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In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, I would like to reiterate that this is an area of great complexity; we are looking for and beginning to find new relationships between industry and academia; the government has an important role to play as a buyer of research and development, a user of engineers and the engineering profession directly in its work. The government is also an influencer, sometimes a controller, of the relationships between industry and academia. The government is an important player, with a stake in the health of academic engineering and engineering education.
The public depends upon the health the engineering profession for the continued operation of economy and industry upon which we all depend.
Mr. Chairman, in the course of this testimony I have referred to several documents. Along with my testimony, I offer the committee copies of these documents for such use as it wishes to make of them.
I look forward to further discussion of these questions in the course of this morning's testimony, and at such other occasions as the committee may choose. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Data Related to the Crisis in Engineering Education
Letter from Robert A. Frosch to University Presidents
A Pilot Study of the Demand for Engineers 1980
Engineers' Salaries: Special Industry Report
Mr. FUQUA. Thank you very much, Dr. Frosch.
I think we will finish with all the panel members and then go into discussion. I would also like to announce that at 11, we are going to take a short break. We have some committee business pending we need to transact if we have a quorum. Then, we will be back to this.
The Chair yields to Mr. Walgren.
In our work on the Science Research and Technology Subcommittee, we have been particularly interested in engineering and technical manpower. I do have a statement which I would ask be inserted in the record at some appropriate point at the beginning of the hearing.
Mr. FUQUA. It can follow after my opening statement. Without objection, so ordered. Mr. Geils?
Mr. GEILS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee.
My name is John Warren Geils and I am staff executive of the American Society for Engineering Education, on loan from the A.T. & T. Co., where I was director, network department administration. For 40 years I have been with the Bell System in the continuous practice of engineering development and design and engineering management.
My activities have spanned performing research and development with Bell Laboratories, managing research and development with Bell Laboratories and managing the engineering administration department at A.T. & T., who owns Bell Telephone Laboratories.
I would like to express my appreciation today for the opportunity to testify, as I believe very strongly in the necessity of Government partnership with industry and academe if we are to impact the current deteriorating manpower situation. I will not dwell on the problems. You know the problems. They have been spelled out many times. Dr. Frosch reiterated some of them just a few minutes ago.
But, I want to make two things clear right up front. First, I am not here today to ask you to solve our problem. We in industry and our colleagues in academe have to take on that responsibility. The commitment to that is what has brought me to Washington. My second upfront point is that Government must help us by becoming a full partner to our efforts, and I don't mean necessarily by just providing money. I mean by getting in there, rolling up its sleeves, and working with us to solve some of the problems which have been delineated. On the other hand, industry can't pay for it all.
The basis for much of what has to be done lies in attitude changes, gentlemen. I come from a company that's 105 years old. It has been regulated to the hilt for most of its existence by State and Federal regulatory agencies. I doubt whether any organization in the country knows more about functioning under regulation than the Bell Telephone System.
But, I have seen what in the past several years has been the beginning of deregulation in my industry and I can see what it does to our staff; our manpower and womanpower in the Bell System. I know for a fact that we are going to have to change the
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way we look and the way we think about ourselves and our partners in solving this engineering manpower problem.
I know from continuous interface with the colleges and universities, over the years in recruiting and utilization of engineers that they, too, have continuous change to face and they are going to have to swing into a new mode of operations in a very short time. That new mode will be quite different from the collegiate, collegiality mode that they have been used to, in these many years.
I think Government will interface with us and with the academic fraternity and will have to change its image and will have to think in new and different terms also. It is in that area that I would like to address some remarks.
A month ago, I came to Washington to lead a 2-year project funded by eight U.S. corporations. They are all big ones—A.T. & T.; du Pont; Exxon; the three generals, General Electric; General Motors and General Telephone & Electronics; IBM and Union Carbide. These eight corporations asked me to take positive action to solve this engineering college faculty shortage problem.
In addition to the eight corporate sponsors, I am receiving strong moral and organizational support from key colleges and universities across the Nation, and all the professional and technical societies, including both the American Association of Engineering Societies, which represents 39 societies and institutes, and in addition, the National Society of Professional Engineers.
The four tasks that I face are quite clear, and I will mention them briefly. One, I hope to launder the data, clean it up, separate the wheat from the chaff, and work with a body of statistics concerning the shortage and the engineering graduate pipeline situation, that one firm, that we will keep up to date and that can be used reliably by anyone who wants to use them.
Second, I have a very strong coordination function. It has to do with collecting and disseminating information on the many initiatives that have started all around the country. Some of them have started in the professional societies, industries, universities and Government.
My major role is to coordinate and to share the initiatives that have started and are underway. My third major task is to create some new solutions to the problem, new ways for industry and academe and Government working together. We hope, for example, to tap some of the liberal arts colleges, their science and math faculties, who are not exactly fully loaded at the moment, unlike our engineering schools where the load is overwhelming. And, we will implement such a solution like that along with others which we will have to create in the 2 years that I am here in Washington.
The last task is a simple one. It is one of publication to make sure that our findings are known to other organizations and that both our partners in Government and our partners in academe know what is going on from our office here in Washington where I represent, for the most part, industry via these eight major corporations.
Now, the impact of technology on the American economy and on American living is relentless. Every day, our lives are affected in some new way by the increasingly complex applications of technology. It occurs in every walk of life-our communications systems, our agricultural and water systems, particularly our defense systems and so forth.
The key point, of course, is that these applications are the work of engineers, not scientists. The engineer applies the new knowledge created by scientists in a practical way via designs of new and improved structures, products and services. Thus, as technology multiplies, increasing quantities of quality engineers are vital to the Nation's wellbeing.
We are in a recognized productivity slump and in my opinion, only engineering effort can pull us out. Last October, I chaired a 2day engineering personnel and productivity conference in Houston, Tex., attended by well over 100 eminent engineers from all over the country. We had a 3-hour session on computer aided design and computer aided manufacturing. Quite naturally, we invited an engineer from the Nippon Electric Co. in Tokyo who addressed the computer-aided manufacturing issues since the Japanese are notably ahead of us in robotics and computer controlled machines.
That company's engineering director came to the conference with the speaker and told me at lunch that when he explains to his engineers about obsolete manufacturing tools and methods, he simply authorizes his people to take a brief trip to the United States and visit almost any plant to see for themselves what obsolescence is all about.
Taking a “systems engineering" approach tells us that there are many inadequacies in every element of the American engineering education system. As in most systems, all elements are co-dependent. By this, I mean every element affects the next.
If we could take a moment to do a hypothetical example, assume a hypothetical faculty person who is overburdened by large class sizes. The first thing that happens is that his or her teaching effectiveness declines and the quality of teaching goes down. Not only does the teaching suffer, but time available for research for our hypothetical faculty person and/or his performing consulting is affected, also.
At this point, our faculty person no longer is a good role model for his students. And, the thing degrades even further. The man or woman in graduate school who is heading for a Ph. D. looks to the faculty and says, My goodness, this guy is really overworked. He doesn't have any time to do the things he would like to do. Why should I continue with a teaching career?
So, he looks elsewhere, perhaps to industry, perhaps to Government, perhaps to private practice, but not to teaching. As a result, our faculty person now has fewer teaching assistants to call upon to help with the load since graduate school enrollments are down significantly. And, our already overworked professor works a little harder and longer and the quality goes down further.
This thing is self-consuming. It reminds one of a malfunctioning Governor on an engine where the engine runs away speedwise and the RPM's increase beyond the red line and the engine eventually destroys itself. And we haven't even mentioned antiquated laboratory equipment and teaching tools.
This situation is recognized by industry and recognized by academe and, I think, recognized by government. But, we are recognizing it late. It came about—the recognition came about somewhat inadvertently. In the zeal for adding engineering manpower to the work force of our technologically oriented companies, we gobbled up a good many of those people who would make good graduate students.
We in industry created our own graduate programs. Bell Laboratories has a particularly effective one. And, the incentive for the young bachelors level engineer to stay on to teach is hardly stimu
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I have been in constant contact with major corporate recruiters. We are in agreement that the recruitment, education and utilization elements of the process all need attention. Before this year is out, my company, the Bell System, alone will have recruited over 7,000 college graduates. About 2,000 will be technically trained; that is, engineers and computer scientists. General Electric and Exxon and others have similar numbers to talk about. All of us could use more.
In meeting with GE and Exxon not long ago, we had trouble delineating the role of the engineer as we entered the decade of the 1980's. We know that the role of the engineer and the makeup of our engineering departments must change. We don't know exactly how yet. It is a difficult problem. There are people back at my company and GE and IBM who are working on this concept.
Some of my corporate colleagues have begun massive programs. I would like to point out that on September 17 of this year, Exxon announced a $15 million grant to 66 schools to provide living expenses to graduate students and to provide salary supplements to faculty. Not all corporations can afford to give $15 million. But, others are lining up.
Similar programs have been announced. Some are in preparation. It has been estimated that it will take one quarter of a billion dollars a year to fix and maintain the colleges' laboratory equipment and hardware problems alone, to say nothing about manpower supports.
But, we cannot do this alone. Before giving specific recommendations and wrapping this up, let me say that I believe every sector of our economy, including government, has an obligation to educate the general public on the importance of technology in American life. Living in today's society means being technologically unafraid and adequately informed.
Here is a role that I think government can fulfill and it will not cost a great deal of money, if any money at all. I think the government can join industry and academe in a true partnership. We are going to tell the American people the absolute vital and necessary role of technology in human affairs.
I refer to an organization known as CUTHA, C-U-T-H-A, Council for the Understanding of Technology in Human Affairs, a consortium of over 100 colleges and universities. CUTHA, only 1 year old, is attempting to get liberal arts faculties to understand and teach the importance of technology in today's human environment. Only through real improved understanding can tomorrow's lay civic leaders make intelligent decisions concerning energy, environment, genetics, sophisticated weapons systems, the impact of computers, and so forth.