June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.249.1 - 13.249.9
Beating the Competition down with the Stick of Education: A Winning Strategy for a Global World
In his book, Is America Falling off the Flat Earth1, Norman Augustine highlights the sharp competition that the U.S. has begun to face in the world stage:
…our competitors have not been standing still. The World Economic Forum dropped America from first to seventh place in its ranking of nations’ preparedness to benefit from advances in information technology; the number of US citizens entering engineering school declined still further; the remnants of the legendary Bell Labs, the birthplace of the laser and the transistor and the home of many Nobel laureates, were sold to a French firm; a new generation of semiconductor integrated circuits—the mortar of the modern electronics revolution—was introduced; the largest initial public offering in history was conducted by a Chinese bank; another $650 billion has been spent on US public schools while the performance of its students on standardized science tests of those about to graduate declined further; American companies once again spent three times more on litigation than on research; and in July, for the first time in history, foreign automakers sold more cars in the United States than American manufacturers.
Even taking account of Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz’s caveat that the world is far from becoming flat for many in developing countries2, most could probably find themselves agreeing with the alarming tone of the quoted material in the preceding paragraph. This paper will make suggestions as to how we might construct educational strategies that would help America prevail over this competition3-6.
The default strategy that has evolved without much foresight in high tech areas, has been the cultivation of major global partners like India and China. As engineers and educators, we have to ask how this impacts what we teach in the classroom. Having listened to numerous presentations on industry needs, we believe that industry would embrace a new breed of engineers and technologists to manage US technological and financial interests around the world. This is a rational approach based on ground realities. India and China together out produce the U.S. 30 to 1 in engineering graduates, and their graduates get paid one eighth of what a U.S. graduate will need7. If we want to maintain our technological and economic might, we certainly must make good use of the talent that exists around the world. Industry seems to be taking a two pronged approach to engineers and technologists. They are emphasizing the need for soft skills for engineers and technologists, and a more systems approach for the technician (as an example they would like an electronic technician education where components are de-emphasized in favor of a systems approach8).
No one can disagree with the importance of soft skills to engineers and technologists in a global economy; however, the approach to technician training needs to be studied more carefully3-5, 8, 9. A truly successful global technological strategy will require us to move from having two major partners, to many major partners in technology2. Indeed, the more successful we become, the greater will be the need for U.S. engineers and technologists. We submit that to meet this anticipated need for engineers and technologists can be
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2008 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015