Said Jimmy Stewart's character in "It's a Wonderful Life," George Bailey, "I'm shakin' the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I'm gonna see the world. Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Colosseum. Then, I'm comin' back here to go to college and see what they know. And then I'm gonna build things. I'm gonna build airfields, I'm gonna build skyscrapers a hundred stories high, I'm gonna build bridges a mile long..." It was common dream for an era when Americans were tired of the struggling economy of The Great Depression and great advances were being made in technology. The world was still a mystery to most people whose familiarity with foreign lands was limited to grade school geography books, encyclopedias, and local libraries. There was no Internet or even cable TV with the Discovery Channel. Articles like this one motivated generations of kids to pursue their dreams and build a new world.
What's Ahead for You in Engineering?
An "ATH" Career Survey for High School Students
Never before have there been so many or such alluring opportunities as now await the young fellow who wants to be an engineer. America will be needing annually 50,000 engineers for some years to come - well over twice as many as present indications show the schools are graduating. They'll be wanted and welcomed by industry trying to meet the demands of a population increasing at the rate of a quarter of a million a month, by the accelerated defense program, by research and development work of all kinds.
Washington Water Power Company's Cabinet Gorge Hydroelectric Development in Idaho is typical of vast new power projects here and abroad.
All right, you've probably heard about the shortage of engineers, seen some of these colossal, cold-sounding figures. But exactly what does it all mean to you - the high school student? What kind of opportunities will be waiting when you finally get an engineering diploma? Where will the best chances lie? And suppose you have a real urge along technical and scientific lines yet feel you possess talents in other fields as well - would engineering be your best bet?
This survey is intended .to answer such questions.
Let's have a look at electrical engineering. This, of course, is one of the five principal branches - the others being civil, mechanical, mining and metallurgical, and chemical. The electrical engineer deals with the transmission of energy and speedy communications, and within these two main divisions are found the various specializations many of which offer rich opportunities in the years ahead.
It need hardly be pointed out that the development and application of television goes on apace. More and more TV is being used in industry - with the camera, for instance, recording the progress of a red-hot strip of steel from one area to another in a sheet and tin mill for a distant operator watching a receiving set. War-born radar is being put to an increasing number of peacetime purposes. Fluorescent lighting is receiving ever-wider application.
All such things naturally mean more jobs for electrical engineers. They also denote a little-realized fact which bears on engineering in general: the technological age sponsored by America is only now getting into high gear. In the 20 years from 1918 to 1938, the use of electrical energy for domestic purposes increased eight times. This period saw today's commonplaces - electric range, home food freezer, or dish washer - develop from lab experiment into household necessity. With population jumping and the standard of living climbing, more engineers are sought for more research to develop more new products.
In engineering circles today you hear a great deal about "nucleonics." All branches are actively interested in the study of atomic energy and how to ·use it - constructively. Many colleges are grouping this subject into their electrical engineering course. The "E.E." is specifically needed in the electromagnetic separation of isotopes requiring an extensive list of electrical apparatus. R.C.A. recently announced the "atomic battery" - as yet just a long-life small battery, but a definite step toward obtaining electricity directly from atomic energy ... Tomorrow, when you get your degree, "nucleonics" will spell vastly bigger and better chances.
All drawings from "Engineering - A Creative Profession," published by Engineers' Council for Professional Development.
The utilities are among those investigating atomic energy. The whole power field is worth your consideration. In constant need of electrical engineers, this industry doubles itself every ten years. More industry in general is requiring power and long-range transmission of it is creating new jobs.
As the need for more power increases, more public utility projects will be built. Construction in this respect since the war has been on the boom, both here and elsewhere, and from indications the trend will continue. American firms are called on by "power-hungry" countries to design, supervise or build power installations.
Urgent need for highway (civil) engineers. Here: bridge for "Autopista" road, Venezuela.
Ebasco Services, for instance, in the last few years has functioned in one or more of these ways on the first arch dam in Japan, on a hydroelectric development in northern Greece, on others in Brazil and Peru. This company, the world's largest in utility construction, is very active in this field throughout our own country.
In transportation, the electrical plant is assuming greater importance every year. In today's diesel locomotive, there is more electrical equipment than in an electric locomotive. Planes and ships are demanding far more complex electrical systems. The wider application of the gas turbine - research in their use for the family automobile has already produced results - implies lots more work ahead for the electrical engineer, as well as other types.
One of the other main branches of engineering involved in gas turbine development is mechanical. Let's consider this large and important segment of the profession in detail. The mechanical engineer is the one who deals with machinery and the power to operate it. He designs and builds engines, ships, boilers, plants for turning out machine tools, etc. His specializations include automotive engineering, aeronautical and heating and ventilating.
And he's the one who must design and build those gas turbines that are opening up a whole new field in powerplants. Another job area where he'll be much in demand is that new trend in American industry called "automation." Pioneered by Ford, this is the system wherein mechanical devices take the place of humans in making automatically certain choices or decisions on the basis of information fed to them in various ways:
A simple example is the thermostat. Far more intricate gadgets have been installed at General Electric and DuPont - the chemical industry is a natural for automation. Its increasing use will spell brand-new opportunities in the tool design field for the mechanical engineer.
"Air conditioning" is now a familiar term. Again the mechanical branch - or the heating and ventilating engineer - must design and build to fill the growing demand. With more industrial processes requiring plants with controlled temperature and humidity and "sterile" air, the mechanical engineer will be needed to conceive and install the equipment ... Likewise, the refrigeration engineer should expect plenty of offers both for making the machinery involved or supervising the operation of quick-freezing food plants, cold-storage warehouses and the like.
Both now and tomorrow, the opportunities for the aeronautical engineer in this country are the chance-of-a-lifetime kind if you have the qualifications. Jet power has brought about a revolution in aviation, making planes faster and more complex. New forms like the helicopter are coming into their own; others like the convertiplane and guided missiles are being developed with amazing progress. Airline routes are growing longer and more ramified, and more freight is being transported through the sky.
All this creates the necessity for more engineers. They are wanted not only by the busy airframe and engine manufacturers but for liaison by a good proportion of the 60,000 sub-contractors and suppliers of parts and accessories. In addition, aero engineers are much needed for research programs carried on by both industry and government.
Uncle Sam is the big employer in research. The largest labs of this type in the world are operated by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics at Langley and two other fields. At present the, NACA payroll alone for this purpose contains 7,500 names. Both the Air Force and the Navy also hire civilian engineers for their own research and development programs. The AF runs half a dozen experimental stations such as those at Muroc AFB and Wright-Patterson, while the Navy has various test and development centers. Work in guided missiles by the air arm is yet another research activity.
And still in addition, the Air Force and the Navy farm out research and development to independent commercial organizations or schools like Cal Tech and M.I.T. Hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts have been awarded to these and other labs. Such organizations are hungry for engineering graduates, and will be for some time to come.
Poised for firing from portable ramp of Navy carrier is Regulus guided missile. Boundless opportunities for the aeronautical engineer.
Increasing use of television in industry is only one boon for electrical engineers, as in banking operation here. Photo: RCA Victor Div.
Chances are you'll jockey around a bit in your jalopy during this summer vacation. One sight you'll come across in your travels is road building. The highway program in this country is years behind schedule and one of the chief reasons is not lack of funds but shortage of civil engineers. Both federal and state commissions are pushing highway construction as fast as possible. Likewise, practically every large city has been building or is contemplating urban expressways - here the program is 10 years in arrears. And foreign countries like Bolivia and Peru are employing American engineers to help cut roads through high-mountain terrain, build bridges where nature once felt safe .... New oil and mine fields in South America must have accessibility.
The civil engineer, of course, is one who also designs and constructs buildings, dams, railroads, water and sewage systems, tunnels, and does all kinds of surveying. He also maintains the various installations he builds.
Besides the continuing critical need for the C.E. in highway engineering, there should be definite opportunities in long-range pipeline work. You've seen or read about the "Big Inch," which carries natural gas from Texas to New Jersey. Less publicized but far more extensive in use are the oil lines, such as the Platte pipeline that transports crude oil for 1056 miles from Wyoming wells in the Rockies to refineries at Wood River near St. Louis ... The employment of pipelines is a growing trend, and for a number of purposes.
Getting back to Peru, we quote from a report in a house organ by R. G. LeTourneau, head of the famous Texas firm active in engineering projects in South America: "One day as I walked a hundred feet or so behind the Dozer cutting a trail, the native about thirty feet behind me began yelling. I had just passed within ten feet of a Boa Constrictor snake at the base of a huge tree ... " Well, that particular snake died, however much he may have wanted to stem the tide of progress now sweeping over his country. There is exploration and digging into the ground and heavy construction, and U. S. companies have a hand in most of it. American Smelting & Refining is planning to invest a hundred million to develop Peru's copper deposits, and Utah Construction is opening the iron deposits in the southern part. In Bolivia, too, the snakes have cause to be wary ... While up in Canada there's a rush on for copper, desperately needed by growing utilities, and considerable liveliness in cobalt, a prime defense alloy.
In other words, if your ambition is to become a mining engineer there should be good prospects along conventional lines in both North and South America. The big news in mining today, however, is uranium.
You've read about the Colorado Plateau, where a young fellow named Charlie Steen stumbled on what became a strike worth hundreds of millions just in dollars. In the Lake Athabasca region in Saskatchewan 150 companies are busy as the result of the fabulous strike there. Last March, a Toronto consulting engineer discovered near Blind River a field that promises to be as rich in uranium as the one in Colorado.
One uranium mining HQ in Canada. Atomic energy: great chances for all engineering.
What will be the uranium picture by the time you become an engineer? Obviously, a strike may happen any time, almost anywhere. Or there may be long intervals between strikes. We know that our Atomic Energy Commission has a contract with Canada to buy all that country's uranium production until 1963. Of course, it is possible that uranium may be superseded in regard to atomic energy - that entirely new methods in producing atomic power may be developed.
Far more definite is today's - and tomorrow's - need for engineers in petroleum production. This is undoubtedly the greatest shortage in the mining branch. The reason has to do with the rapid advancements in oil in recent years, improvements in refining, the new uses for the products. Part of the job is locating the "black gold." In this country exploration work is constant; east Texas is still the world's largest producer. In the upper Amazon basin U. S. firms have begun large-scale operations in areas that may make Peru a major supplier of oil. And rigs are being set up in Alberta, Canada.
Just a couple of months ago you probably read about Bell Labs announcing a successful solar battery - but don't shy away from petroleum engineering because you're afraid oil will soon be replaced by other sources of energy, whether solar or atomic. Research is constantly uncovering new uses for oil. Mr. Frank M. Porter, president of the American Petroleum Institute, very effectively points out that 2500 different chemicals can be extracted from oil and gas. Another estimate has it that one and a half million different compounds may be obtained from petroleum if commercial uses can be found for them.
Nor should you overlook the genuine opportunities ahead for metallurgical engineers. New kinds of power are calling for new kinds of metal-alloys, for instance, that can withstand the high temperatures connected with jet engines. Titanium has possibilities as one of tomorrow's new general metals; it is twice as strong as steel and half as heavy. Much research is being done on this and other items of promise, for use in everything from jewelry to machines and transportation vehicles ... Industry will welcome tomorrow's metallurgist with open arms.
These Leaders in American Industry Say:
''The Scientific Manpower Commission estimates a shortage of 35,000 to 40,000 engineering specialists and 5,000 to 10,000 scientists in the coming year. These figures, however, do not fully reflect total shortage of scientific manpower. With research and development a four-billion dollar business in the United States this year, we .may well contemplate what other projects might have been undertaken if scientific manpower was available. For a nation which is becoming increasingly dependent on fundamental research and development for its national security as well as its economic welfare, the cost of this shortage of scientists and engineers is incalculable. Certainly, opportunities for young men in all fields of .science and engineering are brighter than they have ever been before." -- A. C. Monteith
"With every passing year the opportunities for individual success are increasing enormously. In my lifetime I have seen the birth of the automobile, the invention of the airplane, the development of chemical synthetics and -plastics, the miracle of electronics· and the dawn of the atomic age with all the infinite promise it holds for the future welfare of man. And still science rushes on, crossing one new frontier after another, and finding. beyond each one, a whole unexplored wilderness of opportunity." -- Benjamin F. Fairless
''The future of our American scientific heritage rests in the hands of the students of today. Science is still at its frontiers, and it will be up to these youngsters to transform it into benefits for a prosperous tomorrow. To make them realize the importance of their burden must be OUT contribution to the future." -- Ralph J. Gardiner
"Research and development being conducted today give us some insight into the future, for we know that the laboratory experiments of today are the everyday products of tomorrow. Here are my ten engineering problems for the future: 1. More Efficient Gas Turbines and Other Power Plants. 2. Power Directly from the Sun. 3. Process for Obtaining Materiols from Earth's Crust and Seas. 4. Control of Corrosion of Metals. 5. Development of an Adequate Highway System. 6. Practical Atomic Power Plant. 7. Process for Obtaining Fresh Water from the Sea. 8. Development of New Synthetic Materials. 9. Application of Engineering Principles to Social Problems. 10. Disaster Control-Storms, Floods, Hurricaes and Droughts." - -C. L. McCuen
Perhaps you'd like to become a chemical engineer. If so, you have selected a branch whose opportunities are without limit - for the future of chemistry is unbounded. In just the last twenty years the number of chemical engineers has increased tenfold. Much of our industry is dependent on chemistry, and new derivations and products are constantly creating new divisions in industry, meaning additional chances for the chemical engineering.
For instance, not so long ago most of our alcohol was derived from molasses. Today, alcohol from petroleum is giving that process competition. Or take plastics.
The vinyl plastics have provided us with a substitute for leather. Plastics created from silicone resins have made rockets and guided missiles possible - for they can resist the high temperatures involved. Or consider synthetic fibers from coal, petroleum and the like: the material of your fancy new slacks represents only the beginning of possible developments in this field. Just as a feather in the wind, it might be noted that today the petroleum industry hires more "comical engineers" (as the undergraduate chemical engineer likes to libel himself) than any other kind.
Right here, it might be explained that it's the chemical engineer who takes the lab discoveries of chemists and turns them into commercial realities. It's his job to take such new finds or developments as penicillin or high-octane gasoline and make them useful to us, to learn how to manufacture them economically and on a large scale.
The industrial application of chemical processes is widespread - playing an important part in industries having to do with food, rubber, grass, paper, iron, steel and many other things. And not only does our man "engineer" a process like extracting vegetable oils from beans or seeds with solvents, but often he must devise new instruments or equipment to meet new problems.
Nucleonics needs the chemical engineer. There are probably more of his type employed at the atomic energy plants than any other branch of engineering or science. And have you ever heard of the Atomic Industrial Forum? This organization, composed of key representatives of industry, is busy exchanging information among companies and functioning otherwise to help convert atomic energy to peacetime use. The more the whole program expands, the louder will be the call for chemical engineers.
Industry in general is working behind the scenes to make tomorrow a better and more prosperous world; for it knows that what helps one helps all, The immense research programs it carries on imply expanding opportunities for you - and much of that research is the fundamental kind. At General Motors, for example, Mr. Charles F. Kettering, the veteran engineer and scientist, has an entire staff trying to discover "why the grass is green." Cracking nature's secret of, photosynthesis might mean chemically harnessing for all mankind the prime energy of the sun. As pointed out by Mr. McCuen, the manager of GM's research labs, solar energy falling upon one square mile of the earth's surface per day is equivalent to 400,000 gallons of oil or 2,000 tons of coal ... which themselves represent the sun's energy one or more steps removed.
The functions of the engineer are broadening. Mr. Maynard M. Boring, manager of General Electric's Technical Personnel Divisions, has said: "That (industrial or manufacturing engineering) is a field that is going to grow very rapidly in the next few years because production has become so extremely complex. You simply cannot depend on the fellow coming up through the machine shop to take over the complexities of today's production. It's a big new field for new engineers."
The industrial engineer is the man who is concerned with the efficient use of labor, machines and material. Specializations include safety, plant layout, time and motion. Industrial engineers may come from practically any of the five main branches.
Suppose you like science and math but feel you'd be better off in the general managing end of business. There is news for you. More and more industries are filling their staff positions with the engineer-trained - jobs until recently not considered part of engineering, such as sales and market research. Now over 40 percent of top management in industry are men who were originally trained as engineers. In this respect, they are replacing the banker and the lawyer.
The man with an engineering background - the trained ability to analyze all factors involved in a problem and on their basis evolve a solution for it - is being increasingly sought in such fields and professions as government work, cost accounting, investment advising, sales and advertising campaign directing and the like.
Whatever your interest in engineering, there are certain things you can and should do now while still a high school undergraduate. First, take as much math and science as you can, both to meet college requirements and to make the road ahead a little easier. The actual number of units varies among the engineering colleges; this information may be had from the individual schools; your teacher, principal or guidance counselor will be glad to help you find things out. Don't neglect history and social sciences; you'll want to be well-rounded. By all means don't neglect English. A sad fact: certain large companies today are sponsoring classes in English composition, including business letters, for their "backward" executives. A foreign language - French, German, Spanish - can be it definite asset. Another fact: firms sending men abroad often have them first take a course in a particular foreign tongue ... So why not get the jump on the opposition by preparing yourself now?
The following booklets and pamphlets are suggested reading; a number contain further source material:
"Engineering - a Creative Profession." 25 cents. Published by the Engineers' Council for Professional Development, Engineering Societies Building, 29 West 39th St., New York 18, N. Y.
"Engineering as a Career." 15 cents. Published by Engineer's Council for Professional Development, 29 West 39th St., New York 18, N. Y.
"The Electrical Engineer," 25 cents. Published by American Institute of Electrical Engineers, 29 West 39th St., New York 18, N. Y.
"Careers in the Mineral Industries." Free. Published by American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers, 29 West 39th St., New York 18, N. Y.
"It's a Wonderful Life," George Bailey, "I'm shakin' the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I'm gonna see the world. Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Colosseum. Then, I'm comin' back here to go to college and see what they know. And then I'm gonna build things. I'm gonna build airfields, I'm gonna build skyscrapers a hundred stories high, I'm gonna build bridges a mile long..."
Even during the busiest times of my life I have endeavored to maintain some form
of model building activity. This site has been created to help me chronicle my journey
through a lifelong involvement in model aviation, which
all began in Mayo,