We often bemoan the “status” and “pay” of engineers but why are these important? We could always do with more money in the capitalistic world we live in, but I think both issues actually relate to a sense of appreciation and self-worth. By no means do we need thanking every day for what we do, likewise we know that we are employed to perform at a certain level. However we are also human and from my experience, when required, put a lot of time and effort in “beyond the call of duty”. Two particular incidents from the past year have reinforced to me the general disdain or dismissive way in which we are viewed.
As you may be aware I left the world of Widget design over a year ago, what you may not know is that it was just as the new “Glow-Widget 2000” was being introduced. I had been working on this, as a part of the engineering team, for the previous 2 years and had put quite a bit of effort into it. Post launch our baby has picked up a number of prestigious awards including the Widget world’s “Oscar” – a prize so notable that representatives of the project team flew into mainland Europe to pick it up. Naturally my name was listed amongst the others on the parchment scroll solemnly presented. Subsequently this was returned with the request that I be struck from it, the reason being that I no longer worked for the company. This seems a tad petty to me, after all I had left on good terms and its not like my input had magically been erased with my departure. I cannot help but wonder if this would have happened had I been part of a different department?
The second relates to my recent time at the Great Lakes Metal Foundry and Glass Works where I had a new product foisted upon me, a particularly tricky stained glass Double-Linked Jigger incorporating many novel features. This was needed on a short time scale and would result in serious problems for the company if commitments weren’t met, something regularly reinforced to me by various members of senior management. I put a lot of hours in as the sole design engineer and the first parts came in, were assembled and went straight through testing before being immediately shipped to the customer – just hitting the deadline. My boss was actually moved to suggest that I was one of only two design engineers, amongst many, within the company who could have achieved his. Was I thanked or shown any appreciation? Quite the opposite as it happens.
I have as many faults as the next engineer but I don’t think I can lay such apparently dismissive actions at the foot of any of them. Is it too much to ask that we have a bit of respect shown for our professional commitment and achievements?