Letters for August 2007

August 2007 » Letters
Letters for August 2007
CE News Staff

Virginia Tech tragedy
Thank you for your touching comments regarding the fallen at Virginia Tech (Civil Connection e-newsletter, June 12, 2007, "In honor of Virginia Tech victims and survivors," by Cathy Bazán-Arias, Ph.D., P.E.). The tragedy struck very close to home. Two of the professors were acquaintances of mine.

[Additionally,] Jarrett Lane was a recipient of my endowed scholarship in civil and environmental engineering (CEE), a fine young man from the small town of Narrows, Va., just a short distance from the Blacksburg campus. We always visited when I was on campus. He would have received his degree in CEE in just two more weeks, and would have begun his professional career. I consider this an insurmountable loss.

Stanley Cohen
member, Academy of Distinguished Alumni
Department of CEE, Virginia Tech

Sights and Signs
For many reasons, I enjoy reading [Alfred R. Pagan, P.E., P.L.S.’s Perspective] column. The sign at the center bottom of the page (CE News, July 2007, page 12) caught my eye since I drove by that sign last week. While you captioned the photo with the text, "A thoughtful Irish warning …", you should have captioned it "A thoughtful Scottish warning …" The sign on A82 is on the southbound side of a road on the westerly side of Scotland, south of Fort William and north of Coran Ferry.

However, the white sign is thoughtful.

Andrew B. Liston, PE, PLS, CPESC

The following letter is in response to a news story in the April 10, 2007, issue of Civil Connection e-newsletter about H-1B visa reform bills introduced in Congress. On a related issue, also see "Offshore outsourcing: A problem or a solution."
—Bob Drake

H-1B battle
The proposal to allow [science, technology, engineering, and math] (STEM) degree holders to proceed directly to a green card appears to be a direct end run around the H-1B limits. These people still will work for less just to get that all important "job offer." The reason tech companies cannot get enough engineers is because they do not pay salaries commensurate with the intelligence and effort required for an engineering degree.

Since the number of people capable of obtaining an engineering degree is limited by intelligence and drive, employers can ensure an adequate supply only by paying salaries high enough to attract a larger percentage of these people.

The [American Council of Engineering Companies] obviously supports [the STEM proposal] because they are employers and have a vested interest in keeping salaries as low as possible. This was true 40 years ago when the aerospace was using H-1Bs and is still true today.

The threat from foreign workers is real at both the top and bottom of the job-skill spectrum.

Lee, S.E., P.E.

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