The Future is Engineering

Posted on July 1, 2006  Comments (26)

Do Great Engineering Schools Beget Entrepreneurism? by Brent Edwards provides two great links.

How to Kick Silicon Valley’s Butt by Guy Kawasaki:

Focus on educating engineers. The most important thing you can do is establish a world-class school of engineering. Engineering schools beget engineers. Engineers beget ideas. And ideas beget companies. End of discussion.

If I had to point to the single biggest reason for Silicon Valley’s existence, it would be Stanford University—specifically, the School of Engineering. Business schools are not of primary importance because MBAs seldom sit around discussing how to change the world with great products.

Why Startups Condense in America:

You need a great university to seed a silicon valley, and so far there are few outside the US. I asked a handful of American computer science professors which universities in Europe were most admired, and they all basically said “Cambridge” followed by a long pause while they tried to think of others. There don’t seem to be many universities elsewhere that compare with the best in America, at least in technology.

Both essays make many excellent points – read them! They both realize there is no magic bullet. Many factors will determine how successfully an economy can create powerful economic gains. Both focus on the importance of world class engineering education to create something to rival silicon valley. Many countries are investing heavily in science and engineering education in order to secure the long term economic benefits that such investment will lead to.

Few can hope to create a silicon valley. But even if the goal is just to gain economic advantage from their heavy investments in engineering education they would be wise to take heed of the ideas presented by both authors.

More than just graduating more and more engineers is required to gain powerful economic advantages. That is a good first step but today China, India, Korea, Germany, Japan, United Kingdom… should be looking at other things the USA has done right (in addition to investing in engineering education).

The factors in addition to great schools are just as important now as trying to create engineering programs that can compare to Standford, MIT, Purdue, Carnegie Mellon, Berkley, Illinois… That still should be a focus but the progress in that area has been significant now is the time to look to additional areas while continuing to work on improving the schools themselves. And the USA should try to add to the advantages that they have and try to extend the success of places like MIT and Standford to more schools (as many people are trying to do).

26 Responses to “The Future is Engineering”

  1. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Discoveries by Accident
    October 3rd, 2006 @ 6:03 pm

    [...] This is yet another example of the power of scientists and engineers to boost the economy and society at large. [...]

  2. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Science and Engineering in Global Economics
    January 21st, 2007 @ 9:16 pm

    [...] The main point of The Global Race – Is America Still a Contender? by James Schultz is that the United States is too complacent: thinking its past success guarantees future success. I have stated that I believe the economic comparative advantage the USA has enjoyed due to science and technology leadership is almost certain to shrink and we should take steps to slow that decrease. [...]

  3. Entrepreneurial Engineers
    January 26th, 2007 @ 1:22 pm

    A great resource mentioned in the article Stanford Technology Ventures Program Educators Corner, includes a large number of podcasts and short (2 – 10 minute video webcasts)…

  4. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Engineering a Start-up
    February 3rd, 2007 @ 5:43 pm

    [...] focused efforts like this can have a huge long term impact, I believe. For those interested in building economic advantage through engineering education creating an entrepreneurial environment is a very important [...]

  5. Educational Institutions Economic Impact
    February 7th, 2007 @ 5:30 pm

    I believe investing in creating an environment where science and engineering endeavors will flourish will greatly benefit the economy…

  6. USC Innovation Institute Reinventing Itself
    March 31st, 2007 @ 8:20 am

    [...] “In the spirit of innovation, Provost C.L. Max Nikias also announced he wants to develop in the next year a minor in innovation for all doctoral students, regardless of their discipline” [...]

  7. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » What do Engineers Need To Know?
    April 15th, 2007 @ 9:40 am

    [...] good plan and one repeating what has been discussed here before: Benefits of Engineering and Innovation Education – MIT Undergraduate Changes – Harvard Elevates Engineering Profile – Improving Engineering [...]

  8. CuriousCat: Education, Entrepreneurship and Immigration
    June 13th, 2007 @ 8:43 am

    52 percent of immigrant founders initially came to the United States primarily for higher education, 40 percent entered the country because of a job opportunity, 6 percent came for family reasons, and only 2 percent to start a business…

  9. CuriousCat: Engineers - Future Prospects
    June 19th, 2007 @ 12:22 pm

    The multiple benefits of having research centers here, manufacturing engineering expertise… is huge. See: Engineering the Future Economy – Science, Engineering and the Future of the American Economy…

  10. CuriousCat: USA Losing Brain Drain Benefits
    July 4th, 2007 @ 8:33 am

    As other locations establish centers that can draw the best minds and capital they will get the benefits the USA has grown to expect…

  11. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Economic Strength Through Technology Leadership
    July 7th, 2007 @ 8:45 am

    While I still think the USA leads, the question is debatable in various fields, and, as I have said before, the future looks to be moving in the other direction. This is more due to the rest of the World improving than the USA failing…

  12. CuriousCat: Brain Drain Benefits to the USA Less Than They Could Be
    August 22nd, 2007 @ 10:15 pm

    It appears to me this is really saying the size of the brain drain, coming to the USA, is less than it could be (many brains that came are returning)…

  13. CuriousCat: Engineering Innovation in Manufacturing and the Economy
    November 11th, 2007 @ 12:27 pm

    The USA continues to be by far the largest manufacturing in the world. And one important reason is the contributions provided by science and engineering (fed by strong science and engineering schools)…

  14. Engineering &: Engineering for a Changing World
    December 14th, 2007 @ 12:04 am

    “James J. Duderstadt, President Emeritus and University Professor of Science and Engineering, The University of Michigan provides an extensive report on the state of engineering in the USA…”

  15. Narsi
    January 19th, 2008 @ 10:12 am

    Useful insights…it sounds absurd that one university can a silicon valley make, but well it is difficult to deny the enormous influence Stanford University (OK, ok, their engineering branch) plays in the shaping of silicon valley

    Thanks again for a good article and those two useful quotes – those of Paul Graham and Guy!

  16. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » High School Students in USA, China and India
    February 21st, 2008 @ 8:58 am

    [...] strongly agree with the economic benefits from strong science and engineering education and the personal benefit of science and technology expertise (one small example: S&P 500 CEOs [...]

  17. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » China challenges dominance of USA, Europe and Japan
    February 25th, 2008 @ 3:24 pm

    [...] and technology education and economic develop have (Singapore woos top scientists with new labs – The Future is Engineering. The report notes that only 56% of R&D funding in the European Union came from industry in [...]

  18. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » USA Science Losing Ground
    May 21st, 2008 @ 10:25 am

    the consequences of failing to take sensible action today will be large. Science and engineering centers of excellence have been a very important factor for the economic success of the USA.

  19. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Lake Superior vs. Silicon Valley Hot Spots
    August 18th, 2008 @ 10:10 am

    [...] is one small example of why Silicon Valley is so successful. To be economically successful, countries need to focus on big things (investing in infrastructure, [...]

  20. Justin Smith
    December 12th, 2008 @ 1:59 pm

    strongly agree with the economic benefits from strong science

  21. Yasinta
    May 19th, 2009 @ 2:19 am

    engineering improves technology –> productivity increase –> output increase with lesser input –> things become cheaper –> low inflation –> low interest rate –> boost economy.

  22. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Cuts for British Science
    December 17th, 2009 @ 7:28 pm

    [...] and Engineering in Global Economics – Science and Engineering Workforce Indicators – The value of investing in science and engineering – Saving Fermilab – Nanotechnology Investment as Strategic National Economic Policy [...]

  23. Kalen
    October 31st, 2010 @ 1:07 am

    I agree. I attended both an engineering program and an MBA and the latter was a waste as an entrepreneur. Engineers are actually more successful entrepreneurs because they are encouraged to create change while MBAs have people maintain the status quo. Of course, MBAs tell you the importance of being original and creating change, but actively discourage it in practice.

  24. Anonymous
    May 22nd, 2011 @ 1:58 pm

    Advances in Science and technology are important but what is more important are the people who turn the raw data of scientific research into actual services or products. There are so many innovative opportunities out there that haven’t even been tapped into. I am further reminded of Peter Drucker when he analyzed the different types of innovative opportunities and found that scientific was the most risky and had the longest lag time from conception to market ready.

  25. Residence Pass for Talented Expats | Living in Malaysia
    September 14th, 2011 @ 9:46 am

    One part of the plan for long term economic growth is to focus on workers with highly valued talents globally: technology, engineering (oil production, construction, manufacturing…), higher education, health care…

  26. Anonymous
    August 23rd, 2013 @ 10:55 am

    Fascinating reading but surely there’s no real doubt that engineering schools lead to entrepreneurial activity. The example of Cambridge in England is given as a great university outside of America and sure enough the area around Cambridge is a hot bed of startups. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the coming years around Chinese universities.

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