Category Archives: Workplace

That, to your left, is detective-turn-teacher Roland “Prezbo” Pryzbylewski from HBO’s The Wire. If you have seen The Wire, then you know the phrase “jukin’ the stats”. If not, rent it, buy it, steal it, do whatever you have to do to see it because you’ve missed out on one of the greatest dramas ever to grace a TV screen. In short, The Wire is all about Baltimore in the early 2000s and is centered around Baltimore crime, police work, and city politics. One of the recurring themes in the show is the phrase “jukin’ the stats” which is how the police manipulate the numbers to make crime rates appear to go down. Now, I know I’ve gone far off field so I’m going to bring this back to engineers and engineering. As engineers, we tend to be very good at everyday math. Also, we probably like our data to be presented in…

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I was planning on saving the world with circuits. I was going to sit at my desk, work out complex equations from scratch, and create technology so powerful that it shall be honoured for time immemorial with the granting of a patent. At least, that’s what I thought until I had actually gone through the entire patent writing and submission process. Patent making (not technology inventing, but the process of creating the patent based on the technology) is a dreary process, filled with a kaleidoscope of inane language. I now have seven patents with my name on it and the only thing they’re good for are seven extra lines on my résumé. The last four were filed with my current employer, FluxCorp. The other three were filed with my first employer (let’s call it PatentCorp), where I worked for 2.5 years. PatentCorp used to be a hard core engineering company…

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This week on Engineer Blogs we’ve been talking about perceptions of engineers. Before I started working I had an unclear perception about the duties of engineers. I knew the major required a lot of science and math and shied away from it. Once I started working in the industry I found that engineers weren’t really any smarter than any other professionals I had known in my life. What had seemed like a high bar for entry now became something reasonable that maybe I could do too.But more importantly, I began asking these engineers for advice and discovered that many of them really loved their jobs. A few days ago Fluxor talked about whether engineers were respected by society in general. US News did a ranking of the top 30 careers back in 2008 ranked by median pay, job satisfaction, prestige, job market outlook, and barrier of entry for education. Engineer…

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Sometimes, it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. As engineers, we often complain about how the public at large do not appreciate the work that we do. Cherish touched upon this yesterday in her post on how engineers have seemingly faded into the background. In fact, one often used argument about this lack of respect is to compare the relative pay of engineers with other professions. Doctors, lawyers, and accountants are often the ones being compared to. Sometimes, we even lament the lack of pay when compared to skilled trades, such as plumbers and electricians. That’s why it may be a surprise to you that engineers are, in fact, quite well regarded. A 2002 survey commissioned by the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers asked how the public in this province (Ontario, Canada) rate the prestige of various occupations. Here are the results: Engineers ranked third, only behind physicians…

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There’s nothing new about complaints about “kids these days” or young people claiming older just “do not get” them. But there is something relatively new in the workplace: possibly the widest age gap ever seen in the last 100 years of corporatism in the western world. (Notice I’m not making any claims here on pre-industrial or early industrial societies. ) Ask a Manager just had two age-related posts in a row. First from the old and crotchety side, my managers are younger than me! I am having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I have to take orders from people who are no older than 18. I know they don’t have as much work experience as me, simply because of age. The one girl was already complaining to me yesterday about how she has not gotten her raise yet and has more responsibility for less pay.…

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Last week, I started a topic on my Fantasy Curriculum (thanks for the title Fluxor!). I was going to finish that on my own blog, but I’m in the middle of packing for an international move and actually move in a few days, so I’m somewhat strapped for time. I will be picking that up this weekend when I’m back in the US. In the meantime, in addition to packing and preparing for the move, I’ve also had to do work for my new position. While it hasn’t been much, I have agreed to do and have done things (committees and such) for the new position even though I don’t officially start for a few more months. This brings up a few important questions. Should someone perform tasks for their new position even though they haven’t officially started? If so, where does one draw the line? I’m pretty sure this a…

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I started work straight from school with only a handful of good grades and no idea how my life would pan out. Twenty-three years later, I’ve gone though 13 jobs and been made redundant 6 times. The electronics industry in the UK has not been good to me. So in this blog, I want to tell you about the ups and downs I have been through and talk about whether I would recommend the industry to others. I started my career as little more than a spark in a bottling hall. This was a great opportunity for me as I had an apprenticeship that got me though two years of college and on my way to being an EE. Apprenticeships are in short supply now, and its a real shame as these are a vital stepping stone for many leaving school who, like me, cannot pay their way though university.…

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The theme this week at Engineer Blogs has been networking and if you haven’t had a bunch of engineers give you advice on communication and socializing than you just haven’t lived. I thought I’d chime in with my own, as usual cynical opinion. My first job (beyond paper delivery) was a part time position while I was a full time student. I was looking for a nice easy office job and hoping to avoid having to go into retail or the fast food industry. My sister had worked a data entry position several years before and she offered to email her old boss (who had liked her very much) and see if she was looking for anyone. Turns out she wasn’t, but she knew someone in another department who was. And so became my first job. Every time they hired someone there they asked us if we knew anyone first…

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Getting laid off. This was what happened to me more than a half dozen years ago now. I was the first one to be let go from a start-up that was starting to show cracks in its hull. It wasn’t a surprise. I didn’t get along with most of my colleagues. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to get along with the rest of the team; rather, a clique had formed before I arrived and they had apparently decided that I wasn’t to be part of it. In the two years that I was there, the only person that I got along with was with the wife of a colleague from a previous job and another outcast that wasn’t part of the clique. Unfortunately for me, the outcast left voluntarily a year before I was let go. When the kraft envelope was gently pushed across the cafeteria table by my…

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I’m Back! And if last week’s post didn’t get me kicked off Engineer Blogs guest blogger list, this one might! This week’s Theme is Networking and I’m much more snarky when it comes to this topic.  Networking is great when it’s a CAT5 cable because your wireless is on the fritz. Otherwise, I severely dislike the word networking. I put words/phrases like a networking event, functionalized, a setup was realized, think outside the box, and mission statements in the category “don’t ever use” if you want to be taken seriously. (I mean, would you take me seriously if I had the GEARS Mission Statement: Realizing novel, functionalized instruments to expand your networking tools by thinking outside the box to create paradigm shifts? I know I wouldn’t.) The reason I don’t take marketing/business jargon like build your network or expand your network seriously is because the aspect of obtaining a network is treated…

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