians
promoted to engineer status.
One brilliant guy in particular could out-design everybody I knew.

--Bob

2007\10\13@135845 by Cedric Chang

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{Quote hidden}

The best engineer I ever met was non-degreed, brilliant, able to  
communicate,
wrote great documentation and eventually got a degree so he could  
raise his
compensation to almost triple.

Cedric

2007\10\13@142739 by Peter P.

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Bob Axtell <engineer <at> cotse.net> writes:
> My experience has been very positive with non-degreed technicians
> promoted to engineer status.
> One brilliant guy in particular could out-design everybody I knew.

I am also in the technician who knows too much for his level situation and I have
faced said glass ceiling in several (dozen) ways in two countries so far. The
situation is not amusing even without the fact that in one of the countries (my
'old' one) politics played a major role in the existence of serious barriers
that lied in the way of higher education in my case.

I personally envy people in the States and Canada who 'simply' are accepted to
college based on sufficiently high marks obtained at a standardized exam while
other achievements are also considered, and then work or otherwise push their way
through an education which awards the degree needed to open doors in a good
career, while enjoying freedom of motion between educational institutions that is
not matched anywhere else as far as I know.

Elsewhere jumping through hoops on fire related to ethnicity, political
affiliation (or non-affiliation, in my case), numerus clausus, and 'connections'
(positive and negative), as well as ethnicity and other factors, besides the
money, played a major role in the selection of who did and who did not get a
higher education,  and later, during one's career, where exactly the glass
ceiling that stopped promotion and income raise lied. In this sense, most
European  (eastern and western) educational systems are seriously flawed,
although they turn out good people eventually.

Peter P.


2007\10\13@161140 by Peter P.

picon face
Sorry for breaking the thread, I have no option. When I can help it I help it, now I can't.

Rich <rgrazia1 <at> rochester.rr.com> writes:
> I wonder how one becomes an engineer without a degree.  In the US, I think,
> it would be very unusual.  I know many engineers who have a degree in math
> or phusics, usually a graduate degree.  But I cannot think of anyone I have
> met with no degree, at least in recent years.

I do not know how it works in the US but in most places it is fairly easy:
anybody who studied the relevant subjects sufficiently and practices them sufficiently is able to perform 'engineering' tasks (including design and more). If the relevant person has missed any requirement necessary to become a
recognized engineer, such as, but not limited to, taking the final few courses
or exams or paying some stupid taxes, then the relevant person is 'not an engineer' for pay and status purposes. Note that 'studying the relevant subjects' does not necessarily imply taking courses in a university. In my experience, the 'study' period is 2 to 3 times longer than that of an engineer who learns in a university, but the result is better because it is backed by solid experience and a hands-on type of approach that leads to results as opposed to crazy equipment purchasing and lab bills as is often the case with relatively inexperienced 'trained' engineers. (like 'we need that 1Gsps LeCroy scope because of our one 60MHz ARM project we will have this year' and so on and on). Of course not every technician is made to become an engineer, or to act like one. Those who neglected the theoretical and inter-disciplinary aspects are definitely not made to be engineers, and this usually shows as soon as they try to tackle some design work from scratch. Then one starts to
see a modified copy of a well-known thing or a usually almost working thing that could see a lot of optimization to be manufacturable and eventually a commercial success. Still, it will be cheaper than the LeCroy scope for the small businesses which employ such people, and relatively inexperienced engineers are definitely not inter-disciplinary anyway.

The 'organized' trades on the other hand, are necessary in life-threatening situations (medicine, structural engineering, energy, etc), but not necessary enough to justify a clan type of monopolistic institution with national (or often only regional!) scope and no recourse. Most places that have such 'organisms' regulating their trades end up importing everything relevant to that trade before too long (including people!), because the market forces will drive anybody who employs such people out of the market system in due time. Being 'organized' automatically means being more expensive than unorganized work, and at the same time, maintaining this by artificial scracity when competition (like immigrants and temporary labor) appears. There is a balance point where the wages that the market will bear and the amount of regulation that keeps increasing them breaks the 'back of the camel', and after that's it's a deluge of imports that will sink the 'organized' trades, whether
they like it or not. Some disband and disappear, others go down noisily clinging to their brass nameplates, or become relics with have beens and symbolic meetings at chalets over beer and old stories. The alternative is the hypocritical approach where the dinosaurs coexist peacefully with the H1B coolies who do the hard work for half the money. This also exists elsewhere in the form of banana republic balkanic style countries where neither the dinosaurs nor the coolies have status, and it's a kind of free-for-all melee in which the usually corrupt state or ministry or whatever the Tontons Macoute's home base is that week always wins by definition.

Ironically, this applies equally well to non-paying membership exclusive trade
organizations. The simple fact of certification and of being 'secluded' from the open circuit of evolution seems to be sufficient to be called a step back,
given due time, as long as the relevant organization is a singularity or a monopoly. What applies to economic monopolies seems to apply equally well to
any form of monopolistic organization. I'd call it the dinosaur factor
(although there is no proof that indicates that the dinosaurs were hampered by
such problems, if any).

I think that it is interesting to notice that one would expect a large, organized workforce, to represent a powerful electrorate that would prevent the tipping of the system towards free imports and mercantilism, yet, this does not occur in most cases. A typical example of stubborn resistance is probably Germany, where the work force is highly regulated and organized, and represents a powerful electorate, and yet the country has very serious economic problems caused by external competition. As expected, keeping one's own 'yard' regulated will not exempt one from the market forces that reign outside it, and one tends to become too expensive by over-regulation. I am not implying that over-regulation exists in Germany, but only that it is too high by comparison with its other external competitors. This greatly affects German industry which is (or was) strongly export oriented. And, Germany is just an example I give here, because I know a little about it. There are probably
many others.

Of course countries that have it both ways and shut their eyes win here (see United States of A. in the context of the H1B visa discussion that occurred
some time ago on this list) have the best of both worlds: 'organized' trades
and slaves to do the actual work (no offense meant here). I believe that it is precisely the more hypocritical issues raised by that organized vs. new/temporary/slave dichotomy that have caused the H1B/immigration scandal/conflict that rages now in the US. Here, 'slave' is to be
understood as a very willing economic/labor immigrant, whether legal or not.

The only thing that is very clear is the fact that the lowest common
denominator that sets the pace of competition, is the country that has the lowest wages and at the same the highest production capacity.

Even that would not be a problem if the market forces would operate normally everywhere, but they do not. In particular, the currency of the country with the lowest wages and highest production numbers, China, is pegged by its central government at a level that is considered inappropriate by most other countries, and they have said so much more than once.

It is considered that the floating of that currency should cause the current serious imbalance in trade to eventually fix itself, and with that the wage and interest (as in, engineering students) situation too, including in engineering. Perhaps not last, for the people of that country themselves, as a more powerful Yuan would give them (the wage earners) more buying power over night, and increase their standards of living (and implicitly change the value of their exported goods in a direction that should better reflect their market value - and with this, automatically, make their manufacture (and engineering) elsewhere feasible (again) - and with that, return to the subject of this discussion, that of wages and certification in the manufacturing and engineering trades. Of course China and the Yuan is in focus here because it is the major manufacturing country with the lowest wages. If it would be another country in such a situation, then that other country would be in focus.

I don't think that politics can be viewed separately from education and from wages. The 'glass ceiling' that prevents talented people from working at the best level they can achieve in their trade is a political barrier, just like  the barrier between H1Bs and local certified engineers in the US is, and the same thing applies for the subtle barriers between BSc degrees and engineering degrees that open the further path to PhDs and academic achievement. The same thing can be said for the steep remuneration difference between plain assistants and professors and tenured ones and so on and so on.

This discussion is, in my opinion, a lot more about politics than about engineering. The engineering side of the problem can be cleared by a thorough set of interviews and practical tests in any case, especially for someone with
a lot of work experience. The glass ceiling cannot be cleared like this, and that matter is out of the examining (engineer's) hands. It it pure politics.

Back to the subject, I found that the only way 'up' for people like me is working for small companies where there is no HR department (and often take a lot of c**p due to micromanagement and other's ineptitude), or becoming a 'consultant'. There one again faces the same glass ceiling others face. Certain jobs require the credibility of engineering degrees and there is no way around it. In small companies, the Peter principle is doubled by the Paul principle, which states that any self-anointed manager, engineer, technician or tradesman driven by ambition and unchecked by any superiors, will rise to the highest level he can achieve, thus guaranteeing the fact that he will have risen to the level where he is incompetent or incapable to raise any further, and where he will devote the majority of his efforts to maintain that level instead of being productive (I hink that this is the real Peter principle - I made up the Paul principle in case it isn't).

In large companies the Paul principle still exists, but it is hidden in the upper levels of management where company BMWs are driven by people who probably don't deserve them, technically speaking. Lower levels are chaperoned by chaperons called managers and supervisors who keep the sheeple in the place they (believe!) they deserve.

So, finally, yes, it sucks to be an overqualified technician, no matter how that position was achieved, and I believe that there should exist a set of equivalence exams or similar that should open the way for such people to higher certification(s) and to recognition (and remuneration). I also wish I was a millionaire and that I was 20 years young again (but with today's experience and brains - otherwise rather not - in despite of what women think about men, there are other things besides getting laid and getting drunk on their minds from time to time). Who doesn't want to. The world does not work that way.

Peter P.


     
---------------------------------
Yahoo! oneSearch: Finally,  mobile search that gives answers, not web links.

2007\10\13@202242 by Xiaofan Chen

face picon face
On 10/14/07, Peter P. <.....plpeter2006KILLspamspam.....yahoo.com> wrote:
> Sorry for breaking the thread, I have no option. When I can help it I help
> it, now I can't.

Just curious, where are you now and where were you now (the two
countries)?

> Back to the subject, I found that the only way 'up' for people like me
> is working for small companies where there is no HR department
> (and often take a lot of c**p due to micromanagement and other's
> ineptitude), or becoming a 'consultant'.

Seems to be true from what I heard. I myself has a master's
degree in EE and have so far only worked in medium to large
companies as a electronics design engineer.

> So, finally, yes, it sucks to be an overqualified technician,
> no matter how that position was achieved, and I believe that there
> should exist a set of equivalence exams or similar that should open the
> way for such people to higher certification(s) and to recognition (and
> remuneration).

China seems to be quite good in this case. A diploma holder can
actually become an engineer with hard working. He can also
apply for postgraduate program (skipping the bachelor degree)
with enough working experiences and pass the entrance
examinations. I've know one PhD without a bachelor degree.
Her husband  came to Singapore to work as a post-doctoral fellow.
So she would like to come here and work as well. The problem is that
here in Singapore, the first degree is important and she does not
have one. She was worried and finally decided to go back  Later
her husband went back to.

My mum (in China, now retired) also did not have a degree and
gave up doing a part-time degree because of three kids. Still
she became a senior teacher (equivalent to senior engineer)
after enough working experiences.

The situation in China may change now that university
education becomes more and more available (as long
as you can afford it).

That being said, why not pursue a part-time degree? There are
many people here are pursuing part-time degree.

Personally I do have some reservation on some of the part time
degree, especially those from so-called on-line or open university.
In the previous job, two diploma holder finished the degree
program from Open University but I could not imagine how they
could be an engineer and how they passed the exams. I hear
both of them are still working as a technician level position.


Xiaofan

2007\10\13@215619 by Rich

picon face
Peter P.  It seems that you have given a great deal of thought to the
engineering community with regards to the political economy and individual
opportunity versus merit.  I have to concurr with much of what you have
said.  I think meritocracies are rare any more. Thank you for your well
thought out and articulated ideas.

{Original Message removed}

2007\10\13@221158 by William \Chops\ Westfield

face picon face

On Oct 12, 2007, at 9:50 PM, Rich wrote:

> I wonder how one becomes an engineer without a degree.
>   In the US, I think, it would be very unusual.

It used to be pretty common in software engineering.  There was
(is?) a fair amount of art (or "mindset") to programming that I don't  
think
anyone has figured out how to teach, and it was pretty common for people
to get disgusted with a college curricula that was strongly math and EE
oriented when what they wanted to do was write word processing software,
email, and reprogrammable editors. (or, "programming talent" didn't
necessarily match up with "math and science" talent that the typical
degree required.)  Or people who had demonstrated talent by the end
of high school were lured by big bucks (relative to SPENDING money
at college) from industry groups willing to hire them  (or part way
through college.  Would you like $20k a year (1980 dollars; a pretty
decent starting salary:-), or do you really want to write essays about
ancient philosophers in that REQUIRED "non-technical" class?)
I know quite a few non-degreed SW engineers in various fairly lucrative
positions (including some that have advanced to executive management.)

I would suspect that now there's a wider variety of choices in
technical fields, but I don't doubt that you still get mismatches
between "talent" and "degree requirements", and people will get
jobs if those talents are in demand.

(The problems come later in life when your talents become less unique,
and you still don't have that degree that HR departments want, so you
"possibilities for career advancement" can become limited, switching  
jobs
can be difficult if you become dissatisfied with your current employer,
and gods help you if you get laid off during an "industry downturn" when
the people with talent AND degrees are working at the local fast food  
places.)

BillW

2007\10\14@012401 by Nate Duehr

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On Oct 12, 2007, at 10:21 PM, Sean Breheny wrote:

> We still (almost) require a BS degree for engineers we hire. Why? Not
> because HR says so, but because engineering says so. We are biased
> (rightly or wrongly) toward thinking that people with the degree AND
> the enthusiasm for the subject make the best employees in our
> high-responsibility, high degree of independence environment.

Definitely wrongly.  People's personality traits tie more heavily to  
whether or not they'll be successful (and thus, help your start-up be  
successful) than their education level.  People who are natural risk-
takers with a good dose of common-sense know-how are the people that  
make start-ups into successful businesses.

> We made one exception to this policy that I know of and in that case,
> it was a really good exception to make. However, it was completely
> clear from his years and years of experience and his interview that he
> could handle the job well.

Point made.  Interview ALL the candidates.  Never throw out a resume'  
because of a lack of formal education -- only throw it out due to a  
lack of skill.

Many individuals have had circumstances that didn't or haven't  
allowed them the time or freedom to attend schools, but who have had  
the initiative to learn on their own.  Often-times those individuals  
bring a unique point of view to the table during design and  
implementation phases that can't be found in traditional engineers  
with school-based education because they've had it "beaten out of  
them" by the system.  Sometimes for the bad, sometimes for the good.  
A balance is required.

There are PLENTY of PhD's out there who don't have a whit of common  
sense or business sense.

Signs that someone has an excellent work-ethic in their resume' or in  
an interview are much more important to me than their formal  
education background.  Anything taught in a school can be taught on  
the job, but the work-ethic and attitude are taught by parents and  
others around a child at a very young age, and typically can't be  
taught later on.

I'll take someone who WANTS to work who has no lambskin (and the  
usual pride that goes with it, which if they can't learn to manage  
it, becomes their downfall), over a PhD who never had to pay for  
their schooling or work a real day's work in their life -- any day of  
the week.  ESPECIALLY at a start-up company.

--
Nate Duehr
EraseMEnatespam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTnatetech.com



2007\10\14@014530 by Nate Duehr

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On Oct 12, 2007, at 10:50 PM, Rich wrote:

> I wonder how one becomes an engineer without a degree.  In the US,  
> I think,
> it would be very unusual.  I know many engineers who have a degree  
> in math
> or phusics, usually a graduate degree.  But I cannot think of  
> anyone I have
> met with no degree, at least in recent years.

I'm not degreed but have held a number of "Engineer" titles in my  
career.  My career is in the computing/telecommunications field,  
which has been fairly loose with such terms for many decades now.

Personally I was never comfortable with it.  I prefer titles like my  
current one, "Senior Technical Account Representative", which closely  
tracks what I do.  I'm responsible for a couple of large telco  
accounts (top-tier carriers, of which I won't directly name them, but  
let's just say one of them is a 135 year old company) and all of  
their technical support either is done by me or by a team-mate with  
my knowledge.

My responsibility in our organizational structure is to "represent"  
that customer in all aspects of our support organization -- I'm their  
"advocate" with my bosses, engineering, and anyone else in contact  
with them.

The only part of the business I'm typically not involved in until  
after-the-fact, is new sales.  Support contract renewal or system  
expansion/upgrades -- I'm not involved in pricing (other than that I  
see it and know generally what the customer is paying for the goods/
services) negotiation, but am involved in documenting all services  
rendered over the previous support contract period, meeting with the  
customers' upper-management during contract renewal, etc.  It's  
pretty fun, if you like this sort of thing.

In previous roles where I held "Engineer" titles, it was "Network  
Engineer" (pretty vague, I was a jack-of-all-trades for a co-location/
data center company, need -48VDC run to your cabinet?  Sure.  Need  
fiber connectivity to our backbone links?  No problem.  Got a  
grounding issue?  I'll look at it with you.  Getting DDoS'ed by a SYN-
flood attack?  I'll grab the sniffer.  Got a balky ISDN PRI?  I will  
go get the test set and show you how to look at it.  Ceiling leaking  
in a big rainstorm?  I'll grab a bucket.  Generator didn't start when  
the power went out, and the UPS is going to die in 15 minutes, I'll  
turn around and head back there right away!  You get the idea.)

Other roles have included "Product Support Engineer", responsible for  
the interface between Engineering and Customer Support with release  
signature-authority for products ("Is this supportable in the  
field?") via the Change Control Board of the company.  That role also  
included the interesting but stressful... "The Field Engineers can't  
figure it out -- you're getting on an airplane tomorrow and will be  
fixing the system." trips, and the more-fun, "You're going out to  
install the first-of-its-kind widget you signed off on, to see if the  
installation process works.  The customer has decided the first one's  
going to the FAA, and you have a 1/2 hour maintenance window at 1AM  
Eastern to upgrade the system." That particular role also included  
putting on training (both formal and informal via a program we had  
called "lunch and learn" where the company bought lunch if folks came  
and listened to a product support staff member or engineer talk about  
technical topics related to our products) and of course... last and  
probably for me, the least accurate... "Software Engineer"... which  
was definitely a misnomer.  I was a Code Monkey, cleaning up some  
really bad C++ code written by degreed CompSci or EE Engineers and  
hunting down bugs and fixing them.

As you can see, there's a theme here -- I like working directly with  
customers, and many "Engineers" in computing roles, do not.  For  
those that do, there are ALWAYS positions for qualified individuals.  
Many "Engineers" won't take these positions because the role does NOT  
include designing what the core system will do.  One can only  
"support" the system and advocate changes that make sense, in many  
cases.  There's a line between "support" and "design" that often-
times politically can not be crossed.

I've toyed with doing this stuff on a consulting basis, but so far --  
no major desire to strike out on my own... it's more fun to work on  
the really big stuff.  The smallest telecom systems I touch on a  
daily basis are fed with 6 DS3's worth of traffic... you don't get to  
"play" at that level in the consulting world very often, but I'm sure  
that getting someone's small company PBX (especially nowadays with  
much of it moving to VoIP) would be just as fulfilling, and probably  
pay as well -- once you had a steady customer-base.

--
Nate Duehr
natespamspam_OUTnatetech.com



2007\10\14@083810 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
Nate Duehr wrote:

> Anything taught in a school can be taught on the job,

I agree with most of what you said, and, in a sense, also with this. But I
think it rarely is. There just isn't time enough (at least not in the jobs
I had) to dig deep and play around and get to the bottom of it -- it's good
enough if it fits the needs well enough, now let's move on to the next item
in the pipeline. (Of which there never is a shortage. :)

This is what's different in university: you have the time and the
opportunity (and should have the interest) to dig deep and play around and
get to the bottom of it (that is, a few things).

Gerhard

2007\10\14@090229 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
Peter P. wrote:

> Note that 'studying the relevant subjects' does not necessarily imply
> taking courses in a university. In my experience, the 'study' period is
> 2 to 3 times longer than that of an engineer who learns in a university,
> but the result is better because it is backed by solid experience and a
> hands-on type of approach that leads to results as opposed to crazy
> equipment purchasing and lab bills as is often the case with relatively
> inexperienced 'trained' engineers.

I think there is this thing with averages. HR departments of bigger firms
work with averages, not with the exceptions. You are an exception (for all
I can tell), and as such, I'm afraid, you'd face exceptional problems even
if you were an engineer. But for the HR departments it's rather irrelevant
whether such exceptions exist, as what they need (or maybe think they need)
is a way to get to a better average.

> Back to the subject, I found that the only way 'up' for people like me is
> working for small companies where there is no HR department (and often
> take a lot of c**p due to micromanagement and other's ineptitude), or
> becoming a 'consultant'.

My father has worked for most of his active life in engineering positions
-- without having a degree (in Germany, no less :). This was because he was
able to, had the incentive (mostly financial) to do so, and was outspoken
enough to make his case. This was not in small companies, but in big and
middle-sized ones. So it's not as if it were impossible.

Gerhard

2007\10\14@102216 by Peter P.

picon face
Gerhard Fiedler <lists <at> connectionbrazil.com> writes:
> I think there is this thing with averages. HR departments of bigger firms
> work with averages, not with the exceptions. You are an exception (for all

I would hesitate to work for a company whose HR department recruits by targeted
(by task/skill) ads and uses averages. That is a total contradiction. Either
it's a company that hires 'engineers. period' or it's a company that needs
'electronic engineers, skilled in embedded (microchip,mips,mcs51,x86), C an
advantage, rf and analog design skills a bonus)'. The 1st is expected to be a
mill type of place where people are replaceable like lightbulbs and the second a
development position where they are not. In the 1st case the HR department may
work on averages, in the 2nd it works on demand from the technical teams and it
CANNOT work with averages. If the HR guys will send too many 'average' engineers
upstairs eventually there will be new HR guys there, and they will keep changing
until they send the right people upstairs.

> I can tell), and as such, I'm afraid, you'd face exceptional problems even
> if you were an engineer. But for the HR departments it's rather irrelevant
> whether such exceptions exist, as what they need (or maybe think they need)
> is a way to get to a better average.

Exceptional does not mean Extrawurst or primadonna, and I, specifically, am not
exceptional (and no primadonna - but I do have my limits as to whom I would
work with or for like everyone else, at the human scale). I do not even call
myself an engineer, not even joking. There are various approaches to solving
problems and I believe that from the company point of view they can be divided
by efficiency. The number of dollars and hours the company must spend on
engineering to solve a problem or to have a new product. I believe that the
efficiency of a technician++ is higher than that of an engineer  (ordinary).
Highly qualified and experienced engineers *can* be much better than a
technician++ but they *must* not be. The strong penchant of engineers for perks
and 'high end' technical solutions involving 'book moves' learned in school
(hence the $50000 scope I alluded to before) is totally out of place in certain
areas of business. Same thing for wastage in research and equipment aspects.
Small businesses know this only too well, and they act accordingly. Sometimes a
guy like me gets lucky and someone at a medium sized firm recognizes the need
and pulls a technician++ in for a specific project or for a longer time (perhaps
as a consultant), by pulling some strings in the company. But this happens very
rarely so I do not rely on such things.

> > Back to the subject, I found that the only way 'up' for people like me is
> > working for small companies where there is no HR department (and often
> > take a lot of c**p due to micromanagement and other's ineptitude), or
> > becoming a 'consultant'.
>
> My father has worked for most of his active life in engineering positions

Yes, but was he an engineer ?

Peter P.


2007\10\14@161839 by William \Chops\ Westfield

face picon face

On Oct 14, 2007, at 7:21 AM, Peter P. wrote:

> I would hesitate to work for a company whose HR department recruits  
> by targeted
> (by task/skill) ads and uses averages. That is a total  
> contradiction. Either
> it's a company that hires 'engineers. period' or it's a company  
> that needs
> 'electronic engineers, skilled in embedded  
> (microchip,mips,mcs51,x86), C an
> advantage, rf and analog design skills a bonus)'

Ah, well, you've just eliminated pretty much all companies employing
more than about 1000 people.  The inability of HR to get appropriate
resumes to appropriate hiring managers, even if the resumes originated
via internal referrals, is a constant source of flamage at cisco, for
example.  They seem to be too busy filtering out the "obviously
inappropriate" resumes, of which there seem to be no end...

The most important thing to do to get a job at such a company is to
get your (targeted, detailed) resume TO the appropriate manager, but
even knowing who that is can be nearly impossible.  (For instance,
cisco uses PICs.  The easiest way I know of to find out WHO is using
PICs is to call up our friendly microchip rep and ask THEM.  Second
easiest is to go through the purchasing department.  Sigh.)

BillW


2007\10\14@185228 by Peter P.

picon face
William "Chops" Westfield <westfw <at> mac.com> writes:
> via internal referrals, is a constant source of flamage at cisco, for
> example.  They seem to be too busy filtering out the "obviously
> inappropriate" resumes, of which there seem to be no end...

Ahh, wait, are you saying that the HR people only verify that there is a
university degree in the relevant domain ? <-oO( <evil grin> do instant
universities count ? (the kind advertised on the internet ?))

> The most important thing to do to get a job at such a company is to
> get your (targeted, detailed) resume TO the appropriate manager, but
> even knowing who that is can be nearly impossible.  (For instance,

Targeted ? Targeted how ? According to the above, they want engineers. period.
How is that 'targeted'. Anyway employment bureaux usually coach applicants how
to 'colorize' their resumes to open the right doors (or pass the right Word
filter?) when they have a specific client in mind. Or so I read.

Peter P.



2007\10\14@221519 by William \Chops\ Westfield

face picon face

On Oct 14, 2007, at 3:35 PM, Peter P. wrote:

> Anyway employment bureaux usually coach applicants how to 'colorize'
> their resumes to open the right doors (or pass the right Word
> filter?) when they have a specific client in mind. Or so I read.

Yep.  And HR's main purpose seems to be to try to reject the
resumes that have had the right colorization added without
the applicant actually having the appropriate talents, or
so they think...

 :-(
BillW

2007\10\15@051126 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>How difficult a non-degree holder in engineering can be
>promoted as an engineer?

|I guess it depends what you class as an 'engineer'. I have always classed
myself as an 'electronics engineer' but have a tertiary certificate that I
gained through my apprenticeship training, and not degree.

I got my current job because I had over 30 years practical experience in a
wide range of application fields and could describe to the interview panel
why one would use a balanced line, and sketch a basic op-amp building block
circuit.

Apparently a number of interviewees with masters, straight from university
couldn't do this, or so I was told afterwards.

2007\10\15@053645 by Xiaofan Chen

face picon face
On 10/15/07, Alan B. Pearce <@spam@A.B.PearceKILLspamspamrl.ac.uk> wrote:
> >How difficult a non-degree holder in engineering can be
> >promoted as an engineer?
>
> |I guess it depends what you class as an 'engineer'. I have always classed
> myself as an 'electronics engineer' but have a tertiary certificate that I
> gained through my apprenticeship training, and not degree.

A tertiary certificate is kind of degree, right? I believe only a few
countries have this system. I know Germany has one. Often
engineers out this kind of training are quite good, as far as I know.
But I am not so sure if they are still popular or not.

Xiaofan

2007\10\15@061044 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
Peter P. wrote:

>> I think there is this thing with averages. HR departments of bigger
>> firms work with averages, not with the exceptions.
>
> I would hesitate to work for a company whose HR department recruits by
> targeted (by task/skill) ads and uses averages.

That's probably exactly the reason why some (many?) of us are where they
are :)


>> You are an exception (for all I can tell), and as such, I'm afraid,
>> you'd face exceptional problems even if you were an engineer.
>
> Exceptional does not mean Extrawurst or primadonna, and I, specifically,
> am not exceptional (and no primadonna - but I do have my limits as to
> whom I would work with or for like everyone else, at the human scale).

I don't know where the Extrawurst or the primadonna came in, but I meant
"exceptional" (as described here
<http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/exceptional>) and not either of those.


>> My father has worked for most of his active life in engineering
>> positions
>
> Yes, but was he an engineer ?

What do you mean by this? I already said that he was not -- at least not in
the German use of the German translation "Ingenieur", as in
<http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ingenieur> (according to the "modernen
deutschen Sprachgebrauch"); this requires a degree, which he hasn't.

But in the jobs he held he had the responsibilities of an engineer, the
freedom of decision making of an engineer, the pay of an engineer (and
maybe even the word "Ingenieur" in the job title on his business card --
but I can't remember that clearly, as neither he nor I think that such
titles are important in any way). So what do you mean?

Gerhard

2007\10\15@062021 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>Those who neglected the theoretical and inter-disciplinary
>aspects are definitely not made to be engineers, and this
>usually shows as soon as they try to tackle some design work
>from scratch. Then one starts to see a modified copy of a
>well-known thing or a usually almost working thing that could
>see a lot of optimization to be manufacturable and eventually
>a commercial success.

Reminds me of a story related by my boss in my first job. He had been
talking with his old university lecturers and they told him about a project
they had recently got their students to do, design a microphone
pre-amplifier with 1mV input sensitivity, 1V output level, and 60dB S/N if I
remember the figures correctly. All very reasonable figures for something
like this in the early to mid '60s. At that time the only option was to do
it with discrete transistors.

According to the lecturers, something like 1/4 didn't manage to meet the
required specs, 1/2 met the specs and the last 1/4 exceeded the noise spec
by about 10dB. This was in a generic BEng degree course, so I guess those
that didn't make the spec became civil or mechanical engineers.

2007\10\15@062530 by Michael Rigby-Jones

picon face


{Quote hidden}

Alan,

I share your position.  I did an apprenticeship and I have an HND (Higher National Diploma, or "Have No Degree" depending on your viewpoint!).  However I got my current job after being grilled by senior engineers for most of a day during my interview (literaly 9AM-4PM).  Since then I have interviewed probably 30-40 candidates for hardware and software positions within the company, both with and without degrees.  Abilities of these canditates ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous, people with very little qualifications with huge experience and knowledge, to a particular guy with an (alleged) degree in Physics and Computer Science who couldn't explain to me what a compiler actualy did, had not even the most basic grasp of electronics and would probably have found stacking shelves too mentaly demanding.

I'm obvioulsy biased, but IME posession of a degree by itself only tells you that the applicant attended university.  It gives you little to no idea on his or her current experience, or technical ability.  HR departments that automaticly discard resumes with no formal degree qualification are quite possibly filtering out some of the best candidates for the job, and are thus hindering rather than helping the future of the company.  Nothing new there of course...

Regards

Mike



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2007\10\15@070707 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>and the more-fun, "You're going out to install the
>first-of-its-kind widget you signed off on,

Hah, I still remember going down to a ship (during my apprenticeship I did a
stint in the marine service division of the company) that was on its maiden
voyage. It had got half way around the world with a faulty autopilot, and
seeing we were the agents for the equipment, had put in a service call.
Looking at the gear I could see that there were relays with burnt contacts,
and every module was marked 'serial number 1'. Asked the radio officer if he
had any manuals or spares, and the answer to both was 'no'. So we had to
tell him that sorry, but we cannot help.

2007\10\15@075704 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>A tertiary certificate is kind of degree, right?

Not necessarily. I have New Zealand Certificate of Engineering (NZCE) which
at the time was recognised in the UK to be City & Guilds (the appropriate
organisations had cross agreements on certificate equality). I could have
then used this certificate to cross credit the first couple of years of a
BEng degree at a New Zealand university that had engineering courses, but it
certainly is not a kind of degree in itself.

There would be many other apprentice qualified people around the world who
have similar styles of tertiary qualification obtained as part of their
apprenticeship training, but in no way are these considered to be a degree.

2007\10\15@113331 by alan smith

picon face
One major issue with non-degreed "engineers" is when they get laid off...not if...when....then they have a difficult time competing for the engineering jobs...end up at a lower level and lower pay job.  I've seen it several times.
 

     
---------------------------------
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2007\10\15@162312 by Peter P.

picon face
Gerhard Fiedler <lists <at> connectionbrazil.com> writes:

> titles are important in any way). So what do you mean?

I missed the fact that you said that your father was not a certified engineer.
My mistake. Sorry.

Peter P.




2007\10\15@165917 by Peter P.

picon face
Alan B. Pearce <A.B.Pearce <at> rl.ac.uk> writes:
> they had recently got their students to do, design a microphone
> pre-amplifier with 1mV input sensitivity, 1V output level, and 60dB S/N if I

Actually that is a pretty tough spec for 1960 (still is today). Without good
parts for the input you can forget about the 60dB S/N. And there were no good
parts for that in 1960. BC109 ? Not sure if it's good enough for that alone
(maybe several in parallel if the mic is low impedance). Today's high end
professional mics are often specced at 55-65dB S/N (active mics, like
electrets). Here is some new (to me?) mike fun from AD:

http://www.analog.com/library/analogDialogue/archives/41-09/digital_microphone.html

It had to happen. It has about 60dB S/N ;-)

Peter P.


2007\10\15@175716 by Nate Duehr

face
flavicon
face
alan smith wrote:
> One major issue with non-degreed "engineers" is when they get laid off...not if...when....then they have a difficult time competing for the engineering jobs...end up at a lower level and lower pay job.  I've seen it several times.

Been there, done that.  "Networking" with friends and co-workers found
me my next "real" job after that happened.  Those people knew what I was
capable of, even if their idiot HR departments did not.

If you're not going to get the sheepskin, don't burn any bridges!

Nate

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