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best when he said "If It moves, a mechanical engineer designed it'. Mechanical engineers design all kinds of things that move including aircraft engines and dynamos, spaceships and submarines, printing presses and heart valves. I have been a mechanical engineer for over 30 years, seventeen of which have been as a Professor and Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at University of Florida. My second role is that
of the President of a large volunteer technical society, the
American Society of Mechanical Engineers. With one hundred and
five thousand members, this volunteer society has an enormous
array of resources including thirty-two separate technical
divisions, a volunteer council comprised of over seven thousand
members actively engaged in the establishment of codes and standards to support public safety and an education council
which aids in accreditation and development of Mechanical
Indeed, ASME is comprised of a literal
army of dedicated and technically expert men and women who wish
to play a part in the development and implementation of
solutions to the manpower problems that face our country today.
These two roles I have give me quite a perspective on the
engineering manpower problems in our country. As I have
indicated in previous testimony before this committee the American Society of Mechanical Engineers has gathered, published and distributed a wealth of supporting statistics
surrounding this issue. We have worked closely with our sister technical societies in doing so. We have had the opportunity to tell you the problems of finding qualified faculty for the
Universities and have presented you with a article written some
time ago called "Engineering Education: Are We Eating Our Seed
Corn". General Marsh also referred to this vicious cycle in
his testimony to you.
I could convey to you personal remarks made to me by industrial recruiters, shipyard executives, leaders of the armed forces and captains of industry telling me that we have a short supply of engineers. But rather, let me convey to you the situation as it confronts me personally. My faculty is
overloaded. We have a record enrollment. Six out of the
twenty six faculty positions in mechanical engineering at the
University of Florida are vacant.
That is approximately 20% of
my faculty. I am encountering extreme difficulties in locating
competent people willing to dedicate their lives to teaching
mechanical engineering. A year ago I lost one of my best
professors to industry.
They simply doubled his salary. Added
to this, I have an extreme shortage in space, office and laboratory equipment. I don't have sufficient funds to
maintain the new equipment that has recently been donated to us. The situation at my school is sadly typical. What are the
solutions to these problems? I don't presume to have the
solutions to a situation that has been a long time coming. But, I believe I can offer a few observations. First, I can
tell you what I think are not solutions to this dilemma we find ourselves in. There has been much attention given to the number of non 0.s. citizens teaching engineering in the o.s. Just under half of our graduate students in engineering are not 0.s. citizens. As you seek to find solutions, we should avoid quick fixes - such as legislating a cutoff of foreign engineers and engineering professors. This is not a solution. We need
some of them. Also, I think in this time of budgetary restraint it is not realistic, or even desirable, to think of the U.S. Government coming to the rescue. Government does, however have an abiding interest, from a National Security
Standpoint, in the supply of technical manpower.
Government can obtain commitments from industry, volunteer
organizations, universities and the general public to provide support by simply recognizing that the viability of our technology based society depends on supporting quality
We would like to see encouragement of agencies of the
federal government to cooperate with industry to assist the universities in providing the engineering and technological
manpower that this country so desperately needs today. Perhaps
it is idealistic, but I can envision a joint effort between the universities, industry and government to solve these problems so vital to every sector of our society. It seems to me quite logical that a privately funded non profit organization can be
developed that could orchestrate professor exchanges, the loan
of government and industry personnel for part time or temporary
teaching assignments, equipment loans from industry, facility sharing between local industries and universities, etc. I hope
that the government could obtain a commitment from industry and
volunteer organizations to provide time, funds and manpower to help get our engineering schools at high productivity again. Such a joint effort could produce a well spring of ideas on to approaches this very serious problem.
There are many groups wrestling with the problem and in the next few months there will be many conferences held to discuss
this pressing problem.
In January of next year, the American
Society of Mechanical Engineers, along with other engineering
societies will be conducting an action forum and inviting
participants from government, industry, the military, and other
engineering societies, including those who have representatives before you here today. It is our hope that from this forum and the others being held by other organizations will come viable solutions to this manpower problem confronting us. We are pleased to have been given this opportunity to demonstrate our willingness to
play a part in the solution. Industry, universities and
government must collectively embark on programs to restore the
attractiveness of careers in engineering education. Industrial
Mr. FUQUA. Thank you very much.
I wish there was some way that we had to divert taxes to various places. I'm afraid we are going to have one centralized collection and then have to fight among ourselves as to how they are doled out. It is a very innovative idea, though.
I am very intrigued by what industry is doing in wrestling with a problem that affects you and also, it affects most of the university community. General Marsh, I noticed in your statement, and I am familiar with some of the programs, that ROTC is emphasized and that you are planning to increase the number of ROTC participants.
That's just for the bachelors degree, is it not?
General MARSH. That is correct, Mr. Chairman. It is for just the bachelors degree. We are in-house trying to increase our AFIT, Air Force Institute of Technology, program for advanced degrees. We have been growing that at a steady rate for years.
Mr. FUQUA. Do you think some modification of the GI bill would also encourage young people to go on for a graduate degree?
General MARSH. Sir, I do. After they get out of the service, I definitely think that would enhance the availability of technically trained personnel. Obviously, it would help us with our retention problem. We are very much in favor of the GI bill for both reasons.
Mr. FUQUA. Professor Gaither, of course professors' salaries were indicated as a problem. Still, as I gathered, the real problem is not for bachelors degrees because you have indicated you have increased 300 percent, I believe, over the last number of years. It was pointed out in General Marsh's statement that there is a decline in the number going into the masters and doctor of philosophy programs.
That's where the problem seems to be, that we are not resupplying or recharging the stream that we need for the researchers, the professors, and those that will be carrying on the teaching needed. This is the requirement that we have which I think has been very well outlined from the perspective of industry, the military, and professional organizations.
Mr. GAITHER. That's exactly right.
We are going to have to recess the hearing momentarily. Mr. Brown will take over.
Mr. BROWN. The problem we are discussing this morning is one that has been before the committee as long as the committee has been here, I guess. It is one we have tried to deal with constructively. For example, we have charged the National Science Foundation with responsibility for doing something about many of these problems. Specifically, we have encouraged the Foundation to look more diligently at the problems of engineering and technical manpower, and engineering education.
The program that you suggested, Mr. Geils, the CUTHA program, is one which, it seems to me, is a natural in terms of the mandated functions to encourage engineering education. Can you give me any indication whether support has been sought and whether it has been received, favorably or unfavorably, or if there have been some mundane things such as lack of resources which may have prevented them from doing the job?