You might not consider Apple (IW 500/9) and Google to be competitors of a 75-year-old vertical-lift-aircraft manufacturer, but Bell Helicopter CEO John Garrison does.

In the never-ending quest to attract top engineering talent, Garrison is fed up with the tech titans gobbling up "the best and the brightest" young minds when there are plenty of exciting opportunities in the world of aviation and aerospace.

"They make gadgets," Garrison said of Apple and Google, during a keynote at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's third-annual Aviation and Aerospace Industry Manufacturing Summit in Fort Worth, Texas.

"They make gadgets. We make these incredible machines that do great things."

The outspoken executive, who joined Fort Worth-based Bell Helicopter in February 2002, used adjectives like "fascinating," "exciting," "cool" and "complex" to describe his industry, declaring that "I've never experienced anything like it in my professional career."

Yet, too often a talented young engineer "goes to work for Google and develops a new algorithm to figure out how to go on the Internet and get trivia faster than anything else."

"Why the heck do we allow the best and brightest to go work for Google and Apple?" Garrison challenged the audience. "Let's go recruit them. Let's engage them, early and often, and [inspire] them with these remarkable technological challenges so we can be successful in our industry."