This is a question to the many readers of science and technology articles and publications. What are you seeing out there happening to engineering and science education where you come from? What do you see for the future?
As the United States struggles with the 21st century and comes to grip with the recession, lost jobs, and the rise of China as a world economic power, technical education would seem to be of paramount importance. Is it? What is being taught now and how does it matter tomorrow?
Here are two examples that may or may not be real example of the state of education in America, but I can attest to them myself.
I publish a blog that covers engineering related science and technology now and then. I recently added a blog translator to see what that would do and if more readers would tune in. That did happen, but in an unsettling way.
The biggest draw on my blog is an article about gas power cycles and gasoline automotive engine efficiency. Things like Otto Cycle, Brayton Cycle and the like. Virtually 100% of the hits are outside the US and in other languages. Once-in-awhile and American picks it up.
The articles about hydrogen and the history of technology development around it, the second most popular, also have 90+% overseas readership.
I recently met with a solar cell company here in Northern California. I had the chance to talk to several of the young engineers one-on-one. The question I asked the recent graduates from US schools was this: “Who was in you classes? How many were Americans and how many were from outside the US?” The answer was 80%-90% were from outside the US. Of that 90% about 50% were asian and the 40% from other nations. 10% Americans.
This was for mostly mechanical engineers and non-computer science electrical engineers.
These are very limited examples. None-the-less combined with what else I hear and the loss of so many US manufacturing jobs over the last decade, I have to conclude that Americans are not taking traditional engineering courses and have more interest in non-technical education.
I do not have hard examples in software and computer science, but here in Silicon Valley most of the young engineers I see from places like Google are Asian from outside the US. The impression is that most of the new engineers in software and computer science are also not American.
This would seem to mean that even if the new administration and Congress want to stimulate new infrastructure and new manufacturing jobs, like electric cars, that there will be a shortage of young engineers and the technology will have to be imported.
What do you see?