Skip to content
photo courtesy of @AutumnKalquist

#BigBeacon Twitter Chat: Pay Your Dues, Kid – Wed May 7


This post presents the topic of this week’s #BigBeacon twitter chat – join us tomorrow, Wed May 7th at 8 pm EDT.  I (@engineeryrlife) will be hosting the chat this week.  All are welcome!

One familiar practice in the engineering educational status quo is to swamp incoming students with work in order to get them to buckle down, get humble, ‘toughen up’ and learn to fit into the system.  A similar experience awaits new engineering graduates upon entering their first job at many traditional organizations.

Ah, the ‘Pay Your Dues’ culture.  It’s characterized and perpetuated by the veterans – those who went through the same tough treatment back in their day, and now seek to create the same experience for eager newcomers.  You’ve got to put in your time too, kid, their attitude seems to be saying.  It’s for your own good.

So where does this attitude come from?  What’s it trying to do?  Is there any validity to the assumption that it’s best to grow up inside the system, work hard and pay your dues – or is there another way?

Myself, I never thought to question this assumption during my engineering education.  How about you?  Perhaps we associate this idea with the time-worn nutritional wisdom we hear in childhood: eat dinner (and the stuff that is good for you but tastes terrible – at least by comparison) before dessert (mmmm chocolate!), so believe it to be true and swallow it whole (so to speak).

But what is the cost of setting up engineering education – or an engineering organization – with a ‘pay your dues’ structure and culture? What are we missing out on when we embrace the ‘Pay Your Dues’ culture?    What would be possible if we rethought it?  The Whole New Engineer needs a Whole New Engineering Education – and embracing the four pillars may mean the ‘Pay Your Dues’ culture gets turned upsidedown!

Come join us for the #BigBeacon twitter chat on the ‘Pay Your Dues’ culture, and chat with us about these questions and more.  Provide your input on the changes that the culture of engineering education will need to undergo in order to transform to produce The Whole New Engineer in the future.

Join us tomorrow – Wednesday May 7th 2014, 8 pm EDT on #BigBeacon

How to Twitter Chat

If you’ve never Twitter chatted before, don’t worry; it’s very easy. First, get a Twitter account if you don’t already have one, and log in. At 8 PM ET on Wednesday go to and type #BigBeacon into the search box on Twitter. Thereafter all the tweets with the hashtag #BigBeacon will show up on your Twitter page. To participate, simply express your opinion by sending a tweet, and be sure to append the hashtag #BigBeacon so other members of the Twitter Chat see you are posting. Alternatively, automate the hashtag search and append feature by using the free service Tchat at

A Canadian professional engineer with a background in manufacturing and mining, Erica is passionate about creating a better future through Six Sigma, Lean/Kaizen Events, mentorship, coaching, sustainability, educational reform and talking to kids about engineering.

Back To Top