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IEEE ENGINEERS' SURVEY SHOWS PROFESSION ADAPTING TO A CHANGING WORLD

 /ADVANCE/ WASHINGTON, Feb. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- The end of the Cold War. The "white-collar recession." The continuing explosion of high technology. Increased economic competition from Asia. Waves of corporate restructuring. Relentless changes sweeping across the American landscape over the past few years have affected the lives and work of no group more than U.S. electrical engineers. The United States Activities unit of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE-USA), today announced the results of an IEEE Spectrum magazine reader survey which charts the response of real-life engineers to this rapidly changing environment. Results were unveiled this morning by IEEE President Martha Sloan during a press conference following the first-ever National Engineers Week Future City Competition at the U.S. Department of Energy.
 The questionnaire survey of 2,000 IEEE members, yielding over 650 responses, encompassed the areas of image perceptions, job functions and satisfaction, corporate restructuring, performance, and analyses of the profession's past and future.
 The much-discussed impact of the end of the Cold War with the Soviet Union has been keenly felt by survey respondents. Conversion from military to commercial enterprise is evident in the decline in respondents involved in aircraft, missiles, space and ground support equipment, from 10.4 percent five years ago to 8.1 percent today. Of the 29 percent of respondents' companies which are significant military contractors, 47 percent of those respondents say that their company has a plan for conversion to commercial products. And fully 34 percent of all respondents say that the Cold War's end has had an impact on their job, citing most notably: job security; less defense spending/contracts; layoffs; and less business.
 Corporate restructuring and downsizing has also been a prevalent trend in the experience of engineers recently, according to the survey. Sixty-two percent of respondents say their companies have restructured in the last five years, with the most significant result being layoffs, staff cuts and firings. More than 27 percent report that they have been personally affected by corporate downsizing. Of these, 28.4 percent were reassigned, most to an equivalent position, and 8.3 percent were laid off. The median number of employees laid off from respondents' companies during the past five years is 484, and 37 percent laid off 1,000 or more employees.
 In spite of decreasing job security, job satisfaction for electrical engineers appears to remain high. Nearly two-thirds of respondents are satisfied with their position, including 22 percent who are "very satisfied." Almost 40 percent say they are more satisfied than they were five years ago, while less than 36 percent claim diminished satisfaction.
 The economic pressures of the recent recession may have affected the occupational values of the survey group, but even so the engineer still places more importance on creativity than compensation. Although 50 percent of respondents indicate that salary is more important to them today than five years ago, almost 60 percent cite the opportunity to be creative as more important now.
 Regarding salary, 53 percent report that it has kept pace with their expectations, although 52 percent do not think it has improved compared to other professions. The average salary for respondents is $64,000 (median $62,700), with the largest segment (43 percent) earning $50,000- $74,999.
 Looking toward the future, respondents name two areas above all others as offering the profession's greatest challenge: automation, and the technology and new products for managing information effectively; and effective and continuing education to keep up to date. Engineers are confident of meeting these and other new challenges. More than 73 percent say that the profession either definitely has or probably will have the ability to meet the challenge. Nearly 56 percent of these expect to be involved in such a challenge. And most would bring along their friends and relatives: 73 percent say they would encourage a family member or acquaintance to enter the electrical engineering field, down a little from a whopping 83 percent who would have done so five years ago.
 Overall, the IEEE Spectrum survey illustrates a profession in transition amidst a changing world. Economic and political forces have re-molded the occupational shape of engineering, sometimes causing dislocation and anxiety in the lives of individual professionals. However, most engineers foresee a sustained era of technological creativity that promises to continue transforming American life into the foreseeable future, carried forward by engineers who love their work and have tremendous confidence in their abilities to meet any challenge. As one respondent summed up this perspective: "Electrical engineering could become the most creative and exciting profession ever in the next 25 years. The potential is almost beyond imagination."
 The IEEE is the world's largest technical professional organization. IEEE-USA promotes the professional careers and technology policy interests of a quarter-million U.S. IEEE members. Spectrum is the IEEE's flagship monthly magazine and three-time winner of the National Magazine Award.
 -0- 2/17/93/1300
 /CONTACT: Pender M. McCarter or Christopher Currie of IEEE, 202-785-0017/


CO: The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. ST: District of Columbia IN: CPR SU: ECO

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