As I sat down with my customary glass of whiskey at the in-laws a few days ago, I noticed my father-in-laws copy of American Rifleman from the NRA sitting on the end table. It’s always an entertaining magazine, so I picked it up. The ads are by far the best part. Was I a husband and father by any chance, one ad asked? Well, yes, yes I am. Was I prepared to protect my family? Ha, I thought I had them figured, solid gun owner here, certainly they’re preaching to the choir! Obviously I owned a gun they said. But, was I prepared to use it? Was I ready to scrabble on my belly across the house and then take the kill shot as I slid down the stairs on my back to surprise the would-be home invader? Because, that scum sucking, coked out invader would be ready. He’d trained all his life in various penal facilities and he sir, he would be ready. The ad ended by suggesting I purchase their DVD on tactical combat strategies. Hehehe, as usual, the magazine had been good for at least one good laugh!
I read on through the magazine. Did I realize that in a car-jacking situation I’d need a weapon with a quick swing and a wider spread? Introducing the “Adjudicator”! Whoa, that thing can take out a watermelon! As I approached the centerfold I noticed it was printed on heavier card stock. What would it be? Perhaps a spread of Corey Cogdell, Olympic medalist trap shooter? Maybe a picture of Tom Selleck, (the NRA’s spokesman), in his ’80s Magnum PI short shorts?
Alas, it wasn’t either of those things. It was a full eight page spread on who the NRA suggested their readers vote for in the upcoming elections. It went all the way down to the office of railroad commissioner. They had symbols that indicated how each candidate stood on each NRA initiative. No stone was left unturned.
This got me to thinking about engineers and elections. A few months back, I watched an online hangout where several ‘everyday’ citizens got to ask President Obama questions. One part in particular stood out for me. You’ll see why.
If you don’t have the three minutes to watch the exchange between Jennifer Weddel of Fort Worth, TX and the President, I’ll fill in the details for you. Ms. Weddel asks why the H1-B program is being expanded to help with the ‘shortage of engineers’ when her husband who is an engineer has been unable to find permanent work in several years. President Obama is surprised to hear this, and inquires if her husband might be a civil engineer, (apparently we have plenty of those). Ms. Weddel tells him no, her husband is in fact a semiconductor engineer. At this point, President Obama seems genuinely perplexed since that is exactly the kind of engineer he was under the impression we had a shortage of and offers to help Ms. Weddel if she’ll send along more information about what sort of job her husband is looking for and his professional details.
I’ve watched the televised congressional hearings where tech company CEOs have described the harsh hiring environments they must endure in their search for the elusive engineer. I’ve also spoken with a number of engineers who haven’t seen so much as a cost of living increase in their paychecks over the last few years. These two pieces of evidence are in direct conflict with each other and what I learned about supply and demand in fifth grade social studies and quoted here from Wikipedia:
Watching President Obama, it occurred to me… Maybe he really doesn’t know! Maybe he really only has one set of facts! It is possible he’s only heard from tech company CEOs/CFOs. I’ve certainly never sent a letter to him about what I’ve seen in the industry.
So, first a question and then a request. I have an admittedly very limited data set on the ‘shortage of engineering talent’. What are you seeing in the industry? Is job hopping becoming as frequent as it was in say, 2000? Are engineers receiving regular retention raises again, or does this quote from a recent Austin-American Statesman article by Dan Zehr on the hiring situation in Austin sum up what your seeing?
Now for the request. If you know the answers to these questions, please forward what you’re seeing in your locale to your representatives, senators, and of course the President. Oh! And don’t forget to vote next week!