Posts Tagged ‘college’

The Gig Economy

May 12, 2017

In my parents’ day, a “good job” meant stability and working at the same place from the time you left your education until the time you retired.  Things were predictable, secure and safe.  One would perform a similar task (even in white-collar work) at the same time, in the same place.  In exchange for this task, this person would be compensated either hourly or yearly.

While there are some merits to this system, it no longer works quite the same as it did back then.  Today, companies change constantly.  The company you worked for five years ago probably changed names.  Sometimes, they split apart.  Sometimes, they merge.

Also, as we become more affluent, as a society, and more tasks become automated, more tasks can be done remotely.  Because of this, more workers can perform tasks from home, commuting on public transportation, or even while waiting in line at the grocery store.

Also, there is the issue of “dead-time” at work.  One of the most boring times at a job is when someone is between projects, but must maintain “butt-in-seat” time for a salaried job, or risk losing money by not clocking hours during an hourly job.  This is horribly inefficient.  We try to make manufacturing “just-in-time” so that product doesn’t sit in a warehouse.  Why should labor be different?

Some things will never move from shift work, and I am glad of that.  When my house is on fire, I am glad that there is a firefighter standing by, waiting for the call.  However, does a software engineer need to do this?

Really, the so-called “Gig-Economy” forces us to constantly innovate.  We have to develop new skills, and always look for the next thing.  Stagnation has no place in this economy.

In electronics, there is the concept of Moore’s Law, where the number of transistors on a computer chip doubles every 18 months in an exponential growth pattern.   Perhaps an exponential growth “Moore’s Law” accompanies us human beings.  A few generations ago, most people took their father’s profession, with very little change.  In the previous generation, people went to college and found a career.  Perhaps now, we all have many, smaller duration jobs.  Who knows what our kids will have.

And, ultimately, it is happening, like it or not.

Thank you for reading my post.

 

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Corruption in Universities

May 19, 2016

I am not yet prepared to discuss the name of my university- the one where I work.  However, it has come to my attention that it is incredibly corrupt. I have seen hints of it in the past, but I saw it for the first time personally the other day.

On Monday, I received notice that I no longer had an office.  Or a lab.  All in all, our department lost around 80% of its space during a Friday meeting.  I received an angry email asking why there was still stuff in these spaces.  We were supposed to leave these spaces in 2017 when another department is scheduled to move, but suddenly, we don’t have them anymore.  An hour later, I got an email threatening to “surplus” everything that was left.

Could it be retaliation?

Two years ago, we had a professor who caught a certain administrator’s daughter cheating (again).  This professor (who won professor of the year that year) was planning to fail this student.   However, he was untenured, and was denied tenure instead.

This year, that same administrator was running for the position of president, as the current president planned to retire. At least one professor from our department was on the search committee.  He was not selected (there were some REALLY good candidates), and now, in spite of increased enrollment, we lose space.

Now, I head to work to tell high school students to study hard and do well in school so that, what?  If they have a relative working at the National Labs, they get a free pass, but otherwise, there are no jobs?  Many of our graduates have no jobs- and they have engineering degrees!

Intel is laying off even more people than initially announced.  It was the biggest private employer of technical folks in the state.  Instead, they are disguising how many people are gone- in addition to the layoffs, they have forced quite a few into retirement.

It’s all a fraud.  All of it.  Education, schooling, college. It’s really just welfare for PhD’s.  I’m currently using my master’s dipoma in engineering as a door mat, as it is from this university.  It’s worth more as a door mat than as a diploma.

I want it all to crash down so that it can be rebuilt.  It just involves displacing 500 years of inbreeding and the meth that plague this state.

I don’t think that will happen.  Perhaps the only honest path for me, rather than lying to students about jobs and futures and potential is to quit and work an honest, real, fast-food job.

Letters of Recommendation

May 13, 2016

I recently read an article about a professor who agreed to give a letter of recommendation to a student, only to turn around and deny the letter at a later date.  This happens often; a student was productive, but then fell by the wayside later on, and the letter would no longer  be representative of the student’s performance.  However, in the case of this article, the professor learned that the student was getting a concealed carry permit. You can read her cowardly essay here, if you can stomach her whining.

I’m not saying the professor has to write a letter of recommendation.  Nobody can force a professor to write one.  Besides, who wants a letter of recommendation that was written by coersion instead of genuine approval?   However, I would like to call attention to several things:

1.  If you said you would write a letter, then change your mind, you owe the student an explanation.  You deserve for them to be angry at you, especially if he or she was counting on that letter for admission to graduate school or for a job recommendation.
2.  If you are willing to rescind such an offer on political basis, you should consider how a student’s politics affect your interactions with them.  Are you grading fairly?  Are you answering his or her questions?  If you are not, fix it.  Or perhaps pursue another career.

The liberal press has eaten this story up.  They mention this professor’s bravery in the matter.  I wonder what they’d say if a professor refused to write a letter of recommendation on other political bases, besides one they supported. Perhaps instead, a professor decided to retract an offer to write a letter for a student who had an abortion.  Or perhaps one who participated in the Occupy Wallstreet movement.  Would that professor be considered brave?

Both of those examples are examples of professors who are cowards.  As a professor, your job is to objectively grade and recommend students into the real world.  If you are incapable of doing so, you are not brave.  You are a fraud.

The Statist Mind and Education

September 3, 2013

If you weeded through the news about Syria, you might have caught a story like this. In essence, Obama wants to find a way to lower college costs, and is developing a rating system for funding.

On the surface, this might not bother you. If not, read it again and notice this line, “outlined plan to institute a rating system to measure metrics such as graduation rates…”

Under such a system, funding would come from what percentage of students graduate in a set amount of time. This is already happening at the state level in many states- and it is frightening.

The problem with a system that promotes graduation rates over everything else is that the pressure is on professors to pass as many students as possible. Don’t fail anyone, or reduce the number of people failing. Cater to the students to keep them in the school, regardless of whether or not these students should be in college at all.

One can hope the proponents of this system are simply naive, thinking that professors will be able to reach more people, and graduate more scientists, doctors and engineers. One would have to be incredibly naive to think that this would not result in grade inflation.

Why does grade inflation matter? Does it matter that a professor bumps a few “F” grades to a “D” so that a few students can graduate? Does it matter if the quality of education decreases, if it means that the quantity of graduates is higher?

Ask yourself that question the next time you hear of an industrial disaster, such as the BP American Refinery Explosion. Ask yourself if the answer to this problem is MORE engineers, or BETTER engineers. Ask yourself if it is more important that we not damage anyone’s self esteem by failing them, or more important that we do not have factories exploding.

Why the statist mind would prefer MORE engineers lies deep within their philosophy, and manifests itself in many ways. The statist mind views everyone as a cog. If we have more cogs, we have more cogs. To them, engineering work, medical work, scientific work- that’s all just training. It’s not a mindset, it’s environment. If we take a subset of 30 people, we can train all of them to be engineers or janitors. It doesn’t matter. They fail to recognize a creative human mind, capable of creating new things or solving difficult problems.

You can hear this in their chants:

They talk of wage differences between the rich and poor. Ultimately, they want a janitor to make the same amount of money as a doctor. After all, it’s all in their training, not in their ability.

They talk of needing more doctors to implement Obamacare (and claiming they aren’t retiring as it becomes reality). Their solution- get more people through medschool. Which people? Any. It doesn’t matter who. Just get some people wearing stethoscopes and white coats. Then they are doctors, right?

They talk of certain groups of people never “being given a chance” to invent, create, or run a business. They miss that it takes a creative mind to invent, create or run a business- and that (typically) nothing was given to them.

The most extreme will even talk of “everything has already been invented.” The first time I saw this was in a very old newspaper clipping, perhaps 1880s. Since then, we’ve developed refrigeration, radio communication (including TV), automobiles, computers, the atomic model, vaccines, and a million other things you can name. They miss that it took a creative mind- a special kind of mind- to envision what had not existed.

Do you want to know why a high school diploma is worthless today? Because you’ve taken all achievement from it. Everyone gets it. Do you want to know why suicides are up, in spite of efforts to stop “damaging” self-esteem? You’ve taken away achievement, which is the only thing which self-esteem can be built.

Destroy achievement, destroy America.