Click for next page ( 17


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 16
Utilization of Engineers The utilization of engineers has several dimensions. Those discussed in the following section include sector and field of employment, rates of unemployment, primary activities, and mobility among primary activities. Concentration ratios of engineers in the work force are dis- cussed in the next major section, and, finally, efficiency the degree to which the engineer's technical abilities are being used- is addressed. Employment Characteristics Sector and Field of Employment According to National Science Foundation date, 8 of all employed scientists and engineers in 1982, some 75 percent were employed in business and industry. About 5 percent worked for educational institu- tions, 7 percent for the federal government, and 10 percent for all other employers. On the whole, engineers tend to remain in technical work, although wide variations are found within engineering disciplines. NSF data on engineers in the labor force in 1982 show that 88 percent of them reported that they were employed in the sciences and engineering. By discipline, the percentages of those so employed ranged from 64 per- cent for mining engineers to 95 percent for civil and nuclear engineers.8 A more accurate, if narrower, evaluation can be made by tracking 16

OCR for page 16
UTILIZATION OF ENGINEERS 17 new graduates. Of the B.S. engineers graduated in 1978, more than 90 percent were employed in the sciences or engineering in 1980 Table 2J. Only computer specialties showed a higher percentage. About 88 per- cent of these B.S. engineers were employed in their degree fields. Almost 90 percent of the M.S. engineers graduated in 1978 were employed in their degree fields in 1980, and 96 percent of them were employed in the sciences or engineering {Table 3J. Rates of Unemployment Unemployment rates for scientists and engineers traditionally have been markedly lower than for the labor force as a whole. The rate for engineers in 1982 was 1.9 percent, as contrasted with 9.7 percent for the labor force as a whole, 2.5 percent for physical scientists, and 4.9 percent for social scientists Table 4J. According to NSF data, unem- ployment for engineers exceeded 2 percent in only 3 of the 20 years from 1963 to 1982. It should be noted that unemployment rates for engineers and other professionals may be understated somewhat, because profes- sionals tend to be reluctant to report that they are out of work. Primary Activities The predominant primary activities among all employed engineers in 1982 were development, management, and production/inspection TABLE 2 1980 Utilization Rate of Scientific and Engineering Training: 1978 B. achelor' s Degrees Degree Field Computer specialties ~ . cngmeermg Life sciences Mathematics Physical sciences Chemistry Physics Social sciences (including psychology Employed in Other Employed in Science and Number of Field of Engineering Bachelors Degree 1% ) Field ( % 6,800 51,600 46,400 10, 100 8,400 5, 600 1,800 Employed in Field Outside of Science and Engineering (% 7.0 8.1 47.1 37.7 26.2 21.4 20.4 85,400 88.1 87.8 38.9 10.9 40.5 47.9 20.4 4.9 4.1 14.0 51.4 33.3 30.7 59.2 8.5 80.9 SOURCE: National Science Foundation.

OCR for page 16
18 ENGINEERING EMPLOYMENT CHARACTERISTICS TABLE 3 1980 Utilization Rates of Scientific and Engineering Degrees: 1978 Master's Degrees Employed Employed in in Other Field Employed in Science and Outside of Number of Field of Engineering Science and Degree Field Masters Degree ~ % ~Field ~ % ~Engineering ( % Computer specialties 2,700 84.7 11.1 4.2 Engineering 15,200 87.0 9.2 3.8 Life sciences 7,600 69.5 6.7 23.8 Mathematics 2,600 41.8 33.5 24.7 Physical sciences 2,300 56.5 34.8 8.7 Chemistry 1,300 76.7 16.3 7.0 Physics 800 35.7 60.7 3.6 Social sciences {including psychology) 10,900 54.1 10.1 35.8 SOURCE: National Science Foundation. TABLE 4 Unemployment Rate Among Scientific and Engineering Manpower, 1974-1982 Field 1974 1976 1978 1980 1982a Computer specialists 0.5% 1.3% 0.5% 0.6% 1.1% Engineers 1.3 1.9 0.8 1.0 1.9 Aeronautical NA 2.8 1.2 1.1 1.8 Chemical NA 1.0 1.1 1.1 3.0 Civil NA 2.0 1.1 1.2 2.0 Electrical NA 1.5 0.7 0.8 1.2 Mechanical NA 1.9 0.5 0.7 2.1 Other NA 2.1 0.9 1.0 2.0 Life scientists 2.0 1.4 1.2 1.1 2.4 Mathematicians 2.1 2.7 0.8 0.9 2.1 Physical scientists NA 2.4 1.7 1.8 2.5 Social scientists 2.4 1.7 1.5 1.6 4.9 Professional, techni cal,andkindredb NA 3.2 2.6 2.5 3.0 Total labor force NA 7.7 6.1 7.1 9.7 NOTE: NA = not available. aData for 1982 are not precisely comparable with data for earlier years. bCategory revised by BLS and now called "professional workers. " SOURCES: National Science Foundation, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

OCR for page 16
UTILIZATION OF ENGINEERS TABLE 5 Primary Activities of Employed Engineers, 1982 ;percentJ Activity All Engineers Women Engineers Research Basic 0.9 4.1 Applied 3.8 6.8 Development 27.9 15.2 R&D management 8.7 3.4 Other management 19.3 16.6 Teaching 2.1 7.3 Production/inspection 16.6 13.6 Othera 20.7 33.0 aConsulting, reporting, statistical work, computing, other, no report. SOURCE: Unpublished National Science Foundation tabulations, based on 1982 Post-Census Survey of Scientists and Engineers- July 1984. 19 Table 5J. NSF data for 1976-1980 indicate that, compared with other scientists, engineers were less likely to be involved in research, analy- sis, and teaching; more likely to be involved in development and pro- duction; and slightly more likely to be involved in management [see Figures A-8 and Am. During the same period, engineers themselves became increasingly involved in production and analysis and some- what less involved in management. The proportion of engineers involved in teaching showed little change during 1976-1980, but was relatively low, about 2.3 percent, compared with 15.7 percent for all scientists Only about half of the engineers employed by educational institutions are actually engaged in teaching). The pattern of primary activities differs somewhat among male and female engineers Table 5J. The percentage of women engineers engaged in research in 1982 was 10.9 percent, or more than twice the percentage of all engineers. Women were less represented in manage- rial jobs, reflecting both their more recent entry into engineering and, to some unknown extent, their lower level of acceptance by the profes- sion. A lower percentage of women than of all engineers was in produc- tion/inspection and other tasks, but a large percentage of women, as with all engineers, was employed in development. Doctoral engineers also differ from " all engineers" in primary activi- ties Table 6~. As one would suspect, the highest percentage of doctoral engineers `23.7 percent in 1981) was involved in research, with teach

OCR for page 16
20 ENGINEERING EMPLOYMENT CHARACTERISTICS TABLE 6 Primary Activities of Doctoral Engineers, 1973 and 1981 1973 1981 Activity Number % Number % Research 8,300 23.2 13,500 23.7 Development 5,000 14.0 9,900 17.4 R&D management 8,300 23.2 10,300 18.1 Other management 2,200 6.1 4,900 8.6 Teaching 8,800 24.6 10,600 18.6 Othera 3,600 8.9 7,500 13.6 Total 35,800 57,000 aConsulting; production/inspection; sales and professional services; reporting, statis- tical work, and computing; other; no report. SOURCE: ScienceIndicators, 1982 (Washington,D.C.:NationalScienceBoard,1983~. ing the second largest activity for Ph.D.s. As the table shows, in the period 1973- 1981, the percentage of doctoral engineers in development increased from 14.0 percent to 17.4 percent, and the percentage in teaching declined from 24.6 percent to 18.6 percent, although the abso- lute numbers in teaching increased. The percentage doing research remained essentially constant. Mobility Among Primary Activities Engineers move regularly among primary work activities; they also move entirely out of engineering and sometimes return. NSF data on the mobility of a specific cohort of experienced engineers show a net flow into management during 1972-1978, a net flow out of production and R&D, and a small net flow out of teaching Tables A- 1 through A-4) . Later data show a small net flow out of teaching during 1980- 1981 and a small net flow into teaching during 1981-1982.9 The data also show a net flow of 24 percent out of engineering during the period 1972-1978 {Table 7~. This outflow was slightly higher than for life and physical scientists and computer specialists but much lower than for mathema . . tlclans. Companies encourage internal movement of engineers to broaden their experience. The most common move is from one assignment to another at the same location. Engineers may also be moved geographi- cally to provide experience at different facilities, for example but for a variety of reasons such moves are being less readily made. One of the reasons is the expense of moving; another is the growing number of two-career couples.

OCR for page 16
UTILIZATION OF ENGINEERS TABLE 7 Occupational Mobility of Experienced Scientists and Engineers: 1972-1978 ithousandsJ 21 1972 Net Flow OccupationTotal Inflow Outflow 1972-1978 Computer specialists66.5 8.6 (12.9%) 23.4135.2%) -14.8 (22.3%) Engineers393.5 12.8 ( 3.2%) 107 (27.2%) -94.2 (24%) Life scientists67.8 4.3 ( 6.3% ~19.2 (28.3% ~- 14.9 (22% ) Mathematicians27.6 2.3 ( 8.3% ~11.5 (41.7% ) - 9.2 (33.3% ) Physical scientists80.3 7.6 ( 9.5 % ) 23.4 (29.1 % ~- 15.8 (19.6% ) SOURCE: National Science Foundation. The Dual Ladder Although engineers can benefit from periodic reassignment, some prefer to stay in purely technical work as opposed to, say, administration, marketing, or plant operations. Such people comprise a valuable technical asset. Traditionally, however, the choice of purely technical work meant a sacrifice in salary and status, because progress in one's company normally entailed assignments to other kinds of work. To ease this problem, larger companies have set up dual- ladder arrangements which are designed to permit engineers to move up a technical ladder, in terms of salary and status, in parallel with their counterparts on the management ladder. Emerging after World War II, the dual-ladder approach has since proved very useful to both individ- ual engineers and management. The panel members, however, believe that people with broader capabilities and interests will continue to receive greater economic rewards. Concentration Ratios A broad measure of the utilization of engineers is their percentage in the total work force of an economic sector or industry. This percent- age the concentration ratio-is a crude indicator of the technological intensity of the sector or industry. Concentration ratios for technicians and computer specialists also are indicators of technological intensity. This section outlines concentration ratios for engineers, technicians, and computer specialists in major economic sectors and industries. Engineers Of the major economic sectors, the federal government, excluding the Postal Service, has the highest concentration ratio for engineers. The ratio rose from about 3.25 percent in 1960 to about 5 percent in

OCR for page 16
22 ENGINEERING EMPLOYMENT CHARACTERISTICS TABLE 8 Concentration Ratios {percent of total employment) of Engineers, Technicians, and Computer Specialists in Major Sectors andIndustries, 1960, 1970, and 1980 Manufacturing Industry All Durable Nondurable Public Year Industry Total Goods Goods Administration ... . Engineers 1960 1.33% 2.69% 4.05% 0.97% 2.66% 1970 1.58 3.28 4.65 1.29 3.00 1980 1.42 3.29 4.56 1.35 1.92 Techniciansa 1960 0.96 2.11 2.75 1.29 1.73 1970 1.05 2.08 2.55 1.39 1.91 1980 1.13 2.32 2.74 1.74 1.60 Computer specialists 1960 ~ 1970 0.44 0.70 0.93 0.37 1.18 1980 0.61 0.84 1.13 0.41 1.34 aIncludes both engineering and science technicians. SOURCE: Bureau of the Census. 1978, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Other data, from the Bureau of the Census, indicate that the ratio for engineers in public administration- all government, including state and local-rose from 2.7 percent in 1960 to 3.0 percent in 1970, but then declined to 1.9 percent in 1980 {Table 8J. Engineers employed in all industry far outnumber employees in other technical disciplines. The concentration ratio grew rapidly through 1970, but then, as shown in Table 8, declined slightly through 1980 to about 1.42 percent. The decline was due in part to the advent of computer specialists as a separate occupational category. In manufac- turing industries, the concentration ratio is more than twice as high as . . . . it is in al. . sync .ustr~es. Concentration ratios for engineers vary widely across industries {Table 9J. The ratios for the primary metals, fabricated metals, and motor vehicle industries were considerably below the mean {4.56 per- cent) for durable goods industries in 1980. In electronic computing, aircraft, and commercial R&D, increases in the ratios for computer specialists may have occurred at the expense of the ratios for engineers. As noted earlier, many computer specialists may be converted engineers. Examination of concentration ratios indicates that one engineering discipline traditionally has tended to be dominant in each industry: mechanical engineers in the machinery industry, electrical engineers

OCR for page 16
UTILIZATION OF ENGINEERS TABLE 9 Concentration Ratios of Engineers, 1960 and 1980 23 Industry19601980 Trend Primary metals2.19%2.16% Down Fabricated metals4.102.33 Down Chemicals3.794.03 Up Communications4.003.88 Down Machinery [except electrical)4.204.80 Up Electrical machinery6.977.10 Up Electronic computers10. 71 (1970)9.55 Down Motor vehicles2.493.75 Up Aircraft12.6415.68 Up Engineering services27.0725.24 Down Con~nercialR&D15.01 (1970J12.74 Down Computer programming3.77 (1970)2.48 Downa aThe result of rapidly growing numbers of computer specialists. SOURCE: Bureau of the Census. in electrical machinery, chemical engineers in the chemical industry, and so on See Figures A-10 through A-14. This pattern suggests that the balance among engineering disciplines in an industry should change as its products change. When the automobile industry, for example, -began- to reduce the weight of carsto improve fuel efficiency, automobile manufacturers began to hire more civil engineers to do the necessary structural analyses. Similarly, the percentages-of electrical and computer engineers in the aerospace industry have been growing steadily as the electronics and computer content of major aerospace systems has grown. Technicians and Computer Specialists Concentration ratios for engineers, technicians, and computer spe- cialists in all industries are compared in Table 8. Among major eco- nomic sectors, the ratio for technicians exceeds that for engineers only in nondurable goods. Among industrial~sectors, the technician ratio is higher only in chemicals, computer programming, and commercial R&D isee Table A-5 ~ . -The-concent~ation ratios for computer specialists are low~r-~than those for engineers and technicians in all sectors but electronic-~computers, computer programming' and business m~nage- ment, where they exceed both. The ratios for-computer specialists are growing steadily, however. These concen-tration ratios are restated in terms of numbers of ~ec-h- nicians an~omputer specialists per engineer in all industries in Figure

OCR for page 16
24 o a: G ENGINEERING EMPLOYMENT CHARACTERISTICS 2.0 1.5 1.0 _ 0.5 o . . . 1960 1970 1980 __ 1960 1970 1980 Technician/Engineer Computer Specialist/Engineer Total/Engineer FIGURE 8 Technicians and computer specialists per engineer, all industry. SOURCE: Bureau of the Census. 8. The rationale is that both provide support for engineers. Technicians are commonly viewed as working in support of engineers for scien- tists), but the technician classification in industry, as reported in vari- ous surveys, covers many tasks not in support of engineers. It is not possible to separate engineering support tasks from the survey data. Even so, the ratio of technicians to a given engineering work force provides at least a crude measure of the degree to which they are freeing engineers for tasks that require engineering qualifications. Computer specialists may or may not support engineers directly or indirectly. Efficiency of Utilization Assessments of the efficiency of utilization of engineers-the extent to which their technical abilities are being used are necessarily sub

OCR for page 16
UTILIZATION OF ENGINEERS 25 jective. Considerable research was done on the subject in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but recent information is scarce. To broaden its basis for judgment in this and related areas, the panel conducted an informal survey of employers of engineers. The survey solicited management's view of the efficiency of utilization of engi- neers, the impact of new technology on engineering productivity, and the difficulty of finding quality engineering graduates. The form employed in the survey and a summary of the results appear in Appen- dix D. The form was mailed to some 350 firms, and 107 responses were received. The survey did not employ a scientific sampling procedure; smaller consulting firms, for example, are overrepresented. For this reason, and because of the relatively small number of responses, the results should be viewed with caution. The results of the panel's survey show in part that, in senior manage- ment's opinion, computer hardware engineers, computer software engineers, and civil engineers are the most fully utilized ;70 percent and higherJ, while aeronautical, chemical, electronics, and industrial engineers are somewhat underutilized {46 percent and lower). Neither electronics nor electrical engineers were reported as being utilized as fully as the panel had expected. It is not clear, however, what levels of utilization ought to be considered acceptable. Also, in the panel's expe- rience, management tends to estimate utilization higher than do indi- vidual engineers. Substantial difference of opinion among engineers is found in the preliminary results of a study of utilization being conducted by the American Association of Engineering Societies. it The reported results, when engineers were asked if their utilization was excellent, showed a positive response range of 47 percent to 71 percent, depending on the group surveyed. Views of individual engineers that may be related to efficiency of utilization were obtained in other surveys; the results are shown in Tables 10, 11, and 12. In particular, the quite low levels of satisfaction shown in Table 11 suggest correspondingly low levels of utilization. Impact of New Technology The efficiency of utilization of engineers is being affected by new technologies, such as computer-aided design CAD) and drafting. These and related technologies are still relatively new, however. Although they are definitely increasing the productivity and quality of engineering, their net effect on engineering and on industry as a whole cannot be forecast with confidence. Computer-aided design unquestionably provides the capability to

OCR for page 16
26 ENGINEERING EMPLOYMENT CHARACTERISTICS TABLE 10 Survey Results: Engineers' Views of Their Work, According to National Engineering Career Development Study Respondents: Percent Satisfied with choice of occupation Satisfied with career progress Satisfied with work in present job 72a 61 80 NOTE: Total sample = 2,852 experienced engineers. a72% of responses fell into the two most positive categories of a 5-point scale. SOURCE: W. K. LeBold, K. W. Linden, C. M. Jagacinski, and K. D. Shell. "National Engineering Career Development Study: Engi neers' Profiles of the Eighties. " Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., June 1983. TABLE 11 Survey Results: Engineers' Views of Their Work {Civilian Engineers in Joint Logistics Commands) Respondents: Percent Satisfied with work assignments Job uses individual's potential Working as engineer in federal government is satisfying 37a 28 23 NOTE: Total sample = 1, 609 experienced engineers. aIncludes always/often responses. SOURCE: "Civilian Engineer Recruitment, Retention, and Use Throughout the Joint Logistics Commands," prepared by Joint Panel on Civilian Personnel Management established by Joint Logistics Commanders, U.S. Department of Defense, Washington, D.C., Oct. 30, 1981. TABLE 12 Survey Results: Engineers' Views of Their Work {Engineering Graduates, University of Illinois) Respondents: Consider engineering degree relevant to work Personally satisfied with engineering work 10 Years After Graduation ( % 69. la 82.9b 5 Years After Graduation 1 % 85. 1a 87.2b NOTE: Surveys started in 1977 and were conducted each year for those graduating 10 years and 5 years earlier. aResponses of "most or all" and "some" on a 4-point scale. Scores averaged across six surveys {1977-1982J. b' 'Yes" response on yes or no question. Scores averaged across six surveys t 1977-1982J. SOURCE: College of Engineering, University of Illinois.

OCR for page 16
UTILIZATION OF ENGINEERS 27 increase the engineer's productivity in terms of hourly output. The value of the increase cannot readily be assessed, however, because CAD also changes the nature of the work. It may permit the engineer to design a part with greater precision, for example, or to consider more options, or, more importantly in many cases, to shorten development lead time. But comparable tasks have seldom been carried out simulta- neously with and without a computer-based system, so costs cannot be compared directly. Further, a company engages in a good deal of analy- sis before deciding to invest in a computer-aided system, but once the system is installed, the emphasis is on making it work. Thus, after-the- fact analysis is not done routinely. The panel's informal survey of employers of engineers covered four elements of new engineering technology: computer-aided drafting, computer-aided design, computer-aided manufacturing, and engineer- ing information systems. Fewer than half of the respondents that had such systems had formally evaluated them quantitatively, but, on aver- age, productivity improvement was estimated in the range of 30 per cent to 40 percent. Because certain design programs can be incorporated into CAD sys- tems and because of interactive graphics, designing with CAD in some jobs may require less technical direction than designing without CAD. Most importantly, these new computer-aided tools permit increasingly sophisticated products to be designed in less time with substantially greater accuracy and with greater cost-effectiveness.