Engineering Education Study Debate

Posted on November 25, 2007  Comments (8)

Engineering education study draws industry fire by George Leopold, EE Times:

In a radio debate with Salzman on the NPR program “Science Friday,” Intel Corp. Chairman Craig Barrett blasted Salzman’s “backward-looking analysis.” Said Barrett: “The U.S. cannot be successful if we are only ‘average’ ” in math and science. “[S]aying we’re ‘OK’ because we’re average just can’t be right. That’s backward looking. That’s not looking ahead at competition with India, China, Russia and others that are putting heavy emphasis on education.”

Salzman did, however, conceded one point to his critics, acknowledging that the engineering field in the U.S. isn’t what it used to be. As a profession, “engineering is not a field that has a bright future,” he said. Quoting an engineer interviewed for the Urban Institute study, Salzman said, “It was a great ride, but it’s over.”

Previous posts on the study (The Importance of Science EducationMath and Science Education Assessment). I doubt the engineering ride is over – but everyone is entitled to their opinion. As I have said many times the economic future will be greatly influenced by science and engineering. Those countries that succeed in creating a positive economic climate for science and engineering development will find economic rewards those that fail to do so will suffer. The USA has come through a period where they received great economic benefit from science and engineering supremacy. There is little doubt other centers of excellence will emerge and gain the benefits. But if the USA were to actually fall backward (not just see the relative position decline as other countries gained ground) that will be a serious problem and one I think is unlikely.

Related: Top Degree for S&P 500 CEOs is EngineeringHighest Pay for Engineering GraduatesThe Future is EngineeringScience, Engineering and the Future of the American EconomyChina’s Economic Science ExperimentBrain Drain Benefits to the USA Less Than They Could BeBest Research University Rankings (2007)Economic Strength Through Technology LeadershipEngineers: Future ProspectsEngineers in the Workplace

8 Responses to “Engineering Education Study Debate”

  1. Rich Hoeg
    November 25th, 2007 @ 7:17 pm

    John, Excellent post. I just downloaded the Science Friday podcast to listen on the plane tomorrow. Just yesterday, my youngest was accepted at Rose Hulman School of Engineering. With Erik, it all stated with Legos and First Lego League. Average should never be acceptable, and we need to make science fun!

  2. anonymous
    December 5th, 2007 @ 8:28 am

    Totally agree. Salary of scientists and engineers in corporations have had a huge boost 10 years ago and now among the highest in the whole nation of China. It’s obvious that they are bearing the greatest expectations of the future.

  3. Yang Yang
    December 5th, 2007 @ 11:52 am

    Good point. However, the only thing that most sci-fi writers may or may not cover is that, science and engineering ultimately, might not be the thing we should have been seeking after all.

  4. CuriousCat » Engineering Education at Smith College
    February 16th, 2008 @ 12:21 pm

    “Smith is producing graduates who’ve had a different type of engineering education – one that goes beyond technical training to focus on a broader context for finding solutions to humanity’s problems…”

  5. Curious Cat: National Science Board Report on Improving Engineering Education
    February 23rd, 2008 @ 5:06 pm

    The third challenge for engineering education is to retain those students who are initially attracted to engineering. Attrition is substantial in engineering, particularly in the first year of college. About 60 percent of students who enter engineering majors obtain a degree within 6 years…

  6. Engineering &... Duderstadt Urges Revolution in Engineering Education
    June 9th, 2008 @ 8:20 am

    “Duderstadt said the nation’s universities must be committed to ‘creating a new breed of engineer that is better able to respond to the incredible pace of intellectual change’ and to thrive in the modern global knowledge-based economy…”

  7. Teri
    June 29th, 2008 @ 12:25 am

    These are good points. I agree. Although, the USA is only in the race due to them naturalizing foreign born people to assist in creation, engineering and whatever else is needed at Google, Yahoo or Biotech firms based in the USA. Seriously, don’t be bull-headed. Things need to be changed if you want us to be bona-fide leader.

  8. Anonymous
    September 2nd, 2009 @ 4:54 am

    great post. It is right that”The USA has come through a period where they received great economic benefit from science and engineering supremacy.” Science and engineering are the main factor of economy.

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