Germany alarmed at lack of engineers
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  1. #1
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    Headline news this morning, Aug 11, on yahoo:
    Article from Christian Science Monitor

    For centuries, Germany led the world in technological prowess, from the motorcycle to the refrigerator. In the 19th century, inventors and entrepreneurs like Gottlieb Daimler, Carl Benz, and Carl Wilhelm Siemens developed products for brands still respected today. But over the past few years, young Germans have dramatically turned away from engineering – and now, the country needs 18,000 engineers – a third more than last year, according to the German Association of Engineers in Berlin. Alarmed that this gap could endanger Germany's engineering creativity, businesses are trying to stem the tide by launching a publicity campaign to make engineering sound like fun from kindergarten through university.
    (One way to ease the engineering shortage is to stop laying them off because they have reached fifty years old. Just my thought.)

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    To me, Germany has been noted for it's scientists and craftsmen rather than it's engineers.

    When Koenig invented his printing press that used a cylinder rather than a flat platen, he had to go to England to get it made.

    In England he was able to hitch the thing to a steam engine. It doesn't take much thought to realize the importance of this set of inventions.

    So we have a Germaan invention that had to be taken to England to have the engineering done.

    It was nearly two decades before Keonig could sell any of his presses in his home country. The Germans stubbornly resisted mechanization.

    The Koenig and Bauer Company (The name translates to 'king and worker') is still making printing presses in Germany and now in Italy; they bought the Giori works, Giori makes currency presses. [img]smile.gif[/img]

    If Koenig and Bauer is amongst those feeling the shortage of engineers they mush have a strong feeling of deja vu.

    Most of the German machinists I have talked with say that a student has to complete an apprenticeship in order to be eligible to enter engineering school.

    Therein lies The Rub. If the German industries down size their machine shops, they down size the pool of candidates for mechanical engineering school. The math is working against them since not all who complete their apprenticeships go on to engineering.

    England lately doesn't look to be in any beter shape. Jerry can't look to John Bull the way he used to.

    If the situation gets bad enough you are going to see Sweet and Sour Pork right alongside the Schnitzle Mit Noodles in the local restaurants.

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    I don't think Jerry ever had to do much looking to John Bull....The germans have had a high degree of inventiveness for quite a while. I don't recall Oskar Barnack consulting the Brits when he developed the first 35mm camera (Leica)....

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    Well,
    If it comes to victorian age machinery, driven by flatbelts and water or steam, we´ll ask the brits. If it´s outdated electromechanical stuff, too big and with an ugly look, again the brits...
    We bought a high tech machine from england 10 years ago. After we ripped out everything except the sheet metal and the reaction chamber itself and installed our german made valve blocks and controls, the machine stopped to work influenced by horoscopes, flood and by state of moon and stars. These english guys were so good, they had to close down their company 8 years ago.

    Since the world moved on the last 100 years, we can do it on our own now.
    After exchanging predjuces, we can go on with the facts, now


    Cheers,
    Johann

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    Johann has a point. British engineering was world class in terms of quality and quantity in the Victorian era - no argument.

    It was also subject to not just a lack of support by a succession of Governments but outright hostility. German engineering on the other hand, received massive support and developed a high level of excellence.

    Eventually, Govt hostility has driven virtually all UK manufacturing down - R&D, new plant, investment generally has fallen virtually to nothing over the last 50 years.

    Of course, the UK is not unique in this. The US seems to be following pretty much the same course after being pre-eminent in engineering/manufacturing for most of the C20th. Looks like Germany is going down the same hole too now.

    Who the Hell wants to make stuff when you can get all the money/fame/adulation playing at golf, or politics or finance.

    Engineering has ceased to be an attractive occupation in the Western world.

    Regards, Jim

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    Oskar Barnack probably had to consult with the Americans. 35MM film was originaaly made for the movie industry. B&W or color, the stuff was good, plentiful and cheap.

    Things didn't stay the same after Keonig's time. During the 1800's England's interest went toward their empire while mechanical technology blossomed in the USA and science did the same in Germany.

    When the English funding and interest in the astromomical sicences waned, those same sciecnces flourished in Germany. In embracing those sciences, Germany came to command the optical arts. Few nations can match them today. Those who are equal (Japan and at one time, the USA) were taught by the Germans.

    Frankly this topic was a surprise to me. I thought the last nation to worry about a shortage of engineers would be Germany.

    Johann, what in modern German society could you say is causing the lack of interest amongst the young? I always thought that the ambition to become an engineer was stronger in Germany than even in the USA.

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    Oskar Barnack probably had to consult with the Americans. 35MM film was originaaly made for the movie industry. B&W or color, the stuff was good, plentiful and cheap.
    Probably??? Seemingly strong bias there....
    He didn't have to consult anyone. While our american geniuses were lugging around large press cameras He identified a need and went for it. A true inventor looks at other technologies and applies them in a new fashion. He DID realize that movie film was of a high quality and knew that to use 4 x5 or 8 x 10 sheet film to make prints almost the same size was not the most efficient way to go.

    But the real issue here Jim, is that somehow you seem to feel the germans needed a hand in the design arena---historically very inaccurate. This is not to minimize the excellent design by other nations but just recognize the contributations Germany has made.

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    I think this statement pretty much sums up the complete truth:

    Who the Hell wants to make stuff when you can get all the money/fame/adulation playing at golf, or politics or finance.

    Engineering has ceased to be an attractive occupation in the Western world.
    It is as accurate as it gets, and applies to EVERY nation in Europe and North America.
    Those who left are mostly snotnosed stuck-up wannabes or sour dinosaurs.
    What would be the solution? Hell if I know. Money may not be enough, as it is just not "hip" to be an engineer nowadays. What would most youngsters tell their newly acquired babe as to their occupation: Neuro-surgeon or elelctrical engineer?
    Venture capitalist or Fluid dynamic specialist?
    I probably make more money and am happier with my shop than the average radiologist, cardiologist or even a general surgeon, yet whenever I state < proudly > that I'm a machinist, the typical reply I get is a resounding oahh. Same for engineers.
    Now I personally coudn't give a rat's ass anymore, having a happily married with children and all, but for 20 somethings it's just not cool enough. Sure, a cute blonde may notice if you say you designed the cockpit of the F22 Raptor, but tell them that your major accomplishment was the design of a fuel nozzle for an oil furnace to increase heat transfer efficiency to 91%, and see what looks you'll get.
    Maybe, when corporations realize that the high-flying execs can't sell anything or can't make money due to lack of acceptable products without good engineers, they will start paying less for waterfountain conversations and more for the blueprint ones.
    As long as third-grade retards with a "business" degree drive a Porche full of golfclubs, while the engineer drives a Honda Civic loaded with mangled half-done gadgets and napkins with pencil drawings all over them, this trend will continue.

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    Hy Jim,
    Problem is the bean counters took over...so they evaluate everything by revenue.
    I worked for three different chip companies over here. Bean counting goes so far they impair R&D because it´s hard to calculate the costs! I spent more time with bookings than I spent with working some month. If you tell them it´s easy to calculate the costs, because if we don´t do it, it will cost us our future, they look like sheeps at you.
    This is especially a problem if your buisness is highly cyclic, like investment goods, machinery and consumer electronics. Here, you´ll lose your shirt for three years, then you´ll earn money so you have no idea where to put it and then again, down into the darkness...every five years. and the bean counters only look up the next 3 month. They don´t know about strategic planning. And they missed to recruit during these low profit years, because they´ll need the man power now they didn´t buy three years ago.
    They misused students and freshly finished engineers as cheap workforce with limited contracts in a hire and fire manner. A friend of mine had 6 contracts in 2 years (in a R&D department!). When they finally realized they needed him , he said KMA and joined another company. And he was right to do so.

    With this atmosphere, a lot of great guys leave to the US.
    Also, universites beat their engineers pretty hard while they practice laissez-faire with social and art related topics. If I can have a MBA for nothing and an engineer for hard work, what do I choose? Income is the same...
    Which gets us back to the bean counters again, because the gouverment drains the universites from funds and staff. We worked with a major university with a very good physics and semiconductor department, the feds just took 60 persons from the staff during the last two years, altered the ratios of professers/post grads/students so far that it´s a burden to work and cut costs so if their equipment breaks down, they can´t afford to fix it. These guys did world class work while their machines were still running. Aah, these are dream conditions...where will the professor go next? No idea, maybe away?
    Next topic, modern children are too far away from danger to grow interest. I played with a bb gun, which tought me respect for guns. I played with chemistry to the point where i was able to lift cabinet sized rocks with my bombs, this tought me what not to do. I played with my brothers tools and his motorbikes. I wrecked stuff and fixed it,
    that´s education towards technology. Engineering is fun. Machinery is fun.
    But they will never find out. Because dirty hands are baaaaad and don´t go well with a fancy moblie and hiphop clothing. Not only they´ll never grow into their own oversized trousers, they´ll never grow up anyhow. Fools they are.
    There are many more reasons...and each one drives me nuts.

    Another thing is if one engineer talks bad, he´ll shy away 10 students...that´s why I´ll stop now.


    Cheers,
    Johann

    Or, with Henry Ford:

    If you need a machine and you don´t buy it, then you´ll pay it but you won´t have it.

    Same applies to staff. the next problem is they miss trained toolmakers...same thing here, not only the engineers. Why? Because they were to cheap to educate them.

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    Engineering has ceased to be an attractive occupation in the Western world.
    And heres the reason why

    I'm a pretty good CNC programmer/setter in order for me to earn my lousy $19/hr (uk £10 )

    In order to be a CNC basher like me you need:
    4 yrs engineering apprenticeship, learning from which end of a file to hold, etc etc
    and about 5-7 yrs CNC bodgery
    To be a degree qualified engineer (grads start at about £18 000'ish/yr) you need
    2 years 'A' levels
    3 yrs engineering degree course

    Of course if you do a subject for your degree such as accounting or law you can get a starting rate of about £25 000 /yr with the sky being the limit.

    Who in their right mind is going do a degree course that means you end up being paid £7000 less a year when you graduate, and offers lower pay throughout any career you have, assuming of course your job is'nt outsourced to china......

    Boris

    /rant mode off

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    We started this based on something the Christian Science Monitor said??

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    i was able to lift cabinet sized rocks with my bombs, this tought me what not to do.
    Yeah - Takes ages for your ears to stop ringing!

    We started this based on something the Christian Science Monitor said??
    Worrying, isn't it?

    Jim

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    "We started this based on something the Christian Science Monitor said?? "

    Atleast it wasn't the emminently 'Fair & Balanced' Fox News

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    No, smallshop, not a strong bias here.

    However Mr. Barnack wanted to design his camera, he had to know the specifications of the film he was going to use. He may have even gone as far as contacting Eastman in order to get a drawing of the film's dimensions and specifications of the film's characteristics.

    This doesn't diminish Mr. Barnack in any way. In fact this kind of consultation is the prudent thing an inventor or an engineer would do.

    Saying that Oskar Barnack didn't have to consult anyone puts the bias at the opposite angle. He didn't invent the camera, he didn't invent the film he was not an ubermensch. He designed a specific opto-mechanical device that performed a specific function.

    Historically the Germans are more developers than inventors. While they were outsatnding scientists, their roster of original inventions comes nowhere near matching that of the USA or even Britain.

    Remember, there wasn't a unified or populus Germany in the time before Bismark.

    The steam engine and the steam locomotive were already quite far along in development, The Corliss steam engine preceeds Bismark by more than ten years.

    Germany was the victim of the confused political and military affairs of Old Europe, it wasn't that the Germans weren't inventive or creative, there weren't that many of them in the technical arts.

    Look at Rudolph Diesel's invention. The USA literally ran away with it. In twenty five years, the USA was the major supplier of Diesel engines and Americans had more patents associated with the engine than anyone else anywhere.

    Once again, German industry and their mechanical and scientific arts were the victims of European intrigues, politics and war.

    Development is an important concern because it is in development that engineers are needed. Many of the American inventors were not engineers and their inventions became useful only after an engineering analysis made then practical in design and easily produced.

    I fully recognise the contributions that the Germans made to technology, science and engineering. I also recognize the limits that they had to work under.

    I also want to point out that I am fully aware that a huge number of American inventions and elegant engineering accomplishments were made by Germans in America.

    German people have an incredible aptitude for the technical arts and crafts. They just need the freedom to express it. They also need encouragement. I know that now they have the freedom, I am surprised that they are worried about a shortage.

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    Jerry can't look to John Bull the way he used to
    Anyone who has ever played with European cars would have have an interesting take on this. Which would you rather have Lucas electrics or some german stuff that worked.

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    Heh heh

    there was a phrase

    "Joe Lucas, Prince of darkness"


    Which I think is a bit better than

    "Fairly unbalanced Fox news"

    Boris

    <<been at the wobbley juice

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    Well it just happens that I have five cars and two were made in Germany by Mercedes Benz. One is a SLK230 and the other is a C270CDI C Class Estate car. The latter cost some £30,000.
    Yesterday, it went in for an A Class Service which is primarily an Oil Change but the front discs appeared worn and were replaced at a cost of £625 in all.
    When the car had done only about 5000 miles it stopped- outside its garage- and had to be towed away. The fault was finally detected to the Engine management unit and a replacement ordered.
    Whatever happened I don't know the truth but between the factory in Stuttgart and Newcastle, the unit was lost. I was assured that this was the unit tailored to suit the specific engine and a new one had to be tailored to fit my car and my car alone.In other words, Germany had made one unit specially for my car, the replacement was for my car only and the factory would have to divert all its resources to make yet another part. After some two months, the car was returned but it was only with a threat to take the local MD to Court that a replacement car was provided. Ironically, it was his own.

    Mercedes has an excellent warranty- and so it should. However the special alloy wheels started to corrode near the valves and despite a row, only the wheels nuts were replaced. By this time, part of the fittings within the engine bay started to corrode. The only replacement was a broken bracket. Today, the corrosion is simply worse.
    In December last, a coil spring in the front suspension broke and was found on a Government required examination( MOT) and replaced as a sort of grace and favour thing.however, to remove the special locking locking nut in each wheel a special splined driver was needed.
    It was stored in the boot or what you call the trunk. On return to us, the plasticised boot cover- a sort of blind refused to function properly. my wife secured the cover with- clothes pegs! In June, there was agreement to replace the unit when the next service was due.
    Now, a new man has backed out of the earlier agreement. He phoned back to advise that theere was severe corrosion iin the rear brake disks as well and these would require changing at the same time. I have as recognised vehicle qualification, am a certified body welder and all that sort of thing- and I knew the condition.
    There was a millimetre of wear and the disks were shiny! German training and English practicalities came in and the fluid was changed.
    The heat ensued and I was told that after almost five years, the wheels would be replaced. Night came and by morning,only the wheel nuts were to be replaced with second hand iunits- lying around. The wheel corrosion had been caused by the tyre fitters when the tyres were changed.
    But the tyres had been changed at the beginning of this year- and the corrosion 4 years ago.
    The impasse came when I simply demanded the bill, the car keys and a written copy of the vehicle history with details of reasons for refusals. The bombshell was dropped when I put a pound coin onto the counter and asked under the Data Protection Act of the information stored by Mercedes belonging to my wife and myself.

    At this point, I had to re-explain all the problems again. to other staff.

    The matter remains unresolved. The older SLK needs another service but who will do it?
    The children- all of whom are sufficiently able to buy at least a new Mercedes each have to face a codicil in my will that their share of the loot will be forfeited if a Merc appears!

    As far as a rant is concerned, it continues.

    It is odd to think that my 13 year old Seat Marbella which has no street cred and cost washers, is mechanically better.

    Perhaps, things will change- but I doubt it.

    Norman

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    We quit Engineering to sell Insurance. We make more money now. We invent in my garage on the side.
    It's my hobby for us rather than my job. We like this better. No Stress here.

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    Thanks for the more in depth explanation, Jim. Sorry to read something that wasn't there. [img]redface.gif[/img]

    I also want to point out that I am fully aware that a huge number of American inventions and elegant engineering accomplishments were made by Germans in America.
    I don't know how much certain abilities are a genetic thing. I DO think environment has much to do with it. I think the US was fertile soil for anyone who wanted to take some risks and try something new. Still is but many other countries also provide better creative environments than they did in years past.I believe american inventors due to environment and multi nation immigrant talent creating a good synergy have been amazingly prolific. Yes, as an american I am biased.

    Ted

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    Which would you rather have Lucas electrics or some german stuff that worked.
    I think Norman is leaning towards Lucas......


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