It behooves all international design firms to participate in global sourcing, for logical reasons. But firms that derive most revenue from domestic work should maintain domestic resources (ENR 8/2 p. 20).
Since the advent of competitive bidding (the bane of good design work), and clients insatiable desire for speed, the quality and accuracy of project design has suffered. Offshoring design work will only compound this. It is sometimes impossible to coordinate design performed at the same domestic address, let alone work performed in a distant land.
If the U.S. wishes to maintain a top position in knowledge-based design professions and education, we must help to feed them. Qualified or not, design resources across the pond will not help the end product or our economy. Low cost alone will not enhance design firm profits, client savings, design quality or national security.
There are many fallacies in the argument in your cover story, "OffshoringIs it Good Business?" It says the current trend to offshore engineering is good for the American engineer, American engineering companies and the profession. In the long run, this practice will lead to the demise of U.S. firms, universities and the already dwindling pool of trained and experienced engineers. I would like to have seen comments from people doing the work in the trenches. Their view is far different. Unfortunately, the profession has extremely weak professional organizations funded by too many factions.
Engineering is supposed to be a profession, but offshoring practices have reduced it to another commodity. Those who believe that having "detail" engineering and other tasks done in foreign countries is good in the long term are only looking to line their pockets now. Firms that use these practices simply have final design drawings and contract documents "reviewed" and stamped by P.E.s, rather than have the entire project under their direct supervision and responsible charge. In my book, this is criminal.
The biggest fallacy is that you can have U.S. engineers with little or no design experience and mentoring exposure function as project managers on these internationally designed projects. I guess ENR subscribes to the old engineers adage: "Those who can, do the design, and those who cant, manage the project." This will never work in the long run.
The second biggest fallacy is that the best and brightest young people will want to enter the engineering "profession" in the future. If we continue down this road, the only thing to look forward to will be a short career with ever decreasing salary scales because of foreign competition.
Offshoring Cuts Both Ways
October 11, 2004