China recently announced the world’s fastest supercomputer, bullet train and completion of the world’s largest hydroelectric dam. In addition, they mapped out plans for a new space station and satellites for Mars.
What has the US done? Scrapped plans to Mars and replaced it with a visit to an asteroid. And while China and India are putting out overwhelming numbers of scientists and engineers, the 2007 fastest-growing college majors in America were parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies according to the U.S. Department of Education.
Numbers don't tell the whole tale, of course. Despite having 5% of the world population the US still puts out 32% of the science - and insuring leadership in the future isn't something that can be solved by throwing more money at STEM outreach programs. The issue remains, as I have discussed before, protectionist visa schemes that were implemented in the 1990s to prop up American salaries - instead of doing that, it sent engineering jobs overseas and, because student visas are easy to get but work visas are not, we train scientists and engineers here and then force them to go back home and become competitors.
The solution to continued science and technology leadership is not turning more Americans into scientists and engineers, but rather turning more scientists and engineers into Americans.