BRAIN DRAIN: Layoffs have sapped the ranks...


BRAIN DRAIN: Layoffs have sapped the ranks of what was once the Valley profession: engineering. But a craft defined by ingenuity isn’t easily squelched. Engineers can still find jobs--if they move out of state, especially to the Midwest. John Arany, a CSUN career counselor, said the college mostly exports engineers these days--a twist for a school that once trained young minds mainly for local jobs.

SWAMPED: Engineers who stay face a tough market. After McDonnell Douglas’ announcement last month that it would add 2,000 aerospace jobs in Long Beach, the company was swamped with 60 calls daily. One Van Nuys placement center rushed to send a stack of resumes from Valleyites. But a spokesman said most applicants face disappointment: Many of the jobs will go to furloughed Douglas workers; few are for engineers.

BACK TO SCHOOL: Higher learning helps some engineers get work. Clark Thomas (above), 33, a laid-off Woodland Hills materials engineer, is one of about nine unemployed Valley engineers who have enrolled in a new UCLA course that offers training in advanced transportation. Now Thomas may land a job with a Midwestern tractor firm. The course is a morale booster, he said: “We were all feeling a bit down on our luck. . . . But we’ve all become happier people.”


McJOBS: For engineers lucky enough to find work, security is scarce. Increasingly, L.A.’s engineers are hired as temporaries or as independent contractors, said Arany, the CSUN counselor. Entry-level engineers “have to fight and struggle to get a staff position with benefits.”

PRIVATE EYES: Some engineers are changing course. About 10% of the current class at Nick Harris Detectives’ school in Van Nuys are aerospace refugees. One is Sandy, 55, a laid-off electronics expert who chose to keep her last name undercover. Detective work has one thing in common with aerospace work, she said: “Lots of writing reports.”