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The Engineer Must "Come Into His Own.

21st December 1916
Page 2
Page 2, 21st December 1916 — The Engineer Must "Come Into His Own.
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

A. Claim that the-Technically Trained Man Must be Encouraged to Better Things and Not Relegated to Positions of Inferiority if the Nation is to Hold its Own Industrially.

By "Once an Apprentice."

• The Editor's eourtesy in publishing, in the 7th of December issue of THE COMMERCIAL MOTOR, a letter that I wrote claiming attention for M. Legros' striking presidential address to the Institution of Automobile Engineers, emboldens me to ask for similar publicity for a further appeal on behalf of the engineer, the trained man.

What They Did in the Navy.

M. Legros, it will be recalled dealt at some little length with the tendency to belittle the engineer. He used as an illustration for his .purpose the widelyknown struggle for recognition in which the mechanical branches of the Naval service had to engage, before sheer necessity forced the Admiralty to concede that the man who understood the modern manof-war, that buoyant complexity of mechanical genius, was all-important to the flept-in-being as the man on the bridge or at the range-finder. I want, if I may, to lay stress on the manner in which the technically trained man is so often, even nowadays, left out of the limelight, arid forced to take an inconspicuous and poorly rewarded position in the arena of modern effort.

We Were Oulclassed in 1914.

One of the beneficial effects of the present world cataclysm has already been the convincing of the laity that next to the soldier, in war, we are entirely dependent upon the practising engineer and his colleagues in sister trades and professions_ Until August, 1914, we in England particularly thought relatively little of technical training, whilst our erstwhile principal competitor and present predominant enemy made much of it and saw to it that it increased and multiplied considerably. That we were wrong, two short years—aye, a few short months, served to show us all too bitterly. The future, as indeed the present, is the engineer's, and the old days, when a man with his hardly-won equipment of engmeering capabilities was thought less of and paid less than the man who hawked his products, must go by the board.

• The Abominably-paid Draughtsman.

I remember, a year or two ago now, reading an able editorial in TEE COMMERCIAL MOTOR dealing with the underpaid draughtsman, and I recall with pleasure the forceful way in which the Editor pilloried the

practice of employing a man with perhaps ten or fifteen years of design and draughtsmanship experience, and with a wide general knowledge of mathematics, metallurgy, machine construction, chemistry, pattern making, foundry practice and mechanics and applied science generally, perhaps a paltry forty shillings a week. Compared with the salesman or other commercial "money getter," his remuneration was often negligible. Works managers and their assistants were and often are little better off.

" Engineer-in-charge Wanted. £2 a Wei k and Must Be Able to Assist Gardener."

What encouragement has there hitherto been to bring the best young brains into training for careers as practising engineers ? Just as lacking in promise have the prospects been for mechanical., electrical, civil, sanitary or municipal engineers. Some of the salaries offered by public bodies for appointments of any and all these kinds have been hitherto simply scandalous.

Now, here we are, just getting warmed up to our share in the greatest war the world has ever known, faced by technicians of the highest capacity, but where should we have been had it not been for British engineers of all kinds?

We have got to face this problem of technical training with the utmost decision. Upon it depends whether we shall continue as an Empire of producers or as a federation of hucksters and porters. And to do this we have got to acknowledge the technicallytrained man and to pay him for his application and braininess. He must be encouraged, not snubbed. We are badly behind America and Gerrhany technically at present, though in different ways in each case. In both countries promising careers are open to the youth who gives promise of inventive and productive ability. Here we have almost pitied the chemist, the schoolmaster, the musician, the artist, the engineer, and have envied pork-butchers or clothing contractors, All this concerns the motor industry most intimately, and not the least the commercial branch of it. The industrial vehicle has made a name for itself in advance almost of any other war-adopted machinery— not excluding the mueh-helauded tanks, which have as yet hardly cut their wisdom teeth. And the corn-mercial motor industry, when peace is with us again, is going ahead by leaps and bounds. We must all see to it that the pre-eminence of our British production_ is not only maintained but extended, in spite of new fierce war-begotten competition. The best way to. make sure of such a result is to render the prizes more. tempting. Draughtsmen, skilled in many directions, must be paid better than the charwoman who cleans the offices. Works managers must be tempted to become magicians of organization with the prOpect of a Cabinet Minister's salary. Superintendents and niaintenanoe managers must be encouraged in their beliefs that their services are at least as valuable as the man who makes out the way bill or as he who checks bus-mile takings.

It is an old tale this contest between the engineer and the clerk, whatever the grades of them: But we have arrived at a stage in our nation's lire when we. are to he forced to make much of the engineer. Transport will increasingly prove to be the life of trade,. as it has of war. Machinery will be the Arne lifeblood of a virile nation. The enrcineer, must count more than the accountant or office-man, both 'in Prestige and in pocket. The nation's future demands it.

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