2003 REPORTS HIGHLIGHT U.S. ENGINEERING WORKFORCE CRISIS
Two studies and a survey released in May 2003 drew widespread media coverage to challenges facing development of a technologically literate workforce in the U.S., and, more specifically, facing engineering as a profession. One study reported a drop in the number of U.S. high school graduates who plan to study engineering, a lack of preparation among potential engineering students, and a decline in interest in the field among young women and members of underrepresented ethnic minorities. Another examined more broadly the challenges to high quality math and science education at the K-12 level in the U.S. Most recently, a Gallup survey reported a broad consensus among Americans on the need to make improving pre-college math and science education a national priority.
"Maintaining a Strong Engineering Workforce," a study by the ACT, reported:
- a drop in the number of high school seniors planning to study engineering, from 9 percent in 1992 to 6 percent in 2002;
- a decrease in the percentage of students interested in engineering who had taken college preparatory courses in high school;
- a drop in the number of female ACT test takers considering engineering careers;
- a gap between aspirations of racial/ethnic minority test takers, as indicated by expressed interest in engineering, and their relevant preparation with more than basic coursework.
To read the ACT report, visit: http://www.act.org/research/policymakers/pdf/engineer.pdf
"Learning for the Future: Changing the Culture of Math and Science Education to Ensure a Competitive Workforce," released by the Committee For Economic Development (CED), a business group, focused on three issues: lack of interest in scientific and technological careers among young people, poor quality of coursework, and inadequate teacher training. Recommendations included:
- greater attention from the higher education community to promoting and supporting, high quality curriculum and programs in K-12;
- collaboration and support from the business community to both K-12 and higher education efforts to improve science and technological literacy;
- public and private support for teacher professional development.
To read the CED report, visit: http://www.ced.org/projects/scientists.shtml
"Bayer Facts of Science Education IX: Americans' Views on the Role of Science and Technology in U.S. National Defense," a Gallup poll commissioned by Bayer Corporation as part of its "Making Science Make Sense" program, reports that public awareness is very high across all demographic groups about the need to improve pre-college math and science education, and that the current national focus on security issues highlights that need. Among the findings:
- 90% of Americans believe that improving pre-college math and science education is a national priority that must be addressed.
- 86% favor more hands-on science learning. - 96% feel that science and technology play an important role in national security
- 62% feel it is very important for companies that employ science and technology workers to play an active role in improving pre-college science education, and an additional 32% agree that this is somewhat important.
To read the Gallup survey, visit: http://www.bayerus.com/MSMS/Survey/summary03.aspx
Above information reprinted from ASME online newsletter 2003 archives.