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U.S. holds own vs. China, India engineer grads
EE Times ^ | 29-May-2006 | Sheila Riley

Posted on 06/02/2006 12:10:29 PM PDT by stainlessbanner

San Francisco -- The numbers don't add up. China and India are not turning out nearly as many engineers annually as commonly believed, Duke University researchers report, and the ones they do graduate are probably not as well-trained as their U.S. counterparts.

In testimony this month before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, the researchers said their study of engineering-school graduates showed far less disparity in numbers among the three nations than reported elsewhere.

"It's contrary to what everyone else is saying," said Vivek Wadhwa, executive-in-residence and adjunct professor at Duke (Durham, N.C.).

Looking at all computer science and information technology degrees from four-year schools, Duke's initial study, released in December, came up with 137,437 engineering graduates for the U.S., 112,000 for India and 351,537 for China. Subsequent research shows China's numbers to be even lower.

The Duke researchers did conclude that China is increasing its production of engineers, however.

By comparison, stats for 2004 engineering-school graduates are often given as 352,000 for India and 600,000 for China. The National Academies, which advise the U.S. government on science, engineering and medicine, peg American numbers at 70,000.

While determining the number of graduates from U.S. engineering schools is straightforward, comparing them with their Chinese counterparts isn't.

China and India include graduates of two- and three-year programs in their compilations, the researchers found. And China, in particular, defines "engineer" more loosely than the United States, including technicians and information technology specialists in the term.

The Duke researchers provoked a minor tempest when they released their initial results late last year. Their study challenged the assumption that China and India are leagues ahead of the United States in engineering graduates.

India has three times the population of the United States and China, four times.

After the study's release, a visiting Chinese scholar told Duke team members that their December numbers--obtained from China's Ministry of Education--were not accurate. So the researchers then contacted half of China's 400 engineering schools for a clearer picture.

They found that classification methods differed from school to school, not province to province, as they had previously thought. "Each school reported it as they wanted to," Wadhwa said. "There was no standardization of degrees."

Of the 200 universities contacted, the 30 larger ones that provided 2004 data said they had a total of 29,205 students in fields they classified as engineering.

At the end of the day, Duke was unable to come up with clear comparisons between China and the United States. But the data for 2005 engineering graduates from 77 of the Chinese universities contacted showed "significant increases" over 2004, Wadhwa said.

There are China-specific reasons for the disparities in their engineer count. One is government involvement.

"The ambiguity of numbers is a problem with Chinese statistics and business in general, because of the really top-down nature of the Chinese government," said George Haley, an industrial marketing professor at the University of New Haven, Conn., who interviewed 29 CEOs in China for his book The Chinese Tao of Business: The Logic of Successful Business Strategy, published in late 2004.

The government tells institutions that a certain number of engineers are needed. With that mandate, institutions will find a way to come up with the required number--or even more--he said.

Moreover, narrowly focusing on graduation rates ignores bigger issues, such as quality. China may be increasing its numbers of engineers--a necessity, given its growing economy--but with a factory-like approach, he said.

"My conclusion is that China truly is graduating more engineers than the U.S. in raw numbers, and that those numbers are very high," Wadhwa said. "However, their focus is on quantity, not quality."

Haley agreed. "If you were to speak to any multinational tech executive working in China, they would tell you only about 10 percent of Chinese engineers are capable of working up to multinational standards," he said.

Chinese companies can do remarkable work with fewer people than a U.S. project might have, but Chinese engineers typically have limitations in creating new world-class technology, Haley said.

Rather than worry about outsourcing--a reality in any case--U.S. universities and industry should focus on which skills are needed and how to develop them, Wadhwa said. Expertise in fields like systems biology and genomics will give the U.S. a long-term edge, he said.

And employers should look hard at salaries, Wadhwa said. In Duke's case, 30 to 40 percent of students in its master's of engineering management program accept jobs outside the profession. "If the money was there in engineering, you bet these kids would be getting into engineering," he said.

There's another consideration, said Duke engineering-school dean Kristina Johnson. Engineers need to have a historical perspective and to understand public-policy implications of their work.

"There's a fuller context to this great research," Johnson said. "If we thought of the dynamic engineer as a liberally educated person of the 21st century, we would never have enough."

Engineering education needs to intersect social sciences and humanities to get to that point. "Whatever country does that first will create a citizenry that's able to address the problems of the world in a more holistic context," Johnson said.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: china; degree; ee; engineer; grad; us
Related Article U.S. Falling Behind China, India For New Engineering Graduates

You decide.

1 posted on 06/02/2006 12:10:35 PM PDT by stainlessbanner
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China recruiting U.S. IT grads
2 posted on 06/02/2006 12:11:33 PM PDT by stainlessbanner
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To: Rebelbase; KC_Conspirator; rajuchor; cinives; mr_hammer; Just mythoughts; ARCADIA; rhombus; ...

follow-up from previous articles


3 posted on 06/02/2006 12:14:02 PM PDT by stainlessbanner
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To: stainlessbanner

who would have an interest in lying about this and making us think they are a great resource pool? hmmm..


4 posted on 06/02/2006 12:14:12 PM PDT by WriteOn (Truth)
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To: WriteOn
I am so sick of being lied to by pretty much anyone in power. If it were not for the Internet we would be in a world of hurt.
They are much better at propaganda then say 20 years ago.
It would be a true Orwellian situation if not for the Internet raw data ability.
think about it, look how much slicker and insidious advertising is then years gone by. We do not even know they are doing some of this.
5 posted on 06/02/2006 12:28:25 PM PDT by roverman2K6
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To: WriteOn

"who would have an interest in lying about this and making us think they are a great resource pool? hmmm.."

The Left and the MSM tear down the U. S. and build up China at every opportunity. It is ridiculous. China is a primitive and backward nation that has made remarkable progress in recent years---but is still a primitive and backward nation.

Take an example. Chinese per capita income doubled in the 1990s. Doubled! Now, the US had a good decade in the 1990s, one of the five or six biggest booms in American history, but our per capita income percentage increase was a tiny fraction of China's! Why, if current levels of increased continue, China will pass the US up quickly!

Now the fact: per capita income in China increased from $300 a person a year in $1990 to $600 a person a year in 2000. That means over 10 year period, per capita income in China increased by a whopping $300. If that happened in the US, we would be in a major depression. Admittedly, this is a wonderful thing for China. All over China, people can now afford bicycles. That really is a big improvement.

But the idea that China is moving to overtake us would be a laughable joke---were it not part of a extensive tissue of lies woven by the MSM to make United States look like it's some kind of backwater, loser nation.


6 posted on 06/02/2006 12:32:00 PM PDT by strategofr (H-mentor:"pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it"Hillary's Secret War,Poe,p.198)
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To: stainlessbanner
"There's a fuller context to this great research," Johnson said. "If we thought of the dynamic engineer as a liberally educated person of the 21st century, we would never have enough."

Good thing we don't think of an engineer that way.

Engineering education needs to intersect social sciences and humanities to get to that point. "Whatever country does that first will create a citizenry that's able to address the problems of the world in a more holistic context," Johnson said.

The new engineering "addresses the problems of the world holistically." Engineering as political science. Hippie talk BS.

7 posted on 06/02/2006 12:40:28 PM PDT by ecomcon
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To: stainlessbanner

All I know is that my nephew is in engineering and will graduate next year having earned straight A's, if he continues how he started. We have some brilliant kids out there.


8 posted on 06/02/2006 12:43:03 PM PDT by tiki
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To: stainlessbanner
Engineering education needs to intersect social sciences and humanities to get to that point. "Whatever country does that first will create a citizenry that's able to address the problems of the world in a more holistic context," Johnson said.

But will they be able to design and build a bridge?

Maybe we'll be using virtual bridges by then, so it won't matter.

9 posted on 06/02/2006 12:44:16 PM PDT by skip_intro
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To: stainlessbanner

Can anyone tell me why engineers need to have a public policy perspective of their work ?

Can't you see the fate of, say, the newly-invented transistor if some engineer had decided that it was contrary to public policy ?

Do we live in China or the US of A ?


10 posted on 06/02/2006 12:47:33 PM PDT by cinives (On some planets what I do is considered normal.)
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To: skip_intro

It's OK - it will make us feel better knowing the engineers were motivated by the holistic context of their work.

See Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand sure pegged this dean.


11 posted on 06/02/2006 12:49:12 PM PDT by cinives (On some planets what I do is considered normal.)
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To: stainlessbanner
"There's a fuller context to this great research," Johnson said. "If we thought of the dynamic engineer as a liberally educated person of the 21st century, we would never have enough."

Engineering education needs to intersect social sciences and humanities to get to that point. "Whatever country does that first will create a citizenry that's able to address the problems of the world in a more holistic context," Johnson said.

One of the major reasons I went into engineering was because I wasn't forced to take the BS classes every other major was required to take. This happened because to graduate an engineer, I needed too many technical classes. We were still taking 20 credits a semester without all the humanities etc. I'm very thankful my mind wasn't polluted, but strengthened by engineering.

If they try to do as she says, engineering will either turn into a 6 year major, or will turn into another fluff degree.

12 posted on 06/02/2006 12:53:37 PM PDT by KOZ.
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To: KOZ.

One thing that I can stand about those types of classes is it is an easy A. It does balance out some of my lower grades in such classes like Quantum Chemistry, Advanced Quantiative Analysis. (Chemistry, Close enough to engineering).


13 posted on 06/02/2006 1:26:55 PM PDT by John Will
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To: KOZ.
"One of the major reasons I went into engineering was because I wasn't forced to take the BS classes every other major was required to take. This happened because to graduate an engineer, I needed too many technical classes. We were still taking 20 credits a semester without all the humanities etc. I'm very thankful my mind wasn't polluted, but strengthened by engineering. "



Should have gone to an engineering school...We had 1 history class (offered every other semester) and about 3 English/lit classes. The rest was either management, psychology, philosophy (not sure if you could get a degree in it though), or sciences. Of course then you get all the people who say that it's important for folks to spend thousands of dollars to rehash what you did or didn't learn in HS (geography, gym, English, health, etc) so it makes you "well rounded"
14 posted on 06/02/2006 1:31:14 PM PDT by tfecw (It's for the children)
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To: stainlessbanner

It all depends on what your definition of engineer is.

In both China, India and USA only some engineers are technical. Here in software IT land, there are many "engineers" who are not doing technical work designing or writing code. They are managing, coordinating, facilitating and otherwise "engineering people and the process" not the product.

I am increasingly coming to believe that the increase in IT coordinators and facilitators who waste the time of the productive people is a direct result of the feminization of our culture to be sensitive to feelings rather than be sensitive to facts and logic.

We can't mention that a program has a logic error because it would hurt the programmer's feelings... and if that programmer is a woman, minority, or other special category it would create a hostile work environment to point out a logic bug.


15 posted on 06/02/2006 1:44:54 PM PDT by spintreebob
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To: KOZ.
True, but the quality of U.S. engineers has declined substantially over the years mainly because the focus on specialized subject areas has resulted in serious shortcomings in disciplines like writing, critical thought, etc.

I have a relative who is a highly-regarded engineer, and I was shocked when he described how thorough his education was back in the early 1960s.

If they try to do as she says, engineering will either turn into a 6 year major . . .

For all intents and purposes, it already is. Most major engineering societies in the U.S. recognize a master's degree as a base standard of competence for professional practice in engineering.

16 posted on 06/02/2006 1:45:00 PM PDT by Alberta's Child (Can money pay for all the days I lived awake but half asleep?)
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To: stainlessbanner
Engineering education needs to intersect social sciences and humanities to get to that point. "Whatever country does that first will create a citizenry that's able to address the problems of the world in a more holistic context," Johnson said.

In other words, we need engineers, and scientists too, to take more liberal arts courses so they can be indoctrinated away from the cold, hard facts of their disciplines and be more 'open' to the liberal agenda.

17 posted on 06/02/2006 1:49:25 PM PDT by doc30 (Democrats are to morals what and Etch-A-Sketch is to Art.)
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To: Alberta's Child

That's a good point. I'll take another spin at what you said. Technology and industry has progressed so much that a master's degree is needed to just understand and work in the areas we currently develop in.

btw...what do you mean by 'focus on specialized subject areas'?


18 posted on 06/02/2006 2:24:36 PM PDT by KOZ.
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To: KOZ.
...."or will turn into another fluff degree."

Sad to say, but this is already happening at some of the schools. "Technology and Public Policy" are becoming minor's.
19 posted on 06/02/2006 4:56:55 PM PDT by indthkr
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To: stainlessbanner

Thank you for the ping.

"Engineering education needs to intersect social sciences and humanities to get to that point. "Whatever country does that first will create a citizenry that's able to address the problems of the world in a more holistic context," Johnson said."


I will have to ask my newly electrical engineering graduate what he thinks about this idea.


20 posted on 06/03/2006 4:38:45 AM PDT by Just mythoughts
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To: stainlessbanner
""My conclusion is that China truly is graduating more engineers than the U.S. in raw numbers, and that those numbers are very high," Wadhwa said. "However, their focus is on quantity, not quality."

Haley agreed. "If you were to speak to any multinational tech executive working in China, they would tell you only about 10 percent of Chinese engineers are capable of working up to multinational standards," he said."

Finally, an honest read of the situation. As I have said on other threads similar to this, the dirty little secret in business is that there are technical types kept on staff either stateside or in a 'supervisory' role overseas. Why? Because they have to put out the fires generated and correct mistakes.
While this may be indirectly acknowledged by higher level executives, there is little effort made to correct the problem, much less offer any recognition to the staff pulling their hair out trying to keep things together.
Now, don't get me wrong--there are instances where there is some very good work going on. But all this junk in the press about 'falling behind' is a lot of agitprop to keep the market flush with talent>
Also, a lot of those titled 'engineer' over there go to the equivalent of a 2 year technical school--hardly the type of education to have employees well grounded in science and engineering fundamentals.

"And employers should look hard at salaries, Wadhwa said. In Duke's case, 30 to 40 percent of students in its master's of engineering management program accept jobs outside the profession. "If the money was there in engineering, you bet these kids would be getting into engineering," he said."

And here is the other fly in the ointment. There is, IMHO, a lot of upper management out there that views engineering talent as a 'commodity' item. It is a simple fact that while engineers may have decent starting salaries, those salaries tend to 'top out' after 10 years, unless one enters management of some sort.
If I were asked about possibilities in engineering, I'd tell the individual that now engineering is a lot like teaching: You better like doing it, because there isn't much appreciation for the field.
To envision what would happen-- the 'Day without Illegals' was a bust. But imagine what would happen if the engineering profession went on strike for six months? Sales and marketing types would be jumping out of windows everywhere ( but only after they can get someone to open the window for them ).

21 posted on 06/03/2006 10:22:53 AM PDT by Tench_Coxe
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To: Tench_Coxe
There is, IMHO, a lot of upper management out there that views engineering talent as a 'commodity' item.

Exactly, and right now China and India have the "mindshare" - as in, "their kids are smarter than ours and can do the work cheaper."

22 posted on 06/03/2006 10:32:36 AM PDT by Mr. Jeeves ("When the government is invasive, the people are wanting." -- Tao Te Ching)
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