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What type of engineering is most susceptible to outsourcing?

azndude1azndude1 66 replies42 threads Junior Member
edited October 2010 in Engineering Majors
Please no "outsourcing is over exaggerated, there's nothing to worry about".

I know it is occurring so I wanted to know what type of engineering is most outsourced...
edited October 2010
82 replies
Post edited by azndude1 on
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Replies to: What type of engineering is most susceptible to outsourcing?

  • AuburnMathTutorAuburnMathTutor 1742 replies28 threads Senior Member
    I recommend consulting the BLS OOH for job projection figures. The explanations will often describe how outsourcing effects things. Let me paste a bunch here:

    "Aerospace engineers are expected to have 10 percent growth in employment over the projections decade, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Increases in the number and scope of military aerospace projects likely will generate new jobs. In addition, new technologies expected to be used on commercial aircraft produced during the next decade should spur demand for aerospace engineers. The employment outlook for aerospace engineers appears favorable. The number of degrees granted in aerospace engineering has declined for many years because of a perceived lack of opportunities in this field. Although this trend has reversed, new graduates continue to be needed to replace aerospace engineers who retire or leave the occupation for other reasons. "
    => Outsourcing doesn't seem to be a problem.

    "Agricultural engineers are expected to have employment growth of 9 percent over the projections decade, about as fast as the average for all occupations. More engineers will be needed to meet the increasing demand for using biosensors to determine the optimal treatment of crops. Employment growth should also result from the need to increase crop yields to feed an expanding population and produce crops used as renewable energy sources. Moreover, engineers will be needed to develop more efficient agricultural production and conserve resources."
    => No problems here...

    "Biomedical engineers are expected to have 21 percent employment growth over the projections decade, much faster than the average for all occupations. The aging of the population and the focus on health issues will drive demand for better medical devices and equipment designed by biomedical engineers. Along with the demand for more sophisticated medical equipment and procedures, an increased concern for cost-effectiveness will boost demand for biomedical engineers, particularly in pharmaceutical manufacturing and related industries. However, because of the growing interest in this field, the number of degrees granted in biomedical engineering has increased greatly. Biomedical engineers, particularly those with only a bachelor’s degree, may face competition for jobs. Unlike many other engineering specialties, a graduate degree is recommended or required for many entry-level jobs."
    => Great growth here, no outsourcing fears...

    "Chemical engineers are expected to have employment growth of 8 percent over the projections decade, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Although overall employment in the chemical manufacturing industry is expected to decline, chemical companies will continue to research and develop new chemicals and more efficient processes to increase output of existing chemicals. Among manufacturing industries, pharmaceuticals may provide the best opportunities for jobseekers. However, most employment growth for chemical engineers will be in service-providing industries such as professional, scientific, and technical services, particularly for research in energy and the developing fields of biotechnology and nanotechnology. "
    => This seems to hint at the idea that the manufacturing side of ChemE might be going away for good... but newer, better opportunities are replacing them.

    "Civil engineers are expected to experience 18 percent employment growth during the projections decade, faster than the average for all occupations. Spurred by general population growth and the related need to improve the Nation’s infrastructure, more civil engineers will be needed to design and construct or expand transportation, water supply, and pollution control systems and buildings and building complexes. They also will be needed to repair or replace existing roads, bridges, and other public structures. Because construction industries and architectural, engineering and related services employ many civil engineers, employment opportunities will vary by geographic area and may decrease during economic slowdowns, when construction is often curtailed. "
    => No problems here, none at all.

    "Computer hardware engineers are expected to have 5 percent employment growth over the projections decade, slower than the average for all occupations. Although the use of information technology continues to expand rapidly, the manufacture of computer hardware is expected to be adversely affected by intense foreign competition. As computer and semiconductor manufacturers contract out more of their engineering needs to both domestic and foreign design firms, much of the growth in employment of hardware engineers is expected in the computer systems design and related services industry."

    "Electrical engineers are expected to have employment growth of 6 percent over the projections decade, slower than the average for all occupations. Although strong demand for electrical devices—including electric power generators, wireless phone transmitters, high-density batteries, and navigation systems—should spur job growth, international competition and the use of engineering services performed in other countries will limit employment growth. Electrical engineers working in firms providing engineering expertise and design services to manufacturers should have better job prospects."

    "Electronics engineers, except computer are expected to have employment growth of 4 percent during the projections decade, slower than the average for all occupations. Although rising demand for electronic goods—including communications equipment, defense-related equipment, medical electronics, and consumer products—should continue to increase demand for electronics engineers, foreign competition in electronic products development and the use of engineering services performed in other countries will limit employment growth. Growth is expected to be fastest in service-providing industries—particularly in firms that provide engineering and design services."

    "Environmental engineers should have employment growth of 25 percent during the projections decade, much faster than the average for all occupations. More environmental engineers will be needed to comply with environmental regulations and to develop methods of cleaning up existing hazards. A shift in emphasis toward preventing problems rather than controlling those that already exist, as well as increasing public health concerns resulting from population growth, also are expected to spur demand for environmental engineers. Because of this employment growth, job opportunities should be good even as more students earn degrees. Even though employment of environmental engineers should be less affected by economic conditions than most other types of engineers, a significant economic downturn could reduce the emphasis on environmental protection, reducing job opportunities. "
    => No problems, really...

    "Health and safety engineers, except mining safety engineers and inspectors are projected to experience 10 percent employment growth over the projections decade, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Because health and safety engineers make production processes and products as safe as possible, their services should be in demand as concern increases for health and safety within work environments. As new technologies for production or processing are developed, health and safety engineers will be needed to ensure that they are safe. "
    => Alright...

    "Industrial engineers are expected to have employment growth of 20 percent over the projections decade, faster than the average for all occupations. As firms look for new ways to reduce costs and raise productivity, they increasingly will turn to industrial engineers to develop more efficient processes and reduce costs, delays, and waste. This should lead to job growth for these engineers, even in manufacturing industries with slowly growing or declining employment overall. Because their work is similar to that done in management occupations, many industrial engineers leave the occupation to become managers. Many openings will be created by the need to replace industrial engineers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force. "
    => Looking good...

    "Marine engineers and naval architects are expected to experience employment growth of 11 percent over the projections decade, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Strong demand for naval vessels and recreational small craft should more than offset the long-term decline in the domestic design and construction of large oceangoing vessels. Good prospects are expected for marine engineers and naval architects because of growth in employment, the need to replace workers who retire or take other jobs, and the limited number of students pursuing careers in this occupation."
    => Not too shabby...

    "Materials engineers are expected to have employment growth of 4 percent over the projections decade, slower than the average for all occupations. Although employment is expected to decline in many of the manufacturing industries in which materials engineers are concentrated, growth should be strong for materials engineers working on nanomaterials and biomaterials. As manufacturing firms contract for their materials engineering needs, employment growth is expected in professional, scientific, and technical services industries also. "
    => This seems to indicate that materials manufacturing is going away as well...

    "Mechanical engineers are projected to have 4 percent employment growth over the projections decade, slower than the average for all occupations. This is because total employment in manufacturing industries—in which employment of mechanical engineers is concentrated—is expected to decline. Some new job opportunities will be created due to emerging technologies in biotechnology, materials science, and nanotechnology. Additional opportunities outside of mechanical engineering will exist because the skills acquired through earning a degree in mechanical engineering often can be applied in other engineering specialties. "
    => As manufacturing goes away, this will suffer. This is indirectly due to outsourcing.

    "Mining and geological engineers, including mining safety engineers are expected to have 10 percent employment growth over the projections decade, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Following a lengthy period of decline, strong growth in demand for minerals and increased use of mining engineers in the oil and gas extraction industry is expected to create some employment growth over the 2006-16 period. Moreover, many mining engineers currently employed are approaching retirement age, a factor that should create additional job openings. Furthermore, relatively few schools offer mining engineering programs, resulting in good job opportunities for graduates. The best opportunities may require frequent travel or even living overseas for extended periods of time as mining operations around the world recruit graduates of U.S. mining engineering programs. "
    => Looks fine.

    "Nuclear engineers are expected to have employment growth of 7 percent over the projections decade, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Most job growth will be in research and development and engineering services. Although no commercial nuclear power plants have been built in the United States for many years, nuclear engineers will be needed to operate existing plants and design new ones, including researching future nuclear power sources. They also will be needed to work in defense-related areas, to develop nuclear medical technology, and to improve and enforce waste management and safety standards. Nuclear engineers are expected to have good employment opportunities because the small number of nuclear engineering graduates is likely to be in rough balance with the number of job openings."
    => Not bad.

    "Petroleum engineers are expected to have 5 percent employment growth over the projections decade, more slowly than the average for all occupations. Even though most of the potential petroleum-producing areas in the United States already have been explored, petroleum engineers will increasingly be needed to develop new methods of extracting more resources from existing sources. Favorable opportunities are expected for petroleum engineers because the number of job openings is likely to exceed the relatively small number of graduates. Petroleum engineers work around the world and, in fact, the best employment opportunities may include some work in other countries. "
    => This may just be a global phenomenon.
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  • AuburnMathTutorAuburnMathTutor 1742 replies28 threads Senior Member
    "Employment change. Employment of computer software engineers is projected to increase by 38 percent over the 2006 to 2016 period, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. This occupation will generate about 324,000 new jobs, over the projections decade, one of the largest employment increases of any occupation.

    Employment growth will result as businesses and other organizations adopt and integrate new technologies and seek to maximize the efficiency of their computer systems. Competition among businesses will continue to create incentive for sophisticated technological innovations, and organizations will need more computer software engineers to implement these changes.

    Demand for computer software engineers will also increase as computer networking continues to grow. For example, expanding Internet technologies have spurred demand for computer software engineers who can develop Internet, intranet, and World Wide Web applications. Likewise, electronic data-processing systems in business, telecommunications, government, and other settings continue to become more sophisticated and complex. Implementing, safeguarding, and updating computer systems and resolving problems will fuel the demand for growing numbers of systems software engineers.

    New growth areas will also continue to arise from rapidly evolving technologies. The increasing uses of the Internet, the proliferation of Web sites, and mobile technology such as wireless Internet have created a demand for a wide variety of new products. As individuals and businesses rely more on hand-held computers and wireless networks, it will be necessary to integrate current computer systems with this new, more mobile technology.

    In addition, information security concerns have given rise to new software needs. Concerns over “cyber security” should result in businesses and government continuing to invest heavily in software that protects their networks and vital electronic infrastructure from attack. The expansion of this technology in the next 10 years will lead to an increased need for computer engineers to design and develop the software and systems to run these new applications and integrate them into older systems.

    As with other information technology jobs, outsourcing of software development to other countries may temper somewhat employment growth of computer software engineers. Firms may look to cut costs by shifting operations to foreign countries with lower prevailing wages and highly educated workers. Jobs in software engineering are less prone to being offshored than are jobs in other computer specialties, however, because software engineering requires innovation and intense research and development."
    => No problems.

    "Employment change. Employment of computer programmers is expected to decline slowly, decreasing by 4 percent from 2006 to 2016. The consolidation and centralization of systems and applications, developments in packaged software, advances in programming languages and tools, and the growing ability of users to design, write, and implement more of their own programs mean that more programming functions can be performed by other types of information workers, such as computer software engineers.

    Another factor contributing to employment decline will be the offshore outsourcing of programming jobs. Because they can transmit their programs digitally, computer programmers can perform their job function from anywhere in the world, allowing companies to employ workers in countries that have lower prevailing wages. Computer programmers are at a much higher risk of having their jobs outsourced abroad than are workers involved in more complex and sophisticated information technology functions, such as software engineering. Much of the work of computer programmers requires little localized or specialized knowledge and can be made routine once knowledge of a particular programming language is mastered—and computer programming languages have become known internationally.

    Nevertheless, employers will continue to need some local programmers, especially those who have strong technical skills and who understand an employer’s business and its programming requirements. This means that programmers will have to keep abreast of changing programming languages and techniques. Given the importance of networking and the expansion of client/server, Web-based, and wireless environments, organizations will look for programmers who can support data communications and help implement business and intranet strategies. Demand for programmers with strong object-oriented programming capabilities and technical specialization in areas such as client/server programming, wireless applications, multimedia technology, and graphic user interface likely will stem from the expansion of intranets, extranets, and Internet applications. Programmers also will be needed to create and maintain expert systems and embed these technologies in more products. Finally, a growing emphasis on cybersecurity will lead to increased demand for programmers who are familiar with digital security issues, and are skilled in using appropriate security technology. "

    "Employment change. The computer scientists and database administrators occupation is expected to grow 37 percent from 2006 to 2016, much faster than average for all occupations. Employment of these computer specialists is expected to grow as organizations continue to adopt and integrate increasingly sophisticated technologies. Job increases will be driven by very rapid growth in computer systems design and related services, which is projected to be one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. economy.

    The demand for networking to facilitate the sharing of information, the expansion of client-server environments, and the need for computer specialists to use their knowledge and skills in a problem-solving capacity will be major factors in the rising demand for computer scientists and database administrators. Firms will continue to seek out computer specialists who are able to implement the latest technologies and are able to apply them to meet the needs of businesses as they struggle to maintain a competitive advantage.

    As computers continue to become more central to business functions, more sophisticated and complex technology is being implemented across all organizations, fueling demand for computer scientists and database administrators. There is growing demand for network systems and data communication analysts to help firms maximize their efficiency with available technology. Expansion of electronic commerce—doing business on the Internet—and the continuing need to build and maintain databases that store critical information on customers, inventory, and projects are fueling demand for database administrators familiar with the latest technology. Because of the increasing reliance on the Internet among businesses, information security is an increasing concern.

    The development of new technologies leads to demand for various kinds of workers. The expanding integration of Internet technologies into businesses, for example, has resulted in a growing need for specialists who can develop and support Internet and intranet applications. The growth of electronic commerce means that more establishments use the Internet to conduct their business online. It also means more security specialists are needed to protect their systems. The spread of such new technologies translates into a need for information technology professionals who can help organizations use technology to communicate with employees, clients, and consumers. Explosive growth in these areas also is expected to fuel demand for specialists who are knowledgeable about network, data, and communications security."
    => Looking fine.
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  • AuburnMathTutorAuburnMathTutor 1742 replies28 threads Senior Member
    You can look up a ton of information on just about any job you want. Just Google "BLS OOH".
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  • azndude1azndude1 66 replies42 threads Junior Member
    Well, that's great... Another reason to worry about going into Electrical/Computer Engineering...
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  • greenvisongreenvison 448 replies43 threads Member
    hey Auburn what about CS? hehehe, wait thats not engineering :)
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  • AuburnMathTutorAuburnMathTutor 1742 replies28 threads Senior Member
    Well, you can read the text and see if you don't come to the same conclusion.

    The point is that there are still ample jobs for *good* engineers. Good engineers know the ideas, not the tools; they can communicate their ideas to teammates and not just to machines; they can understand the business model and not just a schematic. Good engineers have the people skills and fundamental knowledge of the theoretical underpinnings of their discipline that can't be pawned off to cheap labor.

    You have to be able to produce as much value - if not more - than you expect to be paid. If you want a comfortable and stable job getting ~$100k/year, you need to provide a service that is worth that much money, as in, having you there will earn the company that much money per year.

    Assume your company makes 10,000 units of product A per year, and 10,000 units of product B. Say that in one year, you essentially contribute to the company the following benefits: the cost of producing product A goes from $100 per unit to $95 per unit; you take product A and product B and create a product C that does the work of both, and your company produces 1,000 of these in a year and sells them for a $75 profit per unit. Then the company can pay you $100k/year and still be skimming $25k off the top.
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  • AuburnMathTutorAuburnMathTutor 1742 replies28 threads Senior Member
    I put CS in the second post of mine, greenvision. The BLS does not include Software Engineering or any of the other CS disciplines under the general title of "engineering". So I guess, in this sense, you are correct, CS is not engineering.
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  • greenvisongreenvison 448 replies43 threads Member
    im just playing man
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  • al6200al6200 1513 replies66 threads Senior Member
    I'm a sophomore electrical engineering student right now, and I'm wondering if I should plan on going to law school and becoming a patent attorney, since that cannot be outsourced.
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  • easternboardereasternboarder 129 replies22 threads Junior Member
    average people care about averages, nuff said.
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  • greenvisongreenvison 448 replies43 threads Member
    Al6 -

    My close relative took that job and quit after 2 months. Its incredibly boring so now he is doing "engineering stuff" for 10k lower with a company that offered him a higher offer first. When they realized( i guess) he was desperate, they threw him a low baller.
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  • OHZarkOHZark 49 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Any engineering job that is routine, requires little creativity, is not in the core business or technology of a company, and can be done remotely might be at greater risk of outsourcing. If what you do doesn't provide a competitive advantage to your company, there is little driving force to keep it inside the walls.
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  • Mcubed23Mcubed23 215 replies61 threads Junior Member
    @ easternboarder- no they don't. Average people don't really care about the averages. Above average people care about them to make sure they are above them.
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  • Forever LSUForever LSU 419 replies0 threads Member
    The engineers who will earn the cookies are the ones Aurburn described. They are the engineers who are usually considered the backbone of their particular niche or research group. What is the major reason they have engineering consultants, why have consultants when you have engineers hired on with the company. Why can't they do it, why you ask, because the majority of people who have engineering degrees just have a sheet of paper. Just having a sheet of paper doesn't get you a high salary. Most of those guys are just put there as managers, but when it comes time to do plant design or coming up with a solution to increase production rates, they are like a lost kitten. The engineers who get paid well, as in the ~100k range as auburn mentioned are the ones that are valuable. By that I mean, you stand in the gap, you become the person that does the research needed to fix the problems that were just mentioned, you gain the knowledge to accomplish these tasks. If you can find a way to become the guy who saves the company consulting expenses because he is an expert in a particular area, and is actually a real "engineer". Then you have just become indespensable. It is these guys who will be able to adapt to the tough competition that is this economy of the future. It is them who will be able to survive outsourcing and other trials. The problem is becoming one of these individuals, not many people know how, neither do many people have the ability or talent. An engineer is not someone who has a sheet of paper, and engineer is someone who can come up with something that is not already there, someone who can see a design and not look at it as the standard, but sees where it can be improved, or how a process can be made more economic. That is an engineer. The problem is very few people can do this. Maybe 1 out of 1000 trained engineers, just a guess, maybe more or less. Engineering is not just calculations, there are a lot of guys that have solid math and physics backgrounds but not a lot of creativity. Creativity is something you can't teach, and that is what makes engineering unique. Do engineering if it is your niche, if it is your bread and butter, if you have the type of brain that feeds off of that kind of stuff. In this "world economy", you might be setting yourself up for a disaster if you are not one of those people. As for electrical engineering good luck, I spoke to a man who graduated from MIT and Berkley way back. He said that computer tech and skills will always be part of an engineering curriculum, but he said the days of that being useful and providing a stable career, he believes are over, long gone. This is a new world fellas. Its no longer the great ole' US of A standing out all by its lonesome on the tech fore front. Other people, from other countries are hungry, they want a middle class, they want the american dream, but they don't want to come an get it over here, they want to make it in their own country. The next 10-20 years will be a sight to see in my opinion. We will see more than enough manaufacturing jobs get flushed down the toilet. According the BLS, and according to what I am seeing with my own eyes, and have heard from individuals in the industry, major in a form of engineering that provides efficiency/improvement or is green. That includes civil, environmental, bio, and industrial eng, you could probably throw chemical, specifically if you focus on biological/environmental reasearch, but not manufacturing/materials. As stated in Auburn's post, aerospace is also great, because of the military defense sector, that is definately not going away, hell will freeze over beforet that goes down the drain, lol. Reason I say that is because not that you won't be able to find a job in the other disciplines, but you will be atleast guranteed a job in the disciplines mentioned. The other sectors will face fierce competition and offshoring because our companies are having to adjust to this new economic outlook. I mean come on, when their are thoughts of even shipping fast food ordering personel offshore, that is a problem, not for the people in other countries, but for us here in america. Our country is changing and you better be ready. Has been doing so for quite some time, but I think our government is finally starting to wake up from hibernation and acknowledge that fact, after all these years of denial.
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  • Forever LSUForever LSU 419 replies0 threads Member
    Or you can do what I did, petrol, but they currently have everyones momma, daddy, and uncles, brothers, sister, trying to get into that field. It will be interesting to see when all these people graduate. There are nearly 3 times as many people in school for it, than there are jobs open. You'll be seeing petrol E majors on the street, playing guitars and looking for coins to be placed in their hat, lol.
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  • vashydoomvashydoom 27 replies5 threads Junior Member
    Christ. If this forum were my sole source on major advice, I'd swear EE/CS guys are even worse off than liberal arts majors.
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  • AuburnMathTutorAuburnMathTutor 1742 replies28 threads Senior Member

    CS is doing quite fine, actually. EE looks like it may be losing some ground to outsourcing, but I'm not making this up...
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  • LaceroLacero 187 replies2 threads Junior Member
  • AuburnMathTutorAuburnMathTutor 1742 replies28 threads Senior Member
    Well, I've said it before and I'll say it again... I wouldn't consider opinions and anecdotes as valid arguments, and I would caution others against considering them such.

    Maybe there was a study linked somewhere in there, maybe some figures, but I didn't see anything to that effect referenced.
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  • Lou CostelloLou Costello 95 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Anecdote - Graduated with a degree in Engineering Physics and found a job in the military contracting field. Career accelerated, top reviews, promotions etc. Five years later bottom fell out, military cuts, no budget, no work, no commercial company would touch me.

    Returned to school. Graduated with EE degree, top of class. Six months later finally found work in the fledgling field of fiber optics (almost an entirely US field). Three start ups later (one successful), reached VP. In a heartbeat, all jobs shipped overseas (one place went from 150 line workers in the US to none in three months). All driven by "cost," (read stupidity). During my time in the field the size went from about 5000 to around 30,000 down to probably under 3000 now. All in the space of roughly eight years.

    I've watched as friend after friend leave engineering. Each ended up happier, working way less hours for equivalent pay doing something else (lawyer, doctor, several store owners, real estate agents - ok so this one's in trouble now but for a while it was gravy).

    Bottom line. In engineering just about every problem you try to solve is how to get the most reward for the least cost. All those who got out have easier, more stable lives and get paid equivalently. Most no longer worry about age obsolescence, something that starts at about age 30 in engineering. Evaluated as an engineer, the field of engineering is too much effort for too little reward, a waste of time.

    During my entire career, every year I heard how we need more engineers, from the news, from employers, from the government (way cool the way BLS actually promoted fiber optics needing more engineers while it was being crushed). We need more students. We need more H1-B's. We need more, more, more. What they were really saying was we want to pay you less, less, less.

    If you love engineering, really love it, take apart everything your given, pick up technical manuals for light reading and bring your laptop everywhere you go, then give it a shot. The joy of creating something unique is amazing. But its the rare engineer who has had a stable life, and even rarer has the engineer felt fulfilled. Do it because it's in your blood, otherwise, there are a lot better ways to make a buck.

    BTW - If I assume that in my career I've met and worked with possibly 150-300 engineers, If I had to make a throw a dart guess, I think that fewer then twenty remain in the field after 15 years.

    Sorry its not a happier story.
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