Electronic Engineering Times - Monday

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					                                        Electronic Engineering Times - Monday. May 12. 1986 -119

  Electronic Engineering Times
  NSF's Suh Says                               -
                                                Much Debate
                                                                                                                         ,.   ,---
                                                                                                       In his speech, which, was
  U.S. Engineers                                   Engineering salaries have
                                               been the subject- ,----,---. --
                                                            --' of much debate
                                                                                                    warmly received by an. audi-
                                                                                                    ence of 40 corporate engineer-
                                               and concern in the Profession.                       ing executives, Suh said there
   Are Overpaid                                Electrical and electronics engi-
                                               neers, for· example, get average
                                                                                                    is a shortage of engineers, a
                                                                                                    contention with which few en-
   Remark Stirs Debate                         starting salary, offers that place
                                               them high on the wage-earning
                                                                                                    gineering groups concur.
                                                                                                       "We really don't have a suf-
  By Matthew J. Doherty                        scale compared with other pro-                       ficient number of engineers,"
  WASHINGTON, D.C. - A high-                   fessions. The average salary of-                     he said. The United States is
  ranking National Science                     fer to EEs as of July 1985 was                       producing, he said, about
  Foundation official told engi-               more than $27,000, according                         73,000 engineers per year,
  neering vice presidents here last            to the College Placement                             roughly equal to the number
  week that American engineers                 Council.                                             being turned out in Japan.
  are "overpaid" and less                          But salary surveys by this                          he told EE Times afterward.
  productive than their foreign                  newspaper and the IEEE have                        ''We need to improve the
  counterparts,                               . indicated quite clearly that                        quality, of them and ·the-
    Nam Suh, assistant director                  "salary compression" is a real                     number of them."'
 for engineering in the NSF, said                factor in an engineer's career.                       Suh’s assertion that more,
 that, in Japan, "two engineers are              The 1985 EE Times Annual
 working on a problem when we                    Salary Survey found that, as
 [the United States] can barely                  engineers get older, .their pay                    ‘A lot of peopIe
 afford to pay one." That state-                 raises tend to diminish in size                    think we don't need
 ment came last Tuesday during a                 and their salaries level off after                 more engineers, but
 executive forum sponsored by                    a period of steady annual                          I think we do. We
 the American Association of                     growth.                                            need to improve the
 Engineering Societies.                            The survey found that mean_
    When pressed later to clarify               salaries for engineers peaked at
                                                                                                    quality of them and
 his remark, Suh said bluntly,                  age 49, when respondents                            the number of them.'
 "Yes, I think American engi-                   earned an average of $51,500.
 neers are overpaid." Several en-               Respondents in the next two                         Nam Suh, NSF
 gineering vice presidents gath-                age categories, 50 to 54 and 55
 ered around Suh agreed with his                to 59, actually reported earning                       -
 reply. But it's not likely to evoke            less ($49,800 and $49,300,                  engineers are necessary is con-
 the same favorable response                    respectively).                              trary to government and indus-
 from engineers and leaders in the                 Many engineers contend that              try sources, and once again,
 profession.                                   engineers' pay lags well behind              his own boss, Erich Bloch.
    The next day, Suh's boss,                  .other _professionals such as                  A million-dollar National
 Erich      Bloch,     refuted    his          doctors and lawyers, by design.             Research Council study last
 employee's contention. Bloch                  As reported exclusively by EE               year found the engineering
 appeared before the same group                Times several years ago, a large            profession to be in good shape,
 to     receive     the     National           number. of companies swap                   and predicted some possible
 Engineering Award. Said Bloch,                engineering        salary      data         spot shortages in specialized
 NSF director and former vice                  annually and use salary curves              areas of engineering.
 president for technical personnel             that appear to distribute larger               That position was reinforced
 development at IBM: "I don't                  raises to younger engineers.                recently by the American Elec-
 think American engineers are                      Walter Nial, chairman of the            tronics Association, the indus-
 overpaid. When I was an                        IEEE Age Discrimination                    try trade group. It reversed its
 engineer, I always thought I was               Committee, has argued for                  previous       position      .by
 under paid."                                   years that older engineers are             acknowledging that there is no
    When informed about Suh's                   granted smaller pay increases,             chronic shortage of engineers.
 statement, IEEE president Bruno                even though they may, still be
 Weinschel, a member of the                     as productive as their younger              No Shortage
 AAES Board of Governors and a                  colleagues. And many other                    And Bloch, repeating a
 participant in the two-day meet-               engineers say they can expect              position    he     has    taken
 ing, said engineers in the United              salary compression unless they             previously, told EE Times there
 States "are not overpaid; they are             are willing to move into                   is no general shortage of
 underutilized."                                management,                                engineers at this time. He did,
    Weinschel, who has spent                  _consulting or leave the profes-             however,     express    concern
 much of the last two years                    sion altogether.                            about spot shortages and a
 spreading his utilization gospel,                  Nam Suh's controversial                downturn      in    engineering
 blamed· poor management for                   remarks were not limited to                 enrollments.
 productivity problems and mis-                salaries ',and productivity.                   Suh also said the doctorate
 placed national priorities for a                                                          degree has become the equiva-
 general· lag in competitiveness.                                                          lent of a "union card in hiring
    And citing problems in engi-                                                           engineering faculty. And he "
neering education, Weinschel                                                               said that NSF, monies being
said engineering-faculty salaries                                                          used to support fundamental
are low and should be raised in                                                            research are only the "bare
order to attract a larger, qualified                                                       minimum" needed. .
pool of instructors.

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