From this article in The Atlantic.

"The truth is that there is little credible evidence of the claimed widespread shortages in the U.S. science and engineering workforce. "

"All have concluded that U.S. higher education produces far more science and engineering graduates annually than there are S&E job openings—the only disagreement is whether it is 100 percent or 200 percent more."

While I think there are some credible points here, he misses the mark for me. By prioritizing STEM education and promoting it, we get ahead of the advanced manufacturing curve. If we wait until there really IS a shortage, we are sunk and a generation behind our competitors. He makes a semantic argument that has no real world value, and in fact, by turning the alarm bells off, could actually be damaging to our economy in the long run.

What do you think?

Tags: stem, careers, jobs
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  • John Marland, sadly, you are typical of too many engineering students. You may be, and probably are, a really good engineer, but your knowledge of any other subject is lacking. Napoleon's best quote was. "Give me anything but time."  Every tactician, every business person, every _person_ with intelligence outside a narrow specialty, knows the truth of that. _You_ probably know it from working on any project. *Any* other resource can be "worked around," but not time.
    Somewhere out there, is the next Bill Gates/Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg, we don't know who they are, where they live, or what _world changing product(s)_ they are designing/building, but they *are* out there. Even a casual perusing of history, regarding the Educational benefits of the Veteran's educational benefits program," shows what can happen. From 1946-52, the number of "engineers" more than tripled. That led to the micro circuit/micro computer, revolution. In 1981-2, I studied _more_ electronics than my Father (an EE in the 1060's) did, and I was in an ME track. The "inventor" of the integrated circuit for computers, was one of them.
    The laptop I'm typing this on, has more processing power (and memory RAM and HD) than the Vax II, I learned programming on. If it does nothing else, STEM classes teach now to: organize, evaluate, analyze, and plan, more effectively, than any other set of classes. Yes, it means more H1B visas _now_, but what about the future? A "smart" person doesn't wait until it's raining, to put the roof and walls on a building. You do it as soon as the foundation's ready. Maybe we won't need all the STEM graduates, but what if we do? If the past is right, many will go into something _other_ than the base classes, as jobs. But, they will be better managers, designers, inventors, and business owners, than if they hadn't gotten that background. If they are needed, as engineers/mathematicians, they'll be available.

    The current wave of 3D fabricators is just barely beginning. Remember the DEC Rainbow? 1 MB of RAM, 1 floppies, and cost *$5,000.* I paid less than $500, for my laptop, (4 GB RAM, 500 GB HD), 30 years later. Current 3D fabricators are about $1K-10K, for "small scale." Small meaning about 230mmX200mmX75mm, and "big" ones (parts for Jet engines), go for $1MM+. Last month GE announced they are going to start building engine parts (767/777.787, Airbus) on 3D machines. =8-0  Replacements for _hand made_ Saturn rocket engines, are being built using 3D machines. Car manufacturers are building 3D car body parts. All of that means a need for more people to design/build all these things. That means *more* not fewer STEM people. Not every student needs, or should go to college, but then the ones who do, need more skills, not less

  • John makes an interesting point in the comment area about lower wages, I never thought of. But I feel one must look at an even bigger picture. Also remember there are infinite unknown variables in this type prediction, which makes any prediction less credible than it would appear on the surface, and make conspiracy theories less creditable too. For example what if one or several of those students events the next big demand product like smart phones. What if a new trend of students going straight into starting their own business. Both of which would create more jobs for students than predicted. On the other side of the pendulum, what if Russia starts taking new countries and hurts the global economy, what if there is another war, bank collapse, etc. Reminds me of the saying "What if we train them and they leave? What if we don't and they stay?" :) Some things have to many variable to predict accurately, but ask your self. Is it better to have a bunch of well educated citizens and not enough jobs, or to have to many jobs and not enough educated people to do them? You have better odds of going in the right direction, correcting course, dealing with what the future throws at us, with more educated people.

  •       I going to give you the benefit of the doubt and say I think you don't understand the market place. The much advertised shortage, that doesn't exist, is in aid of increasing the number of H1B visas. Thereby helping to keep salaries down.

          Indeed - just graduating 100% more CS students than required by the market will also help eventually.

          I'll just leave it at that.


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