The Looming Engineering Age Crisis

Current events discussions relating to Broadcast Engineering
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Dale H. Cook
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Re: The Looming Engineering Age Crisis

Post by Dale H. Cook » Sat Sep 17, 2016 3:43 pm

BigRed wrote:... past my 15-year old truck.
That makes me feel better - my Explorer is only 14 years old. :-)
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Bill DeFelice
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Re: The Looming Engineering Age Crisis

Post by Bill DeFelice » Sun Sep 18, 2016 12:14 pm

Like others have mentioned, I find it difficult to mentor young people into the engineering field when I see how many local stations have eliminated staff engineers and have either moved to a contract engineer or use an outside service for their needs. It was a few years that I decided that while I'd mentor anybody who wanted to learn engineering that I would prefer to focus their talents on "new media" such as podcasting, streaming, etc. I'm not saying broadcast engineering talent isn't necessary but the job market for audio and I.T. seems to enjoy better available opportunities these days.
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Re: The Looming Engineering Age Crisis

Post by BigRed » Sun Sep 18, 2016 11:36 pm

Dale H. Cook wrote:
BigRed wrote:... past my 15-year old truck.
That makes me feel better - my Explorer is only 14 years old. :-)
Well, don't feel too good about that. If my old buggy is any indication you have about another year before that little gnome inside the engine starts pounding on the side of the oil pan with a hammer. :(

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Re: The Looming Engineering Age Crisis

Post by BigRed » Sun Sep 18, 2016 11:41 pm

Boy, now I'm really depressed.

After my initial post to this question I was hoping that everyone would pile on top of me to tell me that I was wrong and that I had my head crammed into the deep, dark recesses . . . That there was actually a great demand for broadcast engineering "talent" at decent wages and that I hadn't been looking in the right places. But no such luck . . . I REALLY hate it that I might be right . . .

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Dale H. Cook
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Re: The Looming Engineering Age Crisis

Post by Dale H. Cook » Mon Sep 19, 2016 7:18 am

BigRed wrote:... you have about another year before that little gnome inside the engine starts pounding on the side of the oil pan with a hammer. :(
Nah, that happened last year so I have a factory reman engine. Considering the condition of the vehicle and the fact that I was working little (thus little income) due to medical problems led me to the reman rather than a much more expensive replacement of the Explorer.
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Re: The Looming Engineering Age Crisis

Post by Dale H. Cook » Mon Sep 19, 2016 7:24 am

BigRed wrote:.. and that I hadn't been looking in the right places.
I can work about as much as I want to, though that sometimes means travelling as much as 2+ hours to a station, because I am the only exclusively contract engineer in the area. That also means that I can afford to be choosy - I do not work for stations which are bad pay or which are owned or run by crazy people. I also do not negotiate my rates or conditions - it is my way or find somebody else.
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PID_Stop
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Re: The Looming Engineering Age Crisis

Post by PID_Stop » Mon Sep 19, 2016 7:31 am

BigRed wrote:PID_Stop . . . That's a very noble gesture that takes one heck of a lot of work.
I don't see it as being particularly noble; documentation is a basic part of the job. A changing work environment sometimes means changing how we do it. I still have my T square, french curves, Rapidograph pens, and Leroy lettering machine from when I was designing and documenting our present studio construction back in 1984, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't use better equipment and methods as they become available.
...So I'm sorry to predict that your efforts will survive until the first HDD crash, or until you retire, if you can even contemplate doing so.
That's entirely possible; there are a number of irresponsible or insecure people out there who think it's okay to hoard critical information. That doesn't mean that I should become one of them. I'm not out to be harsh; in our station's or our regional operation's bigger picture, there's no future in creating an unsustainable empire... and building a facility that only one person can understand or work on is definitely unsustainable.

-- Jeff

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Re: The Looming Engineering Age Crisis

Post by ChuckG » Mon Sep 19, 2016 10:00 pm

PID_Stop wrote: I don't see it as being particularly noble;
Considering 98% of the stations I've visited have (or had) no docs at all, I don't think "noble" is excessive.
I got a thank you call not that long ago from a station that had to move and found the docs I created when I originally built the studios. It really does save those who follow us some enormous headaches.
Same with documenting Am directionals, component by component with both nameplate and operating reactances noted. It's saved my own bacon more than once when a part self-destructs and it's value cannot be read.

I use plain old Excel and put the files up on a private web server, along with all manuals, copies of critical software and certain backups.
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Re: The Looming Engineering Age Crisis

Post by ChuckG » Mon Sep 19, 2016 10:07 pm

Dale H. Cook wrote:
BigRed wrote:... past my 15-year old truck.
That makes me feel better - my Explorer is only 14 years old. :-)
If you have the 5.0 V8 in there it will outlive us both.
I got the dreaded knock-knock-knock in my Jeep Cherokee at 265K miles. Blew a piston skirt.
It's replacement, a Mountaineer AWD is now up to 190K with nary an issue. One thing they do build better now than in the old days is automobile engines.
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Re: The Looming Engineering Age Crisis

Post by NECRAT » Tue Sep 20, 2016 4:12 pm

ChuckG wrote: I got the dreaded knock-knock-knock in my Jeep Cherokee at 265K miles. Blew a piston skirt.
What engine did it have in it?
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Re: The Looming Engineering Age Crisis

Post by ChuckG » Tue Sep 20, 2016 9:12 pm

NECRAT wrote:
ChuckG wrote: I got the dreaded knock-knock-knock in my Jeep Cherokee at 265K miles. Blew a piston skirt.
What engine did it have in it?
4.0
I've owned several of them, it's a somewhat common issue. Generally #1 or #6, loud clatter and piston chunks in the oil pan.
At 265K miles I had no complaints.... I put in a new piston set and bearings, kid that bought it still drives it. Probably has well over 300K by now.
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Re: The Looming Engineering Age Crisis

Post by GreatRadio » Wed Oct 05, 2016 5:49 pm

All of this is true, but it's been going on for quite a while. Not only are there fewer engineers, there is less need. Equipment has gotten more reliable, there's less of it, and much of it has migrated to the IT world. And we're not the only industry facing this ... as the baby boom retires, there's going to be huge wave of experienced people leaving their companies, and less experienced people filling those shoes. It will be disruptive, and an opportunity for younger engineers, but in the end, it will all sort itself out.

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Re: The Looming Engineering Age Crisis

Post by Kelly » Wed Dec 21, 2016 9:33 am

And..that's part of the problem with evolving the reputation of broadcast engineers of old: Some, (and we've all seen them) resist looking at the radio or TV operation as a business. Younger GM's and corporate VP's eyes glaze over when engineers start talking about transmitters and antennas. How many times has the phrase been used as a hammer: "well if you want to stay on the air, then we must purchase this..."

Over the years your colleagues in the business have done it to themselves, and you. As Jeff mentioned, the information hoarder: "They can't get rid of me, since everything is here in my head or on my computer at home." WRONG! When you become an obstructionist or unwilling to change, the company is generally willing to take that risk and your reputation in a shrinking industry takes a huge hit.

If we're going to survive and not be replaced purely by millennial IT folks, get Cisco networking certifications, read manuals rather than just immediately calling customer support, know how to build and maintain servers and workstations, and above all; come up with capital budget plan that saves the company money, not just because you want to replace known equipment with the latest version.

Anymore you become valuable to the operation not just by keeping things on the air, but by guiding the operation through way of using technology to improve content and workflows, or saving at least 2X your salary in every year.
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Re: The Looming Engineering Age Crisis

Post by BigRed » Thu Dec 22, 2016 12:41 am

...That's entirely possible; there are a number of irresponsible or insecure people out there who think it's okay to hoard critical information. That doesn't mean that I should become one of them. I'm not out to be harsh; in our station's or our regional operation's bigger picture, there's no future in creating an unsustainable empire... and building a facility that only one person can understand or work on is definitely unsustainable.

-- Jeff
Who said anything about someone in the shop being irresponsible or insecure? Making that leap is rather presumptuous of you. No, it was Engineering MANAGEMENT that tossed out the documentation. They wanted to "tidy up" before moving some walls to please the GM.

In the long run it made little difference. Within a couple of years an outside contractor was brought in to rip out all that existing equipment and install new gear. The engineering staff was shut out of that project too.

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