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Washburn, F. E. (ed.) / The Wisconsin engineer
Vol. 5, No. 2 (May 1901)

Technical graduates in power plants,   pp. 215-218


Page 216


916                T1he ITIiscon1si Engineer.
  To the technical student who has any natural love of his chosen
profession, employment about a power plant is in many respects
ideal. There practice and theory operate together to produce a
result. There is science enough to satisfy the most scientific and
action enough to attract the most active. The position needs the
man and the man the position. One could come to no decision
more logical than tnat the chief engineers of power plants in
time to come will have earned a sheepskin in an engineering school
before taking up their life work.
  But the question is, will technical graduates enter this field?
The reasons why, they should are so strong that the answer is very
naturally in the affirmative.
  If we may judge what they will do by what they have done,
however, we cannot hope for much in that direction. We know
of less than a half dozen graduates of engineering schools who
have taken up power plant engineering except as consulting en-
gineers. Their opinions being asked as to why this is so, the
six or eight technical school graduates consulted on this point
agree, with remarkable unanimity, that it is because the technical
graduate is not attracted by the situation and prospects offered in
the power plant. He must usually begin as an apprentice, wiping,
oiling or stoking, if he learns how to run a power plant. This is
not in the line of the average engineering college man's aspira-
tions. He expects to work hard. He knows he must learn some-
thing practically, or at least has been told so if he attended a
school that deserves the name. But for some reason lie prefers
not to start as a fireman or oiler. One college man suggests as a
reason for this fact that there is a prejudice against men from the
engineering schools in power plants. From the chief engineer
down to the last understudy in the fire room there is no sympathy
to be found for a college man, he says, but on the contrary, con-
tempt of his lack of practical knowledge, that manifests itself in
many unpleasant ways. This, it is urged, is the most discourag-
ing condition a young man from school can meet. Were it not
for this unsympathetic atmosphere he thinks they would be much
morre inclined to go into the power plant, as they now go into the
drawing office, the shop, the laboratory and out on practical con-
struction work, where they meet with all the difficulties of be-
ginners. Perhaps this is the principal reason why our college


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