Saturday, August 4, 2012

Science and Engineering in America. Are We Behind?

Over the years I have read many articles and studies suggesting that the U.S.A is behind in science and math education and that we are not producing enough engineers. This was part of the big reason I studied hard in school  in math and science and got a high ACT score to get into a great university. I studied Chemical Engineering and got a B.S. in that field in 2011. When I started the major, the class sizes for seniors was around 60. Today, that class size is over 100. There is a great deal of interest in chemical engineering,and other math and science fields, among many young men and women.

However, there are not jobs for these newly graduated engineers. With all of the talk saying we need more engineers, not enough has been done to ensure that the engineers we have and create can even work in this great country. Since I graduated I took a contract job as a chemist at a low salary just to work. I had a good  GPA and had previous experience in a chemical engineering lab. After that contract, I have been unemployed and actively applying to over 60 jobs. I had a few interviews, but was mostly deemed not to have enough experience.

How can the government say we don't have enough science and math professionals in this country when they can't provide for the current number? The economic recession caused many experience engineers to seek jobs they were overqualified for and have taken positions that would normally go to new graduates. So....

  • Is our education system failing?
    • No! We are producing many smart and talented engineers and class sizes are growing.
  • Are business failing in math and science?
    • Yes! They are focused on hiring only highly experienced engineers and paying them less because the market is tight for jobs. This gives up any talent development for young engineers who could have a longer future with companies.
  • Is the government failing?
    • Absolutely! The emphasis has been put on more teachers and more education. My view is this may have to do with teachers unions...but that is a different story. The real problem is the lack of incentive for businesses to create jobs for graduates in math and science.
So what do we do? We need to have more incentives for companies to hire new engineers and scientists and to retain their current experienced engineers. We need to stop saying we need more investment in education for science and math when we can teach these students already, but can't provide a future for them. There is no point in spending the money on the education if we cannot support them and make use of that investment in the economy. So, we need less emphasis on the education and more emphasis on the engineering jobs until there is a real shortage in industry. A shortage to me would be when less than one person is not academically fit for the job. 

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