Last week’s Oregon confab between the US Secretary of State for Energy, various Deans of Engineering from top US universities and Intel CEO Paul Otellini produced the predictable response that the US should graduate more home-grown engineers.
It seems that, equally predictably, nothing was said about making engineering careers more attractive to young people.
And equally predictably, the argument was deployed that, each year, India and China graduate ten times more engineers than the USA.
And predictably again, bollox arguments were used:
One was that now is a ‘Sputnik moment’ when the USA wakes up to the fact that it is being technologically overtaken by foreign countries.
Another was that there are 300,000 – 400,000 unfilled engineering jobs in the US because of lack of engineers.
These arguments are bollox because:
Everyone knows the USA is not technologically inferior to China.
Everyone in the industry knows out of work engineers who can’t get jobs.
China’s numbers on engineering graduates are said to include car mechanics, according to the Wall Street Journal, while the majority of Chinese engineering graduates become bureaucrats.
The real problem the US and UK face was summed up neatly by the Wall Street Journal: ‘Some of the best engineers are not doing engineering, and some of the best potential engineers are not even studying engineering.’
That’s exactly it. Big Business doesn’t want to nurture engineers, it wants to exploit them.
While that attitude persists, people won’t take up engineering.