Portions of the following post were taken from the September 2017 Machine Design Magazine.

We all like to keep up with salary levels within our chosen profession.  It’s a great indicator of where we stand relative to our peers and the industry we participate in.  The state of the engineering profession has always been relatively stable. Engineers are as essential to the job market as doctors are to medicine. Even in the face of automation and the fear many have of losing their jobs to robots, engineers are still in high demand.  I personally do not think most engineers will be out-placed by robotic systems.  That fear definitely resides with on-line manufacturing positions with duties that are repetitive in nature.  As long as engineers can think, they will have employment.

The Machine Design Annual Salary & Career Report collected information and opinions from more than two thousand (2,000) Machine Design readers. The employee outlook is very good with thirty-three percent (33%) indicating they are staying with their current employer and thirty-six percent (36%) of employers focusing on job retention. This is up fifteen percent (15%) from 2016.  From those who responded to the survey, the average reported salary for engineers across the country was $99,922, and almost sixty percent (57.9%) reported a salary increase while only ten percent (9.7%) reported a salary decrease. The top three earning industries with the largest work forces were 1.) industrial controls systems and equipment, 2.) research & development, and 3.) medical products. Among these industries, the average salary was $104,193. The West Coast looks like the best place for engineers to earn a living with the average salary in the states of California, Washington, and Oregon was $116,684. Of course, the cost of living in these three states is definitely higher than other regions of the country.

PROFILE OF THE ENGINEER IN THE USA TODAY:

As is the ongoing trend in engineering, the profession is dominated by male engineers, with seventy-one percent (71%) being over fifty (50) years of age. However, the MD report shows an up-swing of young engineers entering the profession.  One effort that has been underway for some years now is encouraging more women to enter the profession.  With seventy-one percent (71%) of the engineering workforce being over fifty, there is a definite need to attract participants.    There was an increase in engineers within between twenty-five (25) and thirty-five (35).  This was up from 5.6% to 9.2%.  The percentage of individuals entering the profession increased as well, with engineers with less than fourteen (14) years of experience increasing five percent (5%) from last year.  Even with all the challenges of engineering, ninety-two percent (92%) would still recommend the engineering profession to their children, grandchildren and others. One engineer responds, “In fact, wherever I’ll go, I always will have an engineer’s point of view. Trying to understand how things work, and how to improve them.”

 

When asked about foreign labor forces, fifty-four percent (54%) believe H1-B visas hurt engineering employment opportunities and sixty-one percent (61%) support measures to reform the system. In terms of outsourcing, fifty-two percent (52%) reported their companies outsource work—the main reason being lack of in-house talent. However, seventy-three percent (73%) of the outsourced work is toward other U.S. locations. When discussing the future, the job force, fifty-five percent (55%) of engineers believe there is a job shortage, specifically in the skilled labor area. An overwhelming eighty-seven percent (87%) believe that we lack a skilled labor force. According to the MD readers, the strongest place for job growth is in automation at forty-five percent (45%) and the strongest place to look for skilled laborers is in vocational schools at thirty-two percent (32%). The future of engineering is dependent on the new engineers not only in school today, but also in younger people just starting their young science, technology, engineering, and mathematic (STEM) interests. With the average engineer being fifty (50) years or old, the future of engineering will rely heavily on new engineers willing to carry the torch—eighty-seven percent (87%) of our engineers believe there needs to be more focus on STEM at an earlier age to make sure the future of engineering is secure.

With being the case, let us now look at the numbers.

The engineering profession is a “graying” profession as mentioned earlier.  The next digital picture will indicate that, for the most part, those in engineering have been in for the “long haul”.  They are “lifers”.  This fact speaks volumes when trying to influence young men and women to consider the field of engineering.  If you look at “years in the profession”, “work location” and years at present employer” we see the following:

The slide below is a surprise to me and I think the first time the question has been asked by Machine Design.  How much of your engineering training is theory vs. practice? You can see the greatest response is almost fourteen percent (13.6%) with a fifty/fifty balance between theory and practice.  In my opinion, this is as it should be.

“The theory can be learned in a school, but the practical applications need to be learned on the job. The academic world is out of touch with the current reality of practical applications since they do not work in

that area.” “My university required three internships prior to graduating. This allowed them to focus significantly on theoretical, fundamental knowledge and have the internships bolster the practical.”

ENGINEERING CERTIFICATIONS:

The demands made on engineers by their respective companies can sometimes be time-consuming.  The respondents indicated the following certifications their companies felt necessary.

 

 

SALARIES:

The lowest salary is found with contract design and manufacturing.  Even this salary, would be much desired by just about any individual.

As we mentioned earlier, the West Coast provides the highest salary with several states in the New England area coming is a fairly close second.

 

SALARY LEVELS VS. EXPERIENCE:

This one should be no surprise.  The greater number of years in the profession—the greater the salary level.  Forty (40) plus years provides an average salary of approximately $100,000.  Management, as you might expect, makes the highest salary with an average being $126,052.88.

OUTSOURCING:

 

As mentioned earlier, outsourcing is a huge concern to the engineering community. The chart below indicates where the jobs go.

JOB SATISFACTION:

 

Most engineers will tell you they stay in the profession because they love the work. The euphoria created by a “really neat” design stays with an engineer much longer than an elevated pay check.  Engineers love solving problems.  Only two percent (2%) told MD they are not satisfied at all with their profession or current employer.  This is significant.

Any reason or reasons for leaving the engineering profession are shown by the following graphic.

ENGINEERING AND SOCIETY: 

As mentioned earlier, engineers are very worried about the H1-B visa program and trade policies issued by President Trump and the Legislative Branch of our country.  The Trans-Pacific Partnership has been “nixed” by President Trump but trade policies such as NAFTA and trade between the EU are still of great concern to engineers.  Trade with China, patent infringement, and cyber security remain big issues with the STEM profession and certainly engineers.

 

CONCLUSIONS:

I think it’s very safe to say that, for the most part, engineers are very satisfied with the profession and the salary levels offered by the profession.  Job satisfaction is great making the dawn of a new day something NOT to be dreaded.


At one time in the world there were only two distinctive branches of engineering, civil and military.

The word engineer was initially used in the context of warfare, dating back to 1325 when engine’er (literally, one who operates an engine) referred to “a constructor of military engines”.  In this context, “engine” referred to a military machine, i. e., a mechanical contraption used in war (for example, a catapult).

As the design of civilian structures such as bridges and buildings developed as a technical discipline, the term civil engineering entered the lexicon as a way to distinguish between those specializing in the construction of such non-military projects and those involved in the older discipline. As the prevalence of civil engineering outstripped engineering in a military context and the number of disciplines expanded, the original military meaning of the word “engineering” is now largely obsolete. In its place, the term “military engineering” has come to be used.

OK, so that’s how we got here.  If you follow my posts you know I primarily concentrate on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) professions.  Engineering is somewhat uppermost since I am a mechanical engineer.

There are many branches of the engineering profession.  Distinct areas of endeavor that attract individuals and capture their professional lives.  Several of these are as follows:

  • Electrical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Engineering Physics
  • Nuclear Engineering
  • Petroleum Engineering
  • Materials Engineering

Of course, there are others but the one I wish to concentrate on with this post is the growing branch of engineering—Biomedical Engineering. Biomedical engineering, or bioengineering, is the application of engineering principles to the fields of biology and health care. Bioengineers work with doctors, therapists and researchers to develop systems, equipment and devices in order to solve clinical problems.  As such, the possibilities of a bioengineer’s charge are as follows:

Biomedical engineering has evolved over the years in response to advancements in science and technology.  This is NOT a new classification for engineering involvement.  Engineers have been at this for a while.  Throughout history, humans have made increasingly more effective devices to diagnose and treat diseases and to alleviate, rehabilitate or compensate for disabilities or injuries. One example is the evolution of hearing aids to mitigate hearing loss through sound amplification. The ear trumpet, a large horn-shaped device that was held up to the ear, was the only “viable form” of hearing assistance until the mid-20th century, according to the Hearing Aid Museum. Electrical devices had been developed before then, but were slow to catch on, the museum said on its website.

The works of Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison on sound transmission and amplification in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were applied to make the first tabletop hearing aids. These were followed by the first portable (or “luggable”) devices using vacuum-tube amplifiers powered by large batteries. However, the first wearable hearing aids had to await the development of the transistor by William Shockley and his team at Bell Laboratories. Subsequent development of micro-integrated circuits and advance battery technology has led to miniature hearing aids that fit entirely within the ear canal.

Let’s take a very quick look at several devices designed by biomedical engineering personnel.

MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING:

POSITION EMISSION TOMOGRAPHY OR (PET) SCAN:

NOTE: PET scans represent a different technology relative to MRIs. The scan uses a special dye that has radioactive tracers. These tracers are injected into a vein in your arm. Your organs and tissues then absorb the tracer.

BLOOD CHEMISTRY MONOTORING EQUIPMENT:

ELECTROCARDIOGRAM MONITORING DEVICE (EKG):

INSULIN PUMP:

COLONOSCOPY:

THE PROFESSION:

Biomedical engineers design and develop medical systems, equipment and devices. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), this requires in-depth knowledge of the operational principles of the equipment (electronic, mechanical, biological, etc.) as well as knowledge about the application for which it is to be used. For instance, in order to design an artificial heart, an engineer must have extensive knowledge of electrical engineeringmechanical engineering and fluid dynamics as well as an in-depth understanding of cardiology and physiology. Designing a lab-on-a-chip requires knowledge of electronics, nanotechnology, materials science and biochemistry. In order to design prosthetic replacement limbs, expertise in mechanical engineering and material properties as well as biomechanics and physiology is essential.

The critical skills needed by a biomedical engineer include a well-rounded understanding of several areas of engineering as well as the specific area of application. This could include studying physiology, organic chemistry, biomechanics or computer science. Continuing education and training are also necessary to keep up with technological advances and potential new applications.

SCHOOLS OFFERING BIO-ENGINEERING:

If we take a look at the top schools offering Biomedical engineering, we see the following:

  • MIT
  • Stanford
  • University of California-San Diego
  • Rice University
  • University of California-Berkley
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Michigan—Ann Arbor
  • Georgia Tech
  • Johns Hopkins
  • Duke University

As you can see, these are among the most prestigious schools in the United States.  They have had established engineering programs for decades.  Bio-engineering does not represent a new discipline for them.  There are several others and I would definitely recommend you go online to take a look if you are interested in seeing a complete list of colleges and universities offering a four (4) or five (5) year degree.

SALARY LEVELS:

The median annual wage for biomedical engineers was $86,950 in May 2014. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest ten (10) percent earned less than $52,680, and the highest ten (10) percent earned more than $139,350.  As you might expect, salary levels vary depending upon several factors:

  • Years of experience
  • Location within the United States
  • Size of company
  • Research facility and corporate structure
  • Bonus or profit sharing arrangement of company

EXPECTATIONS FOR EMPLOYMENT:

In their list of top jobs for 2015, CNNMoney classified Biomedical Engineering as the 37th best job in the US, and of the jobs in the top 37, Biomedical Engineering 10-year job growth was the third highest (27%) behind Information Assurance Analyst (37%) and Product Analyst (32%). CNN previously reported Biomedical Engineer as the top job in the US in 2012 with a predicted 10-year growth rate of nearly 62% ‘Biomedical Engineer’ was listed as a high-paying low-stress job according to Time magazine.  There is absolutely no doubt that medical technology will advance as time go on so biomedical engineers will continue to be in demand.

As always, I welcome your comments.


The following post is taken from information supplied by the publication “Machine Design”.  Each year Machine Design asks information from its readers’ questions relative to the engineering profession.  Given below are results from this survey.

PROFILE OF A TYPICAL ENGINEER

I really don’t think anyone is “typical”.  We each are unique individuals with a story to tell, but Machine Design uses this word to give us a snapshot of engineering as it exists today.

According to the Machine Design 2016 Survey, the majority of our readers are white males with seventy-four percent (74%) of our readers are age fifty (50) and older.  This to me is really troublesome because it indicates that seventy-four percent have approximately ten to twelve years before retirement.  Not much time to backfill with younger engineers.   A little more than half, fifty-eight percent (58%) work as design and development engineers.  This percentage is down from last year (61.7% in 2015). Engineering and operational management comprise 19.3% of current principal job functions. These engineers have the job title of chief, senior, executive, or lead engineer. At least fifty-five percent (55%) of our readers work forty (40) to fifty (50) hours a week.

THE FUTURE OF ENGINEERING

The future of engineering is still bright in the eyes of many current engineers. Over the last five years this view point has not changed and ninety-one percent (91%) would recommend engineering as a profession. When asked how they feel the engineering field is changing, one engineer spoke to our correspondent stating that the fields of engineering are merging. “The lines are currently blurring between mechanical and electrical engineer. Increasingly we are specifying electrical components required to accomplish motion. It is becoming important to have a basic understanding of the limitations of control systems and their impact on the mechanical systems being designed.”  The field of Mecatronics exemplifies this fact.   As the world of Internet of Things or IoT continues to expand, we will see more of how the engineering worlds combine.

Let us now take a quick look at where the engineering profession stands in general.  The graphics give a very interesting picture.

typical-engineer

I find it very interesting that seventy-seven percent (77%) have twenty plus yeas of experience with those over sixty years in age steadily increasing.  As metntioned earlier, time to begin replacing those considering retirement within the next ten to fifteen years with younger engineers.  Regardless of how bright the younger engineering community is, experience and training play a great role in success.  The “old guys” can aid these efforts in a great manner.

work-location

You see from the graphic above the larger percentages of engineering involvement across our country.  There is a predominance, ten percent (10%) involvement in California alone.  I suspect Silicone Valley contributes greatly to this larger enclave of engineering talent.

compensation

We are all interested in how we “stack up” relative to salary levels and bonuses levels.  The numbers above give a fairly good picture of averages across the profession.  I was very surprised to see over eleven percent (11%) increase in salary from 2014.  This, as mentioned, indicates the market is improving OR engineering talent is harder to come by.  Engineers can now pick and choose where they wish to spend time. $99,933 as an average salary is huge in my opinion but justified.

salary-by-experience

As you might expect, as you gain experience your salary level should and does increase.  Those with forty plus years’ experience can expect $100K plus in salary.

job-satisfaction

By and large, the engineering community is satisfied with their job with less than two percent (2%) being not satisfied at all.  I suspect this is company related and with opportunities available job changes are in order.

employment-outlook

I was looking for a job when I found this one.  Fifty-nine plus percent (55.9%) indicate they would be open to changing jobs is that opportunity became available.  In looking at results from the last two years, this is not out of line at all.  As with the last five years, challenges, research and benefits to society rank very highly as desirable features of any one given job.  Engineers have a higher calling than money itself.  That has always been apparent.

outsourcing1

In our lives today, the fear of engineering positions being outsourced is a very real concern.  Manufacturing jobs in particular seem to be targeted.  Some of this is definitely due to the onerous tax code our country is forcing manufacturers to live under.  Also, regulations remain a significant burden to manufacturers.

outsourcing2

concerns

The concerns within the engineering community are shared by other professions.  We are definitely not alone in that regard.  Time, people and money to accomplish any one given mission is uppermost in the minds of working engineers.  This is very much in line with the last five years of reporting.

education-and-training

This chart speaks for itself.  The oldest question in the world: “Which is more desirable in the engineering profession, “book learning” or practice?  ANSWER: There is nothing more practical that education.  You’ve heard this year after year.  Engineering education is changing though and for the better.  We are seeing more and more schools adopt a hands-on approach to engineering training.  This does not replace classroom work but does supplement the in-class experience.

whats-keeping-engineers-up-at-night

Trust me on this one, engineers are worriers.  That makes us no different than individuals in most professions.  The graphic above fully illustrates those areas of concern.

iot

IoT is looming. IoT will, if not already, become a huge factor for every design engineer.  I might add, IoT AND “big data” are infusing themselves into the daily lives of the engineering community.  It’s happening and engineers need to realize that reality.

changes

The chart above might be considered to be a continuation of concerns the engineering community has, particularly increasing regulation.

CONCLUSION:  I think this annual survey is extremely valuable and provides a gage for practicing engineers.  Comparisons are always interesting.

 

PAYCHECK 2016

August 28, 2016


The following post is taken from information furnished by Mr. Rob Spiegel of Design News Daily.

We all are interested in how we stack up pay-wise relative to our peers.  Most companies have policies prohibiting discussions about individual pay because every paycheck is somewhat different due to deductible amounts.   The number of dependents, health care options, saving options all play a role in representations of the bottom line—take-home pay.  That’s the reason it is very important to have a representative baseline for average working salaries for professional disciplines.  That is what this post is about.  Just how much should an engineering graduate expect upon graduation in the year 2016?  Let’s take a very quick look.

The average salaries for engineering grads entering the job market range from $62,000 to $64,000 — except for one notable standout. According to the 2016 Salary Survey from The National Association of Colleges and Employers, petroleum engineering majors are expected to enter their field making around $98,000/year. Clearly, petroleum engineering majors are projected to earn the top salaries among engineering graduates this year.

Petroleum Engineers

Actually, I can understand this high salary for Petroleum engineers.  Petroleum is a non-renewable resource with diminishing availability.  Apparently, the “easy” deposits have been discovered—the tough ones, not so much.  The locations for undiscovered petroleum deposits represent some of the most difficult conditions on Earth.  They deserve the pay they get.

Chemical Engineering

Dupont at one time had the slogan, “Better living through chemistry.”  That fact remains true to this day.  Chemical engineers provide value-added products from medical to material.  From the drugs we take to the materials we use, chemistry plays a vital role in kicking the can down the road.

Electrical Engineering

When I was a graduate, back in the dark ages, electrical engineers garnered the highest paying salaries.   Transistors, relays, optical devices were new and gaining acceptance in diverse markets.  Electrical engineers were on the cutting edge of this revolution.  I still remember changing tubes in radios and even TV sets when their useful life was over.  Transistor technology was absolutely earth-shattering and EEs were riding the crest of that technology wave.

Computer Engineering

Computer and software engineering are here to stay because computers have changed our lives in a remarkably dramatic fashion.  We will NEVER go back to performing even the least tedious task with pencil and paper.  We often talk about disruptive technology—game changers.  Computer science is just that

Mechanical Engineering

I am a mechanical engineer and have enjoyed the benefits of ME technology since graduation fifty years ago.  Now, we see a great combination of mechanical and electrical with the advent of mechatronics.  This is a very specialized field providing the best of both worlds.

Software Engineering

Materials Engineering

Material engineering is a fascinating field for a rising freshman and should be considered as a future path.  Composite materials and additive manufacturing have broadened this field in a remarkable fashion.  If I had to do it over again, I would certainly consider materials engineering.

Systems Engineering

Systems engineering involves putting it all together.  A critical task considering “big data”, the cloud, internet exchanges, broadband developments, etc.  Someone has to make sense of it all and that’s the job of the systems engineer.

Hope you enjoyed this one. I look forward to your comments.

INDUSTRY 4.0

March 1, 2016


Industry 4.0” is the brainchild of the German government, and describes the next phase in manufacturing — a so-called fourth industrial revolution. The four phases consist of the following:

  • Industry  1: Water/steam power.
  • Industry  2: Electric power.
  • Industry  3: Computing power.
  • Cyber        4:  Connecting physical systems.

We are in the third “revolutionary” period right now but transitioning to the fourth revolutionary period.  This will be the industrial internet of things or IIoT. Connected automation and analysis enable smart factories to function more efficiently, with significant reductions in scrap and off-quality products and with considerably less cost and overhead than is being experienced at the present time.

A smart factory using IIoT can accomplish the following:

  • Produce up to twenty-five (25) variations in one product allowing for complete satisfaction of the consumer population.
  • Ten percent (10%) increase in productivity
  • Thirty percent (30%) decrease in inventory
  • A significant return on company investment (ROI)
  • The ability to make production change-overs quickly and with fewer on-line mistakes

The graphic below will indicate the four phases of production and show the upcoming Industry 4.0 systems.  The three boxes in the fourth phase represent computer inputs wirelessly transmitting and receiving data from two robotic systems.

FOUR STAGES OF INDUSTRY

Industry 4.0 is the rapid transformation of industry, where the virtual world of information technology, IT, the physical world of machines, and the Internet become one physical entity. It centers on the integration of all areas of industry enabled by IT.  Technologies improve flexibility and speed, enabling more individualized products, efficient and scalable production, and a high variance in production control.  Machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and the improved machine intelligence lead to more automated processes, self-monitoring, and results in real time control.

Characteristic for industrial production in an Industry 4.0 environment are the strong customization of products under the conditions of highly flexibilized (mass-) production. The required automation technology is improved by the introduction of methods of self-optimization, self-configuration, Self-diagnosis, cognition and intelligent support of workers in their increasingly complex work.  The largest project in Industry 4.0 at the present time (July 2013) is the BMBF leading-edge cluster “Intelligent Technical Systems OstWestfalenLippe (it’s OWL)”. Another major project is the BMBF project RES-COM, as well as the Cluster of Excellence “Integrative Production Technology for High-Wage Countries”.   In 2015, the European Commission started the international Horizon 2020 research project CREMA   (Providing Cloud-based Rapid Elastic Manufacturing based on the XaaS and Cloud model) as a major initiative to foster the Industry 4.0 topic.

IIoT devices should work to bring about Industry 4.0 manufacturing in five ways as follows:

  • Decentralized Intelligence—Where as much intelligence and control capability as possible is placed in the machine, or individual drive axis, rather than handling all activity from one central processing unit or CPU.  Holding process data at the machine level, and deciding what to do with it, reflects the belief that a machine can be equipped to do something with the data and improve the processes on its own. NOTE:  This is completely independent from the “cloud”.
  • Rapid Connectivity—Systems that facilitate instant vertical or horizontal connectivity to allow data to flow freely across the enterprise structure need continual investment and improvement.
  • Open Standards and Systems—Open standards allow for more flexible integration of software-based solutions—with the possibility to migrate new technologies into existing automation structures.
  • Real-time Context Integration—In Industry 4.0 factories, it will be possible to draw on real-time machine and plant performance data to change how automation systems and production systems are managed.
  • Autonomous Behavior—Real-world initiatives can make production more connected and demand-driven.  Technology helps the production line to become autonomous.  The goal is to have workstations and modules that can adapt to individual customer or product needs.

One HUGE concern:  Industry 4.0 must have engineers, production specialists and technicians to bring this to pass in the fourth generation of the Industrial Revolution.  Over the next decade, America faces one of its most critical tipping points. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that by 2012, there was be a shortfall of nearly three (3) million skilled workers in America.  By 2020, that number will be ten (10) million in manufacturing-related industries alone, with millions more in nearly every sector of the American economy. The average age of American skilled workers is 55 years old. These essential workers will retire soon, and there’s not enough young people coming through the skilled training pipeline to fill the gap. This gap is already costing billions from the American gross domestic product. The multiple implications for the wholesale insurance industry due to the “skilled shortage” will be profound. Expanded liability issues and new potential claims in a worker-shortage environment may arise against the backdrop of strained capital reserves and a soft premiums marketplace.  WHAT DOES THE “SKILLED WORKER SHORTAGE” MEAN?   The skilled worker shortage has practical and potentially devastating consequences for our economy. At the height of the recession, thirty-two percent (32 %) of U.S. manufacturers reported that they had jobs going unfilled because they could not find workers who have the right skills. This shortage has far-reaching consequences. For example, our country’s infrastructure requires major upgrades and repairs. Municipal water and sewer systems are failing, with leakage reaching as high as 20 percent. Many bridges and overpasses are unsafe, leading to potential injuries and deaths as well as long-term traffic and business delays. The shortfall of 500,000 nationwide welders is causing huge delays or cancellations for repair projects that are already funded. Heavy construction equipment, such as cranes, must be built in America to meet the demand. Finding the skilled workers to build cranes is a major hurdle. Once built, a crane requires skilled operators, as well as skilled repair and maintenance workers to keep the cranes operating. This scenario is typical of virtually every industrial enterprise in the nation. From aviation to energy, the skilled worker gaps are enormous. This also has dangerous implications for our national security. In order to maintain the world’s most sophisticated military, we must produce systems, parts and hardware in America. Without domestic manufacturing operations, some critical component work has actually been moved to other countries as a stop-gap measure. The hard costs are painful, too. A 2011 survey by The Nielson Company among executives from 103 large U.S. manufacturing firms found that on average, the shortage of skilled workers will cost each company $63 million over the next five years, some as much as $100 million. These costs include training and recruiting, followed by problems caused by lower quality and resulting decreases in customer satisfaction. Manufacturers and builders cannot afford to utilize under-skilled workers without increasing many types of severe liability risks. Negative media images of skilled workers – what I call “essential workers” – pervade our culture and are contributing to the problem by discouraging young people from pursuing careers in the skilled trades. Educators, employers and community leaders are slowly becoming engaged in efforts to counter this dangerous trend that often portrays “blue collar workers” in TV shows and movies as thugs, drunks and murderers. Advertisers can be alert to these cultural stereotypes and use advertising dollars to support TV shows and movies that show respect for skilled workers. It is in America’s interest to mobilize the public to restore the dignity of essential skilled workers. Another contributing factor to the coming shortage is that most of high school vocational arts programs so popular in the ’50s and ’60s have been closed in the >> change our business model. That will be devastating for America. Although general unemployment remains high, many employers are desperate now for skilled workers to fill essential jobs and this problem will grow as veteran workers retire. We can already see how the skilled worker shortage is causing us to lose the production edge that has fueled America’s economy.  EDUCATORS AND MANUFACTURERS MUST ADDRESS THE SKILLED-WORKER SHORTAGE.  It is critical to our economy and national security.

OK, now back to the fourth industrial revolution.

The fourth industrial revolution will affect many areas in our daily lives and certainly will be felt on the facility floor. A number of key impact areas emerge:

  1. Services and Business Models.  The ability to produce rapidly and with minimal defects will definitely affect the business model and make company products much more marketable.
  2. Reliability and continuous productivity
  3. IT security.  IT security is a must.  Systems must be put in place to guard security because a great number of commands received and sent will be from wireless devices.
  4. Machine safety.  Machine safety is always critical.  Safety must be taught to employees and those managing employees.
  5. Product lifecycles.  Product life cycles will shorten due to flexibility of production capabilities.
  6. Industry value chain
  7. Workers (See above.)
  8. Socio-economic.  The workforce will need additional training and this will drive labor rates upward.  In my opinion, this is a good thing provided individuals will take on the challenge.
  9. Industry Demonstration: To help industry understand the impact of Industry 4.0, Cincinnati Mayor, John Cranley, signed a proclamation to state “Cincinnati to be Industry 4.0 Demonstration City”.
  10. A recent article suggests that Industry 4.0 may have beneficial effects for a developing country like India.

As you can see, we are living in fascinating times.  Industry 4.0 is coming and those relegated to a spectator position will lose market share and will cease to be competitive.

As always, I welcome your thoughts.

2015 ENGINEERING SURVEY

October 21, 2015


The following information was taken from the 2015 Salary Survey conducted by the Machine Design Magazine and The U.S. Science and Engineering Workforce by the Congressional Research Service Recent, Current, and Projected Employment, Wages, and Unemployment.  The text and descriptions are mine.

The engineering field is an ever-changing environ­ment. To better understand the world we live in—and to help you better understand the state of the industry—Machine Design recently published its 2015 Salary Survey. More than 2,000 engineers responded to the annual survey regarding salary, work environment, benefits, and their views on where the field of engineering is going next.  This sample size is statistically significant and gives a snapshot of the engineering profession as it exists in the United States today.  The digital photographs given below, plus text, will aid your efforts in understanding the “state of engineering” in the 2014/2015 years.

Let’s first look at the breakdown of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) professions.

STEM CATEGORIES

As you can see, the engineering profession represents approximately twenty-five percent (25%) of the STEM categories. Quite frankly, I was very surprised to see the fifty-six percent (56%) number for the computer occupations.  This definitely shows how greatly this profession has grown in the last decade.

According to the ASME survey, 54.3% of the respondents are fifty-five (55) years old or over and predominantly male. Just over three-quarters are college graduates with a bachelor’s degree or higher. The most common principal job function is design and develop­mental engineering at 61.7%.  A much smaller percentage (11.8%) work in engineering management. The most common job title is design/project/R&D engineer at 24.7%. Others include manufacturing/product engineer and chief/senior/ lead/principal engineer at 6.0% and 12.9%, respectively.  Fifty-five years of age will indicate a looming shortage of engineering talent for our country.  A situation that will see companies relocating to other countries or our “importing” qualified foreign nationals to work as engineers for state-side companies.  Greater numbers are entering the profession but those entry-level positions do not equal or exceed the number retiring.

EDUCATION LEVELS:

HIGHEST LEVEL OF EDUCATION

Also very surprised that the number of MS degrees is just about the same as BS degrees.  This is also an ongoing trend occurring just in the last decade or so.  As technology advances, the need for a higher level of education becomes necessary for some engineering disciplines.

EMPLOYMENT:

YEARS AT PRESENT COMPANY

The chart above also indicates a significant change in demographics.  Generally, engineers stay at one company for a lengthy period of time.  This apparently is no longer the case unless there was a significant influx of new graduates in 2015.  Trust me on this one—this is not the case.  Engineers are moving around to find higher salaries and better working conditions.  The possibility for advancement must not be ignored either.

YEARS IN PROFESSION

I definitely agree with the graphic above.  Generally, engineers enjoy the work they do so they stay in the profession for a lengthily period of time.  This chart reflects that fact.

AVERAGE AGE OF ENGINEER

The chart above indicates approximately thirty-eight percent (38%) of engineering professionals are over the age of sixty and contemplating retirement sometime in the very near future.  Their positions are not being filled quickly enough.  Many engineering jobs remain open seeking candidates with the proper skill sets.

COMPENSATION:

COMPENSATION BREAKDOWN AVERAGE COMPENSATION

The chart above speaks for itself.  Engineering is a rewarding profession not only relative to project work but also compensation.  Engineering positions represent one of the highest paid professions available to an individual and entry level salaries can be quite impressive.

EMPLOYMENT OUTLOOK

Due to economic conditions, sixty percent (60%) of the companies indicate hiring will be reduced or remain stagnant.  Our economy and tax structure is forcing more and more companies to locate abroad.  This is extremely detrimental to engineers during job searches.

COMPENSATION BREAKDOWN

As you can see from the above graphic, the computer science field provides the greatest salary level.  This is due to the skill set necessary for the design of hardware.

YEARS OF EXPERIENCE AND LOCATION

Once again, the New England and West Coast areas provide the greatest salary levels.  This has been the case for over two decades and will probably not change soon although very high taxes may cause companies to relocate to other states.

JOB SATISFACTION AND OUTSOURCING:

The next three slides speak for themselves and indicate job satisfaction.  By and large, we are a content group of professionals.  There is definitely an indication as to “off-shoring” and the effect that has on job markets in the “states”.

JOB SATISFACTION

MOST IMPORTANT FACTORS

OUTSOURCING

CONTINUING EDUCATION:

Continuing education for the engineering profession has always been a requirement for maintaining a PE license.  There are thirty-six (36) states that require at least twelve (12) hours per year of continuing education.  The next two slides indicate how engineers obtain that education and where they go for it.

CONSTINUING EDUCATION

HOW ARE ENGINEERS KEEPING UP

I certainly hope you have enjoyed this write-up and it will be beneficial to you.  As always, I welcome your comments.

PROFESSIONS AND THE FUTURE

September 7, 2015


Information for this post are taken from Design News Daily Magazine: Article by Mr. Rob Siegel Design News

Previously, in a post entitled “What Not to Do”, I provided three lists of occupations that just might not be too productive relative to employment or continued employment through 2022.  After spending four or more years in a course of study, then not being able to find a job, is at best very frustrating.  With that being the case, I also issued the following statement:

“I would again say—IF YOU HAVE A PASSION FOR A GIVEN PROFESSION, follow that passion, BUT make sure you are one of the best in the world.  Competition is global not just within the confines of our country.   In the post that will follow, I will indicate those STEM professions considered to be “everlasting” and indicate current open positions.  I was greatly surprised at the number of jobs that are waiting on acceptable candidates.”

OK, this is the post that follows.  Let’s take a look at those STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) professions that will remain viable and in demand through 2022.  These are not in any given order.  I would ask you to look at the text under each category indicating salary levels.  Also, I have listed job openings, at this time; i.e. right now, that exist.

Aerospace Engineering

Of the 1,375 jobs in aerospace, around eighty percent (80%) are mid-level positions. Twenty-five percent (25%) are located in California.

Applied Mathematics

In 2013 there were 3,500 job openings for mathematicians with a projected thirty-five percent (35%) increase expected through 2022.

Chemical Engineering

A good number of the 5,790 jobs are mid-level and yet twenty percent (20%) are at the senior-level.  The good news, there is no particular geographic location where chemical engineers are located.

Computer Engineering

Most of the 9,751 job openings are mid-level or senior-level.  As with Chemical Engineering, the jobs are dispersed evenly across the United States.

Electrical Engineering

There are 28,382 open positions for electrical engineers.  This discipline represents the second largest demand for engineers.  Software engineering is the first.  Approximately twenty-five percent (25%) of the job openings are in California, with half in the San Jose area.  Most are mid-level but there are definitely openings for entry-level graduates.

Computer Science

There are 28,382 open positions for electrical engineers.  This discipline represents the second largest demand for engineers.  Software engineering is the first.  Approximately twenty-five percent (25%) of the job openings are in California, with half in the San Jose area.  Most are mid-level but there are definitely openings for entry-level graduates.

Material Science

There are approximately 1046 job openings for professionals with degrees in Material Science.  Most in mid-level positions but companies are interviewing for entry-level positions.

Nucleur Engineering

In 2012, there were 20,400 NE job openings available in this country alone.  This number has greatly increased due to the need for engineers abroad.  We are beginning to wake up as a country and realize the technology has improved since Three-Mile Island.  We also know there were significant design errors made with Chernobyl and Fukushima.  Errors that will not be duplicated here in this country.

Petroleum Engineering

There are approximately 38,500 job openings for petroleum engineers.  A great profession and one that will not go away within this century.

Physics

This one may be a bit of a surprise but job growth for physics majors is projected to steadily increase at the rate of seven percent (7%) through 2022.  This discipline prepares an individual for employment in several other STEM professions.

                                      BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING

Biomedical Engineering

This is not only a growing profession but a fascinating occupation.  The technology is advancing at an extremely rapid rate and there is no shortage of challenge.

                                    INDUSTRIAL ENGINEERING

Industrial Engineering

                                      PROCESS ENGINEERING

Process Engineering

 

                          MANUFACTURING ENGINEERING


Manufacturing Engineering

These 8,234 job openings are located throughout the United States.  No one industry captures a great percentage of the market.

 

                                        QUALITY ENGINEERING

Quality Engineering

 

                                     MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

 

Mechanical Engineering

 

                                    SOFTWARE ENGINEERING

 

Software Engineering

As you can see, software engineers are certainly in demand with 158,323 job openings available right now.  This is the reason for demands that HB-1 visas remain available.  Companies cannot find qualified US citizens to fill these vacancies.

The STEM professions will remain the most viable option for employment for the future.  I would like to indicate to you that YOU CAN DO THIS.  You do not have to be a genius to graduate with a four year degree from an accredited college or university with a major in one of the above professions.  Do NOT be intimidated with the work. IT’S “DOABLE”.

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.


Data for this post was taken from the following sources: 1.) Design News Daily, and 2.) Those references given on the individual slides.

I have been a “blue-collar” working engineer since graduation in 1966.  I think it’s a marvelous profession and tremendously rewarding.  I also find that engineering is one of the most trusted professions.  When you are designing a bridge, a machine, a biomedical device, etc. there is little room for PC.   Being politically correct will get you a bum design.  You design towards accomplishing an objective or satisfying a consume needs.  Also, you can’t talk your way into success.  You have to perform at every phase of the engineering program.  There are processes in place that aid our efforts along the way.  Some of these are as follows:

  • Six Sigma
  • Design for Six Sigma
  • QFD or Quality Functional Deployment
  • FMEA or Failure Mode Effect Analysis
  • Computational Fluid Dynamics
  • Reliability Engineering
  • HALT—Highly Accelerated Laboratory Testing
  • Engineering Reliability

There are others depending upon the branch of engineering in question.  There are also a large number of computer programs specifically written for each engineering discipline.

With that being the case, what would you say are the highest paying engineering salary levels by discipline?  You might be surprised.  I was.  The following slides basically speak for themselves and represent entry level, mid-level and high-paying salaries for graduate engineers.  Let’s take a look at the top ten (10).

BIOMEDICAL

I’m not surprised at biomedical engineering being in the top ten.  There is a huge demand for “bio-engineers” due to rapid advances in technology and significant needs relative to non-invasive medical investigations.

The next one, Civil Engineering, does surprise me a little although we live with a crumbling infrastructure.  Much more needs to be accomplished to redesign, replace and upgrade our roads, dams, bridges, levees, etc etc.  We are literally falling apart.CIVIL

The next two should not surprise anyone.  IT is driving innovation in our time and the need for computer programmers, hardware engineers and software engineers will only increase as time goes by.

COMPUTER ENGINERING HARDWARE

COMPUTER ENGINEERING SOFTWARE

Chemical engineering has always been one of the top engineering disciplines.  CEs can apply their “trade” to an extremely large number of endeavors.

CHEMICAL ENGINEERING

EE

During my time EEs were the highest paying jobs.  They still are.

Years ago, environmental engineering was included in the CE discipline. Today, it is important enough to stand alone and provide excellent salary levels.

ENVIRONMENTAL

GEOLOGY AND MINING

Geology and Mining engineering has taken off in recent years due to needs brought about by the oil industry.  More than ever, new sources of natural gas and oil are needed.  The term fracking was unknown ten and certainly twenty years ago.

Material Science is one of the most fascinating areas of investigation undertaken in today’s engineering world.  Composite structures, “additive” manufacturing, adhesives, and a host of other areas of materials engineering are producing needs throughout the profession.

Materials Science

MATERIALS AND SCIENCE

MECHANICAL

I am a mechanical engineer and greatly enjoy the work I do in designing work cells to automate manufacturing and assembly processes.  The field is absolutely wide open.

I hope you enjoy this very brief look at the top ten disciplines.  I also hope you will be encouraged to show this post to you children and grandchildren.  Explain what engineers do and how our profession benefits mankind.

BOEING 777

March 22, 2015


The following post used the following references as resources: 1.) Aviation Week and 2.) the Boeing Company web site for the 777 aircraft configurations and history of the Boeing Company.

I don’t think there is much doubt that The Boeing Company is and has been the foremost company in the world when it comes to building commercial aircraft. The history of aviation, specifically commercial aviation, would NOT be complete without Boeing being in the picture. There have been five (5) companies that figured prominently in aviation history relative to the United States. Let’s take a look.

THE COMPANIES:

During the last one hundred (100) years, humans have gone from walking on Earth to walking on the moon. They went from riding horses to flying jet airplanes. With each decade, aviation technology crossed another frontier, and, with each crossing, the world changed.

During the 20th century, five companies charted the course of aerospace history in the United States. They were the Boeing Airplane Co., Douglas Aircraft Co., McDonnell Aircraft Corp., North American Aviation and Hughes Aircraft. By the dawning of the new millennium, they had joined forces to share a legacy of victory and discovery, cooperation and competition, high adventure and hard struggle.

Their stories began with five men who shared the vision that gave tangible wings to the eternal dream of flight. William Edward Boeing, born in 1881 in Detroit, Mich., began building floatplanes near Seattle, Wash. Donald Wills Douglas, born in 1892 in New York, began building bombers and passenger transports in Santa Monica, Calif. James Smith McDonnell, born in 1899 in Denver, Colo., began building jet fighters in St. Louis, Mo. James Howard “Dutch” Kindelberger, born in 1895 in Wheeling, W.Va., began building trainers in Los Angeles, Calif. Howard Hughes Jr. was born in Houston, Texas, in 1905. The Hughes Space and Communications Co. built the world’s first geosynchronous communications satellite in 1963.

These companies began their journey across the frontiers of aerospace at different times and under different circumstances. Their paths merged and their contributions are the common heritage of The Boeing Company today.

In 1903, two events launched the history of modern aviation. The Wright brothers made their first flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C., and twenty-two (22) year-old William Boeing left Yale engineering college for the West Coast.

After making his fortune trading forest lands around Grays Harbor, Wash., Boeing moved to Seattle, Wash., in 1908 and, two years later, went to Los Angeles, Calif., for the first American air meet. Boeing tried to get a ride in one of the airplanes, but not one of the dozen aviators participating in the event would oblige. Boeing came back to Seattle disappointed, but determined to learn more about this new science of aviation.

For the next five years, Boeing’s air travel was mostly theoretical, explored during conversations at Seattle’s University Club with George Conrad Westervelt, a Navy engineer who had taken several aeronautics courses from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The two checked out biplane construction and were passengers on an early Curtiss Airplane and Motor Co.-designed biplane that required the pilot and passenger to sit on the wing. Westervelt later wrote that he “could never find any definite answer as to why it held together.” Both were convinced they could build a biplane better than any on the market.

In the autumn of 1915, Boeing returned to California to take flying lessons from another aviation pioneer, Glenn Martin. Before leaving, he asked Westervelt to start designing a new, more practical airplane. Construction of the twin-float seaplane began in Boeing’s boathouse, and they named it the B & W, after their initials. THIS WAS THE BEGINNING.  Boeing has since developed a position in global markets unparallel relative to competition.

This post is specifically involved with the 777 product and changes in the process of being made to upgrade that product to retain markets and fend off competition such as the Airbus. Let’s take a look.

SPECIFICATION FOR THE 777:

In looking at the external physical characteristics, we see the following:

BOEING GENERAL EXTERNAL ARRANGEMENTS

As you can see, this is one BIG aircraft with a wingspan of approximately 200 feet and a length of 242 feet for the “300” version.  The external dimensions are for passenger and freight configurations.  Both enjoy significantly big external dimensions.

Looking at the internal layout for passengers, we see the following:

TYPICAL INTERIOR SEATING ARRANGEMENTS

TECHNICAL CHARACTERISTICS:

If will drill down to the nitty-gritty, we find the following:

TECHNICAL CHARACTERISTICS(1)

TECHNICAL CHARACTERISTICS(2)

As mentioned, the 777 also provides much needed services for freight haulers the world over.  In looking at payload vs. range, we see the following global “footprint” and long range capabilities from Dubai.  I have chosen but similar “footprints” may be had from Hong Kong, London, Los Angles, etc etc.

FREIGHTER PAYLOAD AND RANGE

Even with these very impressive numbers, Boeing felt an upgrade was necessary to remain competitive to other aircraft manufacturers.

UPGRADES:

Ever careful with its stewardship of the cash-generating 777 program, Boeing is planning a series of upgrades to ensure the aircraft remains competitive in the long-range market well after the 777X derivative enters service.

The plan, initially revealed this past January, was presented in detail by the company for the first time on March 9 at the International Society of Transport Air Trading meeting in Arizona. Aimed at providing the equivalent of two percent (2%) fuel-burn savings in baseline performance, the rolling upgrade effort will also include a series of optional product improvements to increase capacity by up to fourteen (14) seats that will push the total potential fuel-burn savings on a per-seat basis to as much as five percent (5%) over the current 777-300ER by late 2016.

At least 0.5% of the overall specific fuel-burn savings will be gained from an improvement package to the aircraft’s GE90-115B engine, the first elements of which General Electric will test later this year.  The bulk of the savings will come from broad changes to reduce aerodynamic drag and structural weight. Additional optional improvements to the cabin will also provide operators with more seating capacity and upgraded features that would offer various levels of extra savings on a per-seat basis, depending on specific configurations and layouts.  The digital below will highlight the improvements announced.

UPGRADES FOR 777

“We are making improvements to the fuel-burn performance and the payload/range and, at same time, adding features and functionality to allow the airlines to continue to keep the aircraft fresh in their fleets,” says 777 Chief Project Engineer and Vice President Larry Schneider. The upgrades, many of which will be retro-fittable, come as Boeing continues to pursue new sales of the current-generation twin to help maintain the 8.3-per-month production rate until the transition to the 777X at the end of the decade. Robert Stallard, an analyst at RBS Europe, notes that Boeing has a firm backlog of 273 777-300s and 777Fs, which equates to around 2.7 years of current production. “We calculate that Boeing needs to get 272 new orders for the 777 to bridge the current gap and then transition production phase on the 777X,” he says.

The upgrades will also boost existing fleets, Boeing says. “Our 777s are operated by the world’s premier airlines and now we are seeing the Chinese carriers moving from 747 fleets to big twins,” says Schneider. “There are huge 777 fleets in Europe and the Middle East, as well as the U.S., so enabling [operators] to be able to keep those up to date and competitive in the market—even though some of them are 15 years old—is a big element of this.”

Initial parts of the upgrade are already being introduced and, in the tradition of the continuous improvements made to the family since it entered service, will be rolled into the aircraft between now and the third quarter of 2016. “There is not a single block point in 2016 where one aircraft will have everything on it. It is going to be a continuous spin-out of those capabilities,” Schneider says. Fuel-burn improvements to both the 777-200LR and -300ER were introduced early in the service life of both derivatives, and the family has also received several upgrades to the interior, avionics and maintenance features over the last decade.

The overall structural weight of the 777-300ER will be reduced by 1,200 lb. “When the -300ER started service in 2004 it was 1,800 lb. heavier, so we have seen a nice healthy improvement in weight,” he adds. The reductions have been derived from production-line improvements being introduced as part of the move to the automated drilling and riveting process for the fuselage, which Boeing expects will cut assembly flow time by almost half. The manufacturer is adopting the fuselage automated upright build (FAUB) process as part of moves to streamline production ahead of the start of assembly of the first 777-9X in 2017.

One significant assembly change is a redesign of the fuselage crown, which follows the simplified approach taken with the 787. “All the systems go through the crown, which historically is designed around a fore and aft lattice system that is quite heavy. This was designed with capability for growth, but that was not needed from a systems standpoint. So we are going to a system of tie rods and composite integration panels, like the 787. The combination has taken out hundreds of pounds and is a significant improvement for workers on the line who install it as an integrated assembly,” Schneider says. Other reductions will come from a shift to a lower weight, less dense form of cabin insulation and adoption of a lower density hydraulic fluid.

Boeing has also decided to remove the tail skid from the 777-300ER as a weight and drag reduction improvement after developing new flight control software to protect the tail during abused takeoffs and landings. “We redesigned the flight control system to enable pilots to fly like normal and give them full elevator authority, so they can control the tail down to the ground without touching it. The system precludes the aircraft from contacting the tail,” Schneider says. Although Boeing originally developed the baseline electronic tail skid feature to prevent this from occurring on the -300ER, the “old system allowed contact, and to be able to handle those loads we had a lot of structure in the airplane to transfer them through the tailskid up through the aft body into the fuselage,” he adds. “So there are hundreds of pounds in the structure, and to be able to take all that out with the enhanced tail strike-protection system is a nice improvement.”

Boeing is also reducing the drag of the 777 by making a series of aerodynamic changes to the wing based on design work conducted for the 787 and, perhaps surprisingly, the long-canceled McDonnell Douglas MD-12. The most visible change, which sharp-eyed observers will also be able to spot from below the aircraft, is a 787-inspired inboard flap fairing redesign.

“We are using some of the technology we developed on the 787 to use the fairing to influence the pressure distribution on the lower wing. In the old days, aerodynamicists were thrilled if you could put a fairing on an airplane for just the penalty of the skin friction drag. On the 787, we spent a lot of time working on the contribution of the flap fairing shape and camber to control the pressures on the lower wing surface.”

Although Schneider admits that the process was a little easier with the 787’s all-new wing, Boeing “went back and took a look at the 777 and we found a nice healthy improvement,” he says. The resulting fairing will be longer and wider, and although the larger wetted area will increase skin friction, the overall benefits associated with the optimized lift distribution over the whole wing will more than compensate. It’s a little counterintuitive,” says Schneider, adding that wind-tunnel test results of the new shape showed close correlation with benefits predicted by computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis using the latest boundary layer capabilities and Navier-Stokes codes.

Having altered the pressure distribution along the underside of the wing, Boeing is matching the change on the upper surface by reaching back to technology developed for the MD-12 in the 1990s. The aircraft’s outboard raked wingtip, a feature added to increase span with the development of the longer-range variants, will be modified with a divergent trailing edge. “Today it has very low camber, and by using some Douglas Aircraft technology from the MD-12 we get a poor man’s version of a supercritical airfoil,” says Schneider. The tweak will increase lift at the outboard wing, making span loading more elliptical and reducing induced drag.

Boeing has been conducting loads analysis on the 777 wing to “make sure we understand where all those loads will go,” he says. A related loads analysis to evaluate whether the revisions could also be incorporated into a potential retrofit kit will be completed this month. “When we figure out at which line number those two changes will come together (as they must be introduced simultaneously by necessity), we will do a single flight to ensure we don’t have any buffet issues from the change in lift distribution. That’s our certification plan,” Schneider says.

A third change to the wing will focus on reducing the base drag of the leading-edge slat by introducing a version with a sharper trailing edge. “The trailing-edge step has a bit of drag associated with it, so we will be making it sharper and smoothing the profile,” he explains. The revised part will be made thinner and introduced around mid-2016. Further drag reductions will be made by extending the seals around the inboard end of the elevator to reduce leakage and by making the passenger windows thicker to ensure they are fully flush with the fuselage surface. The latter change will be introduced in early 2016.

In another change adopted from the 787, Boeing also plans to alter the 777 elevator trim bias. The software-controlled change will move the elevator trailing edge position in cruise by up to 2 deg., inducing increased inverse camber. This will increase the download, reducing the overall trim drag and improving long-range cruise efficiency.

The package of changes means that range will be increased by 100nm or, alternatively, an additional 5,000 lb. of payload can be carried. Some of this extra capacity could be utilized by changes in the cabin that will free up space for another fourteen (14) seats. These will include a revised seat track arrangement in the aft of the cabin to enable additional seats where the fuselage tapers. Some of the extra seating, which will increase overall seat count by three percent (3%), could feature the option of arm rests integrated into the cabin wall. Schneider says the added seats, on top of the baseline  two percent (2%) fuel-burn improvement, will improve total operating efficiency by five percent (5%) on a block fuel per-seat basis.

Other cabin change options will include repackaged Jamco-developed lavatory units that provide the same internal space as today’s units but are eight (8) inch narrower externally. The redesign includes the option of a foldable wall between two modules, providing access for a disabled passenger and an assistant. Boeing is also developing noise-damping modifications to reduce cabin sound by up to 2.5 db, full cabin-length LED lighting and a 787-style entryway around Door 2. Boeing is also preparing to offer a factory-fitted option for electrically controlled window shades, similar to the 777 system developed as an aftermarket modification by British Airways.

CONCLUSIONS:

As you can see, the 777 is preparing to continue service for decades ahead by virtue of the modifications and improvements shown above.

As always, I welcome your comments.

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