kitchen table math, the sequel: One small answer to the engineering gap?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

One small answer to the engineering gap?

Johnny Chung Lee made the NYT today .
My favorite part of the article, on building an interactive whiteboard with a wii remote:
An after-school Lego robotics club for fifth graders at Clara Byrd Baker Elementary School in Williamsburg, Va., built a Wiimote whiteboard in four one-hour sessions. “Once it was done, the kids were so excited,” recalls Kofi Merritt, then the school’s computer resource specialist, who suggested and advised the project. “They recognized themselves as innovators and demonstrated the whiteboard in classroom after classroom.”
Lee provides specs and instructions for all his inventions free online. What a great way to introduce students to engineering as the U.S. engineer gap is growing.

According to Sheila Riley of the EE Times:
The population of experienced engineers is aging, he (Albert Helfrick, chair of electrical and systems engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University said. "There's a serious problem in our country with people like me: gray-haired people who could retire tomorrow," he said. If large numbers do retire, the U.S. faces a severe engineering shortfall.
Joe Sciabica, executive director of the Air Force Research Laboratory, agrees:
"We are facing a crisis in this nation," Mr. Sciabica said, referring to a loss of technical talent and experience as an aging workforce of scientists, engineers and mathematicians prepares for retirement.

"What alarms me more is that the professors to teach the next generation are also retiring," he added.

Looks like loss of quality teaching isn't just an ed school issue.


Anonymous said...

"The population of experienced engineers is aging..."

I will point out that the population as a whole is aging, too. If the experienced engineer population *wasn't* aging, that would be news.

-Mark Roulo

Anonymous said...

why is it bad that experienced people retire? experienced ones always retire eventually, and the inexperienced don't yet. somehow they become experienced.

so what if americans aren't the replacement engineers--what's the issue? Indian, Korean, Japanese, Singaporean engineers won't do?

AFRL has a different problem: Dayton, OH. Those who have skills don't necessarily want to be there and have other private sector opportunities that pay better.

The national security issue is more generally real, especially at the national labs, but they've lost their mission and willingness to adhere to it decades ago. almost no one in the USA, not even the Air Force (who awarded their future tanker to EADS) believes you can restrict sensitive data and assets to the US and its citizens. the academics simply do not care and aren't interested, and truthfully, haven't ever been except once in history. so game over on that front too.

the supposed waves of retirement of professors in the hard sciences and engineering were previously touted as a Good thing as they'd make room for young folks, especially women and minoroties to move in. funny how instead they all got replaced by adjuncts.

the only thing wrong with the fall off in eng degrees is that it MIGHT be because the students don't have the skills to complete the degree. but we can't prove that. it could be because they think they'll be paid more elsewhere.

the current collapse of i-banking might return the best and brightest in math and physics to those fields...

Anonymous said...

"the current collapse of i-banking might return the best and brightest in math and physics to those fields..."

Or they might all go to law school :-)

-Mark Roulo

Independent George said...

Or they might all go to law school :-)

That reminds me of this classic 'Simpsons' exchange:

JIMBO: I believed in you, man. Now, I don't believe in nothing no more. I'm going to law school!


Ben Calvin said...

Or they might all go to law school :-)

The real math people will go to Google.....