Unfashionable engineering

“And if he was extremely bright, if he seemed to have the quality known as genious, he was infinitely more likely to go into engineering in Iowa, or Illinois or Wisconsin, than anywhere in the East. Back East engineering was an unfashionable field. The East looked to Europe in matters of intellectual fashion, and in Europe the ancient aristocratic bias against manual labor lived on. Engineering was looked upon as nothing more than manual labor raised to the level of science. There was “pure” science and there was engineering, which was merely practical. Back East engineers ranked, socially, below lawyers, doctors, Army colonels, Navy captains, English, history, biology, chemistry, and physics professors; and business executives. This piece of European snobbery had never reached Grinell, Iowa, however. Neither had the corollary piece of snobbery that said a scientist was lowering himself by going into commerce.” (from a story about the birth of Intel in Tom Wolfe’s Hooking Up, p61— see also how I got it)


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