Letters – 2003-06-01 – 2003-06-01 – 2003-06-01

For NFPA 5000 Your article about NFPA 5000 and the "Comprehensive Consensus Codes (C3)" series published by NFPA, IAPMO and ASHRAE (05/26 CSE p. 27) correctly identifies an important reason why all consulting engineers should be supporting this new family of building codes—they are ANSI-approved.

By Staff June 1, 2003

For NFPA 5000

Your article about NFPA 5000 and the “Comprehensive Consensus Codes (C3)” series published by NFPA, IAPMO and ASHRAE (05/26 CSE p. 27) correctly identifies an important reason why all consulting engineers should be supporting this new family of building codes—they are ANSI-approved. Unlike other building codes, the C3 documents are developed through open-consensus procedures that allow broad participation by many interests, including consulting engineers and contractors. By contrast, the International Codes Council has closed revision procedures that exclude everyone except building officials.

Relying on ANSI-approved codes and standards also insures the use of industry best practices, and may even confer a degree of liability protection. For these reasons, all consulting engineers should be working to get NFPA 5000 and the entire C3 series of building codes adopted in their jurisdictions.

Brooke Stauffer, National Electrical Contractors Assn. Bethesda, MD.

We received quite a response to our story “Fewer Students are Planning Engineering Careers” in the May 12 installment of our e-newsletter, CSE NewsWatch. The story focused on a report from American College Testing (ACT), which found that of the more than one million seniors who took the exam in 2002, less than 6% planned to study engineering in college. It also suggested that students are less prepared to study engineering at the college level and that the pool of students who decide to become engineers is becoming less diverse.

Many who responded to the story suggested that a major contribution to the lack of interest in engineering among U.S. students is a perceived lack of opportunity, as they feel they can’t compete with an increasing number of prospective engineers from abroad who are willing to work for less money.

Future Not So Bright

Instead of blaming American education for not preparing students properly, and for not encouraging minorities and women to enter the engineering field, why not look at the real reason students no longer want to enter this field—no job prospects. With American engineers and computer programmers no longer able to compete against a huge influx of cheaper imported labor via H-1B and L-1 work visas, and with many more high-tech jobs going “offshore,” it’s simple economics. Students do not want to invest many thousands of dollars studying in a field for which there are no job prospects.

My husband and his co-workers lost their programming jobs when their company imported programmers and made the Americans train them in order to receive severance. The company posted LCA sheets as required by law, and thus, we learned that the visiting programmers are earning about half of their American counterparts. Whenever I contact my elected representatives, the Dept. of Labor and the Dept. of Commerce about this, their shoddy excuse is that Americans aren’t educated enough or prepared enough or smart enough to do high tech. But I’m not surprised. That’s what the corporations and the media tell them.

Linda Evans, Matthews, N.C.

Unfair Legislation

I am one of 20 plus Americans mandated to train replacement workers in Lake Mary, Fla.

There are literally millions of foreign “skilled” workers in our country. Why do corporations choose them over Americans? It’s all about cost. It is impossible to compare the living costs of the United States to India or China. But corporate America is allowed to seek foreign workers over Americans.

Allegedly there are laws protecting Americans, but in my opinion, they do not work.

And even eight months of begging and pleading for help from local legislators have gotten us nowhere. You’d think one’s elected representative would care about Americans being pushed out of their jobs. Not ours. During the exact timeframe we were pounding his office for help, our local representative was cashing campaign contribution checks from my former company.

This was the most demoralizing time of my life. The worst part was the lack of support from our political leaders.

I’m not saying offshoring is entirely wrong or can be stopped, but our own elected officials creating laws to put Americans out of work is wrong. If [a company] wants to offshore work, send it on; go on, get out of here. But our own government should not create laws that allow corporations to import replacement workers, have corporate management mandate their employees to train them, and then have the American citizens be thrown out on the street while foreigners remain on the job in our country.

Michael T. Emmons, Longwood, Fla.

Come out of the Closet

Anyone promoting enrollments should be ashamed for misleading students.

Robert Rivers

A Bleak Outlook

Regarding your recent story “Fewer Students Are Planning Engineering Careers,” I am not at all surprised.

Events over the past few years may have shown to students that the future for American engineers is bleak! Yes, bleak!

Layoffs continue in the IT industry. Fired IT and engineering workers, especially those in the electrical engineering profession, continue to look for work, and all the while the H-1B (temporary worker replacement) program continues. It is no wonder students are avoiding engineering career!

This is not the end but just the beginning. I think this is a much, much bigger story than you realize.

Robert B. Johnson, S.E., P.E., Chicago

A Rebuttal

A lack of opportunities due to foreign workers may be true in the IT sector but it isn’t in the traditional engineering disciplines.

Having represented my company at career days at a local university, and from what I can gather from printed media, your original premise is correct. Students today are less prepared for engineering careers. Further, it seems to be because they don’t want to put forth the effort. They want the high starting salary but don’t want to put in the study time it takes to qualify for it. If there are more and more foreign students in the traditional engineering disciplines (and there are) it’s because foreign students are much more motivated to put in the study time necessary to reap the rewards of being an engineer.

It’s a shame but it appears that our society is moving toward the politically correct, i.e. liberal, perspective that rewards should not be a direct result of honest effort. Until the U.S. education system quits catering to liberal philosophies and requires students to earn their grades, this trend will likely continue.

J.F. Mathis PE, Las Cruces, N.M.