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Obama: 'We Don't Have Enough Engineers' 651

Posted by Soulskill
from the can-we-invade-world-of-warcraft dept.
dcblogs writes "President Obama wants to boost engineering graduation rates by 10,000 a year. In 2009, the US produced 126,194 engineering graduates for bachelor's and master's degrees and for Ph.D.s. The US had just over 1.9 million engineers in 2010. The unemployment rate in 2010 for all engineers was 4.5%. 'We've made incredible progress on education, helping students to finance their college educations, but we still don't have enough engineers,' said Obama. He's counting on the private sector to help expand the number of graduates."
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Obama: 'We Don't Have Enough Engineers'

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  • Solution (Score:3, Insightful)

    by atari2600a (1892574) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @05:13AM (#36447368)
    REGULATE WALLSTREET. You'll get JFK'd in the process but that's where they're all going...
    • First (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Shivetya (243324) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @05:59AM (#36447612) Homepage Journal

      why would he regulate those who make up his staff? We don't have President Main Street, we have President Wall Street. For all the wearing of sackcloth and anguish over GWB about his corporate ties people totally ignore the President Goldman Sachs. Oh sure he loves to lash out at "Big Business" but they make so many back door deals they do a good job of protecting those who support their campaign coffers.

      You want engineers, fine, make it cool then. We spend less on NASA than we lose to the deficit in a week (okay, it might be a few days more). We have schools built around the best interest of teachers and administrators. Any attempt to hold them accountable comes back with claims of lack of money; not true; or teaching to the test. If test scores of students at a school do not give a clear indication of problems then what would? Take back education from the politicians and their supporters and then you might have more kids doing well enough in school and seeing a chance of success.

      Wall Street does not stop us from having engineers. Having a society based on laziness and celebrating reality TV stars does. We have shows about knocked up teen agers, fake tan trolls, sleazy housewives, and hate spewing misogynistic rappers. The only serious shows are the countless CSI ripoffs where they solve the crime in the last ten minutes. I am not saying we need a reality TV show about engineers; after all we want new ones; but we don't even portray them in television so kids rarely have exposure to what those skills are. Even subtle things like having a TV dad being an engineer; we never have to see his job he just has to be cool; would go a long way.

      So, you want more Engineers Mr. President

      I suggest
      1) Get your Congressmen hacks off the backs of for profit colleges, many are very good
      2) Get the deficit under control, stop the spending, it will change the outlook of the country
      3) Fund areas of science which will make people want to be engineers. We need something real, not rail. That means a Manhattan/Apollo scale project (just don't go damn the costs like they did) that will suck up these engineers and better the country. Can I suggest safe nuclear power combined with some renewable sources? We certainly have the tech for the former and need to develop the later else hand the country over to China
      4) Make the focus of schools be the students, then the parents, then teachers, and finally anyone else. Hold teachers accountable, the good ones want it.
      5) Did I mention the deficit? The doom and gloom hanging over people's heads when they see such staggering numbers and what happens in the world makes them lose focus. Be a President for once, stop being a politician.

      • Your have a good start but things are far more complex. I would like to add 'video games' and 'professional sports' to your list of distractions.

        Even after making all of these changes there still aren't any jobs for engineers, especially at the entry level. Another major culprit is free-trade agreements which constantly make the USA less competitive. While we are producing responsibly respecting the environment and worker safety, our trading partners are creating national Superfund sites (like China, the
        • by AJH16 (940784)

          Video games are one of the few distractions that actually inspires people towards technology fields. Though yes, professional sports could be added to the list. His core point was that in most popular media and entertainment, there is not even a mention of engineering or science. It is simply stupid or average people doing stupid or average things. Video games frequently use scientists and engineers as main characters and make people engage in problem solving in many games. There is actually an entire

      • by nhaehnle (1844580)

        The US deficit is not a problem. Seriously. The size of the US debt means nothing when looked at in isolation. Is it a large number? Sure. But compare it to the amount of private wealth, and things start looking very different suddenly.

        The only problem is to optimize spending and taxation in such a way that the real outcome is good in some sense - and there needs to be a genuine discussion about what "good" should mean. I would say "good" means jobs that allow obtaining a high real living standard for every

      • Re:First (Score:5, Insightful)

        by AmiMoJo (196126) <(mojo) (at) (world3.net)> on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @08:07AM (#36448414) Homepage

        Having a society based on laziness and celebrating reality TV stars does.

        Even documentaries have gone this way in the past 20 years. Up to the 80s they would get some knowledgeable person to talk about the subject, maybe interview some key people and use some explanatory graphics. In the 90s they started making documentaries into dramas, pitching them as the story of how the people involved came up with rival theories and argued and then someone else came along with a "revolutionary" idea... All aided by fancy presentation, breathless voice overs and a lineup of crackpot theories to flesh it out.

        Then there is the dumbing down. They no longer say "mass", it has been reduced to "stuff". One sentence could explain the word "mass" and then the viewer would be educated and not feel like a retard who has to be spoken to like a four year old, but that might alienate people who are that dumb. Sod those guys, if you are dumb there is nothing wrong with being made to feel that way by words every school child should know.

        I wish the BBC would repeat some episodes of Horizon from the 70s and 80s, not only so people could enjoy them but so they could see just how far we have fallen from those high standards. Today they wouldn't be exciting enough for TV, but I guarantee they will instil a far greater sense of wonder and eagerness to learn. All the time you cater to the lowest common denominator you are fuelling the perception that it is okay to be in in that group.

        • Up to the 80s they would get some knowledgeable person to talk about the subject, maybe interview some key people and use some explanatory graphics. In the 90s they started making documentaries into dramas, pitching them as the story of how the people involved came up with rival theories and argued and then someone else came along with a "revolutionary" idea... All aided by fancy presentation, breathless voice overs and a lineup of crackpot theories to flesh it out.

          Well, the crackpot theories are the bad part of this, but the history of how the real theories came to be, including any drama associated with it, is incredibly relevant and important. Since you don't like the new documentaries (and I mostly agree with you that they are inferior due to over-dramatizing of content), let's take Carl Sagan's Cosmos. Talking about how Eratosthenes reasonably accurately calculated the circumference of the Earth in frigging 240 BC is incredibly awe inspiring. Talking about Joh

      • I agree with most of what you say but this part seems odd:

        I suggest 1) Get your Congressmen hacks off the backs of for profit colleges, many are very good

        How many of these for-profit colleges are ABET accredited? Also, I recommend you watch the PBS Frontline documentary (watch it free at the frontline website) called "College, Inc." Both enlightening and lulzy.

      • How cute, by lowering the deficit, one gets more Engineers? Maybe a review of how India, and China got their engineers, and manufacturing facilities going would be more introspective. I don't propose to know how american presidents conduct the business of treaties, but here some facts that are not ignorable. Fact, it's cheaper to buy a ton of steel pipes from Brazil, ship it through the Panama Canal, ship it into San Francisco than it is the make the same ton of pipes in the U.S.; I smell fish 3 days in t
      • by Xyrus (755017)

        Wall street doesn't prevent us from having engineers, but they certainly aren't helping. Why pay for an American engineer when you can get 5 Indian engineers for the same price? It's just capitalism at work.

        You know, everyone goes on and on about stopping the spending. What about raising taxes? Letting the Bush tax cuts expire would have made a huge dent in the deficit, and adding a percentage point or two onto the highest earners would do very well in righting the ship over the long term. Fact is, taxes ha

    • Re:Solution (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Seumas (6865) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @06:23AM (#36447756)

      It's hard to believe that anyone really gives a shit about "growing more engineers" domestically, when they keep pushing things like H1Bs, because "it's too expensive". If the supposed scarcity of engineers is real, then engineers would be paid a whole lot more, which would entice more people to go into engineering. Instead, they "artificially" deflate the price of an engineer by just saying "fuck it, we'll bring more in" and then when fewer people want to become engineers as a result, they bitch about that, too.

      It's an inevitable result of the whole "engineers have to live within the costs of living in the region they reside, but their employers can pick over the entire globe of labor, including places where the entire cost of living for one engineer is less than the cost of groceries, for another".

      • Re:Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Chrisq (894406) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @06:42AM (#36447866)
        Same here in the UK. 10 years ago the floor I work on had 100 full-time English programmers. Now it has 20 full-time staff and 150 contract staff from India.
        • Re:Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Hazel Bergeron (2015538) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @06:53AM (#36447924) Journal

          Blunt question: even if it costs half as much to hire someone working in a third world country, isn't this made up for by the inefficiency of long-distance communication of and delays in understanding across cultures?

          Shouting, "Oi, Bob!" across the office and having all relevant materials in front of both of you is so much better for collaboration than having to speak to someone half way across the world (assuming they're even awake).

          Is there one example in the literature, anywhere, of service which has been maintained or improved following offshoring? What about in the double whammy of offshoring and outsourcing, rather than simply hiring employees abroad?

          • by plover (150551) *

            For offshoring, the inefficiencies can be made up for over time as the offshore teams come up to speed. It takes years to learn how to work with them, and how to use them effectively, but overall it can be made to work, and sometimes it can work quite well. Things like early morning and late night conference calls happen often, but to make up for it there's the occasional trip to an exotic locale. If you ever get the chance to make that trip to an offshore office on the corporate dime, I highly recommend

          • Blunt question: even if it costs half as much to hire someone working in a third world country, isn't this made up for by the inefficiency of long-distance communication of and delays in understanding across cultures?

            I would suggest that most management is too stupid for this to occur to them.

            • Re:Solution (Score:4, Informative)

              by Grishnakh (216268) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @12:51PM (#36452356)

              I disagree. Many managers don't get where they are by being complete idiots, it's just that they have a completely different way of seeing things, and it's all about short-term results.

              So hiring people in 3rd-world countries is very attractive, because on the balance books it looks really good: they can say, "I saved the company $X million dollars per year by outsourcing [division]!" and then they get a $X/10 bonus, which they can buy themselves a giant mansion or a new yacht with. The inefficiency that plagues this deal and causes loss instead of gain takes a little while to show up and is harder to quantify, so by the time they figure out this was a bad deal, that manager has already "left the company to pursue other opportunities" and is relaxing on his yacht with three girlfriends.

        • The company has replaced many of our engineering staff from Poland. They literally are paid 1/3 of what engineers in the states make, and that itself is pretty low compared to other industries.
      • This. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by turing_m (1030530) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @09:31AM (#36449384)

        If the supposed scarcity of engineers is real, then engineers would be paid a whole lot more, which would entice more people to go into engineering.

        Exactly. Engineers come from a limited pool of people. You need to be smart and hard working. I'd hazard a guess and say that below IQ 125 or so just isn't going to cut it. So basically only about 5% of the population could even be an engineer.

        If you are smart enough to be an engineer, especially a good engineer, you are also smart enough to be able to choose business, accounting, law, pharmacy, dentistry, medicine, etc. You are also smart enough to google pay scales and such while still in high school, and pick a career that is going to maximize the reward for the risk and the effort. If you want to rob those other well remunerated fields to create more engineers (since the game is zero-sum), you need to show the prospective students the money.

        The other alternative is of course to create some sort of selective breeding program to create a society of engineers, but it would be politically impossible to implement and certainly not see any results over one presidential term. So yeah, show us the money.

        • I have to agree there... in the late 70's someone with a CS degree would typically start in the mid 70K/year... now it's lower than that, and even then doesn't account for inflation. I've seen higher-end engineering jobs go from around $200K/year in the 90's to a pretty hard ceiling of $105-120K ... which isn't bad, mind you, but not as good as it once was, and the belts tighten, and other fields start looking a lot more compelling.

          The flip side is a lot more is expected today. People expect near magic
        • Re:This. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by dgatwood (11270) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @12:25PM (#36451950) Journal

          The other alternative is of course to create some sort of selective breeding program to create a society of engineers, but it would be politically impossible to implement and certainly not see any results over one presidential term. So yeah, show us the money.

          Yeah, but admit it, if any politician promised to get lots of women to breed with engineers, just about everyone here on Slashdot would vote for him/her (probably including people who aren't even citizens of that country). Just saying.

      • Re:Solution (Score:4, Interesting)

        by EvilStein (414640) <spam@nospam.pbp.net> on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @10:21AM (#36450100) Homepage

        This is why the thousands of illegal immigrants marching in the streets saying "Yes we can" piss me off sometimes. Millions of illegal immigrants clogging up our already overloaded immigration system. We have the same problem that Australia does - immigration is great, but we need more engineers & scientists, not roofers and hair stylists from Guatemala, regardless of how entitled they feel to be in the US.

    • Exactly. You can spend your life creating things and make a reasonable living. Or you can spend your life skimming money off the noise in the financial system, occasionally breaking it to the degree that causes starvation for millions (high worldwide wheat prices caused by speculation), or millions to get their homes repossessed (subprime mortgage collapse), or lose their jobs (company can't raise capital due to the market collapse), without much personal risk and make 10-100 times as much. You've built
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @05:15AM (#36447370)

    Make it so Law and Finance is not the easiest place to make money and you will see more engineers.

    • I don't want more engineers. The less supply there is of folks like me the more in demand I am and all the benefits that go with it. Personally I think engineering is not paid enough compared to many other professions. Many industries are already pushing engineering students into being "paperwork engineers" or product management types instead of engineers. No, I don't want more engineers, I want less b/c it treats the remaining ones as better. Having more will only dilute the term 'engineer' and reduce
    • Make it so that people who make a good living aren't demonized and you will see more engineers.
  • by thegarbz (1787294) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @05:17AM (#36447378)

    Why would you want to be an engineer? Seriously why, when you could do manual labour, be an electrician, cementer, crane driver, or work in a number of other trades? The other trades pay more, give you better conditions, and you don't need to go work for some mining company in the middle of no where to earn a wage.

    I know electricians who did their trade after their EE degree for this reason. Sure you can make a mint as an engineer but is it worth it having to live in a remote country town in order to do so?

    Or why not become a "financial engineer". You get to use your brain, you get paid massive bonuses for creating zero wealth, and you don't get treated as a second class citizen.

    China or Germany don't have this problem. They raise their engineers onto pedestals bigger than those the Americans would reserve for bankers.

    Why would you want to be an engineer?

    • by johnjaydk (584895) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @05:24AM (#36447426)

      Or why not become a "financial engineer". You get to use your brain, you get paid massive bonuses for creating zero wealth, and you don't get treated as a second class citizen.

      Amen to that. I'm handing back my masters degree in IT plus a lifetime of experience in order to start in B-school to become a quant. I'm tired of taking it up the ass.

    • by Kokuyo (549451)

      China or Germany don't have this problem.

      You clearly haven't been to Germany in a while...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "Why would you want to be an engineer?"

      Because the technology is legitimately interesting, that's why. And that's the ONLY reason - as you quite correctly point out, engineers (of various types - electrical engineers, mechanical, software, etc.) are treated like dirt in this country. The only thing that keeps me interested in my chosen field is my sincere interest in the technology itself. That's the only way I can put up with a culture that values drunken debauchery from the football team's quarterback

    • by rta (559125) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @05:31AM (#36447474)

      Well, in the meantime we can just issue more H1Bs and outsource some more. That'll help motivate the kids.

      • by aaarrrgggh (9205)

        Anecdotal, but relevant:
        Posted a position for a senior electrical engineer Monday lunch time. Six hits in 24 hours: One compelling, two unqualified, two new grads, and an electrician berating engineers... This is for a position in the $135-165k range.

        In contrast, when we post a junior engineer position, we get 30-50 hits, but 75% of them are Indians that did their masters in the US. We are stuck hiring some of these people, because of the dearth at the other end of the range.

        Starting engineers might be und

        • Obama is really only saying we don't have enough young engineers.

          Starting engineers might be underpaid by up to 20-25%, but at a company worth it's squat, you have tremendous career opportunity.

          The problem being that the number of companies that you'd consider "worth it's squat" is dwindling. A number of companies that I've dealt with have told me that they took pride in hiring mostly college freshouts in order to remain on the leading edge of technology. I always considered this market speak for we like o

    • I consult in a bank the funny thing is, the people I work with are EE or Chemistry Engineers, but none of them work in their field anymore due to salary reasons and better working conditions.
      So if you want engineers, give them decent salaries and working conditions, thats it.

    • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @05:56AM (#36447600)

      Why would you want to be an engineer? Seriously why, when you could do manual labour, be an electrician, cementer, crane driver, or work in a number of other trades? The other trades pay more, give you better conditions, and you don't need to go work for some mining company in the middle of no where to earn a wage.

      It's not just the wages and the other advantages. Me, I used to be a software engineer with a pretty damn good pay, and I gave it all up to retrain and work as a gunsmith. Why? Because I'm happier creating beautiful rifles with my hands, that my customers are happy to own and use, than be a stressed-out project manager in a software company where everybody, from management to the customers, prefers quick development over a job well done.

      I'm paid a lot less, but I also work fewer hours, the hours I work are good time, I get to spend quality time with my family and forge a bond with my customers. In short, I'm happier. Besides, being an engineer isn't all it's cracked up to be, there's pride in being a good honest craftsman too.

      • I think there's tremendous overlap between a good engineer and a good craftsman and people like you are the proof. You didn't so much change careers, as you simply switched to a job where your skill to create, perfect and innovate are valued and rewarded.

        I am also a software developer and I feel pretty much the same way about the industry that you do. Fortunately, I happen to work at a place where my immediate boss understands what good software developers can accomplish and what motivates them. Of cours

    • by zxh (1940132) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @06:15AM (#36447714)

      China or Germany don't have this problem. They raise their engineers onto pedestals bigger than those the Americans would reserve for bankers.

      I am tired of seeing China being referenced as a "good" example of engineer-led country, again and again.

      The politburo is consisted of a bunch of top level bureaucrats, who happen to have engineering degree. In fact, people were selected into bureaucracy not because of their engineering degrees, but
      A) they joined the party early;
      B) they graduated from top universities (E.g. Tsinghua);
      C) they actively participated in party sanctioned politics either in their first civilian jobs, or as early as in the university, such as student unions (effective a pre-bureaucracy self-administering the students).

    • by Eivind (15695)

      The trick ain't so much education as it's about attitude. School and life tells you to get a good education, and a good job, so as to earn a decent income and thus be wealthy.

      But wealth is about making money work for you, instead of the opposite way. Too many even among those who have $150K in household income, also have a half-million mortgage and $151K expenses, which isn't helping them get wealthy.

      The trick is to accumulate assets -- as in things that either generate passive income, or tend to grow in va

    • by t2t10 (1909766)

      Are you kidding? Germany has the same problem.

    • by gatkinso (15975) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @07:20AM (#36448084)

      >> Why would you want to be an engineer?

      Because I love it.

    • by trout007 (975317)

      This shows he has been talking to CEOs. Management HATES that they have to pay engineers what we make. The problem is the work is hard. Almost any other career you can BS your way through. Engineers, technicians, and other trades have this thg called reality that constantly judges you. I can't claim a machine I designed works when it is obvious to any laypersons that it doesn't. A doctor, lawyer, economist, politician, ect can all give BS answers why their little plans like keeping unemployment below 8% did

  • by giorgist (1208992) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @05:21AM (#36447402)
    Given about half of them work for the defense, and their work is hidden from society, ... all you have to do is get rid of half of them and your sold.
    Next problem ...
  • Unemployment rate (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @05:21AM (#36447410)
    "President Obama wants to boost engineering graduation rates by 10,000 a year. (...) The US had just over 1.9 million engineers in 2010. The unemployment rate in 2010 for all engineers was 4.5%." In other words, the US has a total of 85,500 unemployed engineers, but needs to produce an additional 10,000 per year?
    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @05:50AM (#36447564)

      First is that unemployment is higher now for everyone than normal. Planning ahead one would expect it to come back down, which would mean far less unemployment than what we have now. Total unemployment (measured in terms of U3) in the US is about 8.7% currently. If you look back on things somewhere around 5% is more normal (4.5-6.5% ish range). That means that if it returns to normal, which it likely will you can expect unemployment of engineers to be down to 1-2%, maybe less, hence the need for more.

      Also you have to understand that unemployment as normally measured, using the U3 number, will basically never be zero. Reason is it includes anyone who isn't actively working right now, but has made some active effort to look for a job in the last 4 weeks. So that means someone gets tired of their job and quits, but is out looking for one they like better, they are unemployed according to U3. That happens even in great times with lots of employment. Same deal with someone who was working on a contract and that is up, and is now looking for another one. Doesn't matter if the economy is great and they'll get work in a hurry, they are still unemployed by the U3 definition. The only unemployment measure you can ever see at or near zero is U1 (people with no job for longer than 15 weeks) and even that is rare. Some unemployment is just how things tend to work. Doesn't mean it is the same people, forever unemployable, just that there is turnover and movement.

      Finally you have to understand that in some technical fields, like engineering, there will be people who are or become unemployable because they lack the skills needed, even if they have the desire. That someone went to school and managed to cram their way through an engineering degree doesn't mean they necessarily have the real world skills to be a good engineer. Likewise, the field evolves and someone who was once good, but refuses to adapt, could be unemployable as an engineer.

      So you can't look at it in the simplistic sense of "Until no engineers are unemployed we don't need more engineers." Instead you need to consider current conditions, future demand, changes to future conditions and so on and decide if more will be needed. Goes double since an engineer is not made in a day. Even if you assume all that is needed is a undergraduate degree that is 4 years right there. Means if you think you'll need more engineers in 4 years, you'd better start on it now.

    • by Rovaani (20023)
      So engineers are roughly half as unemployed as compared to the whole country. Sounds like you need more of them. Unemployment rate 4.5% is also approaching the viable minimum rate. It's just not possible to have a 0 percent unemployment rate since there are always people moving to different parts of country or somesuch. It's called frictional unemployment. So yeah, you need more.
    • by Talderas (1212466)

      Obama doesn't think it's fair that engineers should enjoy a lower unemployment rate than other professions. By boosting engineering grads by 10,000 we will eventually see engineering unemployment rates be on par with the rest of the nation.

    • by c (8461)

      Your math is sound, but it appears to be based on the assumption that 100% of those 1.9 million are really employable.

      You have to account for things like disabilities (a mining engineer in a wheelchair will have limited options), poor choice of specialization (went into something for the money, doesn't enjoy it), psychological issues (not everyone can handle the stress of having to sign off on a bridge), not being able to move to where the jobs are, etc.

      95.5% being employed in their field is pretty high by

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @05:24AM (#36447424)

    ...and really doesn't have a clue what anybody actually needs.

  • by unity100 (970058) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @05:26AM (#36447432) Homepage Journal
    noone is a moron to work their asses over their entire life studying hard and delicate things to whore their lives off to fat asses sucking off the profits on top of their heads.

    you either start paying percentages to engineers, or fat asses will have to descend from their high throne in directors' executives' rooms and start doing the engineering themselves.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Well that's the comments I've heard from a lot of prospective Enginners. so, they take the easy way out and do Media or Business Studies.

    Yes the Science stuff can be hard. So? Life can be hard!

    Some points:-
    -Schools are more concerned with getting everone to pass regardless of quality.
    -Teaching Engineering at all costs a heck of a lot more than Accountancy or Law or some other 'soft' subject.

    To be a successful Engineer takes a lot of dedication. It took me 7 years after leaving school to get my BS in Control

  • If the unemployment rate for US engineers is 4.5%, and Obama says the US needs more engineers, does this mean 4.5% of US engineers are not employable? 4.5% of 1.9 million is 85,500... that's over 8 years of his desired number of graduates...

    Ok, I suppose the alternative suggestion is that most of them are the wrong type of engineer and they need retraining... but still made me smile...

    • Yes, 4.5% of US engineers are unemployable.

      Do you remember college? Do you remember how many people in your cohort deliberately learned nothing, spent the whole time just drinking and playing video games on their daddy's money? Do you remember how many people were just plain stupid and couldn't understand no matter how hard they worked? Do you remember how many people were smelly, unshaven, socially lazy awkward people?

      IIRC it was a lot more than 4.5%.

      Is it really a surprise that they can't find work?

      A lot

  • Follow the cash (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AHuxley (892839) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @05:31AM (#36447466) Homepage Journal
    In the old days you would set the standards high so that not too many entered per year and diluted the earning pool.
    At some point something happened to the good wages and nothing happened to the graduation numbers.
    Now the trick seems to be make more cheap engineers. They know "responsibility" is very personal in their field.
    Why would anyone want to be an engineer in the US? The infrastructure is a mess and every project you sign off on legally risky long term for a lower wage.
    If the US wants more very skilled people, start paying them again. But that would show the cracks in the currency.
    • If the US wants more very skilled people, start paying them again. But that would show the cracks in the currency.

      This point has been made over and over again in conversations about engineers, developers etc. How about the highly skilled start demanding a better wage and stop working for those who would "underpay" them. No manager will ever notice your fine contribution and start paying you your "worth", so act accordingly.

      We all agree that there is something wrong when the guy on top make 400 times as much as the average worker, but while no one is willing to stop enabling this situation NOTHING will change. So eith

      • Most engineers don't have the social skills necessary to even ask for a higher wage... that's part of the problem!

      • by Xelios (822510)
        Stop working for those who underpay and you end up unemployed, like the other 85,000 engineers. Ideas based on "if everyone does X" never work, because there's always some guy who will work for the crappy pay. You know, that guy who has a family to support and is just happy to have a job "in such tough economic times". Side note, when do you think economic times will stop being tough? Never again I'd wager. Tough times force people into line, who wants to risk losing their job by standing up for what's righ
  • FTFA... "...the U.S. graduates more visual arts and performing arts majors than engineers. It also noted that the U.S. ranks 27th among developed nations in the proportion of college students receiving undergraduate degrees in science and engineering." It strikes me that this stems from the philosophy that children in the US are encouraged to pursue 'whatever you enjoy most' under the misconception that is the career they will be best suited to and thus make them happiest. In other countries this doesn't
    • by g4b (956118)

      I disagree.

      good parents encourage kids to do a variety of things in their life, and over time it becomes much more clear what really makes a person happy. Good parents encourage kids to pursue careers that fit their personal interests best.

      pushing kids into certain careers is actually happening in every country on this planet and very often ends quite bad for the person. pushing him however to finish certain degrees of school is really helpful.

      You are only thankful, if your parents saw what really fitted yo

      • by g4b (956118)

        (btw. most pennyless actors who just wanted attention have quite big parents issues)

  • One reason many people avoid that field. Difficult to study, difficult to get good at and then some nil-whit of a manager with an MBA tells you what to do and to add insult to injury earns more than you do. No surprise at all there are too few. And we will get fewer.

  • I've been holding onto my hope all this time with regards to Obama. Obama made grand promises. When he started, it looked like he was going to make some serious changes. From the outside, it looked like he was faced with massive resistance to making serious change. But now with this "we need more engineers" crap? I'm sold that he just doesn't understand what has been happening.

    The rewards are going too far to the top for anything to "trickle down" and there is no incentive to not send work, technology

  • by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @06:02AM (#36447644) Homepage

    It's as though tanking the economy, giving all the government's money to corporations and letting public education go to shit somehow causes less people to afford college, and acts as a disincentive to study anything but business for those who do. Who'd have thought it.

  • Do we really need to listen to this kind of dribble? Look at all the recent break-ins at Citigroup, Sony, etc. No one gives a flying crap about proper engineering or the end result - and the Obama and previous administrations have enabled this by not throwing the justice department at these overstuffed elephants. So we have a culture which continually rewards profit-seeking behavior and never enforces voters, or consumers, rights. All anyone cares about is lawsuits and they have already those down pat - arg
  • by t2t10 (1909766) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @06:41AM (#36447864)

    It's a free market. The simple solution to the "engineering shortage" is to pay more. When graduates can look forward to $250k/year salaries instead of $100/year salaries, you'd be surprised how many people would choose engineering. Right now, you have to become a doctor or lawyer to make that kind of money, so many people do.

    Of course, government can't directly regulate what companies pay... but indirectly, it can: after all, the reason doctors and lawyers make so much money is because of the laws that govern their profession.

    • by trout007 (975317)

      Doctors make the money they do for one reason. The have been granted a monopoly to be the gatekeepers for effective "prescription" drugs. I have to pay some dumbass $60 to tell me what I already know just to get a $4 antibiotic.

      • by necro81 (917438)
        Speaking as one who is intimately familiar with primary care in the United States: there is no money to be made in office visits for $4 prescriptions. No primary care practice can survive on that kind of crap. It's a tiny, miniscule fraction of the overall costs of medicine, the majority of which are tied with expensive diagnostics, surgical procedures, in-patient hospital care, and inefficient administrative bureaucracy. Although doctor salaries are skewed out of reality, the simple fact remains that th
  • by MistrX (1566617) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @06:43AM (#36447870)

    I think Obama is referring to TeamFortress 2.

  • If your chances to get sued when actually *creating* something are so much higher than when just redistributing wealth (or even better: sueing someone else), you get what you asked for: A nation of bankers and lawyers.

    It's no coincidence that most famous engineers of the 19th century (like Brunell) were opposed to patents; so start by abolishing those.

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @07:01AM (#36447972) Homepage

    Vox Day is something of a libertarian heretic in noting [blogspot.com] that the fundamental case for "free trade" is based on a very bad economic model. In fact, when Ricardo made his case for free trade he had to exclude a whole large swath of possible outcomes to make the case positively. Some of those have come true. For example, Ricardo glossed over the issue that if capital were to become mobile between countries, comparative advantage would cease. That is precisely what is happening with NAFTA and our relationship with China; American capital has moved overseas so that "American production" is actually done overseas, giving at least a partial "comparative advantage" to China and Mexico in products that we used to have over them.

    The simple solution is to repeal NAFTA and restore our tariffs. "Protectionism" is only an ugly word until you realize that protectionism was actually one of the two pillars of the US economy in the 19th century (the gold standard being the other) and the growth we saw in the 19th century was substantially higher than what we saw in the 20th century. Even the value of the dollar itself went up 50% between 1800 and 1900.

    Until we take away the ability of American companies to do production for our domestic markets overseas, none of this will change. Libertarians may find that "immoral," but then there a whole lot of things about doctrinaire libertarianism such as the radical individualism that eschews innate responsibilities that plenty of others (left and right alike) find immoral.

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      Funny you bring up Ricardo, because none other than Karl Marx based his arguments in part on Ricardo's work. Marx's attitude towards Ricardo appears to have been "Smart guy, got close to the truth, but then shied away from the implications of what he was saying that made capitalism not look ideal." And it's in precisely those areas that Ricardo kept away from that many modern economists have good reason to believe make a huge difference, like commons problems, information asymmetry, and non-rational economi

  • by luis_a_espinal (1810296) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @07:06AM (#36448012) Homepage

    'We've made incredible progress on education, helping students to finance their college educations, but we still don't have enough engineers,' said Obama.

    What a load of crap.

    What's the point of producing more engineers if we don't develop a well-trained blue-colllar workforce and a manufacturing industry for them to work on it? How's the economy going to absorb them if it cannot absorb its unemployed blue collar guys?

    We are losing the engineering battle not for lack of engineers, but for lack of competitive manufacturing capabilities (and incentives to have a manufacturing industry) in American soil.

    He's counting on the private sector to help expand the number of graduates.

    The same companies that are willing to move jobs overseas (or are pushed to do so because their competitors do)? The US government must provide incentives to companies to retain engineering and manufacturing jobs here (and penalties for those that do not.) China, Japan and India have measures to protect their local economies. We do not. And in fact, the MBA mantra is to not do it at all.

    Worry about producing more engineers without tackling the lack of manufacturing competitiveness is like worrying about putting deodorant to smell clean without wiping one's ass crack after taking a dump. Seriously, it is that bad.

    • Paul Craig Roberts has been harping on this for years:

      The idea is nonsensical that the US can remain the font of research, innovation, design, and engineering while the country ceases to make things. Research and product development invariably follow manufacturing. Now even business schools that were cheerleaders for offshoring of US jobs are beginning to wise up. In a recent report, âoeNext Generation Offshoring: The Globalization of Innovation,â Duke Universityâ(TM)s Fuqua School of Busin

  • EE here... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Triode (127874) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @07:16AM (#36448060) Homepage

    I think this has been mentioned here, but wanted to point out from first hand experience... I have a BS in EECE, an MS in Physics, and I took all those
    damn courses to get a Ph.D. in EECE (yet to finish dissertation)... as I was going through the Ph.D. program, I witnessed a number of my classmates getting interns at Intel/AMD/etc. Not to be racial (cultural?) but I am a native born anglo-saxon american. All of my classmates are Indian/Asian. I note that I could not get an intern/etc with big companies. My grades were comparable (better), and I had some experience having worked a little between degrees.

    A few points. I know a number of these classmates that went on to get jobs at Intel/AMD/Motorola/etc. These are Ph.D.s in EE/EECE/CS. They are paying these guys $37000-$47000 to start, but they give them an H1B visa (or extension), so they are totally happy to take that pay. I am sorry to say it, but a "normal" american who just spent a good deal of cash on this degree just can not get by on this. No offense to any Indian guys (in fact, this is where you have an advantage) but 20 of them can live in a single apartment due to their culture/lifestyle. They have no problems getting $40,000 to start as a Ph.D, where most americans (for better or worse) would balk at that. I was told by one classmate who went on to work at Intel that they practically don't even look at americans for work anymore at that level as they want more to start. /rant
    Interestingly, since we americans are no longer going into Ph.D.s in EE/EECE, this creates a catch 22 for the CEOs to go to the govt with. "look, no one is going into the Ph.D. program, give us more H1Bs!"... go look at (for example) Intels job pages. They want Ph.D.s in EE/EECE in mostly other countries now. We will eventually no longer manufacture or design anything here, but for the time being if it helps big companies bottom lines, they will never care if they are destroying us. We will wake up and no one will know how to build or design things here, and then all will be lost.
    rant/

    td;dl, Companies don't pay as they know H1Bs are cheap, no one goes in due to low wages, a manager at McDonalds can make more. Obama/Congress can not fix that, as they are paid by the same companies saying we need more H1Bs. Hey, I could go be a professor when it is done, but I could make more money asking if you want fries with that at the drive through.

    • by originalhack (142366) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @09:44AM (#36449536)
      I've recently had openings for well-paid EE/CS interns at a top-tier company. These are INTERN positions that pay in the "$37000-$47000" range and frequently lead to permanent positions that start at twice that and rise rapidly from there. I rarely see a single candidate who is, as you classify, a "native born anglo-saxon american". When I do, I rarely see one who can follow basic logic and apply algebra to a simple problem. The interview is usually essentially over in the first 20 minutes.

      Of the last 2 interns I hired, one happens to be a product of the US education system and the other falls in the "Indian/Asian" category. I can give one a permanent position. The pay is the same regardless of which one I choose. If I choose the non-citizen, I am in for a whole pile of extra paperwork to get his labor certification done.

      There is no comparison on the performance level. (The hours are identical -- interns work exactly 40 hours per week) Even though I will wind up with a whole pile of paperwork, I am hiring the non-citizen. I'd rather have to do the paperwork than have to teach the kid who grew up here all of the things that his parents and teachers should have taught him over the years.

      Face it. I need to hire people who know how to do stuff. In the last 20 years or so, we started to produce kids that don't know how to do anything. Personally, I think it was around the time that parents started to buy kids nice cars rather than helping them get a heap of junk out of the classifieds and lending them a set of tools.

      There is a part of me that would rather hire my fellow Americans. Too bad I can very rarely find qualified ones. That pains me.
  • I make good money. I like what I do. I can find a job easily in this area. I work inside. I have decent benefits.

    There is a lot I don't like about work - yes engineering gets shit on - but that is life.

  • by kubitus (927806) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @07:34AM (#36448160)
    because anybody else becomes:

    .

    human engineer = politician and/ort spin-doctor

    financial engineer = banker and/or fraudster

    medical engineer = pharmacist or doctor

    and will have their personal engineer slave who programs the TV and the Internet for him/her.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @07:37AM (#36448172)

    ...says the headlines just today [cnn.com]. I guess that means we only need 8800 more engineers this year!

  • I don't think I would have got an BSME if I had known that after 16 years, I would only now be on the brink of earning $50k. The American dream of owning a house is indeed only a dream. Every year my alma mater calls me for donations; they should be donating to me instead. I should have pursued microbiology instead.
  • by geekmux (1040042) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @09:00AM (#36448998)

    ...and you just MIGHT get what you're asking for. What's the point in someone spending 4 years of their life on a very expensive BS or MS EE degree when it seems the move to outsource more and more of America (or the mass issuing of H1B visas to people willing to work for half the normal pay rate) is becoming even more prevalent these days.

    Either discount EE degrees "half-off", or stop the outsourcing. You choose Obama, because as it stands today, an EE degree isn't worth the pain anymore. People need to know they have some ROI on a $150,000 investment, especially when it is their livelihood at stake.

  • by currently_awake (1248758) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @09:28AM (#36449340)
    manufacturing gives engineers gives hard sciences gives soft sciences. When you outsource the manufacturing you lose all that follows. Also the purpose of the H1B program isn't to fill an urgent shortage of engineers it's to push down the cost of them. If they actually wanted more they would pay them more. The USA is investing heavily in fair weather industries (copyright, banking) to the detriment of fundamental industries (manufacturing, engineering). This means in a recession you lose a bigger part of your economy.
  • by Lilith's Heart-shape (1224784) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @09:40AM (#36449490) Homepage

    The US is a country where people with an interest in STEM disciplines are mocked as nerds, geeks, and losers.

    The US is a country where American engineers and programmers not only have to compete with offshoring, but with H-1B visa holders.

    The US is a country where engineers and programmers get a crappy salary unless they work in finance.

    With these facts in mind, I find it surprising that Barack Obama has the temerity to go on record as saying "we don't have enough engineers", while saying that "private sector companies will promote science, technology, engineering and math education, offer students incentives to finish degrees, and help universities fund their programs. The participating companies intend to double their internship hiring." It's going to take more than that to get more engineers, and we have to start in grammar school.

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