Archive for September, 2008
Over at the Conglomerate Blog, law professor Karl Okamoto wrote an interesting post about the unrealistic expectations of his students regarding lawyer salaries.¬† Interpreting median salary data can be difficult unless you are willing to dig deeper and lawyer salaries are definitely skewed at the upper percentiles by “superstar” lawyers who make fifty or more times the median.
Although “superstar technician” salaries may be harder to find, secondary and post-secondary tech ed students often don’t have a clear view of the salary landscape either.¬† In no particular order, here are some payday facts of which students are often unaware:
- Salary amount is a function of marketable job skills and skill level, not degrees
- Technicians for high-demand occupations often receive sizable signing bonuses
- Starting and median pay are very location-dependent, so if you want to live at home you may have to live on less
- Starting pay is just that - chances for advancement are more important
- Successful experience is king - skilled technicians advance in pay quickly once they have proven their worth
- Recent graduates seldom appreciate what taxes, deductions, and the cost of living will do to those great-sounding offers
- The market is not ‘fair’ - it rewards those who have the skills needed when they are needed is if by pure chance
- Although it is sometimes better to be lucky than good, you can increase your chances of being lucky by being good
- Your first employer may look at your transcript grades thus impacting your employability or starting salary (I learned this the hard way)
- Starting employers ARE interested in your involvement in other activities at school because it says something about character, personality, and soft skills
- Technicians DO have a career path for advancement and can often be paid while their employers contribute to further education
- Well-rounded technicians become bosses and make more money (and come back to their alma mater to hire more graduates!!!)
If I left something out, put it in the comments!No comments
The Ford Model T is 100 years old.¬† Popular Mechanics has an interesting piece on the top ten tech innovations included in the car.¬† You may be surprised.¬† I certainly didn’t know that the flivver “pioneered the use of a removable cylinder head, and cylinders that were cast integrally with the engine block.”
If you’re into automotive tech or just technology in general, I think that you will find it interesting.¬† Too many things about the 1908 models are still very familiar in 2008.¬† The shift in the energy market is about to change that for good.No comments
I have been ‘wasting time’ today playing around with the latest version of Ubuntu (8.04) on a Sun VirtualBox VM on my laptop.¬† It has been a lot of geeky fun figuring it out and I am very impressed by the free Sun virtual machine software.¬† The laptop is a Dell Precision M6300 with an Intel Core 2 T7250 and 4 GB of RAM running Windows Vista Business.¬† I have installed many other distros and I like Ubuntu’s latest enough to consider setting up a dual boot on this machine.
I had not previously been familiar with Edubuntu, though.¬† That is the version of Ubuntu with educational software pre-installed, including teaching and management software.¬† It is available in workstation and server versions.¬† It has a lot of potential to extend the educational life of older hardware.¬† The server version is set up for terminal sessions.¬† The terminals can be really old computers with sub GHz processors and less than 128 MB of RAM.
Over at Danny Thompson’s ‘CoachDANNY’s Blog’ there is a good post on using an Edubuntu terminal server setup as a Network+ class project.¬† Coach Danny includes links to lots of good documentation.¬† This would be a great combination of learning and service assignment for any high school or college networking class.¬† It could really benefit some cash-strapped elementary, middle, and secondary schools, too.
If you teach computer/network support classes, give it a try.No comments
HPC as in High Performance Computing, that is!¬† Here is the link, and here are the conclusions about the employment outlook:
The two primary areas of specialization for HPC available to college graduates are systems administration (requiring network and security knowledge) and parallel programming.HPC introduces new techniques related to ‚Äúconcurrency‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúlatency‚ÄĚ that increase the complexity of systems administration, security, network and programming. HPC employment opportunities for college graduates include:
- Application Developers: Developers should know the principles of parallel programming, parallel tools, and be able to build thread-safe component interfaces.
- Systems Administrators: Administrators should have experience with HPC system management tools, HPC file systems and HPC batch schedulers. Administrators should also be familiar with security issues in HPC environments.
- Test Engineers: Test engineers should have parallel debugging skills and they should be familiar with parallel analysis and profiling tools.
- Field Support Engineers: Field Support engineers need some parallel debugging skills and should also have knowledge of parallel tools.
I would only add that expertise in graphic data modeling is another area of need.
Read the whole thing.¬† While you are there, check out the other publications.No comments
I recently read a Victor Davis Hanson post over at Pajamas Media on elitism.¬† Although Hanson was writing about charges of elitism being thrown about in the presidential race, I was struck by his very compelling definition of elitism.¬† As part of a longer essay, Hanson says:
Elitism is the deliberate deprecation, in active or passive fashion, of the other world of physicality and pragmatism. The true elitist values his books, his music, his refined taste in furniture, food, and fashion to the neglect of how one makes a book, to the absolute uninterest in the construction of a violin, a chair, a fig, or a pair of pants. The elitist always fails to appreciate that his existence, and his much cherished rarified world, are impossible without others that are as smart and as skilled as he, and thus due commensurate thanks and acknowledgment.
This reminds me of current educational elitist attitudes which assume that a four-year psychology graduate is clearly superior to a two-year computer science graduate.¬† This attitude persists even though the market values the programmer more than the career-challenged grad.¬† Even worse, not only do some of our public school officials believe that anything short of a 4-year or post-grad degree represents failure, they tell the children in their care that they believe it.¬† That labels 70% to 80% of their students as failures.
Outside of education, too many forget that SOMEONE must design the books, set up the machines in the furniture factory, fix the diesel engines that make agriculture and transport possible, and generally maintain the infrastructure of our comfortable modern lives.¬† I have nothing against liberal education.¬† I have one myself.¬† Someone, though, needs to courageously point out that training a student to maintain our manufacturing, transport, agriculture, and technological civilization is of considerably more immediate societal value.¬† At the very least we might give the technical student the same respect we show to a literary criticism major.
Hanson then goes on to what I would call the “myth of transferability.”¬† That is the concept that a ’superior’ education at¬† university makes you better able to guide on any subject.¬† Continuing his description of elitism, he says:
The elitist, by his very nature, proves overreaching. That is, he seems in anti-Platonic fashion, to think his expertise in one field is instantly transferable to another. The good tractor mechanic may, with dirty nails and the odor of diesel, instinctively sense¬† that he has shorted rhetoric and diction, and so has to prepare and tread carefully when¬† dealing with the probate lawyer, county assessor, or local professor at night school.
Again, in contrast, the elitist seems to think that his Harvard Law Degree or Stanford PhD, or Victorian on Pacific Heights instantly makes him a far better guide to human nature, diplomacy, warmaking, and governance‚ÄĒalmost anything‚ÄĒthan does the sheet-rocker or crane operator… That is, the elitist does not understand that his admirable hours spent investigating French provincial furniture or understanding the pedigree of good silverware may be of no more utility in cultivating logic, good judgment, and moral character than in mastering checkers.
This resonates with me for two reasons. First, being in the business of education, I am very familiar with the irrational belief that dissertation writing skills make one a sort of modern day Renaissance Man, able to comment upon any subject intelligently while guiding lesser mortals to the light.¬† Secondly, being specifically in the business of technical education, I realize that some of the smartest and most talented people in the world teach technical college students how to fix transmissions or program a PLC (Programmable Logic Controller).¬† Their intelligence, common sense, logic, problem solving capabilities, and empathy compare well with any grad school alum that I know.
I look forward to a day when technical education, our schools, our teachers, and our graduates receive the respect that they deserve.¬† Until that day comes, we will continue to keep the world working whether we receive recognition for our efforts or not.
If you get a chance, read Hanson’s post.¬† Whether or not you agree with his politics, he is a first-class mind and a very compelling writer.2 comments
My four-part video of the TSTC IT student trip to the Texas Advanced Computing Center at UT Austin is now edited and uploaded.¬† The original post on the trip is here.
Part 1 - Leaving, Arriving, and introduction to Ranger
Part 2 - Introduction to graphic representation of data
Part 3 - Demonstration of graphic representation of data using ParaView
Part 4 - More supercomputers including LonestarNo comments
I mentioned in my last post that we have students who are working on building their own clustered computers.¬† Here is a picture of that activity:
I’m nor sure if the box in the foreground indicates that Mr. Coffee parts are being used in these machines (I’d prefer a Mr. Fusion instead).¬† For more information and pictures, you can go here or here.No comments
Last week I went with TSTC supercomputing guru Walton Yantis and a group of IT students to the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at the University of Texas J.J. Pickle Research Campus.¬† We were met there by their Education Coordinator Brad Armosky.¬† He gave us the $5.00 tour and really focused on teaching the students as we went.¬† Since most of the students on the trip are enrolled in a class where they are building small parallel systems (mini-supercomputers), they were definitely fascinated and inspired.
The main attraction for the day was Ranger, one of the fastest in the world and the first to make large-scale use of Sun’s new Constellation architecture.¬† The system operates at nearly 580 TeraFLOPS peak performance (after a recent processor upgrade - all 15,744 processors with 62,976 cores) and was heavily involved in modeling Hurricane Ike (the Austin American-Statesman has an article about it here).
Here is a great video on Sun’s Constellation switches and system:
Along with Ranger, the students saw a demonstration of graphic presentation for large data sets.¬† They were delighted to see the software they use in class being used at TACC (ParaView).¬† We finished with a tour of the older computer room at TACC which contains a number of older but still awesome systems.
I learned a lot from the tour, including the incredible growth of parallel computing.¬† There is going to be a demand for programmers who can handle the challenges involved in programming jobs across a lot of processors.¬† When you take this graph into account and realize that three more computers to dwarf Ranger are in the works, you will know that we have reached a High Performance Computing “tipping point.”
Look at the complete interactive presentation here.
I made video of the trip which I will link to as soon as it is edited and uploaded to YouTube.No comments
Several pieces of corrugated steel came loose on the north side of my storage shed.¬† Although the winds are constant, the gusts are only about 30-40 miles per hour.¬† I discovered when I climbed the ladder that the top plate of the wall was rotten from moisture.¬† Ike has calmed down considerably, but still found a weakness of which I was not aware.¬† The storm also had our power off for a couple of hours.
The roof is tacked back down and the power is back on (I’m blogging!).¬† I have some rebuilding to do when the rain stops, though.¬† Our prayers and best wishes go out to those who were closer to the coast and suffered the full force of the storm.No comments
I have blogged about the lack of transparency that some schools exhibit concerning actual student costs (Transparency Anyone? Check out the comments - they are better than what I wrote).¬† The information vacuum caused by the reluctance of ITT Tech, UTI, Lincoln Tech, or others to be forthcoming about actual charges leaves potential students searching.
Almost every day, someone finds this site while searching on something like “How much does it cost to go to UTI?”¬† I hope that they read the information available and make the decision to take their business elsewhere.
Let me summarize my thoughts one more time:
- If the school you are considering can’t or WON’T summarize your costs like this - RUN!
- If the school you are considering offers credits that can only be transferred to other schools that they own - RUN!
- If attending a school leaves you in a financial straitjacket for many years to come - RUN!
- If you teach high school CTE classes, please point your students toward high-quality technical and community college workforce programs.¬† Check them out yourself.¬† Talk to employers and advisory committee members.
I am a capitalist through and through.¬† These schools have every right to exist and do business and make a profit.¬† I am just doing my part to point out better options that get lost due to the imbalance in promotional spending.1 comment
The San Diego Union-Tribune notes a new effort to reintegrate academics and CTE.¬† The idea is to make academics relevant and make it clear to CTE students that they can go to college.¬† This seems like a no-brainer to me, but some people believe that a wall must separate the two.
Here is the good stuff:
‚ÄúI think there’s really this false dichotomy between saying ‘college-ready’ and ‘career ready,’‚ÄĚ said Kathleen Porter, director of Career, Technical and Adult Education for the Poway Unified School District. ‚ÄúHaving real-world connections in academic classes is every bit as important as having real-world classes reinforce academic skills.‚ÄĚ
At Poway High, Advanced Placement physics students supplement their lectures on electrical circuits by visiting the school’s auto shop to see the circuits at work. And as a result of consulting with the physics teacher, auto shop teacher Ken Faverty said he teaches his students more about multiple circuits to reinforce classroom concepts they will face on state science tests.
Read the whole thing.
UPDATE: I have blogged about California’s CTE and the Governator before.¬† I am glad to see things moving in the right direction.No comments
The Ohio Department of Education has designed a web page to inform families about CTE.¬† The statistics shared on that page would be a shock to a lot of people who have bought into the dominant narrative about high school CTE “dumping grounds.”
- 24 percent of Ohio high school students were enrolled in Career-Tech education;
- 36 percent of Career-Tech students were enrolled in physics, chemistry or an advanced science;
- 47 percent took Algebra II or advanced mathematics;
- 16,749 career-tech students were enrolled in college tech Prep programs, giving them the opportunity to earn college credit for free;
- 93.7 percent of career-tech students passed all five parts of the Ohio Graduation Test ;
- 54.2 percent of career-tech students enrolled in a higher education program after graduation.
Popular Mechanics has a quick first look at the new Dell Inspiron Mini 9 “netbook.”¬† I find these little computers fascinating although I still don’t own one (for some reason, my wife thinks remodeling and new appliances are more important).¬† I have blogged about the ASUS eee PC and about the coming of solid state storage.
I am glad to see Dell going with Ubuntu.¬† It is a great distro for people who are not Linux geeks (not that there is anything wrong with that!).¬† I anticipate some more in-depth reviews.¬† The price looks about right and the Windows XP premium doesn’t seem very high, either.No comments
“Green” is really all about technology these days and the Waco Trib had a front page article on Sunday about how TSTC technicians and Baylor research are the key to green development in our area.¬† Check it out right here.
Sid Bolfing of TSTC is featured.¬† I have blogged about him before here.No comments
I am very proud to note that one of our culinary arts instructors, Chef Mark Schneider, has been named Chef of the Year by the Texas Chefs Association.¬† The local paper picked up this news and says some nice things about the college in the process.
Teachers like Chef Schneider give up a lot of income work here.¬† Unlike a lot of other folks teaching at colleges and school districts, every technical college instructor has job experience and skills that could easily land them a higher-paying job in the private sector.¬† They stay because there is no feeling in the world like helping someone else become successful.
Hail to the Chef!No comments
The WSJ has an article up entitled “Skilled Trades Seek Workers.”¬† Not surprisingly, welders are featured again.¬† The Journal also says that because of TV shows like “Dirty Jobs” on the Discovery Channel, working with your hands is making a popular comeback.¬† “Dirty Jobs” does show respect for workers, but other programs like “American Chopper” and “Mythbusters” are showing just how cool technical skills can be.
The article skewers the myth of traditional college earning power:
Between 1995 and 2005, the percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds in college rose to 39% from 35%. Manufacturers, contractors and unions don’t dispute that college can be a wise investment, but they also say that unionized craft workers can earn more than the average college graduate.
The Journal also notes that journeyman pipe fitters “could earn about $30 an hour, or $1,050 for a 35-hour workweek. By comparison, median weekly earnings for workers 25 and older with only a bachelor’s degree amounted to $999 in the second quarter of 2008, according to the Labor Department.”
It is a great article.¬† I will be happier on the day when we no longer have to put disclaimers about college being a “wise investment” every time technical skills are mentioned.¬† We should be able to frankly admit that traditional BA degrees have been a monumental waste of money for many people.¬† Marketable job skills, not degrees, are what young people need above all.No comments