Sunday, January 13, 2013

Dislike of Professions

I generally have a dislike of professions. I think they have generally hijacked the human knowledge base and otherwise hold it to ransom. These elitist little groups of myopic mental cripples, not being able to provide any service of real value, then use fear, uncertainty and doubt, to introduce the legislation to mandate their services, thus imposing where not needed, and otherwise legislation to restrict those who can supply such service. These little groups then start complaining when the community strikes back and sues them for supply of rubbish, for wrecking the environment, for damaging social systems, destroying businesses and their livelihoods. They then declare how were they to know. If want to act big, in a manner that affects the whole community, or the population at large, then better have a big picture, better have a comprehension greater than bashing some trite numbers of minor relevance.

So it is I oppose Engineers Australia's push for national legislation to restrict practice and attempts to distort the language. To me it is clear that engineer, is an ideal, it belongs to those who pushed the frontiers of science and technology, not to hack technicians. But the professional engineers, rip words from generic usage and redefine them to suit their own needs, so technician for them no longer refers to a person who competent with various tools, techniques and technology. No to them, no! A  technician is someone inferior to them: an attitude which places them on the wrong footing with the people they need to work with. To me a professional engineer and an aircraft engineer (service mechanic)  have equal rights to the title engineer, for both are  technicians: conversant with the established science and technology.

It is persons conversant with the established science and technology that society wants. Society is intolerant of failures, where they believe such failures were and are avoidable because we have the science and technology to avoid. When we educate someone at AQF-6 down, we are specific about how science is to be applied to a given set of generic technologies. When we educate at AQF-7 and upwards, the education is  generic, non-specific, the graduates lack the specific competence as required by industry and society. Such graduates require further training in the specifics before they can practice competently. Those who graduate at AQF-6 should practice competently in their field on graduation, they however require further training and/or practice, so as to practice proficiently.

A real engineer is required to place a colony in space beyond Pluto. However an army of technicians are required (PE's) to ensure all the established technologies are adopted, and adapted appropriately. The first human who turned us all into toolmakers, was an engineer. That person could not be taught and tested in a school, because the know how wasn't there to be taught. Modern professional engineers are taught specific know how, they are not true ingenious contrivers of civilisation, they are not true engineers, they are technicians, whether they like such word applied to them or not, that is what they are. The word technician only has lowly status because professional engineers use it repeatedly in an insulting manner towards others. They are the only ones who have a problem with the word.

I have a problem with engineers being declared as required for all kinds of rubbish: whether professional engineer or my ideal

Technician Building surveyor's and Building Surveyors telling people they need engineers reports, or engineers calculations is total nonsense. No engineer of any description is required for such rubbish. Certain certifications may require persons with certain qualifications to provide the certificate, and those qualifications may make the person eligible to be an MIEAust, and that may therefore make them in the eye's of the IEAust a professional engineer. To the population at large however, they are just a person with a degree, and as with most people with a degree: not considered very bright when it comes to the practical and useful.

There is declaration we have a shortage of engineers, if the following advert is typical of those contributing to the statistics, then it is nonsense there is no shortage. Rather there is a shortage of competent people who can design jobs and describe those jobs.

and here

  1. There is no professional licensing of engineers in Australia. (Have a B.Eng and 3 years of trite experience and can be eligible to be an MIEAust. Its not mandatory. Further more traditionally if the job was advertised in a newspaper, wouldn't be able to require such qualifications. Since such requirement placed in same category as unions creating a closed shop and not permitted.)
  2. Approximately 90% of job uses AutoCAD: get a drafter
  3. Rest of time on site service: get someone with advanced trade certificate
  4. Solutions based on 30 standard product systems: get an engineering associate, there's no engineering involved here.
Sure if they want an MIEAust for status fine. But don't give us the rubbish its necessary to look overseas, then have people from overseas going through the hassles of having their qualifications checked by the IEAust to determine if they are eligible to be MIEAust's.

If want the job doing, then look for the right person. That person is not a professional engineer, it is an engineering associate, with advanced diploma engineering design (structures). Which by the way, is apparently only available here in South Australia, all other civil qualifications are biased towards civil works: road construction, general earthworks, supervision.

Which by the looks of it they have abandoned the advanced diploma.

That's bad news for that now means we have to waste 4 years educating civil engineers, then at least 3 years on the job training developing real competences in structures. Maybe get University of South Australia to make the Associate Degree more than foundational studies in engineering. Or get industry to understand that foundational studies is all that is required for a vast majority of the work.

Really got to get our industries designing jobs properly.

I understand that people want careers rather than a job, that they believe that getting a degree makes them more than a cog in a system. Unfortunately, they are wrong, a degree just makes the person a different kind of cog in the system. It is only the individuals ability to use knowledge, and attitude to life itself which prevents an individual becoming a cog, and that doesn't require a degree. Getting a degree in the first place makes you a cog, otherwise you would be learning something unique and original, rather than struggling to become part of the establishment. You would be seeking to make your own place in the world rather than slot into an available hole. Studying for a degree may enable you to make a place for yourself, getting the degree won't. The difference is between learning and getting a worthless scrap of paper.

There is work to be done, and job applicants should start fighting back, have less care about getting the job, and give some of these employers a hammering. Most especially hammer the idiots they pay to write job advertisements and filter out potential candidates.

By the way checking job advertisements every so often is important for business to check the state of their external operating environment.

For that business in the job advertisement above, could very well out source their requirements. One thing I have noticed from the work that flows through my office is that many businesses do not employ the right people on staff. I have suggested they employ engineers on staff, but they have said too expensive. I think they have the wrong impression of engineers wages. Ignoring employing an engineer on staff, they should at least employ qualified technical people on staff: either drafters or engineering associates. Sales people just get them into trouble.

So I'm going to keep pushing back against the need for engineers, but not against the need for technical science, planning, design and management. These things are required, but not necessary for such service to be provided by some flashy cog called a professional engineer.

My view is we are not getting the science out there, that there is a lack of planning, design and management of technological systems. Its not the number of professionals we need to increase, its the distribution of the knowledge which needs increasing, not restricted to a profession, but disseminated to the population at large.

Engineers are always comparing themselves to medical doctors. I don't know why, such are little better than car mechanics: they just have a different object to service and a different box of tools. The doctors are also about as good as a car mechanic at diagnosing a fault correctly. Then there are the medical scientists. At the beginning of the week something is declared bad for use and the cause of cancer. At the end of the week it is declared good for use in small doses. Ultimately followed by essential to our existence. Its ancient history that the poison is in the dose.

There is too much bad science in the media. Engineers in particular are also generally seen as biased towards their employer, and thus the public cannot trust their viewpoints because the past has proven that engineers views support their employers objectives against the best interests of the community.

Every technology has advantages and disadvantages, and the disadvantages are seldom properly addressed when implementing on a wide scale. This then results in public protest and outrage, as the few benefit at the expense of others.

However cannot simply go by the whims of the community either. Yes! they want a bridge, but why, what are the consequences of constructing the bridge going to be? Checking the stresses and strains in the bridge and giving a gone chance of not collapsing under load may be complicated. But determining whether the bridge should be constructed in the first place is vastly more complicated: there are no natural laws governing this, just the bias and subjective view of individuals. The bridge in the first instance, may be an optional benefit, but once built, it is most likely it will change to being essential. Shutting down for maintenance will become a problem. So another bridge will be imposed by the consumerist society. That by pass bridge in turn will become essential for increased traffic flow, and still another bridge will be required. There will be so many bridges along a river that none of them will have the marvel and elegance, originally considered to have. The river or stretch of ocean will merely be polluted with bridges. But hey its all within human capability. Its just a game, something to do right. Build them bigger and longer, not necessarily of real use.

We need greater community involvement in the adoption of large scale technologies: city planning for example. I doubt that a community would permit urban sprawl. What is the problem with urban sprawl? Is it that there is a central business district (CBD), and have major transportation problems getting people into that centre? Or is it that population is spread out over too much land?

Personally I think the problem is we have a CBD which stretches too far. We need more localised centres, walk about communities, not communities dependent on mechanised transport to get to where they need to be. But hey, what to do, when one of the principal industries employs people building and selling cars? What alternate industry do we set up? Will they move into, or do they like car's so much, that they will continue building and act against their own self-interest?

The community really needs to be discussing the mess that their individual actions are causing for themselves and others.

Australia has democracy through practice, and it really needs to strengthen that.

I really liked it, when I was a kid, when the locally community fought back and picketed the union picket line. They said fine, you want to blockade the power station, we will blockade you. See how long you can hold your picket line, if you cannot change people and food doesn't get through. The union picket was broke in a few days.

The community pushing back against these elitist groups. But all need to be doing so with increased knowledge and understanding lest they become elitist groups with myopic vision.

Myopic views are why we have problems with mining, farming our water supply and environmental groups.

The population needs educating. We do not want any of that authoritarian rubbish of leave it to the professionals because they know what they are doing. No they don't. They just know a bit, and whilst it may be a complicated bit, its not necessarily the most important bit.