Engineering in America

Posted on December 5, 2005  Comments (2)

America’s High-Tech Quandary by Charles Murray

Reliable statistics are few, but numbers published by the National Science Foundation (NSF) indicate that engineering students are a small minority in U.S. colleges. In 2000, NSF figures showed that just 4.7 percent of U.S. undergrad degrees went to engineers, while 38.7 percent of the undergrad degrees in China were awarded to engineering students.
Country First university degrees Engineering degrees Percentage
China 567,839 219.563 38.7%
Taiwan 117,430 26,587 22.6%
Germany 178,618 36,319 20.3%
Japan 542,314 104,478 19.3%
France 275,316 34,293 12.4%
Ireland 18,669 2,014 10.8%
United Kingdom 274,440 20,280 7.4%
Kenya 15,620 740 4.7%
United States 1,253,121 59,536 4.7%
The situation has been brewing for more than a decade, say academics. During that time, China’s leaders have repeatedly expressed a desire to emphasize engineering in their universities. Today, with all nine of the country’s Politburo Standing Committee—the top tier of the Communist party—being engineers, the vision has become more focused than ever. Chinese officials reportedly are aiming for 50 percent of the country’s college graduates to come from engineering. Today, the figure hovers between 35 to 45 percent, according to the best estimates.

On the lack of engineering students in the USA:

A combination of factors—salaries and public image, as well as offshoring of jobs to Asia—has made engineering appear undesirable to high school kids who might otherwise choose it as a career path.

Ok, the article makes some good points but I don’t think this is one of them. Salaries look pretty good. Public may not be great but it doesn’t explain much of the shortfall. Hard work, yes I believe that discourages many studnets. Difficult path, yes. Not enough effort to encourage science and engineering education, yes. But sorry I don’t believe salaries, public image and offshoring are the combination of factors resulting in turning high school students away from engineering.

2 Responses to “Engineering in America”

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