I guy I know sent me this clip.

 

Taurus won the award for the TX22.  That’s all well and good, this isn’t a dig against Taurus’ quality.

I know a couple of guys who were at Taurus, including some of the engineers who designed, prototyped, and tested that gun.

Where the fuck are they in that picture?

The dude in the blue suit is their new CEO.  New as in just hired over from Walther.  He had literally nothing to do with the three-year development of the TX22.  He has no right to take any credit for that at all.

I happen to know another engineer at another gun company, who nearly single-handedly pushed through a design for a product that marketing poo-pooed because they projected sales of about 1,000 units per year.  It was a sleeper hit and sold 60,000 in its first six months.

The sales guys made bank on the commission for a product that literally sold itself.  When the guy I know asked for a raise or promotion, he was told flatly “no.” So now he’s with a competitor.

Companies know they have to bonus executives to get the good ones.  They know they have to pay good commissions to get and keep the best sales staff.  I have yet to figure out why the stereotype of the Diblertesque introvert engineer that doesn’t need a reward for good work persists?

Maybe it’s because the best engineers are the least entrepreneurial.  Those skill sets, in my experience, are dead opposite of one another.  The best engineers are risk-averse technical problem solvers.  While entrepreneurs embrace risk and don’t get mired in the details of how to actually solve a technical problem, because they are out getting funding and selling the business case.

So it’s unlikely that the best engineer, watching others get big bonuses and industry awards off his work is going to go “fuck it, I’m going to start my own company.”  Tech is a little different because you can bootstrap with a laptop.  It’s harder for your “fuck-it, I quit” is more difficult when you need $10 million in equipment and a factory floor.

Throw in H1B visa abuse and overseas design firms and I see only a bleaker future to engineers in the US.

I don’t know what it will take but I hope something shifts.

The older engineering are retiring and I’m seeing more and more younger engineers ask “so why the fuck did my boss with an MBA get a bonus for managing me and the sales fucks get a bonus for selling my design, but I got dick for actually designing it?”

 

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By J. Kb

10 thoughts on “The thing I hate about being an engineer”
  1. A company I do work for and use to work for directly has a CEO that is sure he knows all about engineering and engineers but is himself just a great sales man.

    For a long time he would try and tie developer bonuses and rewards to sales numbers. If the company sold X amount or the amount of income vs the number of hours billed was Y% then the developers would get a reward.

    Except that we, as developers, could see him play numbers games. “reward” points were calculated on this months income which was based on last months work but the number of hours worked was based on this months labor.

    If some sales dude decided to make a customer happy by giving away a 100 hours of developer time, that didn’t affect the sales dude’s numbers as his was based on the income only. But that 100 hours of non billable time directly affected the developers ability to get a reward.

    In the 10 years I’ve been associated with said company, I’ve never seen a developer or the developer team reach a “rewards” goal. Yet, for some reason the management team seems to meet their numbers and get bonuses every year.

    I finally got said CEO to stop making empty promises of rewards and instead to just give “Kudo” gifts.

    “Hey Jill, you did a great job on XYZ, take your partner out to dinner on us. Just bring us back the bill. Keep it under $100”

    I then had to go back to him and tell him to stop using the “Kudo” idea to reward sales people and to keep it to the developers.

  2. Yep, and they wonder why those good engineers LEAVE. “Whut, I pay him/her good. Give them all these advantages, and they just up and leave…”

  3. And here I thought the worst thing about being an engineer was being asked to fix my parents’ garbage disposal when I visit over the holidays.

    Seriously … this is an issue, and the same sort of thing manifests itself in the government as well as corporate environment. I wish I knew a decent fix but, as you say, most of the ones that rise to the top aren’t engineers … or at least haven’t been in a long time.

  4. Most companies I have worked for look at engineers a replaceable modules. Anyone with an engineering degree will do. Hence when you get enough seniority to become fairly expensive, you’ll be replaced with a new grad for half the money. And people wonder why I went freelance. “Aren’t you worried about job security?” I was asked more than once. My reply was “You don’t have any more job security than I do, I just get paid better.”

    1. I have heard that and seen that many times. Ten years experience and a PE? Fresh out of college? Just the same at half the cost.

      Why not try that with the CEO? I’ll take half the going rate for any Fortune 500 CEO to do the same job. My lack of experience shouldn’t be a problem.

  5. I wonder if tech generally is different. I’ve been there (computer programming in various disciplines) for 40 years now, in 8 companies. Never seen anything resembling “engineers are treated as interchangeable parts”. One was pretty clueless about anything, which is why it got absorbed by a Finnish company after running its stock into the ground. And then there was DEC, where engineers were appreciated but marketing and sales were considered more or less superfluous. That’s going too far in the other direction.
    Startups are not easy even in tech. Yes, you can start with a laptop, for a pure software play. But you still need to get VCs to hand over several million to make even the small beginning of a noise, and that’s quite a lot harder. And I’ve seen hardware startups. Some even self-funded, which was probably a mistake — I wonder how much of Boberg’s trouble was due to inadequate finances. Arne didn’t want to go that route, I never learned why not.

    1. Perhaps. But in Boeing’s case, the work was done by engineers. Did they not understand that what they were building was designed wrong? If yes, why did they not say so? If no, why are they working in that industry? I’m a software engineer, but even though I don’t work on safety critical systems (merely on fault tolerant ones) I immediately recognized that their MCAS design was fundamentally flawed in a way that should have been obvious to any qualified engineer.
      I get the feeling that Boeing knows airplanes — in the sense of contraptions built of aluminum and fiberglass — rather well. But they seem to be pretty clueless about software. It’s not just the MCAS thing that creates this impression; the recent rocket failure is another example.
      If you hire MS game programmer skills for building safety critical software, you’re going to have trouble.

  6. hmmm… I made my company a clear profit of $280,000 on currency exchange alone one year. Selling my product in a foreign country and insisting on being paid in local currency, add in actual profit and we were pushing $3m profit that *I* generated.

    My bonus that year?
    $1,500.

    Thank you very much.
    I work elsewhere now.

    I stopped making billionaires out of millionaires years ago.

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