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What % of your classmates changed majors away from engineering?

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Replies to: What % of your classmates changed majors away from engineering?

  • Mr PayneMr Payne Registered User Posts: 8,850 Senior Member
    It doesn't solve the real problem, which is to create more and better engineering jobs, which is (I thought) the real goal.
    The real goal is to create a better situation for the median citizen. Not create a better situation for engineers. More engineers means more innovation. A simple look at patent production makes this exceedingly clear.
    In fact, doing what you suggest almost certainly makes things worse, because with more people graduating with engineering degrees, there would be more competition for engineering jobs, hence driving engineering salaries down.
    Higher engineering salaries is not the goal. More economic growth is the goal.
    See above. The situation would actually be worse. Simple economics dictates that when you increase the supply of something but don't increase its demand, then the value of that something actually goes down. That's a basic law of supply and demand.
    In the short term yes. However, in the long term I would have to disagree. South Korea did not always have a lot of engineering jobs. Japan did not always have a lot of engineering jobs. Neither did Israel. However, engineering is one of the few professions where *more* jobs are created by producing more of them. Producing more lawyers does not create more law jobs. However, producing more engineers creates a situation for more economic development.
    The real solution is to increase the demand for engineering jobs. Not the demand for engineering degrees, but for actual jobs.
    I talked about this in the last paragraph.
  • sakkysakky - Posts: 14,759 Senior Member
    The real goal is to create a better situation for the median citizen. Not create a better situation for engineers. More engineers means more innovation. A simple look at patent production makes this exceedingly clear.
    Higher engineering salaries is not the goal. More economic growth is the goal.

    Fair enough, then we're talking about different things. I was talking about how to make individual engineers better off. You don't seem to be interested in that, and that's fine.

    However, getting back to the spirit of this thread, I don't think the individual engineer really cares about making the world better off, at least, not primarily. He cares about making himself better off. He's primarily interested in putting food on the table for his own family, not somebody else's family.
    In the short term yes. However, in the long term I would have to disagree. South Korea did not always have a lot of engineering jobs. Japan did not always have a lot of engineering jobs. Neither did Israel.

    I would argue that what happened in those countries is that they enacted policies to greatly increase the demand for engineers. For example, it's quite clear in the case of Israel that much of their engineering demand comes from their military-industrial complex. However, Israel also created policies that allowed military technologies to be successfully commercialized, hence increasing the private sector demand for engineers. Japan and S Korea also engaged in industrial policy to increase their export-oriented businesses, hence, also increasing their demand for engineers.
    Producing more lawyers does not create more law jobs.

    Well, actually, I think it does. After all, more lawyers generally means ever-more-complicated laws and regulations, as well as entities suing each other, which therefore necessitates even more lawyers to deal with the increasing complexity and to defend yourself from those lawsuits, etc.
    More engineers means more innovation. A simple look at patent production makes this exceedingly clear.

    Ha! There is actually a long-standing debate as to whether patents actually truly means greater innovation, or actually less innovation. Keep in mind that a patent doesn't give you the 'right' to commercialize a particular technology. Not exactly. All it does is prevent others from commercializing a particular technology. Hence, it is a "negative" right. Hence, patents are often times used to actually impede innovation, as somebody may not be actively pursuing his patented technology, but will legally prevent anybody else from also pursuing that technology, hence hindering the overall rate of innovation. What makes the situation even worse are those 'patent **** houses', who are nothing more than stockpiles of patents, who do nothing more than sue other companies who they deem to be violating their patents, but who do not pursue any technology commercialization themselves. It also forces inventors and tech firms to engage in costly and time-consuming patent searches to make sure that they are not inadvertently violating a patent that they didn't even know existed.

    Hence, it's actually not clear whether more patents corresponds to greater innovation or not. In theory , the patent system is supposed to provide economic incentives via a temporary monopoly for inventors to develop and commercialize intellectual property. However, in reality, much of the current patent system has devolved into an arena for companies to sue/blackmail each other over alleged patent infringement, and the winner is often times simply whoever happens to be able to afford the best lawyers. It's a fantastic system for the lawyers, but whether it helps the engineers, or society as a whole is questionable.
  • Mr PayneMr Payne Registered User Posts: 8,850 Senior Member
    I would argue that what happened in those countries is that they enacted policies to greatly increase the demand for engineers. For example, it's quite clear in the case of Israel that much of their engineering demand comes from their military-industrial complex. However, Israel also created policies that allowed military technologies to be successfully commercialized, hence increasing the private sector demand for engineers. Japan and S Korea also engaged in industrial policy to increase their export-oriented businesses, hence, also increasing their demand for engineers.
    The point was that engineering employment can grow. Additional government coaxing might be needed. Simply put, the average citizen in our country depends on staying competitive at the highest level of value creation.
    Well, actually, I think it does. After all, more lawyers generally means ever-more-complicated laws and regulations, as well as entities suing each other, which therefore necessitates even more lawyers to deal with the increasing complexity and to defend yourself from those lawsuits, etc.
    Fair enough. I believe engineers create far more value to the US economy than lawyers do. That is all my point was trying to convey.
    Ha! There is actually a long-standing debate as to whether patents actually truly means greater innovation, or actually less innovation. Keep in mind that a patent doesn't give you the 'right' to commercialize a particular technology. Not exactly. All it does is prevent others from commercializing a particular technology. Hence, it is a "negative" right. Hence, patents are often times used to actually impede innovation, as somebody may not be actively pursuing his patented technology, but will legally prevent anybody else from also pursuing that technology, hence hindering the overall rate of innovation. What makes the situation even worse are those 'patent **** houses', who are nothing more than stockpiles of patents, who do nothing more than sue other companies who they deem to be violating their patents, but who do not pursue any technology commercialization themselves. It also forces inventors and tech firms to engage in costly and time-consuming patent searches to make sure that they are not inadvertently violating a patent that they didn't even know existed.

    Hence, it's actually not clear whether more patents corresponds to greater innovation or not. In theory , the patent system is supposed to provide economic incentives via a temporary monopoly for inventors to develop and commercialize intellectual property. However, in reality, much of the current patent system has devolved into an arena for companies to sue/blackmail each other over alleged patent infringement, and the winner is often times simply whoever happens to be able to afford the best lawyers. It's a fantastic system for the lawyers, but whether it helps the engineers, or society as a whole is questionable.
    I'm just using patent production as a proxy for technical innovation. Your treatise on patents is a good explanation, but says nothing about my argument. More engineers lead to more patents. More patents is a good proxy for the amount of technical innovation occurring in an economy. Certainly countries with no patent production are generally in very bad shape.

    Technical innovation is the quickest way to gain wealth on a countrywide scale (other than using natural resources, but that is a game of luck). It's a virtual prerequisiste for becoming an OECD nation.
  • sakkysakky - Posts: 14,759 Senior Member
    The point was that engineering employment can grow. Additional government coaxing might be needed. Simply put, the average citizen in our country depends on staying competitive at the highest level of value creation.

    Sure, but I question whether that goal is really achieved by simply pushing more people to get engineering degrees without changing the end-demand for engineers. I doubt that it is.

    As a case in point, consider the recent history of China and (especially) India. These countries aren't really producing that many more engineers (as a % of their population) than they were 30 years ago. In fact, back in those days, many graduates of the Indian Institutes of Technology couldn't find good jobs (and hence, many of them ended up immigrating here). What changed in recent history in those countries is not educational reform, but rather economic reform. Both of those countries unshackled their private sectors, and that spurred immense value creation and improvements in competitiveness (and also vastly increased the demand for engineers in those countries).

    The point is, the real problem is not, and has never been, the supply. The real problem is with the demand.
    Technical innovation is the quickest way to gain wealth on a countrywide scale (other than using natural resources, but that is a game of luck). It's a virtual prerequisiste for becoming an OECD nation.

    Well, I would actually argue that political/economic reforms are the true quickest way to national wealth. The Soviet Union/Russia, for example, had plenty of technical innovation, graduating immense numbers of engineers per year, and being the first nation to send a man in space and the 2nd nation to develop nuclear weapons. Yet that didn't save its economy from stagnation and its people from poverty.
  • Mr PayneMr Payne Registered User Posts: 8,850 Senior Member
    As a case in point, consider the recent history of China and (especially) India. These countries aren't really producing that many more engineers (as a % of their population) than they were 30 years ago.
    Source, please.
    Well, I would actually argue that political/economic reforms are the true quickest way to national wealth. The Soviet Union/Russia, for example, had plenty of technical innovation, graduating immense numbers of engineers per year, and being the first nation to send a man in space and the 2nd nation to develop nuclear weapons. Yet that didn't save its economy from stagnation and its people from poverty.
    Well, if we are gonna get nitpicky then I could simply mention that intellect is more important than technical innovation or political/economic reforms in terms of economic growth. Please, when I'm referencing OECD economies it's pretty obvious what I meant. I'll take it that you agree with me that technical innovation is very important to growing our economy.
  • ee_stuee_stu Registered User Posts: 482 Member
    In the US, that's not the case. Engineers are seen as 'geeks' and 'nerds'. You receive very little social prestige by saying that you're an engineer. That's why a lot of Americans don't really want to do it.

    LOL. I can attest that EEs ARE nerds and geeks. It seems there are more lively personalities in mechE, civE, chemE, and environmental E.
  • RacinReaverRacinReaver Registered User Posts: 6,610 Senior Member
    The real goal is to create a better situation for the median citizen. Not create a better situation for engineers. More engineers means more innovation. A simple look at patent production makes this exceedingly clear.

    I'd think we'd be better off if the "superstar" engineers from schools such as MIT, Berkeley, Stanford, Cornell, and so on were to stick with engineering instead of fleeing to ibanking and finance.
  • ratrollratroll Registered User Posts: 157 Junior Member
    According to Berkeley's career center, the vast majority of graduates did stick with engineering.. something like 2 went into IBanking... its the most over hyped, over exaggerated career on CC..
  • sakkysakky - Posts: 14,759 Senior Member
    According to Berkeley's career center, the vast majority of graduates did stick with engineering.. something like 2 went into IBanking.

    But the real question is, how many actually got Ibanking offers and decided to stay with engineering anyway? I imagine, not many.
  • RacinReaverRacinReaver Registered User Posts: 6,610 Senior Member
    And another real question is how many actually wanted IBanking offers that were interested in getting one.
  • ratrollratroll Registered User Posts: 157 Junior Member
    A real, real question, is how many of those students knew what IBanking was, what it involved, how to get into the field, etc? I am not joking. Look, I'm not ragging on the career (its awesome.. if you can break into it), but outside of CC, people working in finance, and Ivy-league students, very few people know what IBanking is -- including engineering students in highly ranked state universities. The vast majority of them probably thought that landing a job with Google, Apple, or Microsoft is the ultimate first job. Mentioning Goldman Sachs would get a blank stare from the 22 year olds. Tell people you want to be an investment banker and most people will think of a personal banker sitting behind a table at their neighborhood WaMu.
  • sakkysakky - Posts: 14,759 Senior Member
    A real, real question, is how many of those students knew what IBanking was, what it involved, how to get into the field, etc? I am not joking. Look, I'm not ragging on the career (its awesome.. if you can break into it), but outside of CC, people working in finance, and Ivy-league students, very few people know what IBanking is -- including engineering students in highly ranked state universities. The vast majority of them probably thought that landing a job with Google, Apple, or Microsoft is the ultimate first job. Mentioning Goldman Sachs would get a blank stare from the 22 year olds. Tell people you want to be an investment banker and most people will think of a personal banker sitting behind a table at their neighborhood WaMu.

    Yeah, sure, I agree. But that doesn't take away from the central point that for those in the know, Ibanking is a highly desired job.

    Besides, I'll make the point you made even more general. Outside of CC, how many people can even name 5 or 10 top schools? After Harvard, Yale, and maybe Princeton (and even the last one is questionable), most regular people really start to struggle, and start naming local schools or schools with major sports programs. For example, especially on the East Coast, I continue to find hordes of people who have never heard of Stanford or Berkeley, except perhaps in the context of sports. I knew a girl who graduated from MIT and took a job at Harley-Davidson (in Milwaukee), and she continually runs into coworkers who think that MIT stands for the "Milwaukee Institute of Technology". Then of course you have the University of Pennsylvania and University of Chicago which have practically zero name-brand recognition among regular people, and who are almost always mistaken for just being regular public schools. Plenty of regular people hear UPenn and they start thinking of Joe Paterno and football.

    Hence, I think it is entirely appropriate to look at the CC crowd when it comes to judging careers. After all, the CC crowd actually knows and cares about higher education in a way that regular Americans do not.
  • rkbgtrkbgt Registered User Posts: 200 Junior Member
    What exactly is investment banking? Do they have it at UMich? I saw this chart for engineering internships at UMich and financial engineering made over $6k per month whereas the rest like mechanical and chemical made 3 to 4. Is IBanking financial engineering?
  • chaospaladinchaospaladin Registered User Posts: 747 Member
    At UCSB for Ch E, for those who declare the Ch E major,

    20% drops out, 40% changes major, 40% graduates with a B.S.
  • BCEagle91BCEagle91 Registered User Posts: 22,762 Senior Member
    "However, engineering is one of the few professions where *more* jobs are created by producing more of them.

    It takes a critical mass of research and expertise to build a region of engineering expertise which becomes the place where people want to work in the area because that is where everyone works in that area. A huge problem is if there aren't enough graduates available to feed the demand. If it gets too hard to recruit in the area, then the center of expertise can migrate, potentially offshore.
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