Engineering Speak Out

Roland Heilmann
(not verified)
Posted in: , on 11. Dec. 2014 - 08:50

Dear engineers,

isn't it so as of today's reality, that there's very much less engineers of an independent, selfrespecting and independent inner standing, but instead a type of "loyal to management" engineer who rather seeks to keep his / her place in the line?

And, as what concerns management, there's much less management who are able / willing to judge an issue from an own substantial professional engineering knowledge and experience. But rather lots of $ focused slaves of an imagined "shareholdervalueandnothingelse" brand who are ready to tear down any "obstacle" and kill anyone interfering on their way "up"..


To be an independent engineer means to dare to speak out at the risk of being wrong. To be an engineering manager means to have the professional understanding to see a core of truth in such issue and the willpower and intellectual ability to make the necessary happen. But never to threaten to fire someone because he / she is "a pain in the a..".

What I meet more and more is the readiness to accept shifty / insubstantial engineering which pleases from a babytalk $$$ & visual point of view and is always "cost effective" and because of this better than to have a thorough analysis.

What I meet more and more is threats to make someone loose his job, is resulting the constant fear to lose the job, and thus the readiness to rather comply to management than to have a personal pride and selfrespect and to swim against the stream if need be.


If fear rules, no questions are asked. If fear rules, a thread starter just drifts away & never gives feedback if he / she might fear to become exposed. If fear rules, there's little chance to have a community of engineers open to communicate.

My forefathers were coal miners in Silesia. Poor they all were, but everybody had this cage with some canary (?) birds. And always there was one miner to take a cage with a bird with him into the mine, because the bird sang out when the firedamp came. It's worth something to have a whistleblower, someone who knows, or feels.

When I started the engineering school, this was when the iron curtain was still quite intact. Nevertheless, I learned there and then, that the engineers (at least the civil (-ized) ones) knew of each other on both sides, read their respective books & communicated of important facts & findings.

The uncle of my wife was then at those times a "Diabetes" medical doctor who, together with a colleague from the circulatory diseases section made an invention of a cure which enabled, from the day of the finding of that fact, that patients with a certain set of medical conditions and which were 100% bound to die until then could now 100% survive. This was found because these people talked with each other, and were open and able to walk the extra mile. And this was not hidden away to one side of the curtain, but spoken out & communicated.

It's now the end of the year, lots & lots to do still on the job, must rush now... ;-)

So: thanks for the attention,

And everybody to have a peaceful and happy time.



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Stockpile Conveyor

Full Marks And Then Some!

Posted on 12. Dec. 2014 - 02:00

You are perfectly correct in your assessment of present day engineering, especially plant engineering. Line management became a controlling factor inherited from the automotive etc world. There they have the luxury of prototype build and testing and they still get it dangerously wrong more and more frequently. When buying a new car the engineer and general public are wondering if the recall can overtake the accidents. When we apply this mentality to heavy engineering the insurers are still the same but the cost of rectification obstructs litigation and the culprits relax under the knowledge that upper management will come to some agreement, otherwise known as a cover up or fiddle.

I became aware of the maxim "If you don't know a job well enough you had better go staff." It fits the bill precisely. Once upon a time there used to be about 5 workers in a firm of hundreds who actually knew what was going down. Locating and befriending those souls was vital for a successful existence. Since the rise of capitalism such experts are very, very hard to find. I expect a manager to know a fair bit about the job he is undertaking. Instead I, and many others, find ourselves talking to some clueless entity who got there by keeping their nose clean. Drucker, Peter F (Practice of Management) said that employees are promoted to the limit of their competence. So Mr Drucker why are so many being promoted far beyond their level of competence? Because they are gutless. I never got far in management and I put that down to striving for excellence, where I didn't get very far either. I got sacked 4 times and found the next job next day, or week...that's why I say gutless.

Speaking about canaries: I was in a LinkedIN group which saw nothing wrong with mine management ignoring gas warnings in a Tasmanian colliery. When the explosion came the Australian federal legislation was found not to apply in Tasmania and the culprits walked off. That's Oz democracy: rule of the inmates; by the inmates; for the inmates! It applies elsewhere.

When the engineer knows what he is doing there is no need to hide the facts. "Publish and be dammed!" (Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington)

Oh, and all the best for the festive season.

John Gateley

Engineering Sciences Are Versatile Sciences...

Posted on 14. Dec. 2014 - 05:36


Dear Mr. Heilmann,

Thank you for your kind message.

It is, in fact, that many engineers do not speak out what they calculate and think about it.

Independent are indeed few.

We are talking about such issues later, if big phenomena, e.g. accidents happen, before the television cameras.

Engineering sciences are Versatile Sciences.

For large-scale projects you need up to 1 million engineering hours; an engineer creates approximately 2000 hours per year. 500 Engineers are able to produce this. Because many levels don't understand it, accidents happen,lack of raw materials occures

and it comes to worldwide financial crises.

Hopping that such issues will be treated more intensively in the future

Best Wishes for Christmas and the New Year 2015 to All.

Dr. H. Ergun

Re: Engineering Speak Out

Posted on 20. Dec. 2014 - 05:36


I appreciate this topic by Mr. Roland Heilmann. My comment for the subject is:

During earlier time before information technology; the acknowledged principle by engineers was ‘There is no substitute to sincere efforts’ to get the knowledge. So most of the engineers had no hesitation to dwell deeper and find solution, or learn from higher-ups while carefully awaiting for opportunity. They had feeling of pride for finding (arriving) at hard-earned solution.

As on today the acknowledged principle seems to be ‘There is also substitute to sincere efforts’ i.e. to look for here and there and get the information. Such information often happens to be of general nature and one who relies on this will lack confidence.

Now among engineers, the wiser-one uses the available substitute as a hint, give deeper thought and acquires deeper knowledge with less efforts compared to earlier time. As against this, today, the less wiser are happy with the substitute and go ahead with the same. Therefore, one can have both the types of experiences.

We wish let most of the engineers adopt the principle that ‘There is no substitute to sincere efforts in spite of available modern options (tools)’ to get the best results.

Technical evolution, changes and practices are beyond our control. Therefore we have no option but just to move with the time.


Ishwar G. Mulani

Author of Book: Engineering Science And Application Design For Belt Conveyors (new print November, 2012)

Author of Book: Belt Feeder Design And Hopper Bin Silo

Advisor / Consultant for Bulk Material Handling System & Issues.

Pune, India.

Tel.: 0091 (0)20 25871916