Monday, August 15, 2005

The day of the American engineer has passed

Race for engineering edge to be won, lost in colleges - BUSINESS

The US is graduating fewer engineers every year, and fewer native Americans are attending US engineering schools:
Pacific Rim nations are graduating great numbers of engineers and are threatening to seize the mantle of industrial innovation that was pivotal to making the U.S. economy globally dominant. Last year, foreign nationals also won almost 60 percent of U.S. engineering doctorates.

Experts warn that the U.S. lead is slipping away.

'We are being outproduced in engineering graduates - both undergraduate and graduate level - by Pacific Rim countries, and the comparison will be more extreme as the years go by,' said Richard Heckel, founder of Engineering Trends, a research consultancy. 'From an engineering standpoint, the future leaders of the world are going to come from the Pacific Rim.
I'd read this in a local Knight-Ridder paper and decided I'd comment on it, but I had to use Google News to find a citeable source. That search also turned up a similar complaint from Australia. Bottom line, this isn't something unique to the US. It's likely also true in Canada, Germany, France, the UK, etc. I bet it's even true in Japan.

Engineering is a hard discipline and it's not very financially rewarding in wealthy nations. Engineers work in cubicles, MBAs get offices. Getting an MBA takes some focus and a bit of work, getting an engineering degree takes substantially more work and some serious math ability. Why be an underpaid mechanical engineer when with less effort one can be an overpaid finance officer?

The day of engineering has passed in the wealthy nations. There's nothing anyone can do to bring it back. Don't let your daughters be engineers.

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