What a difference a decade makes. Back in 2003 when we first started tracking engineering salaries and gathering opinions about work- and industry-related issues, a gallon of gas cost just $1.83. The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The Kingedged out Finding Nemo as the top-grossing film at the box office.2003 may also be remembered as the year Madonna locked lips with Britney Spears at the MTV Video Music Awards—and for the media frenzy that followed.
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But 2003 was also a big year in technology. It was the year MySpace first hit the scene and quickly became one of the most popular social networking sites on the Web. By 2006, 100 million accounts had been created on the site. In April 2003, Apple opened the iTunes Music Store, revolutionizing the music industry one song at a time.
The Human Genome Project was completed in 2003. Although it began in 1990, critics claimed it would take thousands of years to finish. The project has since brought enormous benefits to the world of science and medicine and is transforming the ways we diagnose, treat, and prevent a number of diseases.
It was also a milestone year for space exploration. In June, a robot named Spirit was launched to Mars to analyze samples of the red planet’s geologic composition. On July 10, astronomers discovered the oldest and most distant planet to date: a huge, gaseous sphere that is 13 billion years old and 5600 light years away—changing theories about when planets formed and when life could have evolved.
In September, the Hubble Space Telescope began Hubble Ultra Deep Field, probing a small region of space that looked back approximately 13 billion years—between 400 million and 800 million years after the Big Bang—to search for galaxies that existed at that time.
In October, China successfully launched its manned Shenzhou 5 spacecraft into orbit, becoming only the third country in the world to independently put humans into space.
The year also marked the end of some pretty big aeronautic achievements. The space probe Galileo, one of NASA’s most successful projects, completed its mission with a fiery dive into Jupiter’s atmosphere.NASA made contact with the space probe Pioneer 10, one of the most distant manmade objects to ever leave Earth, for the very last time. The Air France Concorde also made its final flight in 2003.
Tragically, 2003 was also the year the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated during reentry at the conclusion of the STS-107 mission, killing all seven astronauts onboard—a stark reminder that even the best engineering can’t completely eliminate risk.
The following charts show how engineering compensation has trended since we first started tracking the data a decade ago.