Valuing engineering — and our readers

All too often, we get pat answers and anecdotal evidence as a response to the challenges we face on every front of manufacturing. We examine layoff numbers and study oil prices and watch global manufacturing centers emerge and wring our hands in despair. And then, every once in a while, we get some clear thinking from great minds, and we begin to see where our problems truly begin.

08/01/2005


All too often, we get pat answers and anecdotal evidence as a response to the challenges we face on every front of manufacturing. We examine layoff numbers and study oil prices and watch global manufacturing centers emerge and wring our hands in despair.

And then, every once in a while, we get some clear thinking from great minds, and we begin to see where our problems truly begin. In the June 2005 issue of Fast Company, that great mind was Jeff Immelt, the CEO of General Electric. In the course of a compelling one-on-one interview, Immelt was asked, "Do you think outsourcing is killing America?" His response:

"I think it's a ruse, a complete and total ruse by people who don't want to face what the real problems are. The real problem is that 30% of the people getting a college degree in China and India are getting an engineering degree. That number in the United States is 4%. The fact is, we don't value engineering, and that is how manufacturing jobs get created."

Immelt's words ought to be tacked up in every struggling manufacturing center (including his own) and every college and university guidance office. It ought to be the topic of countless TV news reports, assuming they can stop covering Paris Hilton, Tom Cruise and Michael Jackson long enough to do it. It certainly ought to be posted in the halls of Congress.

It's a very simple concept — we will keep exporting jobs as long as we have to keep importing manufacturing talent. If we can grow innovation in America, if we can create an entrepreneurial spirit among American students, we can lift our manufacturing sector to new levels of excellence. Above all, we can compete on any fair global economic landscape.

We face these concepts in a changing world. Manufacturing is not a domestic business, but a global one. The role of the plant engineer has changed, expanded, diverged and intensified. It is not enough to know what we were taught in school. We must now keep pace with the ever-evolving issues that shape business, technology, the Internet and a global economy, and then apply them to whatever it is we manufacture. We are asked to do it efficiently, productively and, of course, with fewer employees.

In studying these challenges, we at PLANT ENGINEERING understand that there is a need for new information to support the traditional knowledge we have provided for the last 60 years. We have to provide that knowledge in a variety of ways — in print and online, through interaction that relies on speed, and through interaction that relies on our unrivaled ability to provide depth and context for all of that information.

We, like Jeff Immelt, value engineering. We value manufacturing. Above all, we value our readers. On September 15, PLANT ENGINEERING will show you just how much we value our readers — and how our readers can interact with us and with each other in new and remarkable ways.





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