Where will we find the next generation of engineers?

Feb 18, 2008

A new study that examines the number of engineering graduates coming out of our nation’s engineering schools reveals a mixed picture of how prepared each state is for meeting the need for high-tech workers in the coming years.

Greg Schuckman, Assistant Vice President of University Relations and Director of Federal Relations and Research Advancement at the University of Central Florida, authored the study after revisiting data that he had analyzed in 1998 while working for the American Association of Engineering Societies (AAES) in Washington, DC. “Over the past 20 years, the number of students earning bachelors degrees in engineering has declined by almost 3 percent nationally,” says Schuckman. “While that statistic may not seem significant by itself, the decline comes at a time when the number of students receiving bachelors degrees overall in the United States has increased by more than 50 percent.”

John Brooks Slaughter, Ph.D., P.E., President and CEO
of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Inc. (NACME) noted last year that, “Huge changes have occurred in our economy largely as a result of globalization and technological innovation. Manufacturing has declined while the information age requires more professional and high-tech skills from employees.

It is estimated that more than a half million engineers will be needed over the next decade to replace those who retire and that at least that many new engineers will be needed to fill the demand that will exist at the end of that period. We find ourselves importing talent and exporting jobs, not just because it is less expensive to have the work performed by lower-wage skilled workers in developing countries but also because we do not produce enough native-born, well-qualified scientists and engineers in our nation’s colleges and universities.”

Overall, twenty states increased their production of engineering graduates while 30 states and the District of Columbia decreased between 1986 and 2006.

“The space race was won in no small part through the engineering prowess of young students who were emboldened by the launch of Sputnik.” says Schuckman. “While there is no definitive ‘Sputnik moment’ today, the competitiveness challenge that nations such as China, India, and others pose to the U.S. is as real a threat to our way of life today as Sputnik was 50 years ago.”

Sam Palmisano, President and CEO of the IBM Corporation and Honorary Co-Chair of the 2008 National Engineers Week, summed up the challenge: “We need to recruit engineers from a broad cross-section of society, and this means reaching out to populations that are underrepresented in the engineering professions. Only 11 percent in the United States today are women, 3 percent Blacks and 4 percent Hispanics. These statistics reveal a large reservoir of potential engineers that is not being fully tapped. I encourage you to use the E-Week 2008 campaign to inspire the next generation of engineers, reaching out to a diverse cross section of youngsters, independent of gender, ethnicity, or physical disability. And finally, let’s engage the general public to see, touch and embrace engineering, the source of so much of the prosperity, growth and hope that are reaching more and more people around the globe.”

Source: University of Central Florida

Explore further: Ig Nobel winner: Using pork to stop nosebleeds

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Team improves solar-cell efficiency

4 hours ago

New light has been shed on solar power generation using devices made with polymers, thanks to a collaboration between scientists in the University of Chicago's chemistry department, the Institute for Molecular ...

Calif. teachers fund to boost clean energy bets

4 hours ago

The California State Teachers' Retirement System says it plans to increase its investments in clean energy and technology to $3.7 billion, from $1.4 billion, over the next five years.

Alibaba surges in Wall Street debut

4 hours ago

A buying frenzy sent Alibaba shares sharply higher Friday as the Chinese online giant made its historic Wall Street trading debut.

Dwindling wind may tip predator-prey balance

4 hours ago

Bent and tossed by the wind, a field of soybean plants presents a challenge for an Asian lady beetle on the hunt for aphids. But what if the air—and the soybeans—were still?

Recommended for you

Ig Nobel winner: Using pork to stop nosebleeds

Sep 19, 2014

There's some truth to the effectiveness of folk remedies and old wives' tales when it comes to serious medical issues, according to findings by a team from Detroit Medical Center.

History books spark latest Texas classroom battle

Sep 16, 2014

As Texas mulls new history textbooks for its 5-plus million public school students, some academics are decrying lessons they say exaggerate the influence of Christian values on America's Founding Fathers.

Flatow, 'Science Friday' settle claims over grant

Sep 16, 2014

Federal prosecutors say radio host Ira Flatow and his "Science Friday" show that airs on many National Public Radio stations have settled civil claims that they misused money from a nearly $1 million federal ...

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

weewilly
not rated yet Feb 18, 2008
I said the exact same thing in an article I wrote a short time ago. It is double jeopardy to import engineers to fill our needs as we export our jobs to other countries. What a country we have to be so nice.
HeRoze
not rated yet Feb 19, 2008
The torture of engineering school may pay off.
njineer
not rated yet Feb 19, 2008
Large companies such as IBM and Intel are investing millions if not billions of dollars in emerging markets. Many young people shy away from engineering because they see the investment and hence the jobs being exported to countries where labour is cheaper. While there is some investment by large companies in America, in my opinion, if more $$ was invested here in America, I believe many more young people would feel confident in pursuing engineering as a vocation. The lack of talent is a direct result of the actions (or inaction) of corporations themselves.