Elementary solution

With reference to the decline in the number of young people studying engineering, as noted by Bob Elliott (Letters, 2 October) there are a number of contributory elements to this problem.

These include the perceived lack of reward for those pursuing a career in engineering when compared to other professions, the ease with which young people have access to high technology engineering consumer products, and the lack of recognition, in the UK, of what engineers actually do to contribute towards society.

In addition, the hobby trade for electronic projects has virtually disappeared, as have the associated magazines, where suppliers of electronic component parts to the hobby trade, have responded to this declining trend by becoming more like electronic consumer product distributors.

Add to this recipe the significant reduction in ‘hands-on’ design experience and the increasing use of simulation tools, and the engineer becomes further removed from the physical end-product. In my case, I never see it, even though I am employed as an electronics design engineer. This makes it very difficult to appreciate that I do make a contribution to a product manufactured outside the UK.

Having been employed by a number of different engineering companies in the UK, all of which were, and remain involved with UK manufacture, it soon becomes apparent that career and job stability is very rare.

Virtually all my employment changes were through large-scale redundancy, or deciding to leave before its inevitable impact struck.

Lastly, what may have previously been some hope for engineering as a career with exciting new engineering products that the public could associate with UK engineering, has long since gone. There are no longer stimulating outlets readily available to entice young people to consider engineering as a profession, and there is a common assumption that engineering excellence is cheap and ready to obtain — as so well demonstrated by consumer electronic goods.

It is apparent, in the UK, that increasingly more time is spent attending meetings rather than performing any engineering work.

Roll on the Chartered Meetings Engineer.

Andrew Porter
Hitchin, Herts