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man's advancement, to take its proper place in the larger sphere of opportunities afforded by a new world and a new social order. Let not my intention be misunderstood. I am not advocating that all engineers abandon at once the technical work with which they earn their livelihood. Not in the least. I do fully expect, however, that a portion of the profession should and will give more attention and study in the future to social, economic and political matters, and some of us who are in a position so to do will devote a large portion of time to public affairs. If as a class we become effective, we must develop leaders-men "to whom are granted great visions, who dream greatly and strive to make their dreams come true"; who can kindle the profession with the "fire from their own burning souls."
But surely as a social group no class of professional men are better fitted because of their training and the strategic position which they occupy in industry to become an effective political and economic force.
"The occupation of the engineer tends to maintain for him a point of control with both the worker and employee and thus to afford him an opportunity" to influence and direct both. He "should be able from his vantage ground to aid labor in the realization that it can not in the long run get more than it earns, that production is precedent to distribution; and to help the business class to realize the responsibilities of economic administration."* In the end we should keep in mind that the ultimate solution must be the making of the owner and the wage worker real partners in their common enterprise.
As an organized unit of society we should be able soon to exert a potent political influence in municipal, state and national affairs. The opportunities are greatest in the smaller unit in our local communities, but no less important is the service that can be rendered to state and nation. In national affairs there is no reason why a national society of engineers may not at an early date gain recognition from our federal government and on a par with the representatives of organized capital, labor and agriculture, assist in the solution of the national problems and the determination of national policies. Let it be emphasized, however, that our power must never be used for a selfish purpose or it will soon come
*G. B. Clarkson, in Professional Engineer, January, 1920.
to naught. We must teach, preach and live the doctrine of service. Service must be our motto. It is what I put in that counts, not what I get out. It is what I do and give that makes me rich, not what I receive. We are a profession and "a profession has for its prime object the service it can render humanity; reward or financial gain should be a subordinate consideration."* Let us make articulate the voice of Service.
The engineer should always be a loyal friend of sane labor, because sane organized labor affords one of the greatest bulwarks against the followers of Karl Marx and his disciples. In our local communities, engineers can easily, if they will try, have themselves accepted as arbitrators in labor differences and then with little effort save their communities useless and irritating losses and inconveniences.
We need to support all good laws and oppose bad ones, regardless of whether our own rights or privileges are concerned. On election day we should be found at the polling booths, conversant with the issues at stake and the candidates in the race. In short, we should be American citizens in every sense of the word, and as individuals and as a unit intent upon the promotion of Americanism. In this way, more than in any other, can be successfully combatted the forces of radicalism that infest the nation.
Is this too big a job for you and me and for the 200,000 or more of engineers scattered throughout our country? I think not. I cannot help but feel that in the subconscious minds of many of us has been at wok just such a conception of the ultimate purpose of engineer organization. Whether or not our vision fades or develops into stern reality depends upon ourselves. Let me close with the words uttered by Theodore Roosevelt in Carnegie Hall in 1912:
"We here in America hold in our hands the hopes of the world, the fate of the coming years; and shame and disgrace will be ours if in our eyes the light of high resolve is dimmed, if we trail in the dust the golden hopes of men."
*Principles of Medical Ethics.
G. J. WAGNER
City Engineer, Grand Rapids, Michigan
O DOUBT most of you have read with interest the Engineering Council Committee's report on the compensation of engineering published in the Engineering News-Record of January 15, 1920. Those of you who have carefully studied this report no doubt were amazed at the clearness with which the facts pertaining to the compensation of engineers have been presented in this article.
It is not my desire to take up your time by going into this report, for I feel that each one of you should study this situation for himself; but I do want to enlarge on certain points in this report in order to drive home, if possible, the necessity for this society to do its utmost to assist in bringing about as soon as possible the proposed changes in the compensation of engineers mentioned in this report.
It is a matter of fact, as brought out by the investigation of the Engineering Council Committee, that in 1913 the committee was convinced that the compensation for engineering work compared favorably with that received by men of other professions, because very few were interested enough at that time to even reply to the inquiries sent out by the committee.
Since that time, however, a radical change of opinion has taken place on the part of engineering executives, shown by the fact that practically the entire federal engineering service, except the war department, has co-operated with the Engineering Council Committee in its inquiry, as well also have 42 per cent of the state officials and 70 per cent of the municipal officials to whom the inquiries were sent out by the council committee.
The reason for this sudden change in the opinion of the same men from 1914 to the present time is, in my opinion, solely due to the fact that up to only a short time ago there were more engineers available than there was a demand for.
Looking back over my experience, I find that beginning in August, 1914, up to six months ago, there was a constant pressure of retrenchment, which, of course, had its effect in holding down engineering service to the lowest possible point. No great under
*Delivered before the Annual Meeting of the Michigan Engineering Society, held in Lansing, Michigan, January 28, 29, 30, 1920.
takings were planned for the future, requiring the service of expert engineers, with the result that engineers in general were glad to get a position at almost any salary. At the present time, however, we find a different view of the entire situation and the atmosphere is clearing itself from one of retrenchment to one of a great burst of construction activity of all kinds. This is not only limited to new construction, but it includes the rebuilding of many different engineering works which have been allowed to depreciate since the beginning of the war.
All during the war, labor became more and more difficult to obtain and in order to get increased wages the entire labor market has gotten to be a floating proposition. Labor has become so accustomed to floating in order to secure increased wages that, I am told, some large automobile factories make it a point at the present time of holding their men at one plant only a short time and then transferring them to another plant, simply to keep them from leaving the company entirely and going to another concern where they hope to secure an increased wage.
All during this time the engineer quietly waited for better times to come and now that the time of shortage of engineers is really beginning to dawn, we find that in order to increase the compensation of the engineers from that of the pre-war period under which most salaried men are still working to the present-day new working basis requires something more than the mere good-will of an executive, especially in municipal, county, state and government engineering work. Engineering salaries have remained on a low leved so long, compared with the compensation of other lines, that it will take the concerted effort of the entire engineering profession to bring this compensation to a present-day working basis in a short time.
Now the important question, in my opinion, which confronts not only this society, but the engineering world in general, is whether or not we are going to have the engineers become a body of floaters to gradually work up the income of each individual to a point where it meets the present day conditions, or are we going to resort to some other means to bring about this condition automatically and to completely stabilize the engineering field.
Until recently, when the demand for engineers began to exceed the supply, there was no real reason why the engineers in
general could do very much to change their own conditions, because if an engineer resigned his position there were always plenty of applicants to take his place.
At the present moment, however, we as a profession are faced with the same problems as the business men of the entire world and that is, that the sooner the general business conditions of the world settle down to a stable condition, the sooner will we really make progress in the much needed reconstruction of things.
Almost every week before the Chamber of Commerce or other civic body someone gives an address on how to solve the unrest in these after-war times.
The general rule among these speakers seems to be that they are always seeking to solve this difficulty by changing the business of some other line of industry than that with which the speaker is connected.
For example, not long ago a noted banker delivered an address on this subject and he laid special stress on the advisability that the whole solution rests on the reduction in the cost of agricultural products.
This banker had nothing to say as to what should be done with the banking business but was satisfied that he saw some trouble in the agricultural industry.
Gentlemen, I would not attempt to advise you on how to settle these conditions of unrest in this country, but I do know that if the men of each class of industry or profession would first try to solve this problem in their own particular field in which they are familiar, their ideas about other professions or industries would then be accepted by the public.
We as engineers have the same problems to meet. We should be able to solve the difficulties in other lines of industry, but we cannot hope to do so until we have completely stabilized our own profession.
Our problem is a very small one, compared with that of other industries, and once we have our problem solved, we will then be able to be of some aid in solving the problems of others.
Looking at the matter optimistically, we can only see that labor and material and also engineering service must be at high level for some time to come and, therefore, the only way to properly balance our own profession is to bring forth and advocate a classi