Would you advise smart young people to go into Engineering? It's a question our profession often ponders.
Consider the alternatives. Why not use one's attention to detail to become an attorney? Why not use one's mathematical prowess to go into finance? Become a "rocket scientist", a "master of the universe". I hadn't looked seriously at Wall Street careers, but the compensation described in The Reckoning - On Wall Street, Bonuses, Not Profits, Were Real - Series - NYTimes.com is truly staggering:
The bonanza redefined success for an entire generation. Graduates of top universities sought their fortunes in banking, rather than in careers like medicine, engineering or teaching. Wall Street worked its rookies hard, but it held out the promise of rich rewards. In college dorms, tales of 30-year-olds pulling down $5 million a year were legion.
Admittedly, now isn't the best moment to go into finance. Wall Street financiers are going to have to lay low for a while, lick their wounds, and make some pay for the Ponzi scheme(s) that will come out. But in the end, won't it come roaring back? From a monetary perspective, won't it always be more lucrative to be close to where money is changing hands, rather than cooped up in an R&D lab designing the next big thing? I'm not saying it's right, but that seems to be the way it is.