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investment in developing science and engineering manpower. Our field hearings in New Mexico addressed the requirements of high technology industry for skilled scientific and technical manpower and the efforts of the universities, the state government and industry to anticipate and respond to these requirements. My comments today reflect
much of what we learned from these hearings as well as
our continuing examination of the issues.
The manpower with which we are concerned will for
the most part require deep understanding in the sciences or engineering, which in turn will rest on solid education
in mathematics and science.
Our problems originate in
the earliest school years and are compounded through the
An estimated 5% of our high school students take
no math or science courses beyond the 10th grade and math SAT scores declined steadily from the early 1960's through
It is estimated that there are only 10,000 physics
teachers in the nation's more than 15,000 school districts. Students are not only precluding the opportunities for
scientific or technical careers but are even jeopardizing
their abilities to function successfully in an increasingly technologically complex society. Until families, local school boards and state governments demand new curriculum requirements and academic rigor, major improvements are unlikely.
Beyond the secondary school level, our problem seems to be attracting the number of qualified, talented men and women
needed by a technologically complex society such as ours and, almost paradoxically, providing the teachers to train
and educate the rapidly growing number of students who are
electing engineering as a professional goal.
There are many different estimates of our future
shortages of engineers, ranging from an excess to short
falls of tens of thousands. I don't know the answer, but
I suspect that the demand will be higher than we are prepare
I suspect this because of reports which I am
Japan with a population roughly half ours
In the Soviet Union
with a population half
again as large as ours
- about five times as many
students go on to engineering training as do in
By contrast, we have been training more lawyers, than much of our competition combined. In some ways,
it would seem that we have concentrated our skill on
refining our slicing of the pie while our competition focuses on enlarging theirs, often at our expense.
It is also true though that students are now
turning to engineering in record numbers and that there
a serious shortage of faculty to teach them. Estimates indicate that perhaps 2,500 out of 20,000 engineering faculty positions in this country are vacant. The problem is fairly clear industry salaries have been bid up to
the point where too many of the best students simply
cannot see the net advantages of an academic teaching and research career, or even in going on for post baccalaureate
While there are important governmental responsibilities in dealing with these problems, it seems to me that there are a particular challenge and opportunity for industry. Certainly industry has a major immediate stake in resolving our engineering manpower problems, since their future successes hinge in no small measure on the availability of motivated, educated graduates. At
the same time there is an opportunity to reestablish linkages with the academic world which have weakened over
the last twenty or so years.
The erosion of the former
interdependence of the two sectors is attributable in
There seem to be signs already that industry is responding to the challenge. The National Society of Professional Engineers, the Association of American Engineering Societies, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Council of Scientific Society Presidents, the American Association of Universities and the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges are all, among others, actively examining the problems and alternative res
Industry, too is seeking new arrangements with our
colleges and universities. The boldest initiative so far
was announced three weeks ago by the Exxon Education Foundation, which will provide $15 million for 100 teaching fellowships and 100 salary grants for junior faculty in
the engineering fields.
Sixty six U. S. colleges and
universities will be beneficiaries of this program.
Further, the Foundation is responding specifically to the problem which industry demand for engineers is creating quote, "The faculty shortage (in certain key fields of engineering) stems in part from the fact that industry is
hiring engineers immediately after they receive their bachelor's degrees at starting salaries that make graduate study and junior hiring faculty positions financially unattractive by comparison." This bold recognition of a problem and industry responsibility should and, I believe will be followed in different forms by more of our companies
and businesses in the months ahead.
While much attention deservedly is being given to meeting the needs for university-educated engineering manpower, there is another equally important and difficult technical manpower requirement which we will need to solve that for skilled technicians and craftsman
such as tool and die makers, machinists and electricians.
Without these skills many of the best ideas of our scientists
and engineers will not be translated into the new goods and
funded jointly by industry and government, for those who do not go on to the universities.
We have tended to use the military services as the
training ground for this skilled labor, which industry raids as demand requires. The implications of this