Tapping a new generation of engineers | Business Roundtable


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Tapping a new generation of engineers

Aug 31, 2011

Paul Otellini, President and CEO of Intel, co-hosts a forum on science and engineering education at Portland State University this morning, joined by Energy Secretary Chu for the meeting of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.  (Here’s the White House preview of the event.)

Technical education has long been a priority for Business Roundtable. It’s difficult to imagine the United States remaining a global leader in innovation and technology if we fail to educate a new generation of skilled engineers. As Otellini wrote in an Aug. 4 op-ed in The Washington Post, “How the private sector can help curb our engineering shortage”:

Education Department data show that overall college graduation levels the past two decades have grown about 50 percent, with the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded increasing from 1.1 million in 1990 to 1.6 million in 2010. During that same period, however, the National Center for Education Statistics has found that the number of engineers U.S. colleges and universities annually send into the workforce has virtually stagnated at around 120,000.

By contrast, roughly 1 million engineers a year graduate from universities in India and China. This education disparity threatens to slow our economic recovery, stunts our long-term competitiveness and leaves technology firms in a skills crisis.

Gary May, dean of the Georgia Tech College of Engineering, who will speak at the meeting of the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, also addressed the shortages in a recent Oregonian op-ed, “Engineering a recovery: We need to gear up for 10,000 engineers a year.”

In 2005, BRT founded the Tapping America’s Potential (TAP) Coalition with the goal of doubling the number of science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates with bachelor's degrees by 2015. Today’s White House Jobs Council meeting in Oregon will feature pledges from companies to increase the number of engineering internships in 2012 to help promote that goal.

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