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Too Few American Scientists? Maybe Not

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the simple-economics dept.

Education 607

An anonymous reader writes "We've been hearing about bad K-12 science education, too few American science and engineering students, and the real-soon-now employment nirvana in technical fields for, like, the last 20 years. The reality: rising undergrad enrollments and unemployment rates, long years as an underpaid postdoc for those who finish a Ph.D. The Chronicle of Higher Education article quotes Harvard economist Richard Freeman: 'They're not studying science,' he says, 'because they look and say, "Do I want to be a postdoc paid $35,000 or $40,000 at age 35, with extreme uncertainty working in somebody else's lab, and maybe getting credit for my work and maybe not getting full credit? Or would I rather be an M.B.A. and making $150,000 and hiring Ph.D.'s?"'"

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FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661719)

LIPSTICK LESBIANs rule.

Re:FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661741)

LIPSTICK LESBIANs rule.

How accurate is this statement? Do we have an American scientist in the house who would like to inform the possiblities of this being true?

One of the more unusual benefits of an MBA (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661733)

She's one. [ntlworld.com]

Too few? certainly not! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661735)

Why, in fact our very own Gay Nigger Association of America is making great strides every day in social engineer, media manipulation and shock-site dissemination.

I'd go so far as to say that they are responsible for the majority of all the important sociological advancements being made on the internet today!

I'm not surprised (4, Insightful)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661737)

I think this is the primary effect of copyright and patent law. It becomes more important to be the person who controls the output of scientists than it is to be a scientist yourself.

Re:I'm not surprised (3, Insightful)

Metteyya (790458) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661777)

It'll be like that until everyone realize that it takes a scientist to properly control output of other scientists.
Well, but maybe USA needs more and more outsourcing and maybe some hi-tech crisis to realize that. But that's not something we'd like to see (and I'm not American).

Re:I'm not surprised (1, Insightful)

billstr78 (535271) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661785)

I also the situation as a factor of the US being the richest nation with a strong corporate culture and influence. We are the upper management of the rest of the world. Of course our bright all american kids are going to be interested in bossing around other people rather than pursuing advanced knoledge through the study of science. This is not to say that there are'nt plenty of people who break stride from the norm, but our countries place in the world is a factor for those not influenced by any other.

Re:I'm not surprised (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661870)

We are the upper management of the rest of the world.

And it's statements like that that get the country bombed. Way to go.

Re:I'm not surprised (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661786)

I blame Microsoft, the RIAA, and the Patriot Act.

Re:I'm not surprised (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661799)

Quite true, I think. Scientists and engineers need to realise that I"P" law is NOT about them controlling their work, it's about the MBAs and lawyers doing so. Mass disregard for copyright and patent law is not just a good idea, it's your duty as a scientist.

Re:I'm not surprised (4, Insightful)

kevlar (13509) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661882)

I think this is the primary effect of copyright and patent law. It becomes more important to be the person who controls the output of scientists than it is to be a scientist yourself.

You can really say its about money. Money is what funds the development, money is what funds the lawyers who file the patents.

A PhD who could fund his own R&D and lawyers could have everything. The problem is that in order for them to fund it, they need their own fat savings account.

The fundamental issue with PhD salaries is that there are so many PhD's out there who are perfectly willing to work in academia withthe basics of their financial life supported that universities and companies don't NEED to pay them more. Their love for work is their motivation, not the money. Thats why they'll always generally be paid just enough to survive.

Of course... if they WERE paid more, and the costs were reflected in drug development, etc, everyone on Slashdot would scream bloody murder.

Re:I'm not surprised (1)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661964)

A better explanation [johntaylorgatto.com]

It was the goal of some rather influential people of the 19th century. The book at that URL explains it from the perspective of a retired public schoolteacher, and I urge all of you to at least read the intro and skim a few chapters.

MBA is not the end all be all (3, Insightful)

raydobbs (99133) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661743)

Possessing a Masters in Business Administration is not the end all be all of the world. There are a lot of people who have this degree - but could not manage their way out of a wet paper bag. What business truely wants, and needs are managers who are creative, intelligent, resourceful, unorthodox - not just people who have the book learning.

Yeah, you can make a lot of money having this degree - but unless your passion is management, it's a waste of time - and talent.

Re:MBA is not the end all be all (1, Insightful)

MrMr (219533) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661754)

What business truly wants is designers, engineers and scientist who are creative, intelligent, resourceful, unorthodox. And one boring MBA to fill out the excel sheets once a month.

Re:MBA is not the end all be all (4, Interesting)

mOoZik (698544) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661768)

I don't think a passionless person would spend 6+ years studying something in which they have no faith or no love for. It is a fact tha the average MBA makes more than the average post-doc. Money seems to be the attracting force, but also a certain sense of freedom. At least that's the reason I'm a year away from my MBA.

Re:MBA is not the end all be all (5, Insightful)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661812)

you just described a leader not a manager.

managers are made to maintain the Status Quo, Leaders are made to give direction and vision and to get everyone on board.

though a good leader needs good management skills to maintain the day to day garbage.

Re:MBA is not the end all be all (2, Insightful)

raydobbs (99133) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661822)

A good manager is BOTH a leader and a manager. Too many managers are piss-poor leaders, and barely passable managers. Partly the reason I decided that I wanted to have more control of my destiny, and move from the front lines to more of the managerial roles.

Re:MBA is not the end all be all (1)

Monkelectric (546685) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661848)

could not manage their way out of a wet paper bag.

Yea I worked for a few. Let me recount my 3 days employment at "minka lighting":

"Our platform is solaris on intel, windows, and SCO. One of your first assignments will be to do something about our spam problem, we seem to get about 5000 spams a day."
"Great, I'll install and train a copy of dspam..."
"We don't host our own email, SBC does. And we don't allow linux."
"But SCO is linux?"
"..."
"I see, I need to take friday off for an interview."

Re:MBA is not the end all be all (1)

laejoh (648921) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661886)

Masters in Business Administration? Sorry, but from personal experience I'd call it Management By Arrogance.

Just my $0,02

Re:MBA is not the end all be all (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661951)

George W. Bush has an MBA. From Harvard, no less.

Re:MBA is not the end all be all (2, Interesting)

YetAnotherHoopyFrood (691469) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661976)

Although I am at the moment just a pie-eyed undergrad, I am inclined to think that I would rather be an underpaid post-doc than a well-paid MBA, though I could also substitute "post-doc" with just about any other job and the statement would still be true. I don't doubt that it will be a little harder to maintain this position when it comes time to pay the bills.

I have personally only worked with two post-docs, but they were certainly not in any danger of having their ideas and work stolen. Granted, the "head" professor will likely get his name put on any publications produced due to his supervisory role. Even as an undergrad, any paper to which I contribute will include my name and that of anyone else involved. However, I cannot assume that these two cases are indicative of the entire system. Incidentally, both post-docs moved on to full-time positions, but there are many factors involved, and they are, after all, only two people.

Doesn't the academic job market tend to fluctuate considerably from year to year? The job market is certainly not particularly good anywhere at the moment, but even in better days one would sometimes see Ph.Ds from top-notch schools taking positions at low-ranking state schools. Other years nearly the reverse may be true. It would seem that, although we shouldn't ignore potential signs of the times, we should also listen to those who would advise us not to proclaim the end of American science to be at hand.

True for Me (5, Interesting)

billstr78 (535271) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661752)

I know that the bleak employment opportunities for a Computer Science Ph.D. in a 50th ranked school were the main reason I left my program and finished with a Masters instead. Now I'm employed doing the same work I did while interning as an undergraduate 4 years ago. If I'm not able to move my way up through the ranks and get to some real development, going back for an MBA is a real possibility.

Re:True for Me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661810)

>bleak employment opportunities for a Computer >Science Ph.D. in a 50th ranked school were the main >reason I left my program and finished with a >Masters instead.

I have to laugh. Bleak?

There is no such thing as bleak employment prospects for someone with a Masters or PhD in Computer Science, unless you got your degree a long time ago. You weren't particularly worried about having to work a $7/hour job were you? Did you perhaps have to decide between eating and paying your electric bill? Whining!

I get over 300,000 per year as ENGINEER (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661755)

I get over 300,000 per year as ENGINEER (mass market utility software, (systems level engineer) but in spurts rather than steady income.

Steady income seems to be about 125,000 as a non contractor.

scientists have more fun at work, but make less money

capitalism is supply and demand

not all actresses make 10 million per year and not all MBAs make over 80,000 per year

but MOST systems level software engineers make over 80,000 because it is a profession based on merit, not luck or who you know

Re:I get over 300,000 per year as ENGINEER (1)

mike260 (224212) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661856)

Just think how much more you'd get paid if you could match brackets.

i can smell bullshit a mile off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661909)


but then that is what i would expect from American school children

A little history... (4, Insightful)

cleverhandle (698917) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661759)

We've been hearing about bad K-12 science education, too few American science and engineering students, and the real-soon-now employment nirvana in technical fields for, like, the last 20 years.

Longer than that, actually. The beginning of all of this was the launching of Sputnik in 1957. It was the prospect of losing the Space Race against the USSR prompted the infamous "New Math" of the early 60's.

Re:A little history... (1)

jabberjaw (683624) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661917)

For those who don't know what "New Math" is/was (I didn't).

Re:A little history... (2, Insightful)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661980)

It began, as nearly as I can figure, around 1850 or so. Read about it [johntaylorgatto.com]

career decisions... (3, Interesting)

davids-world.com (551216) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661760)

Let me rephrase that question.

"Do I want to do cutting-edge research, find out about new things, finding solutions to problems, maybe getting patents, work with colleagues around the world, travel to conferences and workshops, or do I like to manage people and an organization, come up with visions, conduct hundreds of interviews with applicants, go to fancy dinners with my lab's sponsors or the company's clients?"

Re:career decisions... (2, Interesting)

gclef (96311) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661794)

Well, kinda. In the real world, it's more like:

Do I want to have a small chance at cutting-edge research, get taken advantage of mercilessly by entrenched professors, and distantly dream of seeing my work mentioned in a high-profile publication, or do I want to actually have a life?

(For the curious: yes, I had to make that decision, and yes, that's about the position I was faced with in grad school...3 guesses which direction I went.)

bullshit (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661873)

A paper with my name on it has just been accepted at SIGGRAPH 2004, and I'm not even a graduate student yet.

Don't try to blame others for your incompetence. If you're good, you get to do cutting edge research and get credit for it. If you suck, you don't.

Egos... (2, Insightful)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661970)

Ah yes - those wonderful people-skills that I remember from my grad school days.

And - FYI - before you write me off as a mental defect, I was generally considered as being one of the top students in my program, which was at a top-10 university for that program.

Among the many reasons that I left with an MS was because I've never seen so many inflated egos in a confined space. I wouldn't say the majority of my fellow students were that way - but there were so many that it was virtually impossible to avoid them. At my present employer there are certainly a fair share of super-alpha-(fe)male managers, but they are few enough that you can accomplish at least a few tasks without one trying to take credit and you can go through 4/5 workdays without having to personally interact with one.

Other reasons that I left included a lack of faith in my advisor and the project I ended up on, a lack of people who were willing to act as mentors, and the general super-competitive atmosphere where the guy who discovers something first gets 100% of the credit, and the guy who makes a parallel discovery two weeks later is lucky to even get published at all - and will certainly not get a Ph.D. out of it.

I'm all for a fair day's work for a fair day's pay, but I don't work for the sake of working, and I don't believe that most normal people set a goal of spending 100 hours a week working at their careers.

If that's what you want to do, that's fine by me. And I could care less if you want to be a jerk with an inflated ego on the side. Just don't be surprised that nobody wants to be around you. And don't be surprised when taxpayers aren't willing to fund your research. It isn't like most people feel a moral obligation to fork over their hard-earned cash to people whose main goal in life seems to be to prove that they are better than everyone else.

If more people at the top in academics were willing to invest a little time in helping those beneath them understand science, and to help them climb the academic ladder, then perhaps more people would find it an attractive career option. To me, it just seems like a way to be underpaid while having to deal with crazy egomaniacs.

In my present job I don't necessarily work on cutting-edge science, but I do have a little spare time to follow what is going on in the world of science. And, unless I got tenure at a top-20 university I probably wouldn't be paid much more than I am now (not bad considering my salary is likely to continue to rise). I still get to solve interesting problems, and I have coworkers who aren't out to prove that they are better than me - we actually can go out to lunch once in a while and enjoy ourselves...

Re:career decisions... (1)

BarryNorton (778694) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661955)

I've only heard this from people who didn't even try... (Me, I'm writing up, chose the direction of my own research and I've been the primary author on all my papers to date.)

Re:career decisions... (4, Insightful)

Duncan3 (10537) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661858)

*laughs*

More like...

Do I want to shuffle papers all day, make and remake long term plans, work 70 hours weeks becasue I'm salaried, never have time for my friends and family, and get no credit ever becasue the CEO and other vicious MBA take it becasue they are trained to...

No, a geek should not try to be a MBA, and a MBA should not try to be a geek. They should however, understand each other.

Re:career decisions... (2, Interesting)

YU Nicks NE Way (129084) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661864)

Let me rephrase that yet again:

"Do I want to do cutting-edge research (that only five other people in the world will genuinely understand), find solutions to problems (that will be important in a hundred years, but which don't matter at all right now), work with colleagues all around the world (via e-mail), and meanwhile struggle to pay my kid's day care bills, getting lousy benefits, and having credit stolen from me by my lab director, so that in fifteen years I can have a one in five hundred shot at a tenured position? The alternative is to go into industrial research, where I will not get to work on quite such arcane things, but will, to my surprise, get all the freedom I ever got in academe, even as a star post-doc, get to work on equally interesting problems of a slightly different nature, but using the same skills as I used as an academic, and get payed...errr...five to ten times as much. Before benefits."

I made the first choice before we had kids. After we had kids, I changed my mind. I work at Microsoft now -- I look back on my time as a tenure-track assistant professor with some nostalgia, but only because it was what I always wanted to do, not because I was any better off there than I am here.

Re:career decisions... (1)

JanneM (7445) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661911)

Another way to put it:

Spend years at various research facilities, with no dependable income, no steady base to return to and no expectation that it will eventually lead to anything better. Be prepared for bursts of postgraduate work interpunctuated by periods of nonsense work or unemployment. And if you do get to the "something better" stage, that turns out to be all about teaching the basics to not very interested undergraduates, and nothing at all about actually doing any research any more.

By all means, please do pursue a PhD, but do realize that as far as research goes, chances are those graduate student years will be the epitome of research activity for you, not the beginning.

If you want to be a teacher, this system is not too bad. If you rather want to stay a researcher, you are in for some big disappointments.

But that's part of the problem! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661761)

Having managerial and commercial jobs valorised far above scientific and technical one is part of having a "work culture" moving away from excellence at science and development... and with the brightest students going into commercial courses, the cycle feeds itself since it ensures that the people in top positions tomorrow will overwhelmingly have had a commercial and not technical education. It's pretty sad and pretty worrying.

3.141 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661769)

For some it is not the money that is the draw of technological feilds. The lack of money might be troubling, but, in the end, it is the science that is important.

Re:3.141 (1)

Original AIDS Monkey (315494) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661818)

Fuck that. I work as an engineer, and it's strictly about the money, drugs, and bitches.

I'll take the Ph.D., thank you (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661772)

Do I want to be a postdoc paid $35,000 or $40,000 at age 35, with extreme uncertainty working in somebody else's lab, and maybe getting credit for my work and maybe not getting full credit?

Yes, yes I do. I'd rather live in relative poverty and be happy doing what I like than having a lot of money, but waste my life doing something I don't enjoy.

Re:I'll take the Ph.D., thank you (5, Insightful)

cTbone (632308) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661836)

Absolutely.

I'd rather work in a lab doing research that I feel might change something in society or maybe cure just one person's illness than slave with an M.B.A. dealing with the business end of the deal.

I really don't care if I'm getting 40,000 or so. To me it's not a big deal.

I think it's a hidden blessing that salaries aren't grossly overdone with Ph.D.'s because you weed out those who are in it just for the money and you're left with the people that truly care for what they are doing.

Re:I'll take the Ph.D., thank you (3, Insightful)

alptraum (239135) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661872)

I'd do this too, I'd much rather do what I love than be rich doing something I hate, you see this all the time with overworked lawyers and doctors and other high paying jobs, they have no time to enjoy all the money they make, their slaves to their jobs. Not saying that all lawyers and docs secretly hate their jobs, but a lot of them undoubtably do. On the other hand, my uncle, a chemistry phd, makes 35-40k a year but absolutely loves what he does. I currently am working on my masters in Industrial Engineering (Specifically Industrial Statistics and Quality and Reliability Engineering) I honestly have no idea how I'll fair salary-wise when I get out in a year, but I love what I do and that's what matters to me, to me engineers and scientists and the like are my heroes, and IMHO, of all human pursuits, there are none more noble than those of science and engineering.

Re:I'll take the Ph.D., thank you (1)

ifwm (687373) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661932)

I couldn't have said it better.

It seems the author of this article thinks that having money is the primary motivator for people going to school. For undergrads, I'd say that's probably true. For Graduate students, however, there is usually a love of the field that is the primary motivation, and money comes in somewhere beneath that.

I'm still in school because I want my Ph.D. I want to do original research, make breakthroughs, help people, and above all do scientific work. As long as I have the necessities, I'll be fine.

What does K-12 science education matter here anywa (4, Interesting)

ShatteredDream (636520) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661774)

Most of the hard science majors I know didn't get there because of their K-12 education. It couldn't come really even close to covering what they needed to know to do anything with it. I can look at schools' "computer science" classes and see basically identical results. Most of the real coders in my computer science classes are the ones who didn't waste their time with "computer science" classes in K-12. I tried taking one for fun and found it to be quite possibly the most asinine class there, even more so than PE. K-12 is designed to build up the lowest common denominator to a point slightly above dark ages superstitions about the world. Overall it is an abysmal system and I see no reason anymore to fix it or fund it more. Think of education like hemp rope. Some will use it for good and useful purposes, some will hang themselves with it, but the majority will do nothing with it except maybe try to smoke it and get high off of it.

Read what a real scientist has to say. (3, Insightful)

jabberjaw (683624) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661778)

I am not a scientist (yet), I do however read the musings of a real scientist at Note Even Wrong [columbia.edu] . Scroll down to "There They Go Again..." and enjoy what he has to say about the article.

Re:Read what a real scientist has to say. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661804)

Meanwhile, the ABA does the opposite. For as long as I remember, they've issued publications trying to dissuade people from taking up the practice of the law. The AMA does the same by lobbying to restrict the number of accredited medical schools. I guess the difference is that these are "real" professional associations that act on behalf of their members.

Re:Read what a real scientist has to say. (4, Interesting)

foidulus (743482) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661887)

Meanwhile, the ABA does the opposite. For as long as I remember, they've issued publications trying to dissuade people from taking up the practice of the law. The AMA does the same by lobbying to restrict the number of accredited medical schools. I guess the difference is that these are "real" professional associations that act on behalf of their members.
No, they are all acting in their members best interest. The fewer lawyers/doctors out there, less competetion, more money. The big difference is the ABA and AMA are run by the professionals, instead of those who hire the professionals. So the control they want over the supply/demand balance is different.

My decision: (4, Interesting)

mhore (582354) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661790)

I am a Physics student...with only one class left until Grad School. When I first considered Physics... I had a hard time justifying to myself making $40,000 as a postdoc (if I'm lucky) vs. making maybe $60-70k as a programmer...or more with an MBA or Engineering degree.

What it came down to is this... I did what made me happy. I may never make much money at all, but I love what I'm doing. I made the choice to switch over to Physics, and I have never looked back.

Mike.

Re:My decision: (4, Insightful)

John Seminal (698722) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661866)

It is too bad that money is often what makes a person make a decision which puts them on a path in life where the person is not happy. I remember reading the magazines in college which ranked pay by degree. If only I would have stayed studying what trully excited and interested me- biology. I was facsinated with the possibility of genetic engineering as a method of solving disease and sickness. Now I do programming work when I find it, or other office work, and I hate it. Why? Because I decided to follow the money not realizing money does not give happiness and often what is a hot job/field today will not be in 5 years. Plus, who wants to excel at something they hate doing. You know, the kind of job where by lunch you want to go home.

Re:My decision: (1)

RTPMatt (468649) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661889)

"Do I want to be a postdoc paid $35,000 or $40,000 at age 35, with extreme uncertainty working in somebody else's lab, and maybe getting credit for my work and maybe not getting full credit? Or would I rather be an M.B.A. and making $150,000 and hiring Ph.D.'s?"'"

haha! This is exactly why im not gettin a PHD. Im gettin an undergrad in EE, then an MBA all the way! Good to know im not the only one whos figured this out.

Re:My decision: (1)

alptraum (239135) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661953)

I really do commend you on following you heart rather than a paycheck. As the old Chinese proverb goes: "Water is like the wiseman, only does what is natural." Too many people in this world hate their jobs. Any anyhow, perhaps you will find a high paying job in physics, heck, vast majority of actors make 20 something grand a year, but a handfull in hollywood are making millions, it can happen.

PH.d's can't. (4, Insightful)

PeterPumpkin (777678) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661791)

Well, part of the problem is that these PH.d's are 35, and have no actual experience. I've seen this at GE - there were guys, who shall remain nameless, who were brilliant with the formulas, et cetera, but who were comepletly devoid of common sense and unable to deal with real-world problems, due to too much time in a academic environment. I imagine it takes some time and several jobs before one could acclimate to the real world.

Nothing that a few good internships couldn't solve, to keep one grounded ;)

Re:PH.d's can't. (4, Insightful)

billstr78 (535271) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661862)

This is other people's problem with Ph.D's but does not generally impact their employment opportunities or job performance. They are paid to be good with the formulas, et cetera. They never fully adapt to the working life becuase their knowledge is deep not broad.
The employment opportunities for U.S. Ph.D's are bleak becuase the field is competitive. There aren't that many positions outside of academia that require that specialized knoledge and there are plenty of talented people from other countries itching to plant themselves in the U.S. to get away from less than perfect conditions in their own country.

Union (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661796)

Time for the Ph.Ds to form their own "scientist-union" and strike until they get their fair salaries. I believe that many Ph.Ds does not demand high salaries as aggressively as MBAs - because they have a reward in working in a field of interest. However - I believe that they should be entitled to AT LEAST the same salaries as those with an MBA.

After they have formed their union they should probably lay low and save money for a few years. Big unions have huge assets and can often take out hundreds of thousands of workers to strike for very long periods (like a year), and a strike like that, among the important scientists, would surely improve their situation.

(Disclaimer: I am an European)

Damn! 35K-40K for post-docs?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661798)

I don't get paid that much. Do I work in a wrong lab?

Agreed, though about being a science slave... everything you do and publish depends on the higher ups. But I hated business since there are too much politics and questionable things. I just didn't realize that such things happen too in scientific world, albeit in lesser degrees. But if I had to do it again, I'd still rather be a lowly-paid post-doc than a greedy MBA.

An interesting quote about foriegn students (1)

foidulus (743482) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661800)

Mr. Cohen argues that the United States should not look at those who do return to their own countries as a loss. "If they finish their Ph.D.'s and go back to their home country, then we have a friend for life," he says. "It's a win situation." That's true even in the case of China, he says: "We certainly are in some sort of a competition with China economically. But the people we train that go back, go back with many of our values."
I think this is only half true. IMHO, I see two types of graduate students, one, like the kind he is quoting, have a genuine interest in America. They want to absorb the culture and participate in it, without really forgetting who they are. However, I have also seen a lot of another type of foriegn grad student, the kind who wants nothing to do with anyone outside their community, and may even harbor animosity towards anyone who is not like them. They seem to be there not to learn, but only to promote their own ethnocentric view that they are the superior culture, and dealing with us little American heathens is the price they must pay to prove it.
We need to find more of the first kind, and don't let the 2nd into the country. If they don't want to become part of America, why use resources on educating them?

You're obviously not a foreign student (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661854)

If you were, you'd know that when you come to study in the US, part of the deal involves signing a statement whereby you promise you will leave the US immediately after getting your degree.

With this in mind, can you tell me why exactly would a foreign graduate student want to "be part of America"?

And to answer your question, we come here to study because this is where we can get a good quality graduate education for free. We don't really care about Americans, or the so-called American "culture". We don't hate you, and we don't love you. We just want you to leave us alone to get our education and get the hell out of here.

Re:You're obviously not a foreign student (1)

foidulus (743482) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661943)

And to answer your question, we come here to study because this is where we can get a good quality graduate education for free. We don't really care about Americans, or the so-called American "culture". We don't hate you, and we don't love you. We just want you to leave us alone to get our education and get the hell out of here.
I don't know what country you come from, but why should I pay for your education? Give me one good reason? Benevolence? I doubt the Indians are very benevolent when they are taking jobs through outsourcing. Quit this "poor me" mentality. If you don't like this country, DON'T COME!! it's as simple as that. Why isn't the education in your home country free? Why should I pay for an asset of another country? How would you like if America imposed a tax on you to educate Americans?
I don't think you would like it, and yet I am just supposed to smile and give you money. BR. I think it's actually a bad idea forcing people to leave after they get their degrees, but I also don't understand why I have to pay for your education, nobody is certainly paying for mine.

Re:An interesting quote about foriegn students (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661948)

why would anyone want to be part of a nation like USA ? with all its torturers and bullshit "intelligence" with a president who celebrates his own stupidity as if its something to be proud of.
if i wanted to join a corrupt society i would go to China, at least they honest in their corruption
keep reaching Mr American in your arrogance because i will need my car washed at the end of the week after i have milked you for what i want

$150K MBAs? (4, Interesting)

mst76 (629405) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661806)

What I want to know is:
1. Does a typical MBA really make $150K?
2. If (as seems to be the implicit assumption) the science PhD could do the MBA's jobs as well, any company hiring PhD's can gain competitive advantage (lowers wage costs) by hiring science PhD's instead of MBA's. Don't companies realize this? Or is there more to MBA's than we all assume?

Re:$150K MBAs? (1)

furball (2853) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661869)

My father works for a non-profit organization. They don't need too many MBA's. They do need PhD's. He's got one. He makes $150k (a little shy of that actually) with is PhD.

The trick with the PhD is finding companies that can fully use your PhD instead of companies that simply see PhD as better than a Master.

Re:$150K MBAs? (1)

Duncan3 (10537) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661884)

1. No.
2. Oh hell no. It's genetic.

Re:$150K MBAs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661895)

Heh.. the problem is that its the MBA's making the decisions on who to hire. Convincing them that a science PhD could do their job would be next to impossible, and even if you could, none of them would want to be the one that let that cat out of the bag :)

Re:$150K MBAs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661918)

Heh.. the problem is that its the MBA's making the decisions on who to hire. Convincing them that a science PhD could do their job would be next to impossible, and even if you could, none of them would want to be the one that let that cat out of the bag :)
They would have to face the Darwinism that is the free market. If the premise is correct (science PhD's can do the same job for a lot less, the article is talking about more than $100K difference), the company hiring the PhD's should easily out-compete the company whose MBA's don't believe the premise.

Re:$150K MBAs? (3, Informative)

MisanthropicProgram (763655) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661902)

1. Does a typical MBA really make $150K?
Only if they graduate from Harvard, Yale, Wharton, Stanford, or some other top 5 school.

2. If (as seems to be the implicit assumption) the science PhD could do the MBA's jobs as well, any company hiring PhD's can gain competitive advantage (lowers wage costs) by hiring science PhD's instead of MBA's. Don't companies realize this? Or is there more to MBA's than we all assume?
A lot of business is fuzzy thinking. In my MBA program, half my class is engineers. They're great at the math, but unfortunately, they trust the numbers too much. IMHO. Some have a hard time realizing that the numbers are an approximation and not based on physical laws like theey're used to in engineering.
Just my opinion because I do the same thing.

Re:$150K MBAs? (1)

The One and Only (691315) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661925)

Only if they graduate from Harvard, Yale, Wharton, Stanford, or some other top 5 school.

Couldn't bring yourself to name number 5, eh? ;)

Re:$150K MBAs? (1)

MisanthropicProgram (763655) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661936)

It depends on what list you look at, but I think it's MIT's Sloan School of business.

Re:$150K MBAs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661930)

> Only if they graduate from Harvard, Yale, Wharton, Stanford, or some other top 5 school.

OK, which one is the 5th? :)

Old Story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661814)

Yeah, this is a rather old story.

The good old' Lee Iacoca in his great book "Iacocca" (part I), in the last chapters, complained about the lack of intertest in fields such as engineering and science in american students.

They rather take on law, economics & finance because of the easy money. As a downside, America might be falling back in technological fields, hiring foreigner scientists ! In the long term it will hurt America.

Brothers, this book was written in mid 80's (about 20 years ago!!!) I guess i was 100% right, didn't he?

Bye.

After 25 years in engineering I went elsewhere... (5, Interesting)

freeio (527954) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661815)

After 25 years working as an electronics engineer, the last company I worked for went into technical bankruptcy, stopped meeting payroll, and I was forced to reconsider whether I wanted to continue in this line of work. Result? I decided to take the savings, 401K, and such and put it into a more sane business.

So my wife and I expanded her business (one of those "horribly overpayed wedding photographers") and now I work full time selling portraits, photographing weddings, doing bookeeping, and such. I couldn't be happier!

The life as an engineer was (excuse me) pathetic. Why should I spend all my life chained to a desk, living in a cube farm, and putting up with the Boss from Hell who figured he owned me as so much chattel property? Life is much better now.

So tell me again why I would even talk any teenager into becoming an engineer? They would be fools to do so.

Re:After 25 years in engineering I went elsewhere. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661914)

"So tell me again why I would even talk any teenager into becoming an engineer? They would be fools to do so."

Because someone has to do it...

This is just wrong... (4, Insightful)

John Seminal (698722) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661820)

Last fall the president of the University of Maryland found himself doing something that none of his predecessors would have dreamed of trying. While on a trip to Taiwan, C. Dan Mote Jr. spent part of his time recruiting Taiwanese students to go to the United States for graduate school.

There should be no reason to recruit outside the USA for PhD programs. We should be able to have a good pool of undergrads in the USA to fill almost every PhD seat.

I think the fix to the problem is not undergraduate education or high schools, but what is taught in the elementary schools. I knew two people in elementary/high school who went on to get PhD's. One was a person who was always entering science fairs and was excited and interested in discovery. The father of that guy never pushed the kid to "excel", but allowed the kid to feed his appetite of wonder. The other guy I knew as a kid did not really get excited about learning, but had a dad who pushed and pushed and pushed for his kid to be the best. I can't tell you how many times I remember his father telling him "do you want to push a broomstick the rest of your life?". Both did well in high school, both got into good colleges. The one who was liked studying and did not look at school as work enjoyed his graduate school days. The one who looked at school as another hurdle to jump did not like it, and dropped out early getting a masters (and now works as a programmer because it paid the best, even though he hates it).

I think what needs to be done is schools needs to get fun at an early age. It should not be a pressure filled johnny is better than mike type environment, because johnny did well on some test (only to have mike kick johnnys ass after school). I had only one good teacher in my first 8 years of schooling (before high school), and what made that teacher great was not that he taught better but that he made everyone excited about what they were doing and made everyone feel good about their interests. Those who were interested in fiction books were no less important as people than those who were looking at leaves under a magnifying glass. The teacher always asked with an excited face "how did you like that" and "what did you learn"; and anwsered "wow". It might sound dumb, but he was one hell of a fifth grade teacher. Much better than the guy who taught me algebra in high school who always took off 1/2 a point off a right anwser just to show me who was boss (for shit like "can't read your handwriting").

It's about time... (5, Insightful)

MisanthropicProgram (763655) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661823)

that someone published an article about this. I'm so sick of CEOs complaining that there are not enough engineers being educated in this country and therefore, they have to go to other countries. What horshit!

Every job I've worked at had at least one engineer (many times a Ph.D.) who couldn't get a job in his chosen field - especially aerospace. So, he becomes a programmer. There's a reason that nobody is getting these dgrees - no jobs!
Also, why should someone with that kind of talent "waste" it in engineering when they can go to medical school and make ten times as much?

And another thing, I once was talking to some Indians about why there's so many engineers that come out of their country. Their response: "Every parent wants their child to grow up and become an engineer. If not that, then a doctor." Granted my sample size is four, but it was interesting to hear their mindset. I'm not saying that they're right or wrong, just that Engineers are held in much higher esteem there then over here.

Time for PhDs to group up and make MBAs pay (1)

Morgaine (4316) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661824)

If it's as bad as portrayed, then those (alleged) poor underpaid PhDs have only themselves to blame for buying into the MBA's game. You shouldn't accept starting at the bottom of the employment ladder after getting a PhD.

Team together with other clever technical people (you don't even need to incorporate, though it helps), and make those MBAs that were allegedly getting your services on the cheap pay through the nose. It was hard getting a PhD, now it's time to profit from it.

I speak from experience, btw, as I went straight from academia to freelance contractor on pretty high rates (easy to do if you stick inside the field where you are a top expert). I made darn sure that those MBA wallets suffered. :-)

Re:Time for PhDs to group up and make MBAs pay (1)

billstr78 (535271) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661926)

Graduating Ph.D.'s have to accept whatever opportunities come their way. Teaming together with other graduates to start a company or consulting group is a risky and poor decision for most. The venture capital does'nt exist for that type of company any more. The reality is that graduates are at the whim of big companies with big R&D budgets. It's a matter of supply and demand. Right now there is a strong supply of graduates and a weak demand. I will be willing to bet that you graduated with a Computer related MS during the Internet boom and are able to charge high "freelance" rates becuase at that time, supply and demand were reversed.

I have to agree with this assessment (5, Interesting)

betelgeuse68 (230611) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661826)

The people who visit here tends to have "tech" under their skin (me included). But the average person who is considering college does not necessarily enjoy our enthusiasm for open source code, LINUX, cool science news, etc. That's just life. If someone were considering computer science I would tell them, "Unless it's something you think about an awful lot during your day, forget it." That is, unless computing is in your "blood" in some shape way or form, the prospects simply are not worth it. I went to a large Midwestern state university and left the area to be on the West Coast. I kept in touch with different people from my college days (I finished in '91). Nowadays there are quite a number of "engineers" in Chicagoland that are essentially at dead ends the changing dynamics of the tech industry. Unfortunately for them, Chicago had a rather telecom presence and the downturn in that space means there are probably lots of people who won't be in tech jobs anymore. Just yesterday (and also featured on Slashdot) there was a Businessweek article about consolidation in the software space. I see it as a given and it is something I have told people for a couple of years. You see, the railways saw huge growth in the second half of the 1800's then ther was consolidation. Then the auto industry went nuts during its inception, then it too went through consolidation in the first half of the 1900's. Frankly I don't see why the software industry would be any different or immune to these business dynamics. And despite the fact that software doesn't have a material cost, commodization directly (open source) and indirectly has dramatically altered the landscape from 10+ years ago.

Here's a good article on Newsforge that makes my case, "There may never be another software billionaire":

http://www.newsforge.com/article.pl?sid=03/03/28 /2 125237&mode=thread&tid=3

Sure I'm only talking about computer science jobs but the prospects of studying some scientific field and making a living at it are rather grim. I've met my share of electrical engineers and physicists making a living by being code grunts vs. being in employed in their field of study. Nowadays there's a "nuclear engineer" on my team but the company I am currently at in no shape, way or form deals with that space.

So yeah, if I had to start all over and had the business savvy, mindset, drive and acumen I would go do something else.

After all, how many CEOs in corporate America have engineering and/or scientific degress?

Point made.

-M

Re:I have to agree with this assessment (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661912)

The same thing is happening with the MBAs. Big whopper company A swallows up smaller company B, resulting in a surplus of managers. A lot of them get let go. Then new super corporation C moves production overseas, so they let even more of the domestic managers go,even more of the techs, and replace them over seas with native speaking managers and techs. Result, less people working, more competition for what jobs are available (domestically), tech OR management.

Someplace there's a tip over point where enough companies have done that so that there is little in the way of a middle class left working at a decent enough avereage pay scale who have any money to actually purchase the products or services, no matter how cheap they are. Right now, it's gone from products purchased with already made cash to we have more credit being used. The next step is the tip over point.

Then things will get REAL interesting.

Yeah, so there are less "true" American scientists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661830)

True scientists wouldn't be so obsessed with the monetary gain from their work but rather the potential benefits to mankind. The ones who choose the MBA over the PhD are, in my opinion, not scientists at all but capitalists with scientific leanings.

Just another example of "capitalism gone wild".

Postdoc problem (5, Insightful)

overbyj (696078) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661838)

The funny thing about the postdoc issue is that it is very much a damned if you do-damned if you don't. In science, if you want a good job, you basically have to have done a postdoc. However, I have known people that have done a postdoc for 5-7 years and then still can't find a job because many will view them with the attitude of "why can't this person get a job after having a postdoc for 5 years".

An unfortunately reality in science, as it is in most of life, is that you have to have connections and you have to have timing on your side. When I was near the end of my postdoc (2 years), the academic job market was good that year. So was the industrial job market. However, two years after that, the academic job market actually shrank as the economy began to wilt and state funding for many schools shrank as well. Timing on my part was critical.

I feel for all those postdocs out there stuck in the rut of that position. I felt it was critical to my development as a scientist but man oh man, there is no way I would ever go back to that.

Supply and demand (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661843)

It's a fairly simple equation. The reason you can get someone for under $40,000 with a bachelor's degree, and 2-10 years of postgraduate education in some esoteric field, is that there's too damned many of us. Worse, once we're done, there's no requirement for real-world experience. Few PhD's or postdocs have any knowledge of how industry works, so they can get hired into the workforce for about as much as you can make as a prison guard with a GED in most states. (We have lab techs with MS degrees that make less than prison guards start at in this state.)

Amplifying the problem is the US's addiction to foreign graduate students. While they may work longer and harder hours, they're also cut off from their families or any social life, so they grind away in the lab early in the morning, late at night, and on weekends and holidays while us lazy Americans are off somewhere, complaining about how hard we have to work. The difference is that hard labor /= good results, and the papers these people crank out are often full of nonsense, repeat other people's work, or are completely superfluous. I've had foreign postdocs publish work with my contribution twice now, with no credit given to my input (which lasted for 15 months in one case), either out of ignorance or theft- I'm not sure which.

But, really- if you want to drive a ten-year-old car while it's your boss and administrators that roll in the big bucks (with benefits like retirement and that sort of thing), by all means- postdoc is the way to go!

The future of science is India and China (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661844)


7-8% [bbc.co.uk] growth and Biotech companies flocking there [bbc.co.uk] as fast they can (patents will not stop the advance of tech [bbc.co.uk] ) really hi-lights it, Glaxo Welcome,Pfiezer are all heading there, the question is are you ?

Efficient education markets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661850)

This article seems to argue you can judge the state of "science" by looking at solely educational levels. And this is further narrowed by considering only classical sources of education. Just as there have been efficiencies in labor, people are doing more with less classical education. Is the output of scientific discovery slowed? Or are people doing more self-learning and simply doing more with fewer credentials.

I don't see (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661857)

how this article says anything incompatible with there being too few American scientists.

What this article says is that there are too few job opportunities for american scientists.

I think it is possible there are both too few scientists and too few job opportunities for the ones that we do have...

I agree (1)

ThoreauHD (213527) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661871)

I don't understand what's so confusing to the poster. There are no jobs. So, the path of least resistance is to find a area with jobs. Like screwing people over as a MBA and then cashing out.

research funding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661881)

Another aspect of the "too few scientists" paradox:

I'm an oceanographer, who just had two proposals turned down in the last round at NSF. Apparently, of submitted proposals in this last round, 12% were chosen for funding. While this may mean that only truly excellent proposals get through, it also means that many truly excellent proposals don't. There are those of us out there who depend on this sort of funding to get a paycheck. At the same time that NSF can't afford to sponsor a reasonable amount of research (leaving many promising investigators out in the cold), they are pushing hard to bring more people into the field, which will only serve to make the problem worse.

signed-
a 35 year old, $40k/yr post-postdoc
(still very happy with what I do)

Ph.D Not So Bad (5, Interesting)

UMhydrogen (761047) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661883)

Coming from one of the higher ranked engineering schools in the country, I find that Ph.D and masters enrollment seems to be quite up. I know most of the people I am around are not settling for just their bachelors - everyone wants to go to graduate school. I also am spending my summer in DC working for Boeing. Almost everyone here either has a Ph.D or plans on going back to get their masters or Ph.D. Engineering docotorates do not fall in to the $35,000 range and they actually get paid quite a lot. Now I am not so sure about "science" but it seems to me that getting a Ph.D doesn't leave you anywhere near shy on money. On top of that, if you're any good at what you do, you can always get a job as a Professor at a university. At Uof Michigan the Professors get paid very well and do a lot of research. I find it hard to believe that in an age so motivated and focused on technology, that a scientist or an engineer would have trouble finding work.

MBA's are funny ! (1)

ilikeitraw (706793) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661897)

I have about three people who work "below" me, and each of them have their MBA's. I opted to smoke weed on the city college lawn and never even finished my first Computer Science classes... let alone college ! My "Master of Bong Acrobatics" will take me further than their "Master of Business Administration".

http://scijobs.freeshell.org/ (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661898)

Check out this www site about 1st hand knowledge about science and academia type jobs. http://scijobs.freeshell.org/

You cannot justify working as a Ph.D. in the US (5, Interesting)

Cerlyn (202990) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661901)

I left a comfortable job position to try for a Ph.D. at a major US institution [ohio-state.edu] . I was offered a full stipend, and it paid for pretty much everything except car insurance and clothing costs.

Unfortunately, when I got there, I found myself outclassed, and without help. Once my advisor came to realize I was not a specialist in the areas he thought I was, he rarely saw me, while discouraging me to look elsewhere.

Finally, my advisor dumped me two months before my contract with him was due to expire, well after the point all the other Ph.D. advisors had already chosen their underlings for the next year. I later found one of my friends in that research group was originally under my advisor as well, and had been dumped just prior to this advisor taking me in.

But it was too late for me. I lost a large amount of personal funding taking out loans to pay for the next two quarters. The politics in the Engineering department there were much worse than those I ever encountered working for the US government. Eventually I received a very good job offer from a private firm, and dropped out with the Masters degree I already had received at another school. But by that point in time, I estimated I wasted well over $10,000 in my own funds waiting for a new advisor I liked to take me in (it is worth noting he did come up with some funds for me, but I left just after this point).

The paranoid should look at two professors' testimony before the US Congress for some insight. The first is the testimony of Dr. David Goodstein [house.gov] about how the US Ph.D. program attempts to only breed elite members like themselves. The second is the testimony of Dr. Norman Matloff [ucdavis.edu] (revised since 1998) on how there really is not a Software labor shortage in the US (one section [ucdavis.edu] of this paper discusses why American CS students tend not to go for Ph.D. degrees).

Now that's a badly written story. (2, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661907)

"Last fall the president of the University of Maryland found himself doing something that none of his predecessors would have dreamed of trying. While on a trip to Taiwan, C. Dan Mote Jr. spent part of his time recruiting Taiwanese students to go to the United States for graduate school."

So, we're looking overseas for students to fill our tech programs....

"Current data suggest that the new predictions may fare no better than earlier ones. In fact, contrary to prevailing wisdom, which fixes blame on poor training in science and mathematics from kindergarten through the 12th grade, record numbers of Americans are earning bachelor's degrees in science and engineering. And unemployment rates in at least some sectors of science and engineering have topped the charts."

But we're turning out "record numbers" of AMERICAN graduates in those programs.

"University presidents, government officials, and heads of industry have joined together in a chorus of concern over the state of science and engineering in the United States. The danger signs are obvious, they say. Fewer U.S. citizens are getting doctorates in those fields."

And we seem to be producing fewer PhD's in those programs.

"In fact, even as science leaders opined about the alarming NSF report from May, the agency announced last week that graduate-student enrollment in science and engineering actually reached a new peak in 2002."

But we're enrolling more post-graduate people in those programs than ever before.

"As the number of those men entering science has declined, national leaders have sought to bring more women and minorities into the enterprise."

So fewer white men are going into tech and the difference is more women and minorities?

So is this about the decline of the white male in tech fields or is it about the rise of everyone else in tech fields or is it about how the US is declining in tech fields?

"And even if the visa difficulties fade, leaders both inside and outside academe say the education system in the United States must reform itself to maintain the country's technological edge."

So, we're in decline because we're graduating more techs than ever before, but they're mostly women and minorities and lots of them go on to post-graduate work, and that is the fault of the education system?

"The board noted in particular a rising reliance on foreign-born talent, a decline in homegrown brainpower, increasing difficulty in attracting overseas scholars, and a looming shortage of scientists and engineers."

So, we are depending more upon foreign engineers and it is becoming increasing difficult to get them to come here.... ....which means that we'll have a shortage of techs soon unless we start growing our own.

"Compounding the situation, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted in 2001 that the number of jobs in science and engineering would grow at a rate three times that of all occupations, on average, producing a 47-percent increase in science-and-engineering jobs by 2010."

So we'll have lots of jobs available for people with tech degrees.

""Despite recurring concerns about potential shortages of STEM [scientific, technical, engineering, and mathematics] personnel in the U.S. work force, particularly in engineering and information technology, we did not find evidence that such shortages have existed at least since 1990, nor that they are on the horizon," concluded the RAND Corporation in a report this year."

So there won't be lots of jobs available for people with tech degrees.

And the rest of the article continues in the same fashion.

Is there a current shortage of techs? Is there a current surplus of techs?

Are too many of the techs foreign? Are too few foreign students entering our schools?

The only thing to be found in this article is that US-born citizens are not all working towards their PhD's and even if they did, they might not make any more money than they do right now.

That is a general problem with our current economy (4, Insightful)

LordZardoz (155141) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661927)

At the risk of sounding too damn much like a archtypical communist (which I am not)...

At the moment, there are many jobs that are not compensated for very well. Stock brokers, advertising / marketing types, lawyers, and executives make a great deal of money. Scientists, Teachers, Police, Firemen, and the like probably contribute more to civilization then the types listed above, but they certaintly dont reap much of a benefit for it.

About the only profession that makes the kind of money they ought to are Surgeons. And that is only because they have a pretty compelling way to get the compensation they deserve. "Oh, you dont want to pay me that much? Ok. Let someone else perform that arterial bypass then."

Scientists / Inventors in theory can use Patents to generate their income. But research costs money. And they end up having to sign the patents over to the company that employed them.

I think that Patents / Copyright should never pass completely beyond the control of the creator for that reason. But Patents and Copyright are broken.

However, for all my complaints, its not like I have a solution handy either.

END COMMUNICATION

From a 4th-year Physics Postdoc (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661929)

Too true.

Although nobody goes into science for the money. Many of the guys I know will take what they can get just to do what they love. My dissertation supervisor invented a whole new FIELD of study (in his 3rd year of being a postdoc) and still had to wait 6 more years or so to get a permanent position. Another guy I know, who's an excellent instructor and who does good work (but who is perhaps a bit socially underdeveloped) waited...geez...like 10 years for a position in cosmology.

Personally, I'm a little sick of research, and it's become more of "job" than a "love", but... I dunno, $37K suits me just fine. I get to make my own hours, travel around the world to conferences, have challenging work to do...and sponge off the state! It's a good life! :-)

As for Ph.D.'s "not being able to handle real world problems" --- dammit, show me a business where I can get a job simulating black holes and I'll take it, you insensitive clod! (I doubt you've got any "experience" doing that.)

(and what was that crap about patent law??)

Speaking of jobs... (3, Informative)

Uncertain Bohr (122949) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661933)

Well, I am a 36 year old post-doc, I am making under $50/yr, but I do not work in someone else's lab. Rather, I work with a group of great people who are very motivated and good at what they do. I wake up in the morning happy to have some real problems to solve. Life is too short to make it just about $.

PHD's, Scientists and Engineers (1)

bbroerman (715822) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661934)

Well, I guess I work for an unusual company... I have a Computer Engineering degree, and am workign as a senior programmer(which I love)... My company hires college grads with Masters Degrees as Senior Analysts (which is where I am after 10 years and a BS) at 70k, and PHDs as Tech consultants (next higher position) for around 80k - 90k... All in all, a very good company to work for!

being scientist has its own merits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661949)

If you just look at the raw money, perhaps MBA excites you more. But being scientist has its own merits, specially as you enjoy. Here are few:

1) You get to keep the money, plus the "ownership" to your work. As a MBA, I can't claim ownership of single thing that I do. It is all company property, while the papers I publish will always bear my name.

2) I don't need to carry company cell phone on my vacation or a stroll to a local park.

3) Leave, vacation are easy.

4) No need to buy newspaper, computer, books etc. No need for gym membership.

5) At most places, you get subsidisized rental.

6) Many scientists I know are friendly. So when I travel abroad, I book my tickets for weekends too. Over the weekends, I stay with friends and do sightseeing. Thus no need for extra travel cost and vacation leave.

7) In most cases, the post-doc period is for about 6 years. I finished mine by the time I was 33. Most others finish by the time they are 35. Then you get assistant professorship. The pay here is typically 60k+ going upto 100k+. It is equivalent of 150k+ when comparaed with required lifestyle.

8) As an MBA, you will still be listening others. As a professor, others listen to you.

9) Can read slashdot without getting a weird look from your boss!

Quantity over Quality? (3, Insightful)

Bishop (4500) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661950)

The real crisis may not be one of quantity but of quality.

I believe that this is the larger issue. In my experience many university science professors have a distorted view of the world beyond their walls. As a result the material they teach and their methods do not serve their students. This problem is not one of teching theory over practice. I am a big proponent of universities teaching theory only. Rather it is beliefs such as "If you want to do anything in field X you require a Ph.D." Or like my professor insisting that I would not be able to find a job with such a low mark in his course. (I was already employed.) Too many of my professors taught in such a manner that the highest marked students were the ones who memorized the material prior to an exam, and proptly forgot everything when they put their pencils down. This practice of encourageing memorization is a dumbing down of university curriculum. It is great for pumping out "scientists." But it dosen't encourage science.

not just the money, superstition (5, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | more than 10 years ago | (#9661952)

Formal education can only do so much. The great scientists are able to look for the areas of the world which we have not fully explored, and then, without prejudice, collect data or create models in such a way as to support refute existing theories. All this must be done in a logical, auditable, and repeatable manner.

I think in America we are losing this sense of adventure. I hear more people espousing their beliefs and superstitions as if it were The Truth. They are afraid of exploration and the unknown. Modern science does not exist to confirm personal beliefs any more that the CIA exists to promote political agendas. Both are there to discover what is, in a significantly tangible way, real about the world. Reality is often hard for us to understand and accept, but we are much better off when we have some assurance that we are close to the truth. The past few hundred years have shown one of the most reliable processes to get close to the truth is the scientific method.

But we have a few religious nuts afraid of anything that will contradict their carefully crafted fiction. These people subvert the educational process and teach our kids that the scientific method is wrong. Make no mistake. If one claims evolution is wrong on the basis of scripture, if one claims that the earth is a few thousand years old on the basis of scripture, if on claims that one can go from an a priori truth, construct a data set that fit those facts, and then claim that is science, then one is so wrong as to be the greatest enemy of science, progress, and even the free market.

When one makes these fantastic claims, that everything that does not fit your reality is wrong, even if a process that has proved successful for hundreds of years says it is correct, a thing called cognitive dissidence is set up in the mind of a child. I believe this often leads to the child falling on the side of superstition, and a scientist is lost. I believe that a whole generation of American scientists have been lost to this attack on science. An attack based on the assumption that it is preferable to get an MBA and oppress a workforce for personal profit, but not ok to challenge ancient superstitions for the sole betterment of the human race.

Let me state I am not anti-religion. I am quite for it and have seen organized religion to a great many wonderful things. I am, however, against the use of religion, or anything else for that matter, solely for the purpose of personal gain, and without respect of what it does to other people. Certainly Christianity tells us not to harm others, that the truth will set us free, and in the example of Jesus, that personal sacrifice is not only expected but necessary.

God may not play dice, but I am thankful every day for the quantum wells that make my life so much more convenient than my parent's.

And let's not forget the foreign students here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661966)

Not only do students have to go through all the BS during their graduate student years, but they also have to compete with foreign students here, being paid for by the U.S. taxpayer.

I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with foreign students coming here at their own expense. I sure do have a problem when it's my own money which is paying for a foreign students' education. And knowing that they've squeezed out some US student for the slot they've taken.

How in the world is the US supposed to produce the best people locally when State and Federal Governments are against it, Business won't pay for it, and Academia actively discourages it?

This is not meant as a troll. I am just absolutely disgusted by this practice.

Answer to the problem: STOP KILLING THEM. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9661977)

I imagine one of the possible solutions to this problem would be finding out who has been killing a number of these scientists lately. The Mystery Of The Dead Scientists: Coincidence Or Conspiracy? [rense.com]
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