The President Helps a Fort Worth Engineer Get a Job

During a public videochat, an unemployed engineer's wife asked President Barack Obama why her husband didn't have a job. Now, the offers are pouring in.  
Sat February 4, 2012 3:45 am
White House | Screengrab

President Barack Obama played headhunter-in-chief this week, having his staff pass along the resume of a unemployed Fort Worth engineer after his wife raised the matter with him in a Google+ “hangout.”

The Atlantic’s Nancy Scola chronicled the whole exchange, dubbing Wedel the “breakout star” of the videochat event: 

Wedel, a 29 year-old mother of two and State Farm employee from Fort Worth, Texas, [was] selected to participate on the basis of a video question she submitted on H1B visas. What was so eye and ear catching about her exchange with President Obama was her willingness to inject a little bit of her own reality into the presidential bubble.

Here’s how it went down. Wedel opened by raising the issue of her husband, a 40 year-old semiconductor engineer who, after seven years or so at Texas Instruments, lost his job three years ago and has been unemployed since.

“My question for you,” said Wedel to Obama, “is why does the government continue to issue and extend H1B visas when there are tons of Americans just like my husband with no job?” Obama began his response, and it quickly became clear that a long, Obamesque answer was in the offing.

There’s actually a great need for engineers in high tech, explained the president. “What industry tells me is that they don’t have enough highly-skilled engineers.” He then shifted tacks a bit, in what looked like an attempt to connect. “If your husband’s in that field,” said Obama, “then we should get his resume and I’ll forward it to some of these companies that tell me they can’t find enough engineers in this field.” That prompted polite chuckling, mostly, it seemed, from Obama and moderator Steve Grove. “It’s going to vary, but as a basic matter, there’s a huge demand for engineers

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