Ugly Engineering Numbers


I was listening to Dr. Ben Carson yesterday on Fox News… He’s a remarkable person, and he raised some disturbingly remarkable numbers:

  • America produces 60,000 engineers per year
  • China cranks out 392,000 engineers per year
  • Of the measly 60,000 engineers America graduates per annum, roughly 40% (24,000) return back to their native countries

Being an engineer, I thought, “Yeah, the engineering situation is bad here in the U.S., but it can’t be that bad.” So I checked the good doctor’s numbers, and according to a civilengineeringcentral.com newsletter, he’s right on. Believe it or not, America is producing and keeping roughly 500 engineers/state/year.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know the numbers vary state by state, and depending on who you listen to when… But consider this evaluation from 2004:

White-collar jobs are also fleeing the country at an alarming rate. Today, U.S. universities graduate 101,000 engineers per year, versus 291,000 per year in India. Many of the engineers and computer scientists in India are trained at universities that are considered to be superior to those in the United States. Since 1997, the number of  U.S. citizens receiving Ph.D.s in engineering and science decreased 16 percent, including a 25 percent drop in math and computer science.

The number of engineering colleges in India is expected to increase 50 percent to nearly 1,600 within four years. Increasing numbers of highly skilled and highly paid jobs are also moving abroad. These are exactly the type of jobs that U.S. workers thought would always remain theirs. A typical software programmer might be paid $66,000 per year in the United States, but only $10,000 in India. A U.S.-based mechanical engineer would typically receive $55,000 per year, versus $6,000 per year for a comparably trained Indian engineer.

My firsthand experience? 120 students started in my Computer Engineering class, and 12 graduated. Uh oh…

Alan Speakman

4 Responses to Ugly Engineering Numbers

  1. Joy Miller says:

    When you spend years in collage studying the hard stuff, have trouble finding a job because of H1B (Indians, etc), and make less than the union employees on the same job after 15 years of experience, WHY BE AN ENGINEER?

  2. Right on Joy! I wrote about the root cause of the problem back on Sept 28, 2008 (https://grandrants.wordpress.com/2008/09/28/what-really-went-wrong-with-the-economy/)…

    {“Throw out all the MBA mumbo jumbo, and face a very simple fact… People who live in places like India, Japan, and especially China (and that’s just the beginning of a very long list) obviously live (voluntarily or otherwise) by different cultural standards. And basically those standards involve a lower standard of living. They work longer hours for less money, and live much closer to the bone.”}

    But I will say one thing in defense of engineering programs… Odds are that if you survive the process, you probably won’t be the same person coming out as you were going in.

  3. John Alway says:

    Japan doesn’t have a low standard of living!

  4. Hi John,

    Point well taken. However, by and large, the Japanese do live by standards that most Americans would struggle with… Take a look at: http://www.all-about-teaching-english-in-japan.com/Japaneseapartment.html

    Thanks for your comment,

    Alan Speakman, Grand Rants

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