Engineers in the Workplace

Posted on July 16, 2006  Comments (2)

Vivek Wadhwa again addresses the question: Engineering Gap? Fact and Fiction. This is a question that deserves a continued look – I still believe we do need more focus on educating more engineers:

Additionally, the positive macro-economic effects of a strong scientific, engineering and technology community to an economy are not necessarily directly correlated to high salaries for those workers. That is one positive factor, but even if those salaries were not high the other benefits of innovation, manufacturing leadership, invention, etc. would still benefit the economy. So a country that is investing in the future could sensible target investments in science and engineering education even without increasing salaries pointing out that the supply and demand in the market was indicating a shortage of those workers.

From Vivek Wadhwa’s most recent article:

We must maintain our lead in research and encourage our best minds to gravitate towards engineering and science. But instead of requiring our scientists to make economic sacrifices, perhaps we should pay them salaries equal to those of doctors and lawyers. If researcher salaries were at market levels, we wouldn’t be dependent on foreigners to fill our graduate programs. And if we paid scientists as well as we pay investment bankers, we would see students tripping over each other to study math and science.

This is where things get very tricky I think. My belief is science and engineering professionals will provide more value to the economy overall. In a capitalist system we can’t dictate on high what the salaries will be. According to capitalist theory the government should regulate the market where positive or negative externalities exists.

So funding research that hires scientists and engineers, and provides many benefits to the economy, can make a great deal of sense. The belief in this is why so many countries are focusing on improving their science and engineering capabilities. Regulating salary levels though doesn’t seem like a reasonable option to me. Hopefully companies like Google that value engineers above all else will be copied as the marketplace realizes the market has systemically been under-valuing creative knowledge workers like engineers and overpaying others.

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2 Responses to “Engineers in the Workplace”

  1. CuriousCat: Education, Entrepreneurship and Immigration
    June 13th, 2007 @ 8:44 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…

  2. CuriousCat: Engineers - Future Prospects
    June 27th, 2007 @ 11:48 am

    t is very important to remember that the benefits of studying engineering cannot be measured solely by looking at engineers in the workplace – many go into different job title and are promoted into management…

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