A survey about webinars raises a different point altogether.

The sad part of working on a print magazine is, of course, that news doesn’t care when you’re supposed to deliver the issue to the printer. In fact, interesting tidbits have a habit of showing up right toward the end of our cycle, when they have to wait around for the next issue.

That, of course, is why we at Engineered Systems invented the Internet, so we could carve out a little piece for ourselves and devote it to delivering useful information to you at all times of the month. (If you’ve happened to get some other functionality out of the Internet, that’s great; consider it some added value for your ES subscription.)

Seriously, though, you’ve noticed that webinars are a more recent way we’re fulfilling our mission. To that end, we conducted a survey this fall to learn what readers would like to see in future webinars. Thanks to the roughly 500 of you who participated; it’s a big help, your input will help guide what we offer in the coming year, and we appreciate your time.

The bar graph for one particular question jumped out at me as I perused the results. The question was simple: How old will you be on December 31, 2007?

Time Is Not On Our Side

Sixty percent of respondents were at least 50 years old. Just over a quarter of participants were in the 40 to 49 age group. So if we can look at this sample as a microcosm of the HVAC engineering community, well over half of the current pool will likely not be working in about 15 years. Meanwhile, a paltry 13% were under 40 years old. The median age in the survey was 51.

Now, I know this isn’t really a mirror image of the community, that this sample may be skewed slightly older for any of a few reasons, but still, it’s not particularly encouraging. You can imagine how much accumulated knowledge is in that 50+ demographic. How much do you think will get lost because there was no formal or effective informal way to share this knowledge? Does your company have any sort of mentoring program?

Of course, that issue seems somewhat esoteric next to the simpler issue of a dwindling workforce in the profession, which ties into another news release that crossed the desk this month. The Junior Engineering Technical Society (JETS, get it?) is an effort dedicated to educating young people about and possibly recruiting them toward various engineering professions.

JETS announced that it has revamped its website. Admittedly, I didn’t see the old one, but I’ve been to the new one, and it does indeed open “with the beat of techno music, participant photos, and content organized to directly tap into the interests and needs of young people, their parents, and educators.”

Thus, you may or may not want to hit the mute button before you visit. And the site promotes engineering in general, not just our slice of that pie, so there is a lot going on. Nevertheless, it does look contemporary, it does emphasize multimedia exploration of different disciplines, and it encourages some team activities and competitions as a way to help youth get their feet wet and have some fun. Profiles with working engineers in the various fields are another good idea.

Whether you know anyone personally or perhaps as part of a local ASHRAE chapter initiative, keep the site in mind. The address is www.jets.org.
What’s Wrong With This Picture?
A picture’s worth a thousand words, as the saying goes, but it could be worth a lot more than that if it helps document and address conditions in your facility that are hampering performance or hurting the budget. Howard McKew has submitted a few photos for the “What’s Wrong With This Picture?” section of our blog (www.esmagazine.com/blog).

Some may be a tad humorous, some issues more obvious than others. Take a look, and feel free to send us your own photos in the name of furthering engineering progress, or simply providing a little chuckle. Names can certainly be withheld to protect the innocent and guilty alike. ES