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Mr. BROWN. Well, I won't belabor that. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. FUQUA. Thank you, Mr. Brown.
Mr. WEBER. I do have a couple of questions, although I'm sure we are going to be interrupted by the second bell. I was interested in the course of the debate this year on the National Science Foundation authorization which was somewhat heated. There appears to be virtually unanimity of opinion within the committee that the Reagan administration erred in zeroing out science and engineering education programs.
From your remarks, I would get the feeling that perhaps that was not such a serious error. At least, you indicated that you don't think that those programs are of great importance. I would like to have your clarify your meaning and how you see the value of science and engineering education.
Dr. PRESS. If that conclusion is implicit in my remarks, I should correct them, because I agree emphatically with what you are saying. This is not the time to cut science and engineering education. Quite the contrary. We should support them because of these shortages and because of the problems that are showing up in our schools in the deterioration of the quality of science and math education.
Mr. WEBER. Your remarks were about research, engineering research. Is it safe to say that you feel that those programs are fairly well-funded through other sources and we should focus on things like fellowships that actually get involved in bringing engineers on line.
Dr. PRESS. No; I believe that engineering research has been underfunded in the past. It is an important resource in our engineering schools that has been underutilized. I think that the mission agencies, as Dr. Perkins has suggested, should look to our engineering schools for research and development support. I believe that these schools can provide outstanding support to the Government, in many instances, just as good, if not better than in-house government operations. I also believe that it is the philosophy of this administration to place greater responsibility on the private sector. Perhaps, in this way placing increasing research and development tasks at our universities can aid in solving two problems, support for Government's mission in energy, defense, and so forth, as well as improving the quality of our teaching facilities.
Mr. WEBER. One other program that there was some interest in was the agencies being directed to recruit more women and minorities. I don't have a great familiarity with demand there or lack of demand. Could you comment on that? Is there any growth in the number of women and minorities entering the engineering profession?
Dr. PERKINS. I think the answer is there is some growth, but nowhere near the rate that we would like.
There have been large efforts made by industry and the Government to improve this situation, particularly minorities. The NASA head of engineering was involved in that. They set up a program with at least 30 or 40 entrants in it which tripled the number of minorities in the program. That program has been working, but not to the level that had been hoped for.
As far as women are concerned, I think the answer is a lot of them are taking bachelor's degrees in engineering, but they are not going into engineering after they finish. They then go to medical schools or other schools. But, it is increasing. But not at a rate that you would like to see.
Mr. WEBER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Dr. Press and Dr. Perkins, we thank both of you for your contributions this morning on a subject we are very concerned about and interested in. Thank you.
This committee will be adjourned.
ADDITIONAL STATEMENTS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD
STATEMENT BY DR. GEORGE A. KEYWORTH, II
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
October 7, 1981
Chairman Fuqua, Members of the Committee, I am pleased to submit this statement
on an issue that all agree is an important one
Few would argue with the premise that our National technological capabilities
have provided the basis for an impressive standard of living and a competitive
position in the world - from both commercial and national security perspectives. Research and Engineering, and their respective disciplines, form the foundation
of that accomplishment. With a growing understanding over the last decade of
the implications of this very simple premise have come a number of legitimate
concerns about the building blocks of that foundation. The subject of today's
hearing - engineering manpower
is one of those building blocks.
The engineering community plays a vital role in technology development through
conversion of scientific discoveries into commercial products. A healthy engineering community is essential to the long-term resolution of many of our
economic problems. Although there is no simple solution to these problems, it
is clear that increased productivity is an important part of the solution.
The current consensus, however, tells us that the field of engineering may
soon become part of our economic problem
rather than part of the solution
unless issues within the profession are resolved. A variety of statistics
have been cited in documentation of the problem. While they may differ slightly,
they all lead in the same direction. The key aspects of the problem include shortages of engineers in several disciplines, shortages of graduate students
in engineering and difficulty in retaining and recruiting engineering faculty.
The existing shortage of Ph.D's available for employment in government and
industry, as well as in universities and colleges, results mainly from the
availability of jobs with industry, where starting salaries for bachelor-level graduates are more attractive and equipment better. The lure of higher salaries
and the decreasing quality of life in academia is also causing a migration of
university faculty to industry. The implications of these trends are disturbing.
With fewer and fewer faculty and engineering students seeking advanced degrees,
the supply of Ph.D's is dwindling at the same time that industry's need for
doctoral training and engineering enrollment at the undergraduate level is
increasing. This situation raises fundamental questions about the capability
of the engineering education system to turn out qualified engineers at either
the graduate or undergraduate level. The difficulty in solving the faculty
shortage problem also is indicative of the long-lead time required by academic
institutions to meet new demands, a lead-time which often means that by the
time a perceived need is met, the demand has changed.
The engineering manpower problem is not limited to the university community,
however; it extends throughout our educational system and encompasses a wide
variety of factors related to demographics and our approach to education as a
whole. Not only is there a decreasing pool of high school students from which
tomorrow's scientists and engineers will come, but those smaller numbers of students are not receiving broad exposure to science and math in the earliest grades,
an exposure necessary to instill interest in pursuing an engineering career.
Thus education presents a complicated problem with both short- and long-term
implications. Stated in its simplest form, more graduate students and more
faculty members in engineering are needed. The simple words, however, do not reflect adequately the extent to which failures in engineering education will
affect the Nation's future technological growth. Nor do they capture the
symbiosis between industry, academia and the engineering profession that will
be required to solve the problem.
It is in this cooperation of the affected communities that the solution must
Whenever a serious problem with national implications arises there is a
temptation to turn to the Federal government for a solution. In the case of engineering manpower the Federal government does have a role. But that role does not call for direct intervention in what, fundamentally, is a marketplace
problem. The problem must and can be worked out by those who supply engineering
manpower and those who use it.
If there are questions of the quality and
future availability of engineering manpower, and certainly there are, it clearly is in the best interests of the industrial "consumer" to take the necessary
actions to ensure that his needs are met.
The needs of industry for top quality
engineers, the requirements of the academic community to meet those needs in a
way that promotes continued academic excellence, and the needs of the Nation
for technological growth are generally congruent. There may well be perturbations
in the involved sectors before a balanced solution is reached.
There may even
be fundamental changes,
As science and technology have produced rapid