FERMI’S PARADOX

May 30, 2015


The sources for this post are as follows: 1.) waitbutwhy.com, 2.) SETI Institute, and 3.) Wikipedia.

“Some people stick with the traditional, feeling struck by the epic beauty or blown away by the scale of the universe.  Personally, I go for the old existential meltdown followed by acting next half hour. But everyone feels something”.  Physicist Enrico Fermi felt something too and asked—“Where is everybody?”

QUESTION:  Our Galaxy Should Be Teeming With Civilizations, But Where Are They?

The remark came while Fermi was discussing with his mealtime mates the possibility that many sophisticated societies populate the Galaxy.  In 1950, while working at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Fermi had a casual conversation while walking to lunch with colleagues Emil KonopinskiEdward Teller and Herbert York.    The men discussed recent sightings of UFOs and an Alan Dunn cartoon facetiously blaming the disappearance of municipal trashcans on marauding aliens. They then had a more serious discussion regarding the chances of humans observing faster-than-light travel by some material object within the next ten years. Teller thinks Fermi directed the question at him, asking “Edward, what do you think? How probable is it that within the next ten years we shall have clear evidence of a material object moving faster than light?” Teller answered one in a million. Teller remembers Fermi said, “This is much too low. The probability is more like ten percent” [the probability of a ‘Fermi miracle’]. Konopinski did not remember the exact numbers “except that they changed rapidly as Teller and Fermi bounced arguments off each other.”  They thought it reasonable to assume that we have a lot of cosmic company. But somewhere between one sentence and the next, Fermi’s supple brain realized that if this was true, it implied something profound. If there are really a lot of alien societies, then some of them might have spread out.

A really starry sky seems vast—but all we’re looking at is our very local neighborhood. On the very best nights, we can see up to about 2,500 stars or roughly one hundred-millionth of the stars in our galaxy. Almost all of them are less than 1,000 light years away from us (or 1% of the diameter of the Milky Way).  It is very hard to imagine the magnitude of this very fact but our universe is IMMENSE. So what we’re really looking at is this:

Milky Way Galaxy

Let us take a look at just how grandiose our universe is.

  • As many stars as there are in our galaxy (100 – 400 billion), there are roughly an equal number of galaxies in the observable universe so, for every star in the colossal Milky Way, there is a whole galaxy out there. All together, that equates to a range of between 1022 and 1024 total stars.   This means that for every grain of sand on every beach on Earth, there are 10,000 stars out there.  Numbers very hard for anyone to deal with.
  • There is not total agreement concerning what percentage of those stars are “sun-like” (similar in size, temperature, and luminosity).  Opinions typically range from five (5%) to twenty (20%). Going with the most conservative side of that five percent (5%), and the lower end for the number of total stars (1022), gives us 500 quintillion, or 500 billion billion sun-like stars.
  • There’s also a debate over what percentage of those sun-like stars might be orbited by an Earth-like planet (one with similar temperature conditions that could have liquid water and potentially support life similar to that on Earth). Some say it’s as high as fifty percent (50%) but let’s go with the more conservative twenty-two percent (22%) that came out of a recent PNAS study. That suggests that there’s a potentially-habitable Earth-like planet orbiting at least one percent (1%) of the total stars in the universe—a total of 100 billion billion Earth-like planets.  So there are 100 Earth-like planets for every grain of sand in the world. Think about that next time you’re on the beach.
  • Moving forward, we have no choice but to get completely speculative. Let’s imagine that after billions of years in existence, one percent (1%) of Earth-like planets develop life.  If that’s true, every grain of sand would represent one planet with life on it.  Imagine that on one percent (1%) of those planets, the life advances to an intelligent level like it did here on Earth. That would mean there were 10 quadrillion or 10 million billion intelligent civilizations in the observable universe.
  • Just for our galaxy, and doing the same math on the lowest estimate for stars in the Milky Way (100 billion), we’d estimate that there are 1 billion Earth-like planets and 100,000 intelligent civilizations in our galaxy.
  •  Our sun is relatively young in the lifespan of the universe. There are far older stars with far older Earth-like planets, which should in theory mean civilizations far more advanced than our own. As an example, let’s compare our 4.54 billion-year-old Earth to a hypothetical 8 billion-year-old Planet X.

(I told you this was big.)  The technology and knowledge of a civilization only 1,000 years ahead of us could be as shocking to us as our world would be to a medieval person. A civilization 1 million years ahead of us might be as incomprehensible to us as human culture is to chimpanzees. And Planet X is 3.4 billion years ahead of us.  You, of course, can see where we are going here.

If Planet X has a similar story to Earth, let’s look at where their civilization would be today (using the orange time-span as a reference to show how huge the green time-span is):

TIME-SPAN

Scientific endeavor has categorized three distinct possibilities relative to possible civilizations. These are as follows:

  • Type I Civilization has the ability to use all of the energy on their planet. We’re not quite a Type I Civilization, but we’re close (Carl Sagan created a formula for this scale which puts us at a Type 0.7 Civilization).
  • Type II Civilization can harness all of the energy of their host star. Our feeble Type I brains can hardly imagine how someone would do this.
  • AType III Civilization blows the other two away, accessing powers comparable to that of the entire Milky Way galaxy.  If this level of advancement sounds hard to believe, remember Planet X above and their 3.4 billion years of further development. If a civilization on Planet X was similar to ours and was able to survive all the way to Type III level, the natural thought is that they’d probably have mastered inter-stellar travel by now, possibly even colonizing the entire galaxy.

There is no answer to Fermi’s Paradox.  But there may be several theories.

  • Explanation Group 1: There are no signs of higher (Type II and III) civilizations because there are no higher civilizations in existence.  We are Rare!
  • We are the very FIRST intelligent civilization in our universe.  (This sounds somewhat impossible given the age of the universe.)
  • Type II and III intelligent civilizations are out there and there are logical reasons why we might not have heard from them.
    • Super-intelligent life could very well have already visited Earth, but before we were here.
    • The galaxy has been colonized, but we just live in some desolate rural area of the galaxy.
    • The entire concept of physical colonization is a hilariously backward concept to a more advanced species.
    • There are scary predator civilizations out there, and most intelligent life knows better than to broadcast any outgoing signals and advertise their location.
    • There’s only one instance of higher-intelligent life—a “super-predator” civilization (like humans are here on Earth)—who is far more advanced than everyone else and keeps it that way by exterminating any intelligent civilization once they get past a certain level.
    • There’s plenty of activity and noise out there, but our technology is too primitive and we’re listening for the wrong things. (I personally like this theory.)
    • We are receiving contact from other intelligent life, but the government is hiding it. (Our government is so big and so inept they could not keep this secret.)
    • Higher civilizations are aware of us and observing us (AKA the “Zoo Hypothesis”).
    • Higher civilizations are here, all around us. But we’re too primitive to perceive them.
    • We’re completely wrong about our reality.

I truly think this is fascinating and I do believe there is life in the universe.  Intelligent life—we can only hope.


In 1827, 1829 and 1933 Davy Crockett from Tennessee won a seat in the United States House of Representatives.  He was chosen to be a member of the House by constituents in his Congressional District.  He also ran in 1831 and 1835 but was defeated.  His relationship with President Andrew Jackson was notably bad due to significant differences of opinion on various matters.  Davy felt the reason he lost in 1835 was Jackson’s opposition to his candidacy.  He was also completely disgusted with Congress. (Imagine that !!!!!!!)  His parting shot to the members of the House was, “you all can go to hell-I’m going to Texas”.  He had decided to move his wife and family from Washington D.C. back to Tennessee then leave for Texas.  He would purchase land, build a home, then relocate his family once established.  Santa Anna put a stop to those plans.  The rest is history, written large with the siege of the Alamo in San Antonio.

My family and I also traveled to Texas this past week to attend the wedding of our youngest son. He finally “pulled the trigger” and married a young lady he has been dating for six years.  The wedding was fabulous: beautiful bride, handsome groom, lovely family of the bride.  All-in-all a wonderful day for both families.  The great states of Texas and Tennessee are now once again intertwined, this time by virtue of marriage.

We had little time for sightseeing but did manage a few hours to take in a few of the sites.  Let’s take a look.

LADY BIRD JOHNSON WILDFLOWER CENTER:

Lady Bird Johnson, our former first lady, and actress Helen Hayes founded an organization in 1982 to protect and preserve North America’s native plants and natural landscapes. First, as the National Wildflower Research Center and later as the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, this special place exists to introduce people to the beauty and diversity of wildflowers and other native plants. Every day, the Wildflower Center brings life to Mrs. Johnson’s vision in its public gardens, its woodlands and sweeping meadows as well as in internationally influential research. In 2006, the Center became an Organized Research Unit of the University of Texas at Austin.

Decades ago, Mrs. Johnson recognized that our country was losing its natural landscapes and its natural beauty due to encroachment by home and commercial building projects. As much as thirty percent (30 %) of the world’s native flora is at risk of extinction. The Wildflower Center was intended to help preserve and restore that beauty and the biological richness of North America. Since then, the Center has become one of the country’s most credible research institutions and effective advocates for native plants.

The Center’s gardens display the native plants of the Central Texas Hill Country, South and West Texas, while the Plant Conservation Program protects the ecological heritage of Texas by conserving its rare and endangered flora. The Native Plant Information Network is a database of more than 7,200 native species available online.

The Land Restoration Program applies knowledge of ecological processes to restoring damaged landscapes. The Center’s education programs for children and adults teach people about their natural surroundings and how to grow native plants in their own backyards.

We will take a very brief tour of the gardens.  This is where our son and daughter-in-law to be were married.

LADY BIRD

I think the graphic above will give some indication as to the scope of the Center.  The land mass is extensive with many acres available for expansion. You can see several of the green houses in the photograph below.

LADY BIRD (3)

The entire facility is dedicated to plants, flowers and greenery found in west Texas.

LADY BIRD

CAPITOL—STATE OF TEXAS:

The Texas State Capitol, completed in 1888 in Downtown Austin, contains the offices and chambers of the Texas Legislature and the Office of the Governor. Designed in 1881 by architect Elijah E. Myers, it was constructed from 1882 to 1888 under the direction of civil engineer Reuben Lindsay Walker. A $75 million underground extension was completed in 1993. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1986. The Texas State Capitol is 308 feet (94 m) tall, making it the sixth tallest state capitol and one of several taller than the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.  The current Texas State Capitol is the third building to serve that purpose. The second Texas capitol was built in 1853, on the same site as the present capitol in Austin; it was destroyed in the great capitol fire of 1881, but plans had already been made to replace it with a new, much larger structure.

Another tour is in order as follows:

CAPITAL

 

MAIN ENTRANCE

CONGRESS IN SESSION

 

CONGRESS IN SESSION

 

SUPREME COURT

 

 

SUPREME COURT

GOVERNOR'S MEETING ROOM

 

GOVERNOR’S MEETING ROOM

CAPITAL LIBRARY

 

LIBRARY

ALLEN BOOT COMPANY:

Selling cowboy boots in Texas may sound as easy as selling sunscreen in Arizona, but many have tried and only a few have become as famous as the brands that stock their shelves — among them being Allen’s Boots, a family-owned storefront in Austin’s acclaimed South Congress shopping district.  Four generations in the retail business have taught the Greenberg family what works. “We always say our success is based on service,” says director of operations Sean Greenberg. “That is our top priority, and we always go above and beyond to make sure our customers are happy.”

Allen’s Boots is a retail store in Austin, Texas, that specializes in western wear. The store offers items such as cowboy boots, hats, jeans, and shirts. Allen’s Boots opened its doors in 1977; the big, red boot above the entrance has since made the store easy to spot among the many other boutiques and shops along South Congress Avenue.  If you travel to Austin, you must take a look.  The JPEGs below will give some idea as to why this company is a “must see”.

ALLEN BOOTS

The number and variety of possibilities is absolutely mind-boggling.  If you can’t find a suitable boot in this place you are definitely not trying.  This is only ONE series of racks.  In addition to boots, there are belts, belt buckles, hats, and clothing.  Something for every cowboy or cowgirl.

ALLEN BOOTS(2)

GUEROS:

The building that houses the Güero’s dining room was built as a seed and feed store in the late 1800’s. This Central Seed and Feed Store, now an Austin Landmark, served as a neighborhood meeting place for all of South Austin’s characters. Dice games in the back room and book makers paying off bets on the front porch were standard fare for the day.

The neighborhood held onto its eclectic roots during the development boom. As the city expanded in all directions during the 1970’s and 80’s, South Austin, and South Congress in particular, continued to serve the strong community now identifiable by zip code alone.

In 1993, the Central Food and Seed store closed their doors for good. Cathy and Rob Lippincott bought the building in 1995 for the purpose of expanding the modest taqueria they had on East Oltorf to a larger location, with the hopes of continuing the tradition of a meeting place for locals and newcomers alike.

The specialties:  handmade corn tortillas, specialty dishes, the salsa bar and of course, CERVESA. Their caldo de pollo and tacos al pastor are just a few of the tried-and-true favorites. Start off with a hand-shaken margarita in their cantina, or enjoy an icy cold cerveza while listening to music in the Oak Garden. Sit back, relax, and let them do what they do best.   Let’s take a look.

GUERROS

GUERROS(2)

TEXAS FOOLISHNESS:

You be the judge.

DEER

 

ENVIRONMENTAL MARKETS

May 16, 2015


Environmental markets have been actively traded on both compliant and voluntary levels for the last 7 years. The Kyoto Protocol was the first compliance-driven agreement between thirty-seven  (37)  countries.  This agreement was established by the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The purpose of the UNFCCC was to create benchmark emission reduction goals.  Annex I to this agreement began in 2005 and will extend through 2012. The reductions call for five percent (5%)  annual reductions based on a benchmark established in 1990. There are currently thirty-four (34)  countries that were selected to continue into 2013 with compliance guidelines established at the Durban Conference.  These guidelines were to insure that Climate Change regulations would be in place.  These non-binding guidelines will become binding in May 2012. The European Union Trading Scheme will continue along with the Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation Programs to reduce the emissions by an additional 20% by 2020. Currently Certified Emissions Reductions from industrialized and non developed nations are being traded through the aforementioned programs from entities that have adopted programs.

The United States signed the Kyoto Protocol however never put in place compliant guidelines enabling emission reduction instruments to be traded within these markets. Therefore, credits originated in the United States would have to be traded within voluntary markets. The Western Climate Initiative is scheduled to begin January 1, 2013 with California and Quebec as the two participating parties in the first North American compliant cap and trade program. The trading platform will adhere to guidelines outlined in Bill AB 32 ratified in 2006 and recently upheld by election in November 2010 via Proposition 23. Prop 23 was overwhelmingly endorsed by sixty-three percent (63%) of the voters and has cleared the way for a statewide cap and trade program. The California Air Resources Board has cleared the way for the first compliant stateside cap and trade system. Phase I is through 2020 with targeted reductions of 17% overall. The resources board has acknowledged four (4) crediting programs whose protocols were adopted from the Climate Action Reserve; Forestry, Urban Forestry, Ozone Depleting Substances, and Livestock. These programs will be eligible for carbon crediting through the abatement or reduction of carbon emissions. California represents twenty-five (25%)  of the total U.S. GDP and will allow carbon sequestration projects that can be originated anywhere in the continental U.S., Canada, and some regions in Mexico. The Western Climate Initiative (WCI) will be the established platform that California and Quebec will adhere to for climate protocol. WCI member jurisdictions include seven (7) US states and four (4) Canadian provinces:  Arizona, British Columbia, California, Manitoba, Montana, New Mexico, Ontario, Oregon, Quebec, Utah, and Washington. It is expected that states and provinces within the WCI will follow suit once the program is up and running. There is definitely a political element to cap and trade programs. It is somewhat difficult to predict what federal and state programs will be put in place in future years that could expand the areas of compliance. California Carbon Allowances are currently being traded on the Intercontinental Exchange. Pricing for the allowances began at $17 per allowance for the first transaction and then went as high $23. Point Carbon has forecasted carbon allowance prices to rise as high as $75 by 2020. The offsets are credits that are generated from emission reduction projects that are expected to price at approximately 70% of allowance prices.

The voluntary markets were impacted dramatically when federal cap and trade legislation stalled in the Senate in 2009. The economic environment and passing of the health care initiative put a formal cap and trade program on hold.   Voluntary carbon offsetting went from being for the greater good of the public to a luxury line item. The economy has started to slowly correct and voluntary market transactions per Markit have continued to grow. Issuance activity was up to 27.8 million Verified Carbon Standard Credits an increase of 500,000 credits. Credits being traded from 2010 to 2011 were 3.6 million to 9.8 million or an increase of 6.2 million credits. The Gold Standard credits traded at premiums and most transactions were over the counter pricing from $8-$12. Companies such as Whole Foods, Google, Yahoo, and Wal-Mart are forward thinking companies that are either buying voluntary carbon offsets or actually funding projects that directly reduce emissions. The Bonneville Environmental Foundation was set up to offset emissions and list participants such as Chevrolet, The North Face, REI, NHL, MLS, Idaho Power, Silk and Oregon State University.  The Foundation has identified projects that yield certain credits to address the offset needs of these individual entities.

Overall, emission reduction credits are here to stay. The Climate Change initiative is considered to be gaining more traction with the WCI platform being established and is predicted to pick up steam on a national level as states begin to adopt their own regulations regarding greenhouse gas emissions. The Clean Air Act is still in force and additional GGE compliance could be implemented through the EPA.

We are seeing significant effort to “clean up” our environment by reducing emissions by putting into effect compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations, propane fueling stations, hybrid automobiles, electric-powered automobiles, methane capture from wast sites, re-processing of oils and several other reclaim measures.  A much greater number of our population is beginning to recognize that we have one world–one Earth.  We had better take care of it.

 

 

FORWARD THINKING

May 2, 2015


I’m always impressed with a person a company or even a country that exhibits forward or visionary thinking.  It says a great deal about the ability of anyone or any entity to determine future events when you decide what those events are to be; what they look like; who they affect and when they occur as far as timing.  One example of long-range thinking is the decision by Norway to “switch off” FM radio signals beginning in 2017.

Forbes magazine published an article entitled: “Norway Is Switching Off FM Radio, Starting In 2017”.  This post was written by Amit Chowdhry and published in their 20 April 2015 online magazine.

Before we go much further, let us take a look at FM or Frequency Modulation and refresh our memories as to just what that technology is all about.

FREQUENCY MODULATION

FM broadcasting is a VHF (Very High Frequency) broadcasting technology, pioneered by Edwin Howard Armstrong.  This technology uses frequency modulation (FM) to provide high-fidelity sound over broadcast radio. The term “FM band” describes the frequency band in a given country which is dedicated solely to FM broadcasting. This term is slightly misleading, as it equates a modulation method with a range of frequencies.

In telecommunications and signal processing, frequency modulation (FM) is the encoding of  information in a carrier wave by varying the instantaneous frequency of the wave. (Compared with amplitude modulation, in which the amplitude of the carrier wave varies, while the frequency remains constant.)

In analog signal applications, the difference between the instantaneous and the base frequency of the carrier is directly proportional to the instantaneous value of the input-signal amplitude.

Digital data can be encoded and transmitted via a carrier wave by shifting the carrier’s frequency among a predefined set of frequencies—a technique known as frequency-shift keying (FSK). FSK is widely used in modems and fax modems, and can also be used to send Morse code. Radio-teletype also uses FSK. Frequency modulation is used in radiotelemetryradar, seismic prospecting, and monitoring newborns for seizures via EEG. FM is widely used for broadcasting music and speech, two-way radio systems, magnetic tape-recording systems and some video-transmission systems. In radio systems, frequency modulation with sufficient bandwidth provides an advantage in cancelling naturally-occurring noise.

Now, let’s discuss the situation in Norway and what the Norwegian government has determined their course of action relative to FM.

FM and NORWAY

The Norway Ministry of Culture has announced a complete transition towards digital radio by switching off FM radio across the country.  The change will begin January 11, 2017 and end December 13, 2017.  The will introduce Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) which will offer listeners in Norway a wide range of radio channel content. DAB currently offers twenty-two (22) national channels in Norway compared to the five national channels on FM radio. About 56% of listeners in Norway use some form of digital radio every day.  This is according to a Gallup survey.

Norway is the first country to schedule a date for FM shutdown, but there are several other countries in Europe and Southeast Asia planning to switch to DAB. The change does not come as a surprise because the Norway Ministry of Culture proposed turning off FM radio four years ago. “This is considered to be an important day for everyone who loves radio. The minister’s decision allows them to concentrate resources even more upon what is most important, namely to create high quality and diverse radio-content to our listeners”, said Thor Gjermund Eriksen, the head of the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, in a statement.

The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation or NBC reported that the digital radio service is free over-the-air, but it requires a special receiver attachment on the listener’s end.  NBC indicated that digital radio also has partly higher population coverage than FM does, especially along roads. FM radio is about eight times more expensive to use than digital radio and is much more dependable for spreading messages in case of emergency. An estimated 7.9 million radio sets will be affected by the FM radio switch-off and twenty percent (20%) of private cars in Norway are currently equipped for digital radio.

The digital radio standard has been actively developed over the past twenty-five (25) years by European researchers. And Norway was the first country to implement the standard in 1995. In 2007, an updated form of DAB launched in Norway called DAB+. Radio broadcasters will be able to decide whether to use DAB or DAB+ transmissions.

CONCLUSION

I’m afraid our country would have hearing after hearing with the outcome being stagnation if we attempted such a move.  I know the advent of digital radio generated a great moaning and gnashing of teeth from AM and FM stations now existent in the US. Special interest seem to govern what we do in this country and only when looming disaster is on the horizon do we act.

As always, I welcome your comments.

 

WHERE THE JOBS ARE

May 1, 2015


The following data was taken from a survey done by nerdwallet.com:  Best Places for Engineers, 23 February 2015.

If you follow my postings you know I primarily concentrate on the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) professions. I track the job market relative to job availability and salary rates over the country and the world.  An online publication called NerdWallet recently published a very informative article on job availability for engineers.  Here is the methodology used to provide the results.

Methodology:

The overall score for each of the metro areas was calculated using the following measures:

  1. Engineers per 1,000 total jobs (50% of each overall score). Data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2013 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates.
  1. Annual mean wage for engineering jobs (25% of each overall score). Data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2013 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates.
  1. Median gross rent for each place (25% of each overall score). Data is from the 2013 U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey.

This study analyzed 350 of the largest metro areas in the U.S.

The following engineering fields, as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, were used to compound the data: aerospace, biomedical, chemical, civil, computer hardware, electrical, electronics, environmental, health and safety engineers, industrial, marine engineers and naval architects, materials, mechanical, mining and geological engineers and all other engineers.  This list just about covers the “waterfront” as far as working-class engineers.  Let’s take a look at the results.

List 1-10

List 11-20

In looking at the list above, we can make the following observations:

  • Eleven of the top twenty cities and areas are in the South. The list includes the following southern cities:
  1. Huntsville, Alabama

With a NASA flight center and an Army arsenal, Huntsville is nicknamed “The Rocket City” for good reason. Engineers make up 6% of its employed population and make nearly $103,000 a year, which is higher than the national mean. Median rent is the second lowest in our top 10, at around $725 a month. Huntsville, a northern Alabama city near the Tennessee border, is a hub for aerospace engineers.

  1. Warner Robins, Georgia

Drive 90 minutes south of Atlanta and you’ll hit Warner Robins, where nearly 4% of the working world is in engineering. Here you’ll find the Robins Air Force Base, which employees more than 25,000 people, and the Museum of Aviation, the second-largest museum in the nation’s Air Force. However, engineers in this area earn the lowest salary of our top 10, around $86,000 a year, which is lower than the national mean.

  1. Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Florida

Aside from ocean views, the Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville area offers career opportunities for engineers, who make up about 3% of the employed population, earn almost $94,000 a year and pay around $876 in rent. Harris Corp., a worldwide telecommunications company, and Intersil Corp., a semiconductor manufacturer, are headquartered in the area, employing thousands.

  1. Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas

In the Lone Star State’s most populated area, engineers earn their livelihood in the energy sector at companies including Phillips 66, Marathon Oil and Kinder Morgan. Engineers in this area make a mean salary of almost $123,000, which is the second highest in our top 20. This area also made our top 10 list of Best Places for STEM Graduates.

  1. Midland, Texas

As the saying goes, “Everything’s bigger in Texas,” including the engineering sector. Engineers here take home the largest salary of our top 20 — about $141,000 a year. Midland, with key industries including aerospace, oil and gas, has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, 2.6%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  1. Decatur, Alabama

Just 25 miles west of our list’s leading place, Decatur engineers have access to many opportunities in Huntsville. But Decatur itself is home to a United Launch Alliance facility, where spacecraft launch equipment is manufactured. Engineers make up about 2% of Decatur’s workforce, making it the smallest engineering industry in our top 10. However, it still has more engineers per 1,000 employees than the national average.

  • All 20 locations have larger engineering industries than the national average of twelve (12) engineers for every 1,000 employees.
  • Engineers in thirteen (13) of the top twenty (20) places earn more than the national mean engineering salary, which is $92,170.
  •  Fourteen (14) locations have lower median rent than the average U.S. metro area, which is $905 a month.
  • A great deal of employment results from proximity to universities and military-industrial complexes although the “oil patch” certainly draws a great number of individuals in STEM professions.
  • There is a significant absence from areas of the northeast and the “rust belt”; i.e. the northern and mid-western states.

I also think certain factors such as lower taxes; less congestion during commute, milder climate, and lower cost of living contribute to overall reasons for companies locating in southern areas.

I hope you enjoyed this one. I will make every effort to keep this list current.  As always, I appreciate your comments.  Keep them coming.

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