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Math, Science & Engineering Education
The first issue I would like to address is the question, "What is
the industry view of the magnitude of the problem in math,
science, and engineering education?"
Both in absolute terms and
by comparison to our trading partners and military competitors,
the U.S. electronics and information technology industry is experiencing a growing shortage of the specific skills needed to maintain and expand our position in the world economy.
Projections for these specific, leveraged skills show a growing
As I am sure you are aware,
our international competitors are far
outpacing the United States in the number and proportion of
electronic engineers who are graduated each year, five times the
number graduated by the U.S.
For every one million population,
the Soviet Union annually graduates 260 electrical engineers, Japan 163, and the U.S. 67. For every 10,000 population, 70 in
the U.S. and 400 in Japan are engineers.
for only 7% of the
total undergraduate degrees awarded in the
U.S., but 21% for those in Japan, 35% in the Soviet Union, and
37% in West Germany.
The magnitude of the problem continues to increase--in spite of
the respite provided by the current state of the economy.
survey of its members conducted two years ago by AEA projected a
shortfall between our need for additional electrical and computer science engineers and the new supply from colleges of some 20,000
21-390 O - 83 - 6
annually through 1985.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates
electrical engineering jobs will increase 150,000 by 1990.
AEA is aware of a number of related educational issues, including problems of low technology content of elementary and high school
In our members' view, the problem of providing a
sufficient flow of electrical/electronic and computer engineering
graduates constitutes a bottleneck which demands our first
Engineering Faculty Shortage
In the estimation of AEA's Blue Ribbon Committee on Engineering Education, some two out of every three qualified applicants to
undergraduate electrical/electronic and computer engineering
programs cannot get into U.S. colleges and universities.
turned away, these qualified resources are lost to the U.S.
The most serious current problem restricting the increase in electrical and computer science engineering graduates--those specialties of highest need to electronics--is the shortage of faculty and instructional equipment in undergraduate programs.
Faced with a
current 10% or
some 2,000 to 2,500 engineering
faculty vacancies, many colleges and universities are capping enrollments. Half of these faculty positions have been vacant
Vacancies approach 50% in some high tech
specialty areas, such as solid state, digital systems, and
This country needs 1,000 new engineering
faculty each year over the next decade just to remain steady.
are producing only 450.
The engineering faculty shortage is primarily caused by two
factors: low salaries and inadequate teaching laboratories.
There is no incentive for a U.s. citizen with a bachelor's degree
in electrical or computer engineering to get a graduate degree
That same B.S. level student can go immediately from
college into industry and start at an annual salary between
$23,000 and $ 29,000. Going on for four years of costly graduate study likely brings a salary decrease if one wants to teach: at most universities, an assistant professor of engineering begins at between $19,000 and $26,000. A recent study of southwest
colleges showed that engineering faculty members who left
academia for industry raised their salaries $13,588 or 55
In addition to low academic salaries, inadequate teaching laboratories make engineering professorships unattractive to U.S.
It is not unusual for a college's instructional
equipment to average 20 years of age or older.
As the president
of one Fortune 500 company remarked after touring a university
engineering department, "The only time my engineers will see
equipment of this type is when they tour the Smithsonian." It is estimated that--without adding programs or students--updating
instructional labs will cost approximately $1 billion.
This combination of low salaries and lack of state-of-the-art
equipment coupled with the high cost of graduate tuition has made
it very difficult to attract U.S. citizens into graduate study in
We are concerned about quality as well as quantity. Both are suffering due to the faculty shortage. From 1980 to 1981, 31% fewer engineering programs were given normal six-year accreditation, and during the same period there was a 71% increase in
those asked to "show cause" why accreditation should not be
reverse the downward trend, we face the loss of world
economic and defense leadership positions.
Foreign students remain the primary source for new faculty
recruitment, not displacing U.S. citizens but simply filling the
graduate gap left because U.S. students do not wish to apply.
The number of Ph.D./EEs granted over the past 10 years has
actually decreased by 25%.
In 1971, 899 Ph.D./EEs were awarded
in this country. By 1981, the number had decreased to 503--half
of which went to foreign nationals.
The pool from which faculty
come is drying up.
The second question then is, "What is the appropriate response by
the private sector
to remedying the problem?"
AEA's Program To Redress The Shortage
AEA began last year by forming a Blue Ribbon Committee to study
and recommend a plan of action.
Under the leadership of Dr.
William Perry, former U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Research
and Engineering, and with guidance from members such as John
Young, President of Hewlett-Packard, Robert Noyce, Vice-Chairman
of Intel Corporation, Dr. Joe Pettit, President of Georgia
Institute of Technology, and Dr. Richard Atkinson, formerly head
of NSF and now Chancellor of the University of California at San
Diego, the Association has
launched an aggressive program.
AEA's Board of Directors set
a goal for each member company to
invest 2% of its R&D expenditures in engineering education.
established the Electronics Education Foundation to encourage and
aid contributions by member companies to engineering univer
The Foundation's 1983 goal is to raise $10 million
through its 13 industry committees around the country.
focusing on funding 300 $10,000 faculty development grants to augment faculty positions to help universities attract and retain
professors and 200 fellowship-loans to fund graduate study for
U.S. citizens who wish to get a doctoral degree and teach
Hewlett-Packard has just joined AEA in this effort