Engineers more motivated by problems to solve than pay

New York, NY—A recent survey of 830 electrical engineers found that 75% are mostly motivated by inventing, building, and designing new technologies and solving real-world problems, while only 3% say money is their most important reward.


New York, NY— A recent survey of 830 electrical engineers found that 75% are mostly motivated by inventing, building, and designing new technologies and solving real-world problems, while only 3% say money is their most important reward. Conducted by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE)/IEEE-USA and its IEEE Spectrum publication, the survey also found that, while about a third of working members and 41% of students appreciate their profession’s financial benefits, they real value of their work can’t be measured monetarily.

“People who enter technical professions are passionate about making things, making things better, and making a difference in the world,” says Susan Hassler, IEEE Spectrum ’s editor. “Even in today’s rocky economic environment, working engineers are determined to stay loyal to their profession.”

For example, one in five of the respondents enjoy being engineers because they can “have a positive influence on the environment.” About 40% of the working engineers surveyed report that they’ve volunteered as engineers in their communities, either by talking to students in classrooms or by helping out at a science fair. Two out of three student engineers have done this. On average, one in three of the engineers have3 volunteered as a mentor to young people.

IEEE’s survey also revealed that engineers are generally happy, with most reporting that they like how their work lets them figure things out. One respondent stated that, “The best engineers I’ve worked with all had a fascination with how things work.”

The survey also found that when the engineering bug bites, it generally bites early. Nearly half the respondents report knowing they wanted to be technologists by the time they were 15 years old, while 13% were sure by age 10. Meanwhile, 40% deiced to become engineers when they were between 16 and 20 years old.

Two-thirds of the respondents add that afamily members helped steer them toward a technical career, while many other reported that it was a teacher or friend. About 27% added that meeting an engineer had helped decide to pursue go into technology.

IEEE’s survey was conducted in December 2003, and reported in IEEE Spectrum ’s February 2004 issue, in conjunction with National Engineers Week, Feb. 22-28. For more information, visit .

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Jim Montague, news editor

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