Now, as you can see I have already replied to Devobrun in the comments. I won't repeat it here. Rather, I want to suggest that engineers who read this blog understand that you can love the past without staying in it. One of TAE's great loves is using the mill and lathe in the machine shop here at work. There is something wonderful about using your hands to "create." But I also live in a modern, post-industrial country, where dangerous work can be outsourced to other nations quite easily, thanks to the internet, which frees up American labor resources for better quality, safer work.
The snowclones of Devobrun sound like many an old mechanical engineer, lamenting the death of the old factory engineer. Whereas the mechanical engineers of old sat at the pinnacle of Industrial AMerica, iIncreasingly, the job of the mechanical engineer is dependent upon the labors and intelligence of electrical and computer engineers. Of course the Modern Age is a hostile one! In my own projects, as a mechanical engineer, product design is almost totally driven by the real estate needs of the electrical engineer. Further, my devices are exquisite paperweights if not for the programming provided by the software engineers.
Devobrun complains of the death of the machine shop. I, however, see the machine shop as a perfect example of evolution in engineering. The old lathe was entirely mechanical. It had no brain, simply a motor and clever gearing to enable various speeds and actions. Modern 3-axis CNC lathes can be programmed remotely, or simply given a 3D model of a part, and autonomously cut and carve that part with sub-micron precision, all while the operator eats a sandwich in the breakroom. Should the machine catastrophically fail, and throw hot metal parts at nearly the speed of sound in every direction...humans are nowhere near the blast. Tell me how this is a bad thing?
Further, these parts can be done in a fraction of the time, because the machine can quickly change its own tools, it can quickly and effectively plan the shortest route to the finished part, and it can easily make multiple copies of a part if so desired. Tell me how this is a bad thing?
Further, company efficiency is increased even more by the fact that design iterations can happen faster. If I send a part down to the machinist at the end of the day, were it 50 years ago he would then get started the next day, and if he could finish it in one day, I'd get it on the morning of the third day. Now, I can send a part to the CNC lathe at the end of the day and the part will be cut overnight, and be ready for me in the morning. I have essentially cut my design time in half.
Look, to use my own snowclone, I don't want to see good jobs disappear overseas. But the honest truth is that the total number of engineers in America is growing, not shrinking, as more and more product is manufactured overseas. The fact is that the US economy is actually strengthened by exporting labor, and importing intellectual property. Suggesting otherwise just makes you sound...crotchety.
And the most important fact is that the world will always change. Change with it...or go extinct.