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What do Markets tell us about Demand for Engineers in the Workplace?

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Public Policy in Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Engineering and Public Policy

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1678.1 - 22.1678.17



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Paper Authors


Martin S. High Oklahoma State University

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Marty High is an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Oklahoma State University. His academic interests include teaching in all areas and at all levels of chemical engineering with a focus on instruction in thermodynamics and mass transfer. His research interests are in the areas of mass transfer in polymeric systems, corrosion modeling, equation of state development and refinery catalysis. Marty also writes in the area of sustainability and on the intersection of law, science and society. He received his engineering education at Penn State (B.S., M.S., and Ph.D.) and earned his law degree (J.D.) from the University of Tulsa.

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Joseph M. Nowakowski Muskingum University

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Joe Nowakowski is Professor of Economics at Muskingum University in New Concord, Ohio. His teaching areas include international economics and business, and he has published in the areas of efficiency analysis, economic development and education. He attended Occidental College, the Universitaet des Saarlandes and Duke University, where he earned his bachelors degree. He earned his doctorate at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. He has served as a visiting faculty member at Interamericana University, San German, Puerto Rico; University of Castilla, La Mancha, Toledo, Spain and LCC International University, Klaipeda, Lithuania.

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What do Markets Tell us about Demand for Engineers in the Workplace? “Unfortunately, we are not graduating enough students with degrees in the STEMdisciplines to meet the growing demand from U.S. companies for workers in these areas.”1 Thisrefrain is commonly heard spoken by CEOs, Presidents, Senators, Representatives, Professors,and human resources professionals. But is it true? Do the facts support this conclusion? Beforewe reorient our societal institutions and commit the billions of dollars mentioned as part of thesolution to a dearth of engineers and other STEM graduates, it would be wise to examinecarefully the “common wisdom.” Butz et al.2 analyzed the market data relevant to engineering employment and concludedthat except for one critical measure that “We have seen that the production of Americanscientists and engineers is low neither in the sense that it has fallen over some years fromprevious heights nor in the sense that employers are driving S&E earnings up and unemploymentrates down in a scramble to hire more scientists and engineers.” The critical measure that standsin contrast is that U.S. production of STEM graduates is low compared to gains by othercountries. So, after the significant economic downturn in the recent years, where do these economiccomparisons stand and what do they tell us about U.S. production of STEM graduates,particularly engineering graduates. This paper will attempt to bring into focus what the data tellus relative to the common wisdom.1 Written Testimony of William H. Gates Chairman, Microsoft Corporation And Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda GatesFoundation Before the Committee on Science and Technology United States House of Representatives March 12,2008.2 William P. Butz, Gabrielle A. Bloom, Mihal E. Gross, Terrence K. Kelly, Aaron Kofner, and Helga E. Rippen, “IsThere a Shortage of Scientists and Engineers? How Would We Know?” Issue Paper, Rand Corporation (2003)(available at

High, M. S., & Nowakowski, J. M. (2011, June), What do Markets tell us about Demand for Engineers in the Workplace? Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18584

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