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The Real Science Gap

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the blaming-the-schools-is-so-2005 dept.

Businesses 618

walterbyrd writes "This article attempts to explain why the US is struggling in its competition with other countries in the realm of scientific advancement. 'It's not insufficient schooling or a shortage of scientists. It's a lack of job opportunities. Americans need the reasonable hope that spending their youth preparing to do science will provide a satisfactory career.' I can hardly believe that somebody actually understands the present situation. It continues, 'The current approach — trying to improve the students or schools — will not produce the desired result, the experts predict, because the forces driving bright young Americans away from technical careers arise elsewhere, in the very structure of the US research establishment. For generations, that establishment served as the world’s nimblest and most productive source of great science and outstanding young scientists. Because of long-ignored internal contradictions, however, the American research enterprise has become so severely dysfunctional that it actively prevents the great majority of the young Americans aspiring to do research from realizing their dreams.'"

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Mr. President! (5, Funny)

TrisexualPuppy (976893) | more than 4 years ago | (#32568690)

We must not allow a MINE SHAFT GAP...err...science gap...

Re:Mr. President! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32569116)

Mod parent up. This is a subtly insightful comment.

Re:Mr. President! (1)

DeadDecoy (877617) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569472)

In order to efficiently produce more researchers, we must get more females into the sciences. I advocate a 1:100 male:female ratio, which will revitalize our scientific population.

Science? What for? (3, Funny)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32568722)

Faith works much better.

Re:Science? What for? (4, Insightful)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 4 years ago | (#32568872)

Might be better for little Timmy to plan on being a televangelist instead of a climatologist

Re:Science? What for? (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569284)

Might be better for little Timmy to plan on being a televangelist instead of a climatologist

There's definately more money in it.

Joel feels our pain and has made himself wealthy (reportedly earning $13 million for his last book advance alone) and his church prosperous ($75 million and counting in annual revenue) by urging us to let go of it, to turn it over to God, to accept God’s favor so that we may be as prosperous as Joe

Read more: http://www.portfolio.com/executives/features/2008/07/16/Megachurch-Preacher-Joel-Osteen#ixzz0qrDeHFqK [portfolio.com]

H1b visas and the job market (4, Insightful)

mollog (841386) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569446)

Many of the tech employers have lobbied congress to get exemptions to the laws regarding the hiring of foreign workers. They have cited the lack of qualified people as the reason for the need to hire H1b workers. I don't know what the truth is behind that claim, but I can tell you that the use of H1b workers has resulted in lower wages, fewer job opportunities, and less demand for those jobs that require specialized technical training. Job security is gone.

High tech employers have also gotten exemptions to the labor laws that limit the number of hours per week worked; people who work in the software industry do not have protection from employers who demand they work long hours. So, the quality of life for workers in the software industry sucks.

Someone ought to clue in the brainiacs about the reasons why nobody in the U.S. cares to take a tech/science job.

Re:Science? What for? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32568902)

Faith works much better

That attitude is part of the problem not the solution. Some people in this country feel that science and faith can not coexist. That kind of thinking will drag us back into the middle ages where science was no different than witchcraft unless use to create a weapon to defeat the enemy.

Re:Science? What for? (2, Informative)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#32568998)

Faith works much better

That attitude is part of the problem not the solution. Some people in this country feel that science and faith can not coexist. That kind of thinking will drag us back into the middle ages where science was no different than witchcraft unless use to create a weapon to defeat the enemy.

You speak like the modern age has had a fundamentally different attitude towards science.

Don't we? (4, Insightful)

twoallbeefpatties (615632) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569184)

You speak like the modern age has had a fundamentally different attitude towards science.

From what I'm told (I didn't live during that time, so I don't have firsthand knowledge), we used to have a government that strongly encouraged scientific research and development and considered it part of the greatness of our nation. Whether you consider it a problem with faith or with politics or with capitalism or education or whatever, I don't think you can say that about our relationship with science today.

It also doesn't help that we don't have a lot of hard science going on in business right now. Our current business environment emphasizes short-term growth over long-term growth, so scientific developments that don't lead to real gains within a few years are being somewhat ignored, so that the private sector is just as apathetic as the public sector, if not more.

Re:Science? What for? (2, Interesting)

I(rispee_I(reme (310391) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569072)

They can coexist, as oil and water can coexist. The pertinent question, as the kids are asking these days, is "Will it blend?"

The answer is a definite no, religious apologists aside.* By definition, faith is belief in something without evidence. Science requires the collection and examination of evidence.

Also, this "kind of thinking" is the best policy to guard against a dark age, where every scientific discovery required a "look how this glorifies the creator" clause.

*Spare me the list of notable scientists who also held superstitious beliefs. Isaac Newton was interested in alchemy, but that does not mean his more legitimate accomplishments are dependent on the legitimacy of alchemy.

Re:Science? What for? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569310)

Science and religion ask and answer different questions, so no, they don't mix.

Re:Science? What for? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569366)

Optimally...maybe...here and there. but look at the latter in folk version, the actually "living" version.

Re:Science? What for? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569456)

Partially correctOf course, advances in science sometimes brought it in direct "conflict" with faith - and only if the latter was, in one way or another, adapting, changing, the situation didn't result in hiccups.
Thing is, too large number of people tends to define themselves by their faith (hence also less willing to "compromise"). That can work decently fine - during Cold War it probably was also, in some notable part, "to create a weapon to defeat the enemy" (on various levels, also national pride). So nothing new / might again work. Not very optimal though...

Wage Gap (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32568738)

The youngest and brightest are being sucked up by the field that pays: structured finance. As a country you've put financial innovation ahead of scientific and this is the natural outcome.

Re:Wage Gap (2, Funny)

lorenlal (164133) | more than 4 years ago | (#32568828)

Is that more or less lucrative than patent law?

Re:Wage Gap (5, Insightful)

egandalf (1051424) | more than 4 years ago | (#32568888)

Sad but true. Even so, look where financial "innovation" got us... we crippled the global economy with our "innovation" (read: creative bookkeeping by large, powerful finance firms).

Re:Wage Gap (5, Informative)

StrategicIrony (1183007) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569032)

It's not specifically structured finance, but the whole system of money-making.

In my company, there are a number of world class engineers who do consulting work.

There are also sales drones... err people... who sell said work.

We bill about $300/hr for consulting and our better engineers make $200k. Not bad. Even the average guy makes $125k or so.

But our top sales guy made almost $1m last year and there are a dozen of them making over $500k. That's more than the CEO.

The sales guys can sell so much because we have world class engineers and a world class management team.

Why did he make 8x what some of these world class engineers make? Is it because sales is more important?

I don't think he's a world class person in any regard. He's a lush. He gets kicked out of strip clubs on friday nights for getting sloshed and being a dick.

At the same time, his engineer is at home working to finish up the project he was working on to pay for that strip club outing.

Ahh the justice.

Re:Wage Gap (4, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569110)

From the business perspective, yes, sales is more important. It doesn't really matter if you make crap so long as people buy it. However, if you can't get people to buy your product, it doesn't matter if its the best in the world. Unless you're selling a service, in which case the people providing the service matter a whole lot more.

Re:Wage Gap (1)

StrategicIrony (1183007) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569160)

And in this case, consulting is a service. :-)

Re:Wage Gap (5, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569374)

That's true, but it's still possible that the relative values to the company are being miscalculated. If you fired that sales guy, could some other sales guy paid half as much sell the product just as well? My guess is that often the answer is "yes".

Similar with management. Yes, you need good management, but if you were only offering half of what you currently offer for senior executives, how big would the difference in company performance going forward be? I think less than the senior executives would like you to believe.

And while it's true that it doesn't matter if your product sucks as long as you can sell it, there are plenty of industries where it at least helps sell it if your product isn't total crap, if your engineers have a reputation for quickly solving issues that arise, etc.

Re:Wage Gap (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32569390)

We bill about $300/hr for consulting and our better engineers make $200k. Not bad. Even the average guy makes $125k or so.

Your ideas intrigue me and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Sincerely,
An Average Guy Engineer

Re:Wage Gap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32569540)

Can you describe this "strip club" in a little more detail?

Re:Wage Gap (2, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569076)

"The youngest and brightest are being sucked up by the field that pays: structured finance. As a country you've put financial innovation ahead of scientific and this is the natural outcome."

Well, you can't really blame the young people. I mean, the goal for most people, is to live a happy and comfortable life. That requires MONEY, to enable you to live in a nice home in a safe area, to support your family in a comfortable lifestyle (including good schools, vacation time, some of the luxuries in life). Now, when you are starting college, and you see a choice between two paths (and you think you'd be likely happy at either as a career) which would you take? The one with the long hours studying to get a job with long hours period and low pay? Or, would you take the path that led to more normal hours and levels of stress, which paid more?

I mean, that IS the reason for going to school and getting a job right? To enable one to make as good of a living as possible, right?

I know a good life means different things to different people, but for the large majority, that is working just as much as needed to make as much money as possible, so as to enable them to enjoy a good lifestyle.

Let's face it..frankly, if I didn't have to actually work for a living (say I won the powerball and was independently wealthy), I'd sure as shit never work another day again in my lifetime!! I could spend my days quite easily in pursuit of fun stuff.

I venture to guess about 99% of the rest of the planet would do the same.

Re:Wage Gap (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569302)

The youngest and brightest are being sucked up by the field that pays: structured finance. As a country you've put financial innovation ahead of scientific and this is the natural outcome.

What about medicine?

Re:Wage Gap (3, Insightful)

suomynonAyletamitlU (1618513) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569418)

It's not just whether or not it pays. I would call myself a decently intelligent (and pretty well educated) person; at 25, I can honestly say I never even though of a career in science, not because science itself wasn't interesting, but because:

* School made it seem like anything interesting was already known, and in particular, there didn't seem to be anything that both needed research and was in reach (as opposed to, say, QM or string theory, which might take multiple doctorates to understand fully)
* I don't think I ever heard of any research fields that interested me
* I have only a vague concept of what it would be like to be a researcher, but it seems unpleasant
* There were no engineering challenges, except maybe AI, that I would be interested in sinking my teeth into
* There were no companies or organizations doing anything really tasty that I'd want to be a part of

So now I'm hoping to get into game design, which actually addresses all of these concerns, even if it doesn't produce anything of note (by which I mean, in contrast to anything of scientific or engineering import).

I could totally believe, however, that people in third worlds see what we (first-world countries in particular) already know, even get the same textbooks as us, but they don't see their world as being "complete" in the same way I (and other first-worlders, I'm sure) do. They could easily be really motivated to jump on engineering challenges, and they probably have lots of companies doing lots of tasty things that give them an opportunity to do something interesting.

Big Mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32568754)

Should never have dismantled the Bell System.

NASA shutting down manned exploration doesn't help (2, Insightful)

Michael Kristopeit (1751814) | more than 4 years ago | (#32568758)

when the government can't justify continuing it's own historically most prestigious scientific research program, there isn't much hope for the private sector.

Re:NASA shutting down manned exploration doesn't h (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32568896)

I am a scientist and manned exploration is basically a useless waste of money for us (and yes my research is deeply rooted into space exploration). Robots bring more data for a fraction of the cost. I have yet to hear any of my colleague complain about the government new plans for space. On the contrary.

Re:NASA shutting down manned exploration doesn't h (1)

spidrw (868429) | more than 4 years ago | (#32568944)

If you ever get a chance, watch the series 'From the Earth to the Moon'. It was on HBO a while ago and is now on DVD. Specifically, watch episode 10. It addresses exactly what you're talking about. Granted, robot and camera technology today is significantly better than it was in 1970, but I think the point made in that episode (people > robots for scientific observation) is still true today.

Re:NASA shutting down manned exploration doesn't h (4, Insightful)

Utini420 (444935) | more than 4 years ago | (#32568950)

Robots are fuckin' boring.

Re:NASA shutting down manned exploration doesn't h (2, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#32568980)

Even if the Apollo program was to a large extent a propaganda battle against the Soviets, it more than paid for itself in the technical innovations it delivered. The advancements in integrated circuits and miniaturization alone probably paid for the Apollo program many times over. It basically maintained the US's dominance in computers and embedded systems for a generation.

Re:NASA shutting down manned exploration doesn't h (1)

Michael Kristopeit (1751814) | more than 4 years ago | (#32568996)

you just heard me complain... keep living in a bubble.

eventually we'll have to leave the planet if we are to continue as a species. that is a use of manned exploration.

Military spending, reduced progressive taxes (2, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#32568956)

Two factors immediately come to my mind: military spending and the reduction of the progressive tax burden. The way I see it, there just is not as much money for the government to throw at science, with the exception of military science. Now, it is true that military science has produced a number of useful non-military results, but there are some fields that have not really been advanced by spending on military science -- the pentagon has little interest in funding research into coral reef development or studies on dung beetles (I write this wondering if someone is going to pull up a paper on one of those topics that happened to be funded by DARPA). It is also true that government spending is not the be-all and end-all of science funding, and that private sources can also fund science, but that is not a solution in and of itself -- corporate funded science suffers from a problem of biased results, and science-as-a-charity is not very sustainable (there really are not enough rich patrons willing to pay for research, especially for topics that are not "trendy").

Re:NASA shutting down manned exploration doesn't h (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569004)

I think the chronology was more the other way--- the death of serious research outside universities started in the private sector, with the slow deaths of Bell Labs, Xerox PARC, etc. NASA at least held out a bit longer than the private sector in that regard.

Re:NASA shutting down manned exploration doesn't h (1)

Michael Kristopeit (1751814) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569102)

well, that's pretty much my point... the government SHOULD be able to last longer than the private sector. when they quit, hope is lost.

Student loan debt not worth it (3, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#32568770)

When I was in college (not so long ago), getting a Ph.D. was basically considered an insane pursuit. The professors (whatever their motivation) would explicitly tell their students this. Aside from the grueling work and tough admission requirements for most programs, the end result was a mountain of student loan debt and a degree that was unlikely to even get you a tenure-track position anymore (since those were being phased out). You would end up $100,000 of student loan debt and a part-time instructor (or low-level researcher) job that barely paid your rent.

If the U.S. government wants more Ph.D.-level scientists so bad; start encouraging universities to open up more admissions slots, offering grants (instead of loans) for qualified candidates, and offering better paying post-doc positions. Otherwise STFU and stop complaining that no one is insane enough to go into serious research (more like serious *debt*).

Re:Student loan debt not worth it (4, Informative)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 4 years ago | (#32568900)

Most people in the sciences don't pay their way through grad school. It's generally covered by grants already.

Re:Student loan debt not worth it (5, Informative)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569094)

Word.

How did the grand-parent post get modded up? If you leave PhD program in the sciences with any debt, it's either left over from your undergrad years or it's lifestyle debt (car, eating out, clothes, etc.)

Between teaching, research grants, and cleaning test tubes, grad school in the sciences will cost you $0 out of pocket for tuition, fees, rent, and food.

Re:Student loan debt not worth it (2)

saider (177166) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569354)

The author of that post didn't realize that the PhD's were scaring the students so they would not have to divvy up the money. Not necessarily for themselves, but for their grad students. They probably pulled the "right" students aside after class and offered them a path through the maze.

Re:Student loan debt not worth it (2)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569438)

Between teaching, research grants, and cleaning test tubes, grad school in the sciences will cost you $0 out of pocket for tuition, fees, rent, and food.

That must be nice, but it's not reality where I am. I'm at a university that ranks as about #40 in most science/math/engineering rankings, and the only thing I get waived is tuition. I have to pay ~$750 in fees per year. I get about $1500/mo after tax from my stipend, and I have to pay for 100% of my rent, food, and textbooks out of that.

You can't get a part-time job and still get a stipend, and I don't know anybody that's managed to get a "research grant" that provides them with extra money beyond the stipend for being a teaching or research assistant.

Re:Student loan debt not worth it (1)

Have Brain Will Rent (1031664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569522)

True - in fact quite bizarrely my scholarship income was much higher than a postdoc would get - meaning graduating could lead to a salary drop if I stayed in academia. I left for other reasons but it has always struck me as one of the more obvious quirks of the system. I saw many friends in other science fields getting crappy post-docs making crappy money spending years as slaves for tenured faculty before they got a chance at a tenure track position.

Pay scientists what they're worth (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 4 years ago | (#32568930)

Wait... We can just print money instead. Forget what I just said.

 

Re:Student loan debt not worth it (5, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32568960)

For grad school in the sciences, loan debt is uncommon--- students typically get paid stipends as research assistants or teaching assistants, which cover full tuition plus a modest salary (~$16k-30k or so, depending on field and institution). Of course, students often have undergrad loan debt, but I don't think grad school makes it worse at least.

I think the biggest problem is, as you point out, post-PhD. There are too many PhDs being produced relative to good research jobs, so typically one has to do several postdocs, might have to take a lecturer position somewhere, etc., in hopes of eventually, maybe when you're 40 or something, getting a tenure-track faculty position. Oh, and that's a tenure-track position, which is basically 6-7 years of probation (but at least you're getting paid well at that point).

Not entirely sure how to fix that. Making PhD studies themselves more attractive won't fix the problem, I don't think; if anything, it'll make it worse, by encouraging the production of even more PhDs who there aren't research jobs for. Somehow the post-grad-school part has to be fixed. There have to be more research positions, either in academia, in industry, or at government labs. Or, if we aren't going to open up more of the top-level (tenured-faculty-tier) types of positions, at least there have to be more attractive lower-level ones, something better than a post-doc. Maybe one where you still work in someone else's lab (i.e. you aren't the lab head), but you get paid better and have somewhat more research freedom. But that requires funding, too.

Re:Student loan debt not worth it (4, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569086)

Oh, on the last one, it'd also be better if funding were somewhat more stable and involved less overhead. From what I can tell, something like half of a professor's time at a top research university these days is spent writing grants [blogspot.com] and otherwise trying to get funding. Yes, we need some way of prioritizing research money, and it's not always bad to ask people to justify their requests for money. But when half or so of our top researchers' time is being used chasing money, instead of doing scientific research, that balance isn't quite right.

Re:Student loan debt not worth it (1)

drumcat (1659893) | more than 4 years ago | (#32568964)

This is so true. It's just microeconomics for students. I thought it'd be cool to be a whitecoat when I was a kid, but business is where the money is at. I saw teachers and grad degrees all struggle throughout my academic career -- why would I have ever chosen that? Instead, I went to IT. I have a Finance degree. At some point, it's nearly infallible. If you want people like me who had a choice, you had better make them today's "athletes". Only medical doctors make money. Most other doctorates are hippies that have office hours and Birkenstocks. That's what computer science was twenty years ago. The opportunity is there, should the Government actually want to emphasize such things...

Re:Student loan debt not worth it (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569034)

Where did you go to college? My undergrad professors told me that as far as money was concerned, I should simply not go to a school that does not offer me some kind of fellowship or RA position. Perhaps that advice is confined to my field (computer science)?

Re:Student loan debt not worth it (1)

Rhys (96510) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569074)

What student loan debt? I only did a masters but I know a few PhD types who came out of the same (public) university I did and they weren't leaving with the mountain of debt. I left with none from my grad school (TA/RA positions the whole time).

Yes, I was young, single, lived like a college student, and didn't have a car (though I'd chip in on parking and gas for the roommate who usually did have one, though with the bus system and now zipcars that's a lot less of a problem). A TA/RA position isn't going to let you live the life of luxury nor support a family by itself, but it wasn't half bad either.

That said I don't disagree with the point; if we paid scientists like we pay big name sports/actors/models/musicians, we'd all be living in the Jetsons cartoons, complete with flying cars that go putt-putt-putt.

Re:Student loan debt not worth it (3, Informative)

Bowling Moses (591924) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569278)

I have a Ph.D. and while I wouldn't consider the pursuit of one to be insane, it is definitely not in your economic best interest. The sweet spot in science has long been to get the master's degree. The average Ph.D. won't catch up to the average M.S. in lifetime earnings, though eventually the average Ph.D. will get paid more. It's just that a M.S. takes 2-3 years, while the Ph.D. takes 6-7 years. Frequently, especially in the life sciences, the Ph.D. is then followed by one or two (or, horrors, more) 2-5 year long postdoctoral positions. A Ph.D. student in the sciences gets paid these days in the high teens to mid 20's (You're paid. Not well, but you're paid--no loans). A postdoc gets paid anything from the upper 20's to the low 50's, depending on experience and much more importantly luck. So it's pretty easy to see why a Ph.D. won't catch up to the M.S., even though many Ph.D.'s end up being the boss of the M.S., and very rarely the other way around.

One way to look at the long years of crap pay a Ph.D. scientist endures is simple supply and demand: we have too many science Ph.D.'s and too few M.S. That and whenever you hear about a "shortage" of Ph.D.'s in this country, remember that news of the shortage comes from the exact same people demanding an increase in H1B's because of the critical shortage of qualified computer programmers.

Re:Student loan debt not worth it (1)

guru42101 (851700) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569412)

Debt wasn't a big deal in the comments that my professors made. What was the big deal was the relative income of getting a Ph.D. vs 3-6 years professional experience. In IT especially you will make more money over your lifetime without a Ph.D. than with one. In some sciences it works the other way as they'll hit a ceiling of promotabilty. BUT when a fresh grad student makes less than 40k a year with a long road of working their way to make more money it is no wonder that that may would be scientists are going to other careers.

Well, duh. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32568788)

I can spend 10 years getting a PhD, and make $60k/year (if that), or I can spend 4 years and get a BBA and make $60k/year to start. Sorry, I like science and all, but I *love* money.

More corporate support plzktnx (4, Insightful)

t0qer (230538) | more than 4 years ago | (#32568798)

My dad grew up with Nasa/AMES Lockheed sponsoring the model rocket club at James Lick High school.
His brother went to an autoshop sponsored by Ford.
Straight out of high school, uncle went to work at the Ford plant in Milpitas, bolting bumpers on Pintos. Dad went to work in the sciences.
My generation had nearly free apple II's in school. We grew up to be the dot.com generation.

Somewhere along the line, we decided corporate support of training and equipment wasn't good enough. Greedy school administrators insisted on "Cash only" gifts, citing that corporate support was some evil incapable of having goals that are in tune with the education system. Bullshit, they just wanted to pad their own 6 figure superintendent salaries.

Meanwhile the corporations are moving onto countries where the educational systems have no problems working with schools to produce good workers.

If wanted to fix this problem, we'd ask some of the biotech firms to donate used gene sequencing equipment to high schools, with some training on how to use it. How many students would love to know how to sequence their own genes?

I'm moving to Mexico, where I can fly the American flag and light off fireworks on the 4th of July without getting harassed by some dipshit politically correct cocksucker.

Science/Math Gap (2, Insightful)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 4 years ago | (#32568802)

I think the answer is glaringly obvious for five solid reasons. (1) Since US firms mostly offshore research and developement there is little or no reason to train at the collegiate level for such a career. (2) Those firms doing research here in the US import labor on an H1-B visa program. (3) Wall Street has lured some bright minds to come up with fancy, fuzzy mathematics to allow major financial companies to bilk the American people out of billions of dollars. The sharp math minds going to Wall Street leave a void in the research, experimentation, and development arena. (4) George W. Bush repealled a number of executive orders and was generally unfriendly towards science making it unattractive for industry to engage in research in the US. Bush and his faith-based, theocratic bent set us back a decade. (5) George W. Bush's no child left behind which further worsened the educational system in the US.

Re:Science/Math Gap (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 4 years ago | (#32568870)

I hate NCLB, but I don't think we're going to see the effects of that policy in the market for some time.

Re:Science/Math Gap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32569242)

The first crop of highschoolers affected by NCLB graduated college in 2008. Students screwed over by NCLB since the beginning of Middle School/Jr High are interning this summer. The cumulative effects of teaching to the test as well as parents screaming to get their children labeled retards to skip the test have been building ever since.

To be fair, I'm finding them to be just as uncreative and ignorant as from my generation, but I'm from the generation that provided the baseline standardized test scores for North Carolina.

The problem continues to remain parents that do not support their children striving to be intelligent inquisitive sentient beings and a society that pushes "consume" over "create or discover."
NCLB just provides piles of objective data to ignore the actual root cause.

It's 'dem evil for-en-ers! (3, Insightful)

Shihar (153932) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569122)

Your OMFG IT IS THE FOREIGNERS!!!1111! whining is crap.

1) The US doesn't offshore research more than it sends offshore anything else. It happens, but you stand a much better chance of winning a job from an Indian or Chinese competitor in R&D than basically anything else that isn't completely location specific. You are NOT going to beat India and China on cheap labor. You can win in brain power and the infrastructure that supports it. A few billion people means fuck-all if 90% of them grew up without power. The actual number of viable developing nation candidates you are dealing with is actually very small.

2) H1-B visas are not the devils work. If you lose to an H1-B, there is something wrong with you. H1-B's are expensive and unreliable. Even if a company breaks the law and uses H1-B's to save themselves 10% on how much they shell out in salary, that paltry gain doesn't make up for the fact that an H1-B might leave at any moment, probably has reduced English skills, is always under the threat of running home to get a decent job there, and you are on the hook for dealing with any immigration problems (which are hardly rare).

There is a problem in US science. Part of it might be cultural. I am sure part of it for PhD folks is pay, the slave like conditions you have to suffer, and the tenure system. You might even be able to point a finger at Wall Street... though I Imagine that bubble has gone boom. Blaming it on 'dem evil for-en-ers sounds a whole lot more like the whining of an enemy of science than a friend. Bush, Palin, and the other nut jobs that try and point outside of the nation for its internal problems are no friend of science.

Re:It's 'dem evil for-en-ers! (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569406)

I really don't get why people whine about H1-Bs. H1-Bs have the same cost of living you do - you're competing on an even playing field. The alternative is the same person working from India. I can't compete with someone with that cost of living. Every time a company brings a worker from India at those wages to here at these wages on an H1-B, I win.

Re:It's 'dem evil for-en-ers! (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569556)

I really don't get why people whine about H1-Bs.

Because if H-1B's didn't lower labor costs by undercutting the cost of hiring locally, there'd be no economic incentive to use them, and therefore no rational profit-maximizing corporation would ever hire anyone on an H-1B visa.

H1-Bs have the same cost of living you do - you're competing on an even playing field.

Presuming, of course, that you are willing to accept the same lifestyle: H-1B's from with a lower standard of living than the US (i.e., almost every other country on Earth) are naturally willing to accept, as an improvement, a standard of living lower than an equivalently educated American would tend to expect, and, therefore, a lower salary.

The alternative is the same person working from India.

No, its not. Because if that would be as cheap or cheaper, the profit-maximizing firm that hired the H-1B worker would instead outsource to India. If the H-1B option was gone, a some of the work that goes to H-1Bs would go to overseas outsourcing, some of it would go to domestic workers, and some of it would go to different firms than are doing it now (some of them in the US with the same choices, some of them not.)

Every time a company brings a worker from India at those wages to here at these wages on an H1-B, I win.

Since, in either case, you aren't doing the work, I don't see how you "win" even if your premises were correct: work that you don't get because it is outsourced overseas and work that you don't get because it goes to someone on an H-1B (and, for completeness, work that you don't get because it goes to a different local worker) are all equivalent: they all represent work that you don't get.

Re:Science/Math Gap (1)

scruffy (29773) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569294)

I would include

Short-term thinking. There used to be very prestigious research done by corporations, but Bell, IBM, Xerox, and many others have basically dismantled their research labs.

Big research. Research money has been steadily moving to larger research projects and a smaller set of universities.

Discourage creativity. Don't reverse engineer, don't play with chemicals at home, filter the internet, maintain surveillance, don't share, encourage vague patents, keep copyright forever.

Re:Science/Math Gap (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569400)

You got that right! [computerworld.com] And what really pisses me off to no end is when CEO's, many who are also PhDs, say that they have to go offshore because they can't get "qualified" Americans. Andy Groves said that when he moved a bunch of R&D jobs to India (I'm trying to find a cite but F'n A, it's amazing how fast things get buried on the internet!).

Sorry to reply to my own... (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569452)

Here's the closest one on Andy Grove that I can find x:( [techdirt.com]

Some in the audience where he gave his talk pointed out that Intel, the company he remains chairman of, is a big part of the outsourcing trend, and Grove responds with something of a cop-out, saying that without public policy assistance they have no choice but to export jobs

Still trying to find more ... most of the intarweb is all what a great guy and genius he is and crap promoting his books.

Money, Career, and Life (5, Insightful)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 4 years ago | (#32568860)

Let's not kid ourselves - the real reason those gifted enough to excel shy away from science is that this path is not conducive to having a life. It requires working long hours, frequently 7 days per week, for little pay (NIH stipends for graduate students are around $20'000), and in a highly stressful environment (those who've done research know how emotionally crushing doing scientific research can often be), just to become a sub-$40k post-doc for another decade thereafter, and then desperately search for a faculty position, to spend the next 20 years stressing over grant deadlines that threaten to destroy whatever little autonomy you've managed to gain, in an environment where something like 5% of the projects get funded.

In an environment, where most work to the limit of their bodily ability, and get paid less than their intelligence and time commitment would yield them elsewhere, young men and women find it difficult to acquire and hold onto a mate, and those who want to have families find themselves unable to support them, as well as spend adequate time with them.

And people wonder why in many top-tier institutions 75% of the graduate students in science are foreign-born?

Re:Money, Career, and Life (4, Insightful)

Midnight's Shadow (1517137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569008)

Let's not kid ourselves - the real reason those gifted enough to excel shy away from science is that this path is not conducive to having a life. It requires working long hours, frequently 7 days per week, for little pay (NIH stipends for graduate students are around $20'000), and in a highly stressful environment (those who've done research know how emotionally crushing doing scientific research can often be), just to become a sub-$40k post-doc for another decade thereafter, and then desperately search for a faculty position, to spend the next 20 years stressing over grant deadlines that threaten to destroy whatever little autonomy you've managed to gain, in an environment where something like 5% of the projects get funded.

In an environment, where most work to the limit of their bodily ability, and get paid less than their intelligence and time commitment would yield them elsewhere, young men and women find it difficult to acquire and hold onto a mate, and those who want to have families find themselves unable to support them, as well as spend adequate time with them.

And people wonder why in many top-tier institutions 75% of the graduate students in science are foreign-born?

And lets not forget that the mate maybe in the same situation because they are the only ones that understand the pursuit but finding a job for two people in the same state, let alone the same city is next to impossible. A good friend of mine just got married and he will be spending the next 2-3 years in a different country then his wife.

My personally belief for why most Americans don't go the science path is either 1)they aren't smart enough to do the work or 2)they are smart enough to realize it isn't worth doing the work. It's a shame I'm neither of those things.

Re:Money, Career, and Life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32569016)

As a recent PhD dropout, I can say that parent's assessment is 100% spot on. I got an entry-level engineering position and I'm making almost 4 times as much, working similar or less hours, and not being threatened with failure and the looming, completely unpredictable environment of academic egos and pitfalls on a daily basis.

Re:Money, Career, and Life (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569214)

And people wonder why in many top-tier institutions 75% of the graduate students in science are foreign-born?

They wonder? Really? They're cheaper for the same or better results. Same reason everything is being offshored.
 

Re:Money, Career, and Life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32569564)

Forien-born Students are not always cheaper. Issue is attitude to work given, that is they are slaves and will accept the work and some cases wage offered. Hence you are correct but it is not due to them offering them a lower wage it is them accepting the wage offered. Native-born know how much they need to have a life and there-fore see the costs as too much to wage earned. Also Forien-born are subsidized by their respective society. See Saudi Arabia.

The issue is more then Globalization, it is Corporatization which is the changes which are given to Corporations at the expense of the local society. The big issue is the swindle of belief in that the "Market knows best" and aversion to Government Support, (in industries they are not involved in). Biggest is Socialize Risk and Privative Profit.

Nice to see (5, Interesting)

TheEvilOverlord (684773) | more than 4 years ago | (#32568874)

...that someone is raising the real issue. I'm in the UK and studied for a science degree and from people I still know who graduated, only one of them is actually working in science now (5 years later). Of other friends I've made in the field most have left their science jobs. The most recent has just retrained as an accountant. She got made redundant from her previous job with a big pharma as they moved her whole lab out to china where they said they could have 6 equally qualified people for what they were paying her. People aren't stupid, they aren't going to study for something where there's no jobs, or what jobs do exist are all low paid rubbish with no chance of advancement. They'll all go become accountants and lawyers. Say hello to globalisation...

what gap? (4, Interesting)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 4 years ago | (#32568940)

It is assumed (when asking for money from the government) that there is some terrible gap in education--that America is doomed because somebody's program isn't funded enough. But evidence of this is never given.

Are our universities bad? Obviously not, as foreigners do everything they can to get into them. Are our primary schools bad? Doesn't look like it; foreign students make cheating a science just to keep up at the university level.

If our science students can't find jobs, the problem is a GLUT of science education. Perhaps we should focus more on trade schools than churning out more unemployed bio and physics majors.

Re:what gap? (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569380)

If our science students can't find jobs, the problem is a GLUT of science education.

That's one way of looking at it. The way I prefer to look at it is, we haven't come up with all the scientific achievements we want. When we cure cancer, aids, and the common cold, have flying cars, FTL travel, cloaking devices, gene therapy, teleportation, stopped global climate change, come up with cheap, clean power, AI, a way to neutralize all weapons of mass destruction, have solved world hunger via replicators, and have explained everything in physics, THAT would be the time to ease up on producing scientists. Maybe. Until then, I'd say we need more scientists, and they need jobs. In my opinion, we have more than enough coffeeshop employees, cell phone salespeople, CEOs, middle management, golf course employees, wall street bankers, politicians, yoga instructors, although I'm not going to suggest doing anything to discourage people going into those careers.

Re:what gap? (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569528)

If our science students can't find jobs, the problem is a GLUT of science education. Perhaps we should focus more on trade schools than churning out more unemployed bio and physics majors.

There's that, but there's also the fact that globalisation brings quite a few issues to the fore. An Indian or Chinese student can study and qualify in Europe or the US, go home and land a job with a firm that's moving their R&D offshore.

Sure they'll be paid Indian or Chinese wages, but they'll be paid top-end Indian or Chinese wages that allow them to live like a king compared to what they could earn in Europe or the US. Of course, it's likely that labour costs in India or China will go up - and as soon as they do I guarantee you there's several million people in Africa who will be only too happy to train up and do the job cheaper.

Seems to me our math skills are good... (4, Insightful)

DigitalSorceress (156609) | more than 4 years ago | (#32568946)

It seems to me that this just proves that American math skills are good:

If student A spends over $100,000 on education, but finds there's no jobs that don't involve asking if they want whipped cream on their tall mocha late, how many years will they subsist on ramen while trying to pay off the debt with piss-poor tips?

If student B coasts out of high school and resigns themselves to the inevitability of their barista career, they'll be the manager in charge of deciding that Student A is way over qualified and might do better investigating the all the possibilities of frying something next door by the time Student A swallows their pride and applies.

Who would of known? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32569006)

You mean to say a capitalistic corporate-run society can't support research that's not guaranteed to be practical or generate revenue? Gasp.

One of the most un-American things I've ever read (2, Insightful)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569018)

It's a lack of job opportunities.

If you want an education to set you up to take a job, train to clean toilets & mop floors. Those jobs aren't going away.

Otherwise, find something you love and plan on making, not taking, a job doing what you love. For most of us, we will be able to find an existing job doing that thing we want to do. (Or at least that thing we don't mind doing to pay the bills.) But a job is not an entitlement; it is not a right. Don't plan your life around someone else giving you a job.

Furthermore, if there is this connection between education and job opportunities, why do we have art history departments? Are there that many museums on the hunt for curators? Or is it just for all the Starbucks that don't yet have the minimum number of people hanging out behind the counter?

Re:One of the most un-American things I've ever re (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32569216)

"It's a lack of job opportunities.

If you want an education to set you up to take a job, train to clean toilets & mop floors. Those jobs aren't going away.

Otherwise, find something you love and plan on making, not taking, a job doing what you love. For most of us, we will be able to find an existing job doing that thing we want to do. (Or at least that thing we don't mind doing to pay the bills.) But a job is not an entitlement; it is not a right. Don't plan your life around someone else giving you a job."

So start an enterprise right after graduating? It's not enough that you have a huge student debt, but you will need more loan for your enterprise. How realistic is that?

Seriously, what you wrote is the most un-American thing I read. Few people go there, because there are few oppurtunities. (You know, return on investment.) That's just how the market works. If you want to more scientist for your projects, but you don't find enough, bid higher.

Re:One of the most un-American things I've ever re (1)

twoallbeefpatties (615632) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569386)

Otherwise, find something you love and plan on making, not taking, a job doing what you love. For most of us, we will be able to find an existing job doing that thing we want to do. (Or at least that thing we don't mind doing to pay the bills.) But a job is not an entitlement; it is not a right. Don't plan your life around someone else giving you a job.

If I got a degree in science, I could not take out a loan to set up a research lab. If I did, the strong possibility that I could research something and come up empty as I disprove my own hypotheses is very strong, so I could have no way to pay off those loans. You're basically stating that no one should ever become a scientist, because it's not a job that you can do unless someone else pays you to do it.

Buddy, you're telling people that they shouldn't take any interest in a career that they couldn't do through self-employment, while some of the greatest strengths of this country came from our technological advancements from teams of people getting together to work on things. As someone who loves America, I hope that we give out plenty of grants to put scientists to work developing the tools that will return us to being the technological superpower. Stating that it's un-American to want more jobs for scientists is a pipe dream that our country remains the best in the world if we just clap our hands and should "I believe in fairies!" over and over rather than investing the time and manpower to make it real, and I'm not sure if I consider your comment one of the most un-American things that I've ever read, or if it's just a bunch of ignorant, hyper-libertarian claptrap.

Re:One of the most un-American things I've ever re (2, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569462)

I don't read the article as focusing on any individual's entitlement to a "science job", but on the more general societal issue. A lot of people, rightly or wrongly, feel that the U.S. is falling behind in scientific research, and that this should be fixed. Many people with such views point to education as the root of the problem: they argue that the U.S. is falling behind in scientific research because our schools are not keeping up, either in quality of science education, or in their ability to motivate kids to be excited about science, or both.

The article is arguing that the diagnosis is incorrect: people are not going into science because there aren't good jobs in science, not because of a failing on the part of schools. Of course, if you think the number of scientists and level of scientific research we currently have is fine, then it isn't a problem to begin with. But the article's arguing that if you're one of the people who thinks U.S. science is declining and should be fixed, then you should look at lack of appealing careers, not at problems with schools, as the root cause.

The problem in a nutshell... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32569088)

The people with the money and the power are more familiar with the works of Ayn Rand than than they are with the history of science.

And it doesn't help, either, that people are trying to push ID into education given how dangerously close it is to occasionalism which killed science in the Islamic world.

You can tell what a society values... (1)

netruner (588721) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569120)

...by who in that society lives the best. Our society values middle men, lawyers and managers. Let's face it, we value the professions that manipulate others rather than directly producing anything.

Re:You can tell what a society values... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32569236)

Hey now, don't forget sports and entertainment stars. Lars needs his new gold-plated shark bar...

Re:You can tell what a society values... (1)

netruner (588721) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569320)

I guess you got me there - I guess we do value those who produce "performances", but we're pretty fickle about which ones we like. That brings us to the "value added" argument: culture, art and sport aren't un-important, but how important should they be?

1960s Golden Age of US science employment (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569134)

I suspect every since the infamous "NSF scientist shortage" paper from the 1980s we have been comparing ourselves to an unsustainable utopia of the 1960s. That era was driven by a couple of factors. First was a pseudo-war the nuclear arms race and space race. Wars are usually great for S&E employment. Second was a ramp-up of science education in the universities. New PhDs just recycled back into the system to create more PhDs. Soem of my worst college profs came from this era, when there was little vetting of quality.

Before WII science support in the US was terrible. Grad students ran off to Europe for advanced education. And couldnt find much work when they return, except maybe for the War Dept.

The 60s-70s bubble burst in the 1980s. And its been a struggle since. A few bright spots have been the industrial labs. Bell and Xerox earlier, MSFT, Google, big Pharma now.

The Science Gap is a Myth (5, Interesting)

simonbp (412489) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569140)

While there is always much waving of hands and gnashing of teeth about it, the reality is that the USA by far leads the world in science. And speaking as a science grad student, it's much easier to get into science here than anywhere else in the western world. I know plenty of foreign grad students in the US, but almost no US students that had any motivation to study overseas. Personally, even though I'm originally from Canada, I have no plans to go back, because it's so much easier to get funded as a scientist here.

It seems to me most of the of the people who complain about the "science gap" are those who aren't actually working in the field...

Re:The Science Gap is a Myth (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569350)

It seems to me most of the of the people who complain about the "science gap" are those who aren't actually working in the field...

I would disagree, only in that the complainers are generally the managers and administrators whom are fed up at having to pay princely stipends like $20K/yr and are hoping for maybe half that. Or whatever the dollar value of scientist pay is, they're hoping a dramatically increased supply of unemployed science graduates will result in dramatically lower salaries.

Same B.S. from management in respect to I.T. or engineering, or pretty much any job that pays over minimum wage.

Your First Premise Is WRONG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32569144)

The U.S.A. collapsed with its invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Your criminals-in-congress have simply decided NOT to announce it for fear the revolution
WILL be televised [youtube.com]

Yours In Ashgabat,
Kilgore Trout, C.I.O.

Europeans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32569182)

I wonder if the United States was ever really a great place for research, has that been established? How many of the great advances of the 20th century that come form the United States were products of Europeans fleeing war and specifically Jews running from the Nazis that brought their talent and research with them. Could it not be that it is the end of the European influence that the end of that generation has brought that is having an influence. I have no real basis for this theory but it seems interesting to ponder.

the real con(science) gaping fauxking chasm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32569192)

the less we know, the 'better' we 'feel'? of course that's not true, but we'll 'adjust'.

the corepirate nazi illuminati is always hunting that patch of red on almost everyones' neck. if they cannot find yours (greed, fear ego etc...) then you can go starve. that's their platform now. they do pull A LOT of major strings.

never a better time for all of us to consult with/trust in our creators. the lights are coming up rapidly all over now. see you there?

greed, fear & ego (in any order) are unprecedented evile's primary weapons. those, along with deception & coercion, helps most of us remain (unwittingly?) dependent on its' life0cidal hired goons' agenda. most of our dwindling resources are being squandered on the 'wars', & continuation of the billionerrors stock markup FraUD/pyramid schemes. nobody ever mentions the real long term costs of those debacles in both life & any notion of prosperity for us, or our children. not to mention the abuse of the consciences of those of us who still have one, & the terminal damage to our atmosphere (see also: manufactured 'weather', hot etc...). see you on the other side of it? the lights are coming up all over now. the fairytail is winding down now. let your conscience be your guide. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. we now have some choices. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on your brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.

"The current rate of extinction is around 10 to 100 times the usual background level, and has been elevated above the background level since the Pleistocene. The current extinction rate is more rapid than in any other extinction event in earth history, and 50% of species could be extinct by the end of this century. While the role of humans is unclear in the longer-term extinction pattern, it is clear that factors such as deforestation, habitat destruction, hunting, the introduction of non-native species, pollution and climate change have reduced biodiversity profoundly.' (wiki)

"I think the bottom line is, what kind of a world do you want to leave for your children," Andrew Smith, a professor in the Arizona State University School of Life Sciences, said in a telephone interview. "How impoverished we would be if we lost 25 percent of the world's mammals," said Smith, one of more than 100 co-authors of the report. "Within our lifetime hundreds of species could be lost as a result of our own actions, a frightening sign of what is happening to the ecosystems where they live," added Julia Marton-Lefevre, IUCN director general. "We must now set clear targets for the future to reverse this trend to ensure that our enduring legacy is not to wipe out many of our closest relatives."--

"The wealth of the universe is for me. Every thing is explicable and practical for me .... I am defeated all the time; yet to victory I am born." --emerson

no need to confuse 'religion' with being a spiritual being. our soul purpose here is to care for one another. failing that, we're simply passing through (excess baggage) being distracted/consumed by the guaranteed to fail illusionary trappings of man'kind'. & recently (about 10,000 years ago) it was determined that hoarding & excess by a few, resulted in negative consequences for all.

consult with/trust in your creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." )one does not need not to agree whois in charge to grasp the notion that there may be some assistance available to us(

boeing, boeing, gone.

This was covered three years ago by Chronicle (2, Interesting)

line-bundle (235965) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569234)

The best link I can find for the article is

http://www.marinetech.org/OSTO/documents/Job%20Prospects%20for%20Science%20Grads%20CHE%2021Sep07.pdf [marinetech.org]

The original article is behind a paywall unfortunately

http://chronicle.com/article/The-Real-Science-Crisis-Bleak/29178 [chronicle.com]

dysfunctional clarification (3, Insightful)

2obvious4u (871996) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569244)

Because of long-ignored internal contradictions, however, the American research enterprise has become so severely dysfunctional that it actively prevents the great majority of the young Americans aspiring to do research from realizing their dreams.

You mean like arresting young chemists because their equipment serves a dual purpose and could be used to create something illegal like meth? [io9.com]

Straight Science vs. Engineering (1)

Maladius (1289924) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569248)

When I graduated high school, I expressed an interest in studying Physics. I would have loved to work with theoretical physics. However, all of my high school advisers suggested that I go the engineering route instead. They basically said that it would be much easier to get a job, specifically a good-paying job, with an engineering degree.

I took their advice, and it's worked out fairly well, but I still wonder if I could have made more meaningful contributions to society if I was working towards advancement in physics rather than the application of science to business (i.e. engineering.) For reference, this was about 10 years ago that I received the advice to avoid a straight science major.

Lack of jobs ... (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569250)

And where does the lack of jobs come from? Lack of funding to hire new people, of course. Which is exactly what you should expect when the budgets for national science funding agencies don't expand to at least meet inflation and the rising costs of doing science.

NSF money request pouring fuel on fire (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569254)

The usual knee-jerk response to US science complaints is to request more money for science education. But that may worsen the problem with even more people in the "science pipeline" to fall into the abyss at the end of it.

Good small business policies help. A lot of "surplus scientists" have started companies and some have become wildly successful. The US small business environment is best in the world but not perfect. Especially with the fincnacing slowdown of the Great Recession.

Bad financial decision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32569268)

Graduate school is a bad financial decision. At least for me it was.

My friend, fresh out of college with a CS degree, got a job paying more than $80,000/year + stock benefits and is generally leading, what I would call, an opulent life.
Meanwhile I am a graduate student in an extremely challenging program, live in a hovel of an apartment, and worry about spending more than $6.00 on a meal... And I am the recipient of a supplementary stipend! I have a classmate who is married and has a young child and he has to make due with $1500/month.

And what's the point of all the struggle? The field we are in (mathematics) is extremely competitive, and finding a tenured position is very difficult. Hell, even my professors have paltry salaries (think $70,000 on the top end).

Re:Bad financial decision (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569572)

Sounds like it wasn't grad school that was the bad choice, it was math over CS. Have you tried the NSA? They hire more mathematicians than anyone, I hear.

It's money - plain and simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32569300)

Technology doesn't pay the bills when you work for a corp. Corp. America no longer respects the scientist or technologist. It's all about sales and marketing and executives. It's happening at the company where I work. My programming skills are ignored, I'm told my and my cor-workers' work is a commodity and it's being farmed out to India. Won't be long before I and the rest of the programmers get the boot. There will be nothing left but executive, sales, marketing, and a handful of subject matter experts who will find their jobs very difficult, due to not being able to actually do the work, and unrewarding since they will always be stuck in the middle between management and those who do the work in a different timezone.

State of the Art Management (1)

aero6dof (415422) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569312)

I think that the problem is that the philosophy of business schools shifted from producing better products and services to profit optimization. For a while this worked as business did have some margin to coast on the level of developed of technology, but it increasingly is a direction that is stalling out as the proportion of rehashed crap product/services is rising vs new fundamental productivity gains.

The US doesn't support people becoming educated (2, Insightful)

bigsexyjoe (581721) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569384)

The US doesn't support people becoming educated, and this is just one more aspect of the problem. When I was in school I thought of going all the way to PhD. But come on! Spend all that money and live in poverty for so many years. Combined with the fact that doing this stuff is difficult and time consuming, it seemed like an incredibly masocistic exercise. I love science and math and would love to bury myself in it, but I am a slave to economic realities.

Furthermore when we say we want more people in profession X, we are making an implict admission that we want a somewhat planned economy. So we want more research and researchers? Guess what? Most of the important expensive research in the past has been conducted by the government anyway. So the government should just start doing more research.

One more thing, if a company hires H1-Bs, for each one they hire should have to pay a very heavy fee that is used to give one student a full ride scholarship in that field.

Very interesting article (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569388)

Particularly the fact that the failure of american high schools is entirely racial. "White Americans on average substantially outscored Europeans in math and science and came in second to the Japanese, but American black and Hispanic students on average significantly trailed all other groups." It suggests that instead of merely throwing money at the entire system, we need to reform specific schools in poor neighborhoods.

It's all about pussy (4, Funny)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569408)

Jocks get their pussy free, lawyers can buy professional pussy, and doctors are up to their elbows in pussy. Nerds? They get the leavings.

You can't fix the problem until you identify it exactly.

Next up: Programmers (4, Insightful)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569512)

The next career to disappear in the U.S. is programming. There are no more entry level jobs, they've all been outsourced. Hence, there is no new generation of programmers in the U.S.

That means any new innovation in computer software will be coming from India or another of the up-coming outsourcing countries.

Same story, new telling of it (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569536)

This basic discussion has been had numerous times here on Slashdot. Usually, it is about IT careers and declining wages, declining local resources, outsourcing and H1-B visa programs.

They all have the same basic things in common. Corporations, looking to cut their costs, are looking elsewhere to get cheaper labor -- even when that labor is for R&D and other highly technical trades and activities.

I have claimed that the government needs to step in and restrict how these short-sighted companies are behaving simply because they are having a tremendous impact on the economy. Others commonly respond in opposition calling this type of thing "protectionism" and all this. But the end result of allowing companies to seek labor outside of the U.S. [to lower costs] is that jobs and money is being sent out of the country lowering the average income and increasing unemployment. Many of these companies are selling goods and services to the very same people they helped to make un[der]employed. And the extended result is that fewer people are going to enter career paths in the areas where there is less pay and/or less hiring.

What we have is a cascade that will lead to "idiocracy" right here in our own nation. Many people claim we are already living that famous movie and in many respects we are.

We can call it protectionism or we can just call it taking care of our own first. Whatever the label you apply to it, we absolutely need to retain our most important advantages if we are to return to the top of the food chain. The U.S. is presently not the world leader in anything except military influence. With everything else getting sent outside the U.S. and countries who would normally use U.S. resources going elsewhere, the U.S. has lost a great deal of its competitive advantage already. U.S. companies are simply becoming "international companies" whose headquarters just happen to be in the U.S.

The symptoms of this pattern beginning to fail are in what we are starting to see today -- increased attempts to influence other countries to adopt our laws in order to protect our intellectual property... failing diplomatic measures, military measures are sure to follow. (After all, the whole reason diplomacy works is because there is a shadow of a military threat looming in the background... otherwise, who would listen to you or care about your interests?) Basically we are attempting to get the world to "do things our way so that things favor us more than you" and who will listen to that without excessive bribery and threat of military or financial action? These types of measures weren't quite so necessary in the past and now they are becoming a lot more common.

I think it is past time to reign in the companies that are selling out the population of the nation they call home. The consequences are what we are experiencing today. The effect is obvious. The cause should be obvious. If the cause and the effect are obvious, why isn't the solution equally obvious? I think it is and our government is so comfortable being paid and backed by big money interests that they don't know how to stop it from continuing.

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