Downstream problems with professionals

Listen to the people downstream from certain professions for very long and you’ll wonder whether students are getting enough hands-on experience in college.

Take car mechanics, for example. It’s a good thing the engineers who design engine compartments are safely behind desks and not in repair shops when spark plugs are being changed. Some vehicles require so much labor to strip away other equipment in the compartment just to reach the plugs that costs run unnecessarily high, sometimes into hundreds of dollars.

If engineers had to change plugs just once, they’d make it easier, mechanics gripe.

These kinds of complaints pop up occasionally about architects, too. Ask contractors what they think of the profession and it isn’t uncommon to hear stories about ignorance of how buildings are actually put together. More knowledge of the process would cut construction costs and long-term maintenance, the contractors complain.

The points raised here are based on anecdotal evidence. Maybe you’re aware of studies showing mechanics are giddy about engineers and designers.

But the comments come up often enough to raise questions about whether professionals are trained as well as they could be. And maybe not just engineers and architects. Other professions may come to mind.

Should engineers be required to spend time in repair shops in college? Or architect students on construction sites with the hard hat crowd?

What are your thoughts?

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