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Solving the Energy Crisis - Just Wait Four Years

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  • Harry & Linda Clift
    http://www.manufacturing.net/ctl/article/CA6296224 90% of the world s engineers Asian residents by 2010 Control Engineering January 4, 2006 James W. Bagley,
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 25, 2006
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      http://www.manufacturing.net/ctl/article/CA6296224
      90% of the world's engineers Asian residents by 2010
      Control Engineering January 4, 2006
      James W. Bagley, chairman of Lam Research Corp. recently addressed
      the U.S.' diminishing capability to maintain competitive
      manufacturing leadership and parity.
      In a speech to San Jose State University's College of Engineering,
      James W. Bagley, chairman of Lam Research Corp. addressed the U.S.'
      diminishing capability to maintain competitive manufacturing
      leadership and parity. The following summarizes his presentation.
      He indicated that, when mobilized, the U.S. can accomplish near
      miracles. The solution is simple: convincing political leaders that
      the results of the U.S.' degenerating, competitiveness problem can
      be far greater than the national disasters—such as have been
      recently experienced. And it's probably a greater threat to the
      country than some of the ideologies that the U.S. is currently
      confronting.
      He focused on China, which now is becoming competitive in
      manufacturing technology, software and engineering capability across
      the spectrum, physics, chemistry, and biotechnology. Whether through
      design or luck, China has co-opted the largest retail organization—
      WalMart—into being its worldwide distribution system. The result of
      this distribution capability has been a disruptive transformation in
      balances of trade virtually across the globe and has allowed China
      to become a country with substantial foreign currency reserves. As
      anyone in business knows, market access is an imperative and is
      usually achieved through substantial investment and hard work. China
      got their warehousing, distribution, and retail outlets at no cost.
      During these 20 years, what was happening in the U.S.? It has
      promoted fair trade, open-market access, lower duties, and so on.
      U.S. motivations were positively based, expecting open trade
      improvements to the economies of most of the third-world countries,
      allowing them to be markets for U.S. life-enriching products based
      on U.S.-developed intellectual property and value-added services
      which would in turn improve the standard of living of U.S. citizens.
      The result has been somewhat different from what was envisioned 20
      years ago.
      The U.S. is outsourcing manufacturing at an alarming rate. China is
      creating manufacturing jobs at a rate equivalent to the entire U.S.
      manufacturing workforce each year. The U.S. is facilitating that
      growth rate by outsourcing its manufacturing jobs to China in order
      to compete with Chinese goods derived from U.S.-created intellectual
      property.

      Examples from Lam Research and the semiconductor industry:
      Approximately 80% of (Lam Research's) advanced etcher systems are
      sold and installed in Asia.
      Three companies in Taiwan are building more leading-edge 300mm
      plants than are being built in the United States. The vast majority
      of the leading-edge 300mm facilities being built in the world are
      being built in Asia.
      (The U.S. has) gone from the largest market for semiconductors and
      the largest producer of semiconductors to a deteriorating second
      place when compared to Asia.
      Some recent eye-opening information from Jay Pinson, dean emeritus
      of San Jose State was:
      Today the U.S. graduates about 55,000 engineers a year—with the rate
      declining for the last 20 years;
      Both law and business students graduate at about three times this
      rate (about 330,000 in the aggregate);
      India graduates 300,000 engineers annually;
      China mints 350,000 new engineers each year; and
      Aggravating the situation is the fact that, of the U.S.' 55,000
      graduates, a meaningful percentage are foreign nationals who may or
      may not stay in the United States.
      The U.S. cannot compete with India and China on a raw-numbers basis,
      nor should it—look at a combined 650,000 engineering graduates as
      opposed to its 55,000—because India and China are competitors. What
      the U.S. should focus on is dramatically increasing the number of
      its engineering and science graduates in those areas where it can
      develop and maintain a competitive advantage.
      Projected over time, the engineering graduate gap, by 2010, will
      result in over 90% of the world's engineers living in India, China,
      and the rest of Asia. This is underscored by the large number of
      U.S. engineering graduates now retiring, who were motivated to
      engineering careers due to the space race that began with the 1958
      launching of Sputnik.
      How is the U.S. coping with the problem today? It's importing
      roughly 60,000 engineers/scientists with the H-1B visa program. In
      the most positive light, this is a stopgap. Analogously, over 30
      years ago Detroit had been making larger, heavier cars with larger
      engines and degrading fuel economy, and the rest of the world,
      particularly Japan, was making small, fuel-efficient cars. In
      the `70s there were two major oil-supply disruptions. When the Big
      Three (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler) automakers began
      cooperating with non-U.S. manufacturers to import fuel-efficient
      cars after the Big Three's efforts had largely failed, a point of
      view then was that this was not necessarily a bad thing, but that
      this was a stop-gap until Detroit could develop competitive
      manufacturing technology.
      Three decades later. Maybe General Motors (GM) gasoline-powered
      cars' fuel efficiency is comparable to that of the Japanese, but 30
      years of public perception of Detroit's gas guzzlers makes it
      difficult for GM to compete. The H-1B visa program could cause the
      U.S. to end up in much the same way if a robust program for growing
      engineering enrollment/graduates isn't developed. H-1B can't be
      discontinued in the near term because the U.S. is addicted.
      So what is the solution? Conceptually, it's like losing weight—the
      program is simple, the execution is difficult. An approach is:
      Begin changing the public perception about engineering careers
      versus doctors and lawyers;
      Establish a national priority to increase the number of college
      graduates in engineering and science; and
      Address the well-documented problems in the K-12 educational system
      Over the past decade or so, there have been more than a dozen
      television programs depicting lawyers as the defenders and saviors
      of the American public.
      In a similar timeframe, there have been another dozen or so programs
      profiling the exploits of selfless, caring, and incredibly competent
      members of the medical profession sacrificing family and friends
      working long hours, once again to save the human race.
      In the last decade or so, there have been only a few programs that
      have highlighted technologists. Each of them has been depicted as
      brilliant, completely socially inept, narrowly focused super-geeks.
      In movies, technologists generally have been depicted as brilliant,
      cruel, and despicable people bent on world domination—and then there
      was television's McGuyver.
      Before you disgustedly sigh about the examples' triviality, think of
      this:
      When a high profile athlete lends his persona to a shoe brand, the
      impact on young peoples' purchases is dramatic;
      What is depicted in movies and television, we all know, has a huge
      impact on young peoples' perceptions, thoughts, and actions; and
      So why wouldn't depictions of lawyers and doctors as heroes and
      scientists and technologists as nerds and villains make a
      significant impression on young people?
      It's impractical to compete with television and movies, but the
      accomplishments and contributions of science and technology should
      be shown in a positive way as well as the thousands and thousands of
      technologists whose careers are exciting, fulfilling, and rewarding
      as they contribute to developing the science and products that are
      helping to improve the human condition.
      An influential constituency needs to be convinced to support a
      national priority to encourage the growth of the engineering and
      science enrollment in universities and colleges as was done with the
      space program (of the `60s).
      It will require prioritizing funds, including:
      Low-cost student loans for students entering engineering and science
      curricula;
      Expanding scholarships earmarked for engineering and science
      students;
      Increasing the availability of grants to colleges and universities
      to enhance the facilities that support engineering and science
      curricula;
      Boosting funding for graduate fellowships; and
      Providing loan forgiveness for those science and engineering
      graduates who commit to teach in their field at universities and
      colleges for some reasonable time period.
      Finally—this may be the most difficult step of all, fix K-12. In a
      recent article, and Bagley, "couldn't vouch for its validity but it
      sounded right, teachers who dislike the subjects teach most students
      in K-12 science and math." The teachers are ill prepared to teach
      the subjects and in many cases have a minimal grasp of the subject
      content itself. While he didn't experience this during K-12, it was
      hard for him to believe that a teacher disliking the subject matter
      can make a compelling example for students to gain proficiency and
      excel in the subjects. Ill-prepared students leaving high school
      have virtually no chance of succeeding in collegiate-level
      engineering or science programs.
      In Texas, although the law is being revisited, students in the top
      10% of their high school graduating class must be admitted to
      colleges and universities in Texas irrespective of their ability or
      preparation to succeed. A well-intentioned program can adversely
      affect the success of students in technical curricula.
      Bagley closed by saying, "The U.S. must find a way to establish
      competent instruction in K-12 supporting math and science
      preparedness. It is a political issue, if the comfort zone of some
      people must be disrupted to save our children and the future of our
      country then the decision is obvious."
      For more information see:
      Engineers, scientists, skilled production workers missing in action
      Refinery Expertise Preservation
      — Richard Phelps, senior editor, Control Engineering
      © 2006, Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.
      All Rights Reserved.
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