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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 217


                     Techn'ical (rradulates.                217
men avoid the power plant. Another man with a sheepskin, and
an MI. -M. E. besides, believes that when the possibilities of the en-
gine and boiler rooms become better known more men of scien-
tific training will enter them. Not until recently have chief en-
gineers of power plants received pay that compared favorably
with the pay of the shop and constructionl department or consulting
office. The idea the average undergraduate has of the engine
room is that the limit may be put at about twelve hundred a year.
  Doubtless both of these men are right, but there is no probability
of a speedy change in the attitude of the engineer's force towards
the young fellow from school, and in the past few years, during
which time the salaries of chiefs in the 5oo largest plants in this
countrv have increased over I5 per cent., and in a smaller number
over 30 per cent., no beginning has been made. If the payrment of
salaries of five thousand a year by not a few power plants has
not opened the eves of young college men to the opportunities of
the field, such an awakening can hardly be looked for. While we
believe that the modern power plant offers a rare opportunity for
the use of the training obtained in a technical school, its first
requisite is the training to be obtained only in the power plant, by
a vast amount of hard work, and the latter will always be the
principal qualification. The education now required by the re-
sponsible person in a large power plant where economy is studied
as carefullv as it is in the best regulated workshops, that is, the
education obtained from books, is not too difficult for a bright,
hard working man to procure by private study during leisure
hours. He must know how to get the greatest amount of work
out of the fuel bought and the wages paid his men ; he must be
able to follow the heat unit from the furnace door to the electric
light on the street, the planing machine upstairs kr the car axle
ten miles away. He must, in short, be able to measure everything
and test every process about the plant, and must be a good man-
ager of men. Then, most important of all, he must attend to his
business strictly. There is no branch of mechanical work where
larger salaries can be earned in the future, we believe, than in
stationary steam engineering. And there is no branch in which
the training of a college may become more valuable if carefully
applied. Yet it may also be said that there is no branch the best
positions in which are more accessible to the fellow who has never


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