Dean's Speech at Nationals

As much as I love FIRST, I found that Dean Kamen’s speech during the closing ceremonies at nationals was less than good. My complaints are not so surface-level as length or monotony, but rather the content of his words. I found it extremely insensitive because it seemed to me that he displayed a lack of respect for all people who are not engineers in his message about humanitarianism and technology. He trivialized the loss of approximately 1.9 million jobs due to “outsourcing” (since I don’t want anyone to think I’m making this up, http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2004-03-21-outsourcing-usat_x.htm) and he took a nationalistic stance on technology in the United States, which didn’t strike me as very gracious or professional towards our international teams. So, I was wondering what anyone else got out of the speech, assuming that you didn’t sleep through it.

I disagree, I think he was spot on about outsourcing. He backed it up with historical facts, so I really don’t see what there is to complain about. Do you have a rebuttal?

Nationlism has a negative connotation. Nationalism is not a vice per se, Nationalism without justification is. The fact stands that America has lead the world technologically for the majority of its history. This may change soon.

While it may not be politically correct to say so, the American people do not have a magical right to anything. This goes for oil, jobs, etc. When people forget this, we get in long/wasteful wars.

If I lose my job because someone is willing to do it for less, how can I possibly blame this on the person who now has my job? I didn’t produce at a price that was economically feasible. These are simply the harsh facts of free-market economies. I personally think the invisible hand does the job quite well, but if you think we should regulate it, by all means mail your congress-person.

I’d be happy to hear why Mr.Kamen was wrong, if you’re willing to explain it to me.

Oh, and no hard feelings mate, it’s only politics! Not something important like Operating Sytems or Text editors!

Now there’s a man with his priorities straight!!! :slight_smile:
Thank you.

I’m all about some healthy debate, definitely no hard feelings.

My reasoning is this: his ideas on outsourcing make sense coming from a corporate standpoint. However, when you’re considering American families who were affected by the mass amount of outsourcing in recent years (much more so than ever before, despite how long it has existed) and the way it affects their lives, it’s a completely different story. And I don’t mean to say that American families more important than anything else, but I do think that financial security of said families should be a priority for this country. And yes, you’re right about the international economy, however it’s very different when looking at the US economy. As more people lose more jobs, less money is going to the government (and government entities like public schools) and more money is used by the government to support these unemployed citizens with unemployment checks. Part of my basis for this view is simply the town that I live in, where the three major employers are Colorado State University, HP, and Agilent Technologies (my father’s former employer). In a city of 120,000, about 4000 engineers have been laid off in the past four years because of the outsourcing done at HP and Agilent. Although I have sympathy for the Malaysians who have these jobs now, because I believe they deserve to enter these fields just as much as any American, I care a lot more about the fact that my family is trying to send my brother to college and both my parents to grad school on my mother’s salary, and my mom is a public school teacher. To me, it’s offensive for Dean Kamen to send a message to me, and the other members of my team in similar situations, that our parents need to simply raise the bar (no pun intended) and find new technologies to get back on track. They don’t care as much about having the jobs they love back as they do about finding a way to get health insurance for their families. Since he clearly isn’t experiencing the same threat of financial security as many of the rest of us, he fails to see it from this personal level. It’s not that I believe we need to try to stop outsourcing from happening; it’s inevitable, but I wish he would show some sensitivity to those of us who have been affected it and try to understand that it’s not as easy as he thinks to just get back in the game. As cliche as it may be to say, these aren’t just numbers, they’re lives.

I feel the same way about his comments on America leading the way in the technological world. True as his comments may have been, they were insensitive, which is the issue for me. His comments also ignored the feats of other countries that have been made. What about the military technology that came out of Europe during World War Two? What about medical technology that’s come out of Canada? We’ve done great things, but we aren’t the only ones. We’re dependent on other countries for technology and they’re dependent on us, and I felt like Dean’s speech only displayed the latter.

I think that basically, his speech really showed how economically different he is from most of the FIRST kids, and I felt like he trivialized something that affects a lot of us and a lot of our mentors.

I’d have to agree with Phrontist.

Anyone that disagrees with Deans Speach either doesn’t fully understand Economics, thinks they are entitled to something, or just totally misunderstood him. There is no reason what so ever that a job should stay in the US if it can be produced at better quality, or similar quality at a lower cost. I’m not saying that production in the US “IS” Better or “ISN’T” Better. I’m saying “IF” , than why not.

It’s true “Gracious Professionalism” to give opportunities to other countries that are qualified to do the work. It’s not g.p. to say that we need to hord jobs and force companies to raise prices or go out of business. It becomes a win-win situation. The Company can “Survive” in business (no matter the company size that is a constant battle) by keeping costs down. The Public can have access to products at reasonable prices. The other country can have their economy stimulated by Jobs and corporate expansions.

Please look at this from a global economy view and not the view of someone that feels they are entitled to somthing for nothing.

Dean was saying that if the trained professionals are in other locations than why not make the world a better place by tapping into that knowledge base. There have been decades when those trained professionals came here to the US (sometimes leaving their families) just for work. In a global economy with many multi-national corporations out there- people no longer have to totally uproot to find work. If the knowlede base is concentrated in certain areas, then the jobs will follow.

The Filp side to the speech is the chalange- The Chalange to create the advancement of knowledge in the fields that allows for you or your company to draw customers/employees to you. To be the leader of the pack. If you own or possess the intelectual property then you will get the jobs. If what you do can be done by anyone comming out of college (maybe after a few months of training and experience) then dont expect to have a guarenteed job, especially if you want to get raises every year.

Dean was saying that it’s still worth pursuing these fields, even though there is lots of outsourcing going on. Its worth it as long as you plan on being productive. If you want to just take up a seat or computer workstation someplace and collect a paycheck, then expect to be replaced.

One succussful Entrepeniur once stated about his billion dollar company- “No one guarentees his company business, in five years we could go from several billion a year to nothing” If our governments cand protect the companies from going under or guarentee business, then how can we expect our govenrments to guarentee Jobs from these same companies.

Hope this makes sence! (though I’m sure someone will dissagree)
(please note this responce was being written before the previous post was submitted) I am not trying to be insensitve to your struggles or anyone elses. Dean wasnt rich when he we 18 or what ever he was when he invented the Auto-Suringe. Comments that say that companies or all rich people cant relate is not fare to them. If you ever talk one on one with them about these situations you’d learn that they often look beyond their own personal needs (since those are well taken care of) and look at a bigger picture. I am self-employed and my wife is home with 2yr-old twins, health insurance is off the wall and other expences keep mounting. I’m by no means finacially independent at this point in my life. But I can still look at a greater good for the world. If the leading techonolgy companies went totally out of business (instead of outsourcing) that would be no good to anyone in the world. Every country would loose the work and we’d loose many of the facilites/resouces to develop new products. Dont forget Dean was trying to inspire students to bring the Jobs to you by having the knowledge instead of jobs moving away. Ant thats true to anyone in any country. Dean just taks about the US because thats his point of reference in his life. Its not Nationalistic, so give him a break. Best of luck to you and your family!

I was sort of torn on the speech also I was agitating over Chairman’s, so I didn’t quite get anything. About outsourcing (THIS IS JUST MY OPINION!), Dean Kamen can talk all he wants about how we need to come up with new technology and that once we do this simple little thing like coming up with a machine that can make food out of air particles or something, we’ll be fine. I hate to break it to Mr. Kamen, but not everyone is as brilliant as he is and not everyone is going to come up with these new technologies. Just because we’re in FIRST doesn’t mean that there aren’t other intelligent people out there. Mr. Kamen said that America has always led in technology and that this can continue. Once again, I hate to break it to Dean, but the fact of the matter is that China and India are catching up very fast and I expect them to catch and overtake America soon if there aren’t wholesale changes (we can have our MIT’s, but check out the competition to get into a university like IIT in India).

Plus, you tell the average American who doesn’t have a job to “go invent new technology.” There are just so many things wrong with that that it’s sick. “Sure, Mr. Kamen, let me just go invent new technology with umm, what resources? I don’t have a job you know.”

I’d also like to reply to phrontist’s comments because he had some interesting ones. When I lose my job to someone in India because he works for less than I do and I’m living on the street, I don’t think I’m going to be saying, “At least it’s feasible that I lost my job.”

Comments on nationalism. You say it’s bad, but since 9/11, what do you think the movement with all of the flags and stuff has been. Yeah, it’s not militaristic, but it is nationalism. I am NOT saying that nationalism is a bad thing. You can look at history, but I don’t think it’s going to help a lot. What the US may need is economic nationalism. How would that work? What are the ins and outs? I don’t know. I’m just stating my opinions right now. I don’t have a solution and AP European is calling.

In conclusion, I am certainly not trying to offend anyone or bash anyone else’s statements. My comments do not represent Team 341 at all. It’s just my spin on things right now.

Automobile plants moved to Mexico

Call centers moved to India

What ISN’T manufactured in China nowadays?

Will we be upset when our FIRST (Inter)National Championship Awards start getting “outsourced” to other countries like Canada, Japan, South Korea, China, or even Iran when the day comes when they too have FIRST teams?

like these:
http://www.robocup.org/games/03Padova/3174.html

Shouldn’t a person or group be rewarded and recognized for their efforts, regardless of the colour of their skin, race, creed, religion, nationality, or which side of what border their house lies? Are these not the founding principles of our “nation”? Should they not be echoed by FIRST? our governments? our corporations?

Why do we talk about our “nation” losing 1000 jobs from outsoucing, yet fail to realize that 1000 more people half way around the world have gained jobs, often with a much larger and far reaching benefit.

Maybe WE can’t buy that over-sized, excessive, top of the line, $60000 SUV anymore, because we’ve lost our IT jobs to someone in India. But this Indian will use his/her $30000 to provide food, shelter and life’s amenities for himself and his poor extended family.

Doesn’t trading an unnecessary SUV for one person in exchange for food and shelter for many seem reasonable? Does it hurt even more that this Indian probably has a much more extensive education, and will perform the job, not only cheaper, but much more effectively than his/her American counterpart?

Why does it make us feel hurt? Are we working toward making THE world a better place? or just OUR world a better place?

Why is one nation more important than another…?

Why is our nation more important than yours?

Ask yourself these questions… because I’m asking them over here, and millions more in the Middle East are asking too…

-Shawn…

outsourcing is fine
as long as its someone elses job that is being outsourced, not yours

the problem is, you dont just show up at work for 8 hours a day, then go home - for many hi-tech jobs you put a lot of creativity into it and you personally further the state of the art

but when that gets sent overseas, you have nothing to show for it.

Dean would feel differently if the chinese or japanese government decided his Segway is nothing but a classic inverted pendulum PID control system, voided his international patents, and started flooding $300 Segway clones into the US - when YOUR source of income has been outsourced, its a different story.

BTW - 9 out of 10 patents dont stand up in court when contested.

also, nationalism is nothing but putting your preference to a certain part of the world, or a certain form of government - if you are willing to follow your job to china or india, and live there for the rest of your life, thats cool

but north america is different in one aspect - our ancestors did not live here as far back as we can trace - at some point in our family tree, our ancestors decided to leave their homeland and move here, and many of us dont want to go live in another part of the world.

Is that nationalism? absolutely?

is it a bad thing? I dont think so.

The way I read into it was that Dean was trying to start a “revolution.” We in the latter part of the computer age. I think what he was suggesting is that its time for the US to move on to a new technology. Theres an entire universe out there to be discovered that we havent focused (obviously there has been some focus just not enough) completely on because of a lack of technology. In my mind I believe he was suggesting we change our focus. Let the world catch up with computers…well go to mars instead :wink:

Just the way I read it,

-Pat

Economically Americans are having a bad time right now. Not only are jobs being outsourced, causing many American families to lose their income, but the prices of goods and services are also on the rise, specifically college tuition,health care, and food prices (at least going by the competition site :wink: ) are outrageous. I think outsourcing is screwing America over. I agree that India, Korea, and China have the right to participate, but it is not the responsibility of American companies to do so. I visit India regularly, and though there are lots of American companies there, India has its own multinationals, which hire Indians and provide services to worldwide companies. Reliance, Indian Oil, and Wipro to name a few.

To save Americans economically, there either has to be a great reduction in Outsourcing OR a great reduction in living and education costs.

For a more professional view, go to a news website, an economist website (for a right view), or a liberal website (for a left view)

I believe Mr. Kamen’s speech was intended to counteract the current “Don’t go into engineering because there are no jobs” message that is being heard frequently today. He was trying to say that the generation coming up can still make a global impact by inventing new technologies.

However, as an adult who has lost her 25-year-long career at a major corporation, I didn’t care for the message about outsourcing. I know too many people who are still looking for work, two years after having their jobs eliminated with me.

And what about the MOTHERS and GRANDMOTHERS who have paved the way before us, Mr. Kamen? You only mentioned the FATHERS and GRANDFATHERS. Shame on you! (I will assume it was an unintentional slip in the speech…)

And what about the MOTHERS and GRANDMOTHERS who have paved the way before us, Mr. Kamen? You only mentioned the FATHERS and GRANDFATHERS. Shame on you! (I will assume it was an unintentional slip in the speech…)

We are starting to nitpick a little bit too much now.

Once again, I hate to break it to Dean, but the fact of the matter is that China and India are catching up very fast and I expect them to catch and overtake America soon if there aren’t wholesale changes (we can have our MIT’s, but check out the competition to get into a university like IIT in India).

I wonder how many of the people in China and India actually get a decent education as opposed how great some of the education is. I seriously doubt that it is everyone. You are not advanced if only a few people actually get access to the technology. Also, just because you are really really really smart does not mean you will do better. The Japense space program really has not been doing to well. I recently heard on the news that American car manfactures actually improved the quality of their cars but was still under Japan.
http://www.space.com/news/spaceagencies/japan_space_000627.html

I am inclined to agree that outsourcing is nothing new, and certainly none of us are entitled to lifelong jobs, or even to being able to stay in one career field throughout our working years. Speaking from personal experience, I have “retrained” at least three times in my career, though it has all been various flavors of engineering, and I have been fortunate enough to do it on the job (as opposed to doing it while on unemployment).

BTW, I also agree that Dean was insensitive to those displaced, and to non-Americans. And it would have been nice if he had chosen a more up-beat message, given the occasion!

That said, here’s my overly-simplistic opinion of where the real problem lies:

One serious issue which I feel is overlooked in most discussions of outsourcing is that of new-technology startups, and the relative lack of them recently. In the past when a major industry became unable to compete, new technology offered new opportunties for the industry or the displaced employees. Either new technology (itself creating new jobs) “saved” the industry - such as the re-invention of the auto industry during the 70’s & 80’s, or it created an entirely new industry, such as IT in the 80’s & 90’s.

One key ingredient in the creation of new technology has been a source of money to start businesses with. Long ago (like in the Stone Age when I started working), major corporations would fund internal “skunk works” projects or companies doing leading-edge development. This was high-risk, and (the companies hoped) high-reward. Maybe one in ten actually became profitable. In the 80’s a lot of those corporations decided that the risks weren’t worth the rewards and went to mergers & acquisitions to bring in new ideas. This was seen as “outsourcing” by the corporate R&D people who lost their jobs in the process. However, investment bankers took up the slack by providing funding for new startup companies, most likely in the hope that some would be acquired by corporations at a premium price.

This scenario worked pretty well throught the 80’s and 90’s, and a whole lot of new businesses were started to create a lot of neat techology, and all the while new jobs were being created at quite a clip.

Then the Internet Bubble came along and the investment community suddenly saw 20x and higher returns on their investments, at least until the bubble burst. Now most realize those were unrealistic growth projections, but it seems that the venture capital people are now reluctant to fund high-risk investment without expectation of unrealistically high returns. Between tight money and the economic downturn of 2001, few new technology businesses have been starting up lately. Which means there is a shortage of new jobs for those who are are caught between the outsourcing of “last decade’s” technology and the lack of new job fields to go into.

I would be the last to caution against going into technology fields, and it should be noted that to a large extent, science jobs (chemistry, biology, biotechnology for example) have not been pinched as much as other technical jobs. For those making choices about their future fields of study and careers, my philosophy is go for what you find interesting - not where the best starting salaries are this year. Remember that business, like most things, is cyclical. What is hot this year will be old stuff in five years, but will be replaced by a new kind of hot. I just hope that some of FIRST’s best brains who are not interested in technology go into investment banking, and straighten out this mess!

Then the Internet Bubble came along and the investment community suddenly saw 20x and higher returns on their investments, at least until the bubble burst. Now most realize those were unrealistic growth projections, but it seems that the venture capital people are now reluctant to fund high-risk investment without expectation of unrealistically high returns. Between tight money and the economic downturn of 2001, few new technology businesses have been starting up lately. Which means there is a shortage of new jobs for those who are are caught between the outsourcing of “last decade’s” technology and the lack of new job fields to go into.

I would actually have to disagree with that. Right here on Long Island there is a new company that is developing a really really really neat and new technology. They say that they can turn animal byproducts and plastics into oil. Now that is really really high-risk investment. G.W. Bush wants about 1.2 billion spent on researching fuel cells. Everyone knows about IRobot and the Rhoomba vaccum. Google still wants it’s employees to work on their own projects to improve their company.

SAYS they can turn animal byproducts and plastics into oil, I’ll believe that when the government approves it and it hits the market. Won’t even barely mention Bush in the conversation. He has done his best to get rid of all Democrats on national scientific boards (most decent scientists I know are Democratic) and he has replaced them with his own ultra-conservative cronies.

Maybe I’m being overly nationalistic here, and actually, I may be a culprit of outsourcing as I’m thinking about going to McGill for college, but I am thinking about leaving the US for other reasons. My “nationalism” is basically I want to see every US citizen who is willing to work hard to get a job. Other countries have great technology and stuff, but as long as I’m a US citizen, I want to see the US do well. If I move somewhere else, I want to see that country do well. Right now, outsourcing is not doing the whole country a lot of good.

Quick comment about the Space Program. While the Mission to Mars is absolutely incredible, let’s not bash Japan’s space program when the US has not put anyone in space since the Columbia incident.

SAYS they can turn animal byproducts and plastics into oil, I’ll believe that when the government approves it and it hits the market.

Actually it is all ready.:slight_smile: There was a working presentation plant in Philidelphia and now there is a plant in a Butterball Turkey plant.

Quick comment about the Space Program. While the Mission to Mars is absolutely incredible, let’s not bash Japan’s space program when the US has not put anyone in space since the Columbia incident.

Actually I know that. Im just saying that the caliper of education that people receive does not lead to success.

I have been waiting for Dean Kamen to say something about the economy and I was dissapointed in the substance of his message.

I think that science and technology are extremely important and we as a country need to do something to retain a base of technical expertise that is busy doing something other than creating the latest WMD.

I like to think of Dean as kind of a rebel, counterculture kind of guy but he seems to be a very much a corporate Republican.

Anyone who doesn’t think being outsourced is no problem hasn’t been outsourced.

It may just be me…having come from a different country and lived here for a while now. But I think the main problem and debate here is that American’s feel that they are all mighty and important. They seem to forget that they are just one country in a vast world. Yes, even though the U.S. is a world power and I am very glad to live here, without the other countries…where would we be? It is very hard to loose a job, but what about a home? a life? or a family? others have it much harder than your lack of not having the latest widescreen or 3.9 Ghrz machine. Just take a moment to look at the bigger picture and think about others…and enjoy life (oh and btw its just a speech)

~Roman (just my opinion)

While Dean is a bit full of himself and his beliefs, the truth is that global markets have cost us 2 million jobs to outsourcing in the last 10 years and have created mulitiple times that many american jobs. You cannot choose not to compete or you have already lost. But, while they are creating millions of engineers most of them are working for american companies that export their ideas back to the US for americas use.

Wow, it looks like Dean Kamen knows the score. Good for him, he is annoying and arrogant, but I have to say, if he said the things that you say he said, then I should buy him a drink!

Dean’s right for endorsing economic nationalism. America MUST win the technology race, it is the only way to survive. What do you think is going to happen if the Chinese get ahead of us in terms of technology? They are going to march towards Moscow and the Berring Straits and they aren’t going to look back! Think I am crazy? 1.2 billion people, the world’s largest army, and world history says I am not. When the Chinese are charging the Golden Gate Bridge with satellite and space weaponry, stealth aircraft, advanced body armor, and low-yield nuclear weapons don’t say Dean Kamen didn’t warn you! The Chinese don’t believe in this One-World-Love-Everybody-Lets-Get-Together-And-Hug-Each-Other nonsense. They are smart and they always know the score!

And if you don’t like outsourcing, then don’t live in state where the government drives out business with insane regulation and extreme taxation (i.e Massachusetts, California, Oregon, and Washington).