Dean's Corner, May 1927


by O. J. Ferguson

 When we examine with care the fields of opportunity open to men with engineering training, we find that a majority of the contacts are made through some phase of the application of power or the use of raw materials. This may be indirect rather than direct, as in the case of the clerk who checks design details, the experimenter who tests the manufactured product, or other similar cases. There are, of course, widely dif-ferent details obtaining in the work of the beginners in the different phases of engineering, or, for that matter, even in one line. The civil engineer may go into construction work of buildings, highways or rail-roads. The mechanical engineer may begin in a power house, or in a factory. The architectural engineer may begin on the drafting board, or as a time-keeper or a materials-man, out on the job. The electrical may be-come a "tester," or an operator, or a construction man. And so on, through the list of many more beginning points.

But with all of these instances and many others which we might cite, the generation or the use of power, or the conversion of raw materials is closely associated. In fact, when we extend our range and look into the later years of experience of these engi-neers we still find that the core of engineering consists pretty largely of this same element. It is in this sense that I would present one of the most important aspects of an engineer's responsibilities.

Power, and raw material,

No form of energy is more powerful, more produc-tive, more vital to industry than human energy.

No raw material is more necessary, more adaptable, more tremendous in its possibilities than unorganized human endeavor.

Looking at it from either point of view—that of potential energy or that of raw material—the human element is paramount to all other considerations. Its economical and effective organization must, therefore, be contemplated in the undertakings of all engineering projects. Do you, the reader of this page know any-thing definite about the principles governing it?

Unfortunately, with all of its importance, it is one of the most neglected items in the whole plan. Swain says that "because we have minds, it is taken for granted that we know how to use them." Similarly, because we are human, it is too frequently assumed that we can control the human element in industry without much forethought or study. No worse mistake exists. Much there is for the future manager to learn in preparation for such work. It is not all bound up in organization charts, factory routing, and wage scales.

It involves the personalities and training of super-visors. It Includes consideration of bonuses, old age pensions, and sickness benefit funds; apprentice train-ing systems; health and protection of employees; discipline and rewards; trade unions; employee cooperation and representation; employee recreation; collective bargaining, etc. On these and many other things of like nature the executive, be he owner or merely manager, must have well based, safe and sound opinions, and the personality and recognized honesty to secure respect for his opinions,

Lewisohn says*: "It is becoming increasingly evi-dent each year that a large part of the industrial leader-ship of the country must come from the engineer-managers, who have. succeeded the old owner-managers. 41 * * A background limited to physics, chemistry, mathematics, mechanics, metallurgy and mining, do not equip a man to act as a buffer between labor and cap-ital. * * * But some training in psychological prob-lems and the mental attitudes of men * * * some knowledge of modern sociological tendencies, some grasp of incentives that make men act, some history of trade unions, and some understanding of the tech-nical side of human engineering would seem to be requisite in the future administrator." He adds later: "Engineer-managers who have combined with their knowledge of the material sciences a scientific study of human relations, are usually superior to other in-dustrial managers in their approach."

It behooves the student to recall that after twenty or twenty-five years' experience a majority of engi-neering graduates are found in the positions of man-agers or of owners. The more definitely they can prepare themselves for these duties, the more success-ful they will be. --'The New Leadership in Industry" (Dutton, 1926).

More than two million pounds of copper were re-quired by the United States Treasury Department in 1925 to mint $5,115,675 in pennies and nickels. The "nickel" contains 75 per cent copper.

A Cleveland man has invented a device that controls traffic signals by sound and by the mere shriek of the fire engine's siren will change signals and halt all

Honesty. diligence, perseverance and politeness are the most essential elements for success in anything.

If you love life, then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.—Franklin.