Filling the Engineering Gap

Posted on January 10, 2006  Comments (5)

Filling the Engineering Gap by Vivek Wadhwa, an update on the previous post: USA Under-counting Engineering Graduates. In this article Vivek Wadhwa writes:

So what should be done? Further research is needed on a subject of such critical national importance. The Duke study was a small step toward establishing certain baseline facts and reliable statistics. As Professor Ausubel notes, if a team of engineering students can accomplish so much within a semester, why not the experts and analysts?

This is exactly right. We need better information. The Duke study was an excellent step in the right direction but more is needed.

Dynamic engineers develop renewable energy sources, solutions for purifying water, sustaining the environment, providing low-cost health care, and vaccines for infectious diseases. They also manage projects and lead innovation. Talk to any CEO, CIO, or engineering manager, and they’ll likely tell you that they’re always looking for such people.

With all the problems that need solving in the world, we probably need many more dynamic engineers. India and China need them as badly as the U.S. does. But by simply focusing on the numbers and racing to graduate more, we’re going to end up with more transactional engineers — and their jobs will likely get outsourced.

I am not convinced that this dynamic versus transactional engineering distinction is the key. I am willing to listen to more evidence. But I am not at all sure this “dynamic engineering” is the answer. I think it might be too simplistic an explanation. Still at least it is an attempt to look at the matter more deeply. I think much more effort would be helpful. And I am hoping those working on this at Duke, and others, provide us with some additional data, research, theories and proposals.

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5 Responses to “Filling the Engineering Gap”

  1. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Blog Archive » House Testimony on Engineering Education
    May 24th, 2006 @ 8:49 am

    […] The dynamic and transactional differences were mentioned in his business week article: Filling the Engineering Gap. […]

  2. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Blog Archive » Phony Science Gap?
    July 1st, 2006 @ 3:45 pm

    […] It is good to see more people using the data from the Duke study we have mentioned previously: USA Under-counting Engineering Graduates – Filling the Engineering Gap. However, I think he misses a big change. It seems to me that the absolute number of graduates each year is the bigger story than that the United States has not lost the percentage of population rate of science and engineering graduates yet. China significantly exceeds the US and that India is close to the US currently in science and engineering graduates. And the trend is dramatically in favor of those countries. […]

  3. CuriousCat: The Importance of Science Education
    October 28th, 2007 @ 9:26 pm

    At the macro-economic level investing heavily to create science and engineering centers of excellence is very wise (the USA, Europe, China, India, Japan… are going to benefit based on how well they do that). Creating the right economic climate is also important and the USA is in the strongest position in this area…

  4. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Mexico: Pumping Out Engineers
    October 28th, 2007 @ 10:22 pm

    […] (one of the authors of the Duke study: USA Under-counting Engineering Graduates) says about the comparability of the figures. Still, the number of engineering undergraduate students in Mexico surprises me; this is one more […]

  5. Curious Cat: Engineering Education Worldwide
    February 23rd, 2008 @ 6:52 pm

    The fact there may be X, Y or Z number of [science and engineering graduates] floating around, doesn’t necessarily speak to the question of does that represent the actual high level high skill innovative talent…

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