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Obama: 'We Don't Have Enough Engineers'

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the can-we-invade-world-of-warcraft dept.

Government 651

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

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651 comments

ahoy thar (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447358)

captain obongo

Oh, no (2, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447684)

We have enough engineers. Programmers, too. Really good ones.

The problem is that US companies tend not to hire (or retain) them if they aren't entry level; they'll outsource or hire fresh-from-the-classroom types in order to keep costs down, because the US corporate outlook rarely goes further than the upcoming quarterly report. If they can outsource the majority of the process, they will. For instance, (just one example of many) Apple manufactures in China. That's a *lot* of engineering jobs, tech jobs, assembly jobs, procurement jobs, etc. Looking at it one way, they have to -- because otherwise they wouldn't be competitive. But if anything sold here had to be made here, then the playing field is level again.

Older engineers cost too much: Healthcare, experience, it all comes together for a higher cost, and no one wants that on the quarterly report. Younger types, speaking generally, can't cut the tough jobs, though, and that's why we have very little high end engineering and programming capacity in use within our borders. And a rush of newly minted engineers and/or programmers won't help -- we'll just get more half-baked ideas like Apple's recent "full screen feature", basically an idiotic and functionally bereft return to the modal operations of 25 years ago. (Apple user here, see things through Apple flavored eyes.)

I think we need a period where products sold in the USA have to be 100% made in the USA, from the first stroke of the pen to the last decal on the front panel. Otherwise, this illusory period of "production" of IP will collapse with the illusion of protection our IP laws are (just barely) shoring up; other countries don't give the south end of a northbound rat for our IP laws. By pulling the entire product process within our borders, we create a level playing field for our manufacturing economy to restart. Then we could see the large, competent pool of engineers and programmers we already *have* rehired.

And we have to make damn sure that unions don't get a toehold again; they were another large factor in destroying our manufacturing economy: If the worker is not being paid enough, then they need to up their skill set and change their worth, either at their current job or at a new job. Instead of trying to blackmail their employer. The economy and cost of living changes; consequently the worker needs to change too. Their job doesn't magically become worth more because bread costs more. If they don't change, that's not the employer's fault.

Re:Oh, no (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447706)

Apple already aren't competitive and never have been, the mark-up on their computers has always been 50-100% higher than a similarly specified Win/Lin machine. If they're manufacturing abroad it's less to do with being competitive (they could easily increase their product price with little to no loss of custom), it's entirely about greed and maximising profit over all else. Companies aren't patriotic, they'll happily bleed a host country dry then move elsewhere if it means more profit. That's the main problem in all this.

Re:Oh, no (1)

rally2xs (1093023) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447904)

Greed isn't the problem, its the feature. The playing field simply has to be set up to take advantage of it. That is, we have to make the USA the best place to do business that produces the highest profit. Nevermind the work-for-peanuts drones overseas, the labor cost isn't that big of a component of manufacturing nowdays, not with automation. What _is_ the big component that is royally screwing the USA is the US corporate income tax rate of 35%, when combined with the average state income tax at around 4.5%, makes the US the 2nd-highest corporate income tax nation on the planet. That is what is screwing us.

Pass the Fair Tax, repeal the 16th amendment, never tolerate income taxes again. The income taxes are the 2nd biggest mistake that this country has ever made, right behind slavery. Continue with these job-killing taxes, and watch the USA sink to 3rd-world status. The process is underway right now. It will complete, and we will be screwed, if we don't do the right thing. The right thing is to repeal the income taxes, every last one of them.

Re:Oh, no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447968)

While the corporate income tax might be 35%, you are making an assumption that they pay it. They don't come anywhere near that.

Re:Oh, no (1)

rally2xs (1093023) | more than 2 years ago | (#36448036)

And you are making the assumption that because they don't pay it, it doesn't cost them anything. That is not true. If they don't pay that tax, then that means that they've still spent most of that money on a whole roomful of tax lawyers and accountants that have directed company operations to make sure that it does the most tax deductable thing at every opportunity. Not only are these lawyers and accountants hideously expensive, but the things that they direct to be done to avoid the tax are usually more expensive than the least expensive way to do the same thing, so ALSO cost the company more $$$.

Untax US industry, and say goodbye to this recession overnight. Prosperity would return with a vengence. But if you want to continue to enslave the American workforce, just keep the income taxes, let them do their work, and we will have a Zimbabwe-like economic landscape in another decade or 2.

Solution (3, Insightful)

atari2600a (1892574) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447368)

REGULATE WALLSTREET. You'll get JFK'd in the process but that's where they're all going...

First (4, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447612)

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

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

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

So, you want more Engineers Mr. President

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

Re:Solution (5, Interesting)

Seumas (6865) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447756)

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

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

Re:Solution (4, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447866)

Same here in the UK. 10 years ago the floor I work on had 100 full-time English programmers. Now it has 20 full-time staff and 150 contract staff from India.

Re:Solution (4, Insightful)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447924)

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

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

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

Re:Solution (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447766)

Exactly. You can spend your life creating things and make a reasonable living. Or you can spend your life skimming money off the noise in the financial system, occasionally breaking it to the degree that causes starvation for millions (high worldwide wheat prices caused by speculation), or millions to get their homes repossessed (subprime mortgage collapse), or lose their jobs (company can't raise capital due to the market collapse), without much personal risk and make 10-100 times as much. You've built a society where there are strong incentives not to be someone who creates things, and then you wonder why you have a shortage of people who create things. As the Daleks would say 'INCENTIVISE! INCENTIVISE!'

Law is cheaper and more rewarding (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447370)

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

Re:Law is cheaper and more rewarding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447738)

Redefining the marketplace so that an entrepreneurial engineer doesn't immediately have his/her ass sued off upon bringing new technology to market would be a step in the right direction. Both aviation and automobile manufacturing could use a healthy dose of new design, and application of technology, the components necessary to build an entirely new line of small aircraft, or moderately-priced transportation, all exists in abundance, but you'd have to be out of your mind to try and bring something new to a market saturated with individuals actively pursuing litigation for profit.

Re:Law is cheaper and more rewarding (0)

DamienNightbane (768702) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447944)

A better idea would be to just ban arts degrees.

All they do is give people who have no business going to college in the first place an engine to devalue college educations to the point that they're just another high school diploma.

Once the only people going to college are the people going to learn things that actually matter, we'll start seeing more people go for worthwhile degrees like engineering and science.

That and switch to a civil law system instead of the common law clusterfuck that we currently have. That'll make lawyers far less necessary and their wages will drop accordingly.

Of course you don't. (4, Interesting)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447378)

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

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

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

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

Why would you want to be an engineer?

Re:Of course you don't. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447422)

Sums it up nicely. Plant operators got two times the salary a starting Engineer got when I did some Grad work. So I'm not working as an Engineer (nor a plant operator).

Re:Of course you don't. (1)

inasity_rules (1110095) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447542)

The reverse is true here in South Africa. I'm quite happy as an engineer here, earning far more than most plant operators. We have a healthy respect for engineers over here. Triple - no wait, its America - quadruple my salary and I'll emigrate and help ease your shortage... :D

Re:Of course you don't. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447672)

Wonderful: yet another Seth Effreken or Effreekorner with a bogus resume intending to show everyone "how things should really be done".

You sit around in some Durban office 24 hours per week, reading and writing memos, organizing your pencil collection, practicing your management speak, and telling kaffir jokes, while trying to convince yourself that those scratch-n-win Microsoft certs actually make you a real engineer of some kind.

Every (white) applicant from your part of the world has a standard "Know it? I invented it!" attitude, but whenever you're required to do any actual work, it's obvious that none of you have ever done a damn thing, or can do a damn thing.

Stay where you are, please. We don't need any more useless immigrants.

Re:Of course you don't. (4, Insightful)

johnjaydk (584895) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447426)

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

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

Re:Of course you don't. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447472)

"Why would you want to be an engineer?"

Because the technology is legitimately interesting, that's why. And that's the ONLY reason - as you quite correctly point out, engineers (of various types - electrical engineers, mechanical, software, etc.) are treated like dirt in this country. The only thing that keeps me interested in my chosen field is my sincere interest in the technology itself. That's the only way I can put up with a culture that values drunken debauchery from the football team's quarterback over historical technological advances of massive importance. Anyone with an IQ in this country over that of a doorknob is usually treated as a "nerd", stereotyped into being a social outcast, and is subjected to ridiculous deadlines by the guy that used to be said aforementioned quarterback. We're over-saturated with mind-numbingly stupid media (TV, movies, music, etc.) that pays millions to people because they look pretty but are dumb as a box of rocks. What has Paris Hilton done to advance the lives of humanity? Not a goddamn thing, unless you count being a doped-up retarded slut who does nothing but sit around and party all fucking day as something positive. But there are thousands of engineers and scientists in this country who bust their ass every day to cure disease, create new technology, and solve problems. But who are they? No one knows, because we (as a culture) don't care enough anymore to honor them in any way whatsoever.

This is a problem of culture, primarily. If we change American culture to sincerely VALUE intelligence, hard work, and scientific innovation, we'll have a resurgence of engineering graduates, and thereby improve our standing as a nation in terms of math and science education, and begin creating new, innovative technologies once again.

Re:Of course you don't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447488)

"What has Paris Hilton done to advance the lives of humanity?"
She inherited her money. Hint: Hilton.

Re:Of course you don't. (1)

JosKarith (757063) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447552)

Plus, she has a use as a comparative baseline - "I may have gotten roofied out of my mind and has an entire football team run a train on my ass this weekend but at least I'm not _that_ pox-rotted doxy..."

Re:Of course you don't. (1)

fezzzz (1774514) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447662)

I am concerned with the amount of engineers America churns out. Isn't engineers and scientist at the basis of innovation? You can't really create that hovering car or see-through airplane without them. Perhaps it is easier to outsource the engineering functions to countries where they are paid less. On the other hand, what is it people are looking for more and more? When I arrive home I want to check out an awesome TV program. We've got the TV-thing figured out - just import it from China - but good shows are still in high demand. As an engineer in South Africa, I must agree with the chap in an above comment that we are doing quite well, but perhaps it is because South Africa has difficulty finding many people with the required maths abilities.

Re:Of course you don't. (4, Insightful)

rta (559125) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447474)

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

Re:Of course you don't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447538)

Yeah, crushed from the bottom on outsourcing, from the top on H1Bs, and the middle on unemployment (employers have their pick of experienced labor for what they used to pay fresh college grads.)

We've got another free trader running the country that doesn't understand leaving school into a terrible job market with crushing debt isn't exactly an enticing proposition, especially to people who would be brilliant enough to become engineers. I've given up my remaining shred of faith that the people up top (of either major party) are even capable of understanding the problem, let alone actually fixing the situation; they're compensated far too well to not motivate themselves.

Re:Of course you don't. (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447510)

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

Re:Of course you don't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447852)

Which bank were you consulting for and how can I apply? I'm just starting out as an Engineer and I would much rather make a big paycheck than deal with this.

Re:Of course you don't. (4, Interesting)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447600)

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

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

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

Re:Of course you don't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447782)

Amen! I work for a managed service provider. One of our clients had issues where their web application was running slow, turned out to be the database, instead of fixing and tuning it, they spent 500k USD on solid state drives for the DB servers.

Re:Of course you don't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447636)

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

The majority of China's Politburo are engineers (I think eight out of ten). The US ... well have a look at Obama's CV, have a (sad) laugh and draw your conclusions. That's the price to pay when your major concerns as a country is to reduce worldwide hate against yourself and to give people with a janitor-level brain a middle class lifestyle.

Re:Of course you don't. (5, Insightful)

zxh (1940132) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447714)

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

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

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

Re:Of course you don't. (1)

artecco (1020333) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447744)

Is it really that bad in the US?

As a Norwegian M.Sc I have a really nice job. Working from 08.00 to 16.00 (most of the time) with super cool electro/hydraulic/mechanical systems for oil and gas production.

I’m making approx. 190.000 US$/year + overtime and benefits. As a 35 year old, I don’t think I could have done much any better with another type of education/work.. My wife has approx. the same situation (also a M.Sc.)

BTW: I see other people trying to climb the corporate ladder in my company, but failing to do so because of internal corporate educational requirements. Do you guys have such requirements in US corporations?

Re:Of course you don't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447814)

Wow, we certainly dont work from 8am until 4pm like you Europeans, and we certainly dont make 190K a year either.
We work from 9am until 2am, and make less than 100K a year

This is why you dont want to be an engineer in USA

Re:Of course you don't. (1)

EMI Lab (2001478) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447980)

And of course, MANDITORY OVERTIME without pay. Do not forget the "were behind schedule" routine to justify getting you at work at 5 AM. Then the salary review comes along...what YOU did not make our (your) project goals on time...you will only get a 2% raise. You find out later that the department head received a 10% raise and stock options for getting the job done. I have been in the engineering racket for 30 years. The quality of work has steadily got worse. All the companies are run by bean counters that have no idea what it really takes to a job right. Many managers are failed engineers with MBA's, each trying out their new management theory. With each job, the bad thing is that I can see it coming. It's like a beer truck rolling down the hill with no brakes. Just get out of the way if you can! End rant.

Re:Of course you don't. (2)

rally2xs (1093023) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447992)

Don't know any engineers that work 9:00 AM to 2:00 AM here. Maybe there are some game programmers that do that, but not your average engineer. Exaggeration is not helpful.

OTOH, I don't know ANY engineers that approach $190K. None. Haven't heard of any. If that sort of pay scale existed here, we wouldn't have an engineer shortage at all. Pay scales are closer to this:

http://www.payscale.com/best-colleges/degrees.asp [payscale.com]

There's graphs for both starting salary and average pay. Petroleum engineers may touch $190K. Dunno. But what's happening here is a race to the bottom in pay scale, as the powers that be have determined that the best way to keep everyone working at all is to make US workers earn less than Indian and Chinese workers. Meanwhile, the 2nd-highest corporate tax rate in the world, here in the US, is the real culprit that is pauperizing the entire society, ever so slowly like boiling a frog, so nobody really notices it as the actual problem.

Re:Of course you don't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447768)

I couldn't agree more, on top of that let's not forget that a huge amount of R&D is done in Asia were there is plenty of qualified engineers available at low cost...

Re:Of course you don't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447792)

I whole heartedly agree! The same applies here in the UK.

I've been a telecommunications and computer engineer all my working life, studying these subjects for 8 years in total and have 26 professional exams to my credit, and where has it got me? Pay rates are appalling when compared to other professions, although the bottom line is that it is us engineers that make economies work!!
In Japan, Korea, China and Germany, engineers are revered, recognised and rewarded for the massive economic contribution they make for their countries. This is translated into the vast wealth these countries generate as a result. I know this as a fact as I have also worked in Japan (Tokyo), China (Hong Kong), Korea (Seoul) and Southern Germany (Konstanz). The difference is striking! They are recognised as we recognise doctors, bankers, etc. here, and rewarded in a similar way.
America and the UK seem only to reward those that do not generate any direct wealth. Without Engineers the World would simply fall apart! Think about it, cars, ships, planes, buildings, services, computers, roads, agricultural machinery, factories, medicine producing equipment, the list goes on and on.

Those countries that place engineers highly and reward them highly, are those that have the strongest economies in the world! FACT!!

Re:Of course you don't. (1)

Eivind (15695) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447974)

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

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

The trick is to accumulate assets -- as in things that either generate passive income, or tend to grow in value over time.

Even with an average income, you've got a good chance of becoming wealthy by using 10% or 20% of your income to buy income-generating assets such as index-funds or stocks or real estate.

Re:Of course you don't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36448038)

Here in Finland, this is very much true. I graduated as a Forestry Engineer and I work as a terminal foreman at a paper mill. My salary is a full third less than that of the stacker operators under me. Before I worked as a factory slave making beer boxes in a cardboard mill, and I earned considerably more. Not to mention the job had zero stress and cursing at half-assed logistics control software.

Engineering is shit tier here. You want to make a lot of money? Become a plumber or a car mechanic.

Fuck science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447386)

Overexploited, unrespected, underpaid and with the constant threat of offshoring? Moved on.

War machine ... (2)

giorgist (1208992) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447402)

Given about half of them work for the defense, and their work is hidden from society, ... all you have to do is get rid of half of them and your sold.
Next problem ...

Simplistic statements by politicians (1)

oldrepublic (2242356) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447408)

Every politician just seems to be quoting from some giant bumper book of political myopic facts. I still think we should vote on policies not politicians

Unemployment rate (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447410)

"President Obama wants to boost engineering graduation rates by 10,000 a year. (...) The US had just over 1.9 million engineers in 2010. The unemployment rate in 2010 for all engineers was 4.5%." In other words, the US has a total of 85,500 unemployed engineers, but needs to produce an additional 10,000 per year?

Re:Unemployment rate (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447480)

the unemployed one are the experienced folks that demand a too high salary

Well a couple things to understand about that (3, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447564)

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

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

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

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

Also blames automation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447594)

"The other thing that happened," the president claimed in an NBC "Today Show" interview Tuesday, "is there are some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers. You see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM. You don't go to a bank teller. Or you go to the airport and you're using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate."

This appears to be a simplistic approach to economics, ignoring the IT staff supporting the ATM, the software programmers that program the ATM, the manufacturing that creates the ATM, etc.

Re:Unemployment rate (2)

Rovaani (20023) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447616)

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

Re:Unemployment rate (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447778)

Companies don't want to compete on a level playing field. They want more people so it'll be cheaper, but they don't want to entice those people by paying more, right now. It's the same reason that they cry "there aren't enough engineers, so we need H1Bs", when the real answer should be that the market decides the value, by forcing them to pay more money to entice engineers, which in turn would lure more people into engineering who want to make that sweet money. They just want to skip the whole process by artificial means so they don't have to go through the "supply and demand increases value of supply" part. The whole "free market" thing only applies to the corporation when they want it to, but it isn't a benefit or philosophy allowed the employee.

Re:Unemployment rate (1)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 2 years ago | (#36448016)

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

printing 'em (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447412)

Don't worry. Obama can probably arrange to have 10,000 engineering degrees printed faster than Ben Bernanke can get a billion delivered from the Treasury.

Obama spent his entire life in academia... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447424)

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

You wont have enough engineers (4, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447432)

noone is a moron to work their asses over their entire life studying hard and delicate things to whore their lives off to fat asses sucking off the profits on top of their heads.

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

Re:You wont have enough engineers (1)

MM-tng (585125) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447502)

Amen brother. Hang their fat asses high. Executive culture has to go. We are all free men. Viva la revolution.

But... Math is too hard (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447436)

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

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

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

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

Re:But... Math is too hard (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447468)

>Schools are more concerned with getting everone to pass regardless of quality,
Exactly. Egalitarianism is destructive.

Are 4.5% of US engineers unemployable? (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447452)

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

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

Re:Are 4.5% of US engineers unemployable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447544)

Isnt' it easier to retrain than train from scratch? Calculus, linear algebra, probability theory, physics haven't changed in a while.
Captcha: repress

Re:Are 4.5% of US engineers unemployable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447854)

does this mean 4.5% of US engineers are not employable?

No, it simply means that it's virtually impossible to get down to 0% unemployment. There is always going to be a certain percentage of people between jobs. If the number of engineers between jobs is equal to or below the number of available engineering position then more engineers are needed. In the general economy 4.5% unemployment would be considered full employment. At that level even when a person is involuntarily terminated it is usually not difficult to find another job.

Re:Are 4.5% of US engineers unemployable? (1)

Unoriginal_Nickname (1248894) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447926)

Yes, 4.5% of US engineers are unemployable.

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

IIRC it was a lot more than 4.5%.

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

A lot of people don't like hearing this, especially here where the computer janitor types completely outnumber the software types, but people aren't all made equal. There will always be a demand for people who are genuinely skilled, qualified, motivated, and social.

Re:Are 4.5% of US engineers unemployable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36448042)

You must be an engineer, I can see the totally scientific way you approached that issue. On a more serious note you seem to have an axe to grind and it shows in your comment a lot more strongly than your point.

Follow the cash (3, Interesting)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447466)

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

Re:Follow the cash (2)

ShruggingAtlas (1922206) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447868)

If the US wants more very skilled people, start paying them again. But that would show the cracks in the currency.

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

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

wanna be a sanatation engineeer when get growed up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447516)

den obama can call on me to clean up all this shit he be doin all over da place

Pay them more then ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447526)

That'll solve it.

(Idiots).

I'm an engineer, not in the US, why I'm not doing engineering work is that there are few career prospects and the pay sucks.

Ain't no future in it. No future in western economies either - but I'm not feather bedding the whole economy any more at least.

What would you do if you won the lottery syndrome (2)

bluemeany (974220) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447528)

FTFA... "...the U.S. graduates more visual arts and performing arts majors than engineers. It also noted that the U.S. ranks 27th among developed nations in the proportion of college students receiving undergraduate degrees in science and engineering." It strikes me that this stems from the philosophy that children in the US are encouraged to pursue 'whatever you enjoy most' under the misconception that is the career they will be best suited to and thus make them happiest. In other countries this doesn't happen. Parents push their kids towards the careers that pay well and are likely to ensure them a happy future. Later in life the kids thank their parent for this. How many penniless actors are there in the US that wish they'd chosen another career? Sure, this philosophy works fine if you actually have won the lottery or have rich parents, but what do kids really know about making these decisions? You can say that an 18 yr old is perfectly mature enough to make up their own mind, but in reality the decision made much earlier in life. It doesn't happen often that a teenager, who has spent their whole childhood indulging in the arts, suddenly realizes he/she has made a mistake and then switches to a career in engineering.

Re:What would you do if you won the lottery syndro (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447608)

The 'do whatever you enjoy most' philosophy isn't at fault, what makes it ineffective is that sciences are often badly taught and so aren't enjoyed. If the sciences and engineering were better taught then they would be what more people enjoy the most and it would work much better.

Re:What would you do if you won the lottery syndro (1)

bluemeany (974220) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447682)

I disagree.

What makes you think that sciences are any more badly taught than say English or Art?

And who's to say it is the biggest factor in effecting career choices?

I say you parents have a much bigger influence.

Re:What would you do if you won the lottery syndro (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447696)

I'm actually having the opposite problem, was encouraged and went into a well paying technical field where I am excelling professionally, but am dreadfully bored every hour of the work day. I'd love to transition to a career where my passion is (Illustration), but I am suffering form the golden handcuffs my employer has placed on me...Some day...

Re:What would you do if you won the lottery syndro (1)

g4b (956118) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447836)

I disagree.

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

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

You are only thankful, if your parents saw what really fitted your personality. Going after "what pays good" is the stupidest pursue of career. Also such parents cause a lot of misery in our world.

Work is about fullfillment.Not about money.

Re:What would you do if you won the lottery syndro (1)

g4b (956118) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447858)

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

Maybe treat and pay engineers better? (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447548)

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

obama means women lawyers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447556)

because these days men don't count in tomorrow's 'diverse culture.'.. even though men are predominantly the best engineers.

well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447570)

At this point, the only thing that can subvert the endless homo sapien stagnant circle-jerk is the singularity. More engineers would make it more likely to happen, ergo the status quo has no interest in such an occurrence...

No Shit Sherlock (1)

PingXao (153057) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447582)

I had something like a 2,000 word reply for this article, but on second thought I decided better. Shorter: Hahahahahahahahaha of course not, asshole, and if you don't know why then you shouldn't be the fucking president.

Nobody else would be any better as President IMO, and that in large part is why America is doomed.

Scientists: Quit letting our jobs be outsourced. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447588)

nc

Okay, I'm convinced now (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447610)

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

The rewards are going too far to the top for anything to "trickle down" and there is no incentive to not send work, technology or just about everything overseas. The nation's wealth is running away because there is less being done to "generate wealth" in the nation.

Let's do another "car analogy!" Obama's approach is like saying "we need to sell more cars! Let's get more people into the car manufacturing field of work and then we will have more cars to sell!" That's just not how it works!

Re:Okay, I'm convinced now (1)

AlphaOmegaLeague (2115370) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447948)

You need to realize that Obama is a puppet of the financial oligarchs, reading scripts provided for him. He is not a leader. Nothing is as it seems in American politics; it's all a show managed backstage by very skilled illusionists.

Of course we don't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447630)

Most of them quit after a spy saps their hard work for the thousandth time.

Astounding (2)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447644)

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

translation from oligarch puppet-speak (1)

AlphaOmegaLeague (2115370) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447652)

Translation: we, the financial oligarchs who pull the strings of this great nation, need more plumbers to ensure that our toilets don't clog up. Toilets have become very complex, and the Chinese are producing 10 times as many plumbers as we are. We simply must have more plumbers!

Shocked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447710)

I'm shocked! Only 1 engineer per 150 people? How great the world would be if there would only be 10% more engineers. It would be star trek all over the place...

What the fuck for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447834)

Shitty pay and you'll be sued over some bullshit patent..

The only way to succeed in america is to be a lawyer or financial guy. Dont listen to this asshole, he wants every american to fail.

Preaching to the choir (1)

alphatel (1450715) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447846)

Do we really need to listen to this kind of dribble? Look at all the recent break-ins at Citigroup, Sony, etc. No one gives a flying crap about proper engineering or the end result - and the Obama and previous administrations have enabled this by not throwing the justice department at these overstuffed elephants. So we have a culture which continually rewards profit-seeking behavior and never enforces voters, or consumers, rights. All anyone cares about is lawsuits and they have already those down pat - argue in court for 20 years and by then your net loss is deflated to nothing.

If Obama administration wants change his team needs to start enforcing good engineering and proper thought instead of allowing this country to fall to the bottomless pit of wealth-seeking stupidity and irresponsibility.

need a guaranteed minimum income (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447862)

more people would be scientists and engineers if they didn't have to worry about whether they had a job next week

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimum_income

solution (applies to USA only, don't know situations in other countries):
1. end all income, sales and payroll taxes -- no matter how they are structured they end up being regressive
2. tax all money leaving the country at a rate of about 20-30% (this will eliminate all offshore tax loopholes)
3. institute a national property and wealth tax on all real property and other holdings

reasons this solution works:
1. the tax burden is shifted from labor to capital
2. politicians have less power because the wealth itself is taxed rather than specific activities
3. it is fundamentally more fair because the people who benefit the most are the ones funding government
4. size of government would be tied to the size of the economy rather than the pie in the sky whims of the political class

and the reason it will never be implemented is because there is too much power and privilege defending the status quo

pay more! (2)

t2t10 (1909766) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447864)

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

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

Look at the PSAT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36447954)

High school juniors are more likely to be rewarded with scholarships with strong verbal skills and moderate math skills and not vice versa. Double the verbal, add the math for your score. 80 math + 40 verbal = 40 math + 60 verbal. Hmmm.

Abolish hostile lawyer-friendly environment then (1)

Kirth (183) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447956)

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

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

Counting on the private sector... (0)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447960)

From the summary:

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

Because of course that is exactly what a hard-core fascist socialist dictator liberal atheist muslim anarchist monarch would do! Go President Lawnchair!

Simple solution: end "free trade" (4, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447972)

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

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

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

Where are these Engineers going to work? Obama? (1, Flamebait)

Nexusone1984 (1813608) | more than 2 years ago | (#36447996)

We don't have jobs for the Engineers we already have, many myself included can not find a job in our fields.

Why go to school to be come an Engineer when you will not have a job waiting for you?

We need to create Job's for the Engineers, stop importing Engineer for jobs or having them move over seas.

Fix out trade agreements so we are not competing against slave labor.....
Fix the hole in our borders....

Missing the point (possibly willingly) (4, Insightful)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | more than 2 years ago | (#36448012)

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

What a load of crap.

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

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

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

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

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

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