Stop dissin’ Tennessee
After I read a letter to the editor (“Everyone Loves LA,” Sept. 6), I knew that I would have to comment. The reader says that the reason that only 42% of Nissan’s workforce relocated to Franklin, Tenn., is because people don’t want to live in secondrate locations. I’m not sure what he means by this, but it is obvious he has never been to Franklin and probably doesn’t know it is a suburb of Nashville.
Franklin has consistently been rated in the top cities in the country to live based on cost of living, education, quality of life, and other factors. In fact, quite a number of large corporations are located in or near Nashville, and many have their headquarters in the Nashville area. These include companies like Mars Petcare, Caterpillar Financial, Bridgestone/Firestone, Louisiana Pacific, Caremark, and Asurian. It’s also home to Nissan’s Smyrna plant and General Motors’ Spring Hill plant. And although many of these companies do not necessarily have a lot of engineers located in Middle Tennessee, they understand that the quality of life for their employees, the low cost of living and tax rates, and access to a highly educated workforce make it a great place to set up shop. (There are 18 institutions of higher education in Middle Tennessee.) In addition, middle Tennessee is within 650 miles of over 150 million people.
And by the way, I was born and raised in the Detroit area and couldn’t wait to leave. I didn’t consider it a first rate place to live. And as far as LA is concerned, you couldn’t pay me enough to live there.
Making snide remarks about Tennessee is not helpful. We are all in this together, and when people talk like that about the heartland, they only increase the resentment felt by Midwestern conservatives. They are already mad enough at the rest of us.
And as far as the comment that no high-tech work gets done in Tennessee, that’s where the Manhattan Project was carried out.
By the way, I live in New Jersey, a part of the country that gets almost as much abuse as the south.
Dudley M. Jones
I would advise the reader who didn’t like Tennessee that if he doesn’t already live in California, then please do the rest of us a favor and move there. To insinuate that “smart people don’t want to be anywhere but California” shows just how ignorant you are. And please don’t try to imply that all engineers share your opinion.
I believe Nissan is on the right track by relocating. They will probably attract a substantial amount of engineering talent that would be much happier in Tennessee (both on and off the job) than in the freak show called California.
To paraphrase my mother, if you can’t say something nice about a state, don’t say anything at all. — Editor
They’re stifling me, and you
Most scientists, engineers, and technical employees who have jobs don’t control their creative brains anymore. Their employers do.
For example, I developed a new farm product in my own basement shop that was totally unrelated to my day job in the defense industry. My employer claimed my invention based on the fine print in the crippling “Employee Agreement” I had signed earlier as a condition of employment. He didn’t even want the invention. He just wanted to crush any inkling of outside entrepreneurship arising from any of his employees. No wonder we are stuck with millions unemployed despite adding $3 billion to the national debt every day.
We need a federal “Use or Return” law to restore creative incentives and protection intended by our Founding Fathers when they established the U.S. Patent Office back in 1790. It might give American employees the creative freedom necessary to create the new business and private-sector jobs we so urgently need.
It has been my experience after working with manufacturers all over the world, that U.S. has the best and most-creative engineering talent in the world. Our biggest problem is that our management does not understand or accept this talent. Most engineering talent is not recognized but, in fact, repressed, is because it would involve company politics.
The head of a large manufacturing company once commented to me, “We have been doing it our way for 50 years, so why would we change?” I’ve also heard: “We tried something 30 years ago and it didn’t work.” What they really mean is that many manufacturing companies want to run production the same way they’ve always run it. And they expect engineers to keep fixing old equipment when it clearly is no longer fixable.
It seems there’s always that one guy in the big corner office that doesn’t want to evolve and is just waiting it out until retirement. But that same guy will hound every employee for better production rates, less maintenance issues, and so on. The last thing he wants is to invest in new equipment to run leaner and smarter production through modern engineering ideas and technology. After all, he might make a mistake.
Bring on the TechShops
I do hope this TechShop effort prospers and spreads (“Manufacturing for the Masses,” Sept. 6).
There use to be a business called MonkeyWrench, which rented out tool shops to do-it-yourself auto repairmen (and women). But the business didn’t do as well as I had hoped. One set of reasons for the lack of success was the increasing difficulty of working on cars and trucks for those not trained to deal with the computerization of today’s vehicles, the need for electronic-analysis equipment, and densely packed engine compartments in almost all new cars. I presume and hope that TechShops will not run into similar problems. I would love to see them become commonplace. In my humble opinion, the business deserves public funding and support. If we are to be a more innovative country, this kind of facility ought to help. From personal experience, I know that getting parts from machine shops is not easy or inexpensive. With the small budget most inventors have, this kind of resource could be a real boon to me and people like me.
Acquisitions — The Lord Corp., Cary, N.C., is purchasing MicroStrain Inc., Williston, Vt. (“Company News,” Oct. 4).
B-2 Bomber — The fine news item on UAVs (“More competition for carrier-based UAVs,” Sept. 20) has a small but notable error. Northrop Grumman is the designer and developer of the B-2 Spirit, not Boeing.