USA Engineering Jobs

Posted on July 24, 2006  Comments (13)

Jobs Update: The Death of U.S. Engineering by Paul Craig Roberts

The alleged “shortage” of U.S. engineering graduates is inconsistent with reports from Duke University that 30 percent to 40 percent of students in its master’s of engineering management program accept jobs outside the profession. About one-third of engineering graduates from MIT go into careers outside their field. Job outsourcing and work visas for foreign engineers are reducing career opportunities for American engineering graduates and, also, reducing salary scales.

The number of students that go into other fields does raise questions. However, I do not think the data provides answers on its own. Given that engineering majors are the highest paid graduates it is not a case that the students options are poor. It could well be that the engineering students are very capable in many ways and find jobs that are not focused on engineering (say management, finance or …).

Engineering curriculums are demanding. The rewards for the effort are being squeezed out by jobs offshoring and work visas. If the current policy continues of substituting foreign engineers for American engineers, the profession will die in the United States.

Once again the whole area of engineering jobs and the future is complex. But once again I disagree with the thinking presented here. The competition from abroad will increase greatly going forward. That is because every country that is focused on competing with the most successful economies is focused on improving their engineering capabilities. They all want the high paying and economically valuable jobs.

See more posts on science and engineering careers.

Bye Bye British Bees – Too

Posted on July 23, 2006  Comments (1)

Why many species of British bee are becoming extinct: video from BBC

The number of species of bees in Britain has declined sharply in the last 25 years, new research has shown.

Bye Bye Bees – USA

Reducing Risk of Diabetes Through Exercise

Posted on July 23, 2006  Comments (5)

A Diabetic Battle of the Bulge by Diane Garcia

Diabetes appears to be written into some people’s genes, but with the right diet and exercise, the disease may never surface, according to a new study.

In the lifestyle modification group, however, even individuals with two copies of the variant were no more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than participants without the variant, the team reports 20 July in the New England Journal of Medicine

Update – AAAS broke the link so I removed the link. I hope those responsible for web sites eventually take the time to learn what that responsibility entails: Web Pages Must Live Forever. I find these failures to follow the most basic web usability practices displayed most often in organizations where burocrates that don’t understand technology make decisions on how web sites should work instead of allowing those that have the necessary understanding of the technology do so.

Molecular DNA Switch Found to be the Same for All Life

Posted on July 23, 2006  Comments (0)

Molecular DNA Switch Found to be the Same for All Life

Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley have shown that the core machinery for initiating DNA replication is the same for all three domains of life – Archaea, Bacteria and Eukarya.

Full news release

Wild Tiger Survival at Risk

Posted on July 22, 2006  Comments (3)

Tiger

WWF study: Tiger habitat down from just a decade ago

The most comprehensive scientific study of tiger habitats ever done finds that the big cats reside in 40 per cent less habitat than they were thought to a decade ago. The tigers now occupy just 7 per cent of their historic range.

Save the Tiger Fund

Tiger habitat shrinking, survival at risk

Tigers struggle with tiny lands

BBC cat conservation page

A plane You Can Print

Posted on July 21, 2006  Comments (3)

A plane you can print by Paul Marks:

In rapid prototyping, a three-dimensional design for a part – a wing strut, say – is fed from a computer-aided design (CAD) system to a microwave-oven-sized chamber dubbed a 3D printer. Inside the chamber, a computer steers two finely focused, powerful laser beams at a polymer or metal powder, sintering it and fusing it layer by layer to form complex, solid 3D shapes.

Polecat is a new unmanned plane: “About 90 per cent of Polecat is made of composite materials with much of that material made by rapid prototyping.”

More information on 3d printing from a manufacturer of the printers. Not quite ready for in home printing of say a new can opener on demand but can that day really be far away?

A New Ocean?

Posted on July 20, 2006  Comments (0)

Secrets of ocean birth laid bare:

Geologists say a crack that opened up last year may eventually reach the Red Sea, isolating much of Ethiopia and Eritrea from the rest of Africa.

“We think if these processes continue, a new ocean will eventually form,” he told the BBC News website. “It will connect to the Red Sea and the ocean will flow in.”

When do they expect this? “in about a million years.” Just around the corner geologically speaking, though for me that still seems a long way off 🙂

A New Engineering Education

Posted on July 20, 2006  Comments (1)

Engineering a new way by Amy Hetzner

The crux of Olin’s effort is a “do-learn” model that stresses teaching students through projects and a student-focused environment aimed at heading off the high dropout rates at other engineering schools around the country, said Sherra Kerns, Olin’s vice president for innovation and research.

See our previous posts: Olin Engineering Education ExperimentImproving Engineering Education

UW has been able to turn around a dismal attrition rate in the early 1990s, when two-thirds of engineering students didn’t stick with the program. Today, close to 60% of engineering students graduate with a degree in the field, he said.

Wow, 33% of engineering students graduating sure wasn’t very impressive. Frankly I don’t think 60% is very good but I believe comparatively it is reasonably good. Overall that rate really needs to be improved. Olin College does have some advantages being small and providing a full scholarship: their first class graduated 66 of the 75 that started 4 years ago.

Primary Science Education in China and the USA

Posted on July 19, 2006  Comments (0)

Should the US Take a Page Out of China’s Schoolbook?

China consistently performs well on international benchmarks despite having to serve 20% of the world’s students with only 2% of its educational resources.

Pretty impressive.

But mimicking China’s system is by no means a blanket solution for American education woes.

Mimicking is almost never a successful strategy. What can be successful is learning from what others do well and adopting the good ideas in ways that makes sense in your system.
Read more

Robot Learning

Posted on July 18, 2006  Comments (0)

photo of robot dog playpen

This is very cool stuff:

Indeed, as opposed to the work in classical artificial intelligence in which engineers impose pre-defined anthropocentric tasks to robots, the techniques we develop endow the robots with the capacity of deciding by themselves which are the activities that are maximally fitted to their current capabilities. Our developmental robots autonomously and actively choose their learning situations, thus beginning by simple ones and progressively increasing their complexity. No tasks are pre-specified to the robots, which are only provided with an internal abstract reward function. For example, in the case of the Intelligent Adaptive Curiosity which we developped, this internal reward function pushes the robot to search for situations where its learning progress is maximal.

Very interesting article from Sony Computer Science Laboratory Paris (Developmental Robotics): Discovering Communication by Pierre-Yves Oudeyer and Frederic Kaplan, abstract:
Read more

Berkeley and MIT courses online

Posted on July 18, 2006  Comments (5)

Huge amount of University of California Berkely webcasts of course lectures. Subscribe to RSS feeds and listen to podcasts or listen online.

Courses include: General Biology, Solid State Devices and Introductory Physics. Course websites include handouts for the lectures.

A great open access resource.

I can’t believe I have mentioned MIT open courseware before but a search didn’t find anything. MIT’s effort is an excellent resource, many on science and engineering: Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Materials Science and Engineering, etc..

MIT also includes the excellent: Visualizing Cultures – a gateway to seeing history through images that once had wide circulation among peoples of different times and places by John Dower (author of National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winning: Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II) and Shigeru Miyagawa.