Friday, May 20, 2005

Why math is important to the country


The United States lags behind other nations in the number of engineers graduated each year, says Norm Augustine, a retired chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corp., A look at the numbers:
• United States : 50,000
• India: 100,000
• China: 100,000
• Japan: 200,000

The significant figure in there is not the US but Japan.
Japan is minting more engineers every year then India and China COMBINED!
India and China have half the population of the planet and Japan is stomping them in the creation of engineers, and completely wiping the floor when it comes to the US.

It is understandable that we are not graduating many new engineers, business keeps asking for more students, asking for more H1-B visas and the like. But when you look at the job postings of these companies it is not surprising that there is a backlash.

Companies are complaining but not putting their money where their mouths are. When you look at their jobs postings you see them asking for 5 years experience in over a dozen technologies, most of which are highly specialized and if you are experienced in one you wouldn't have had any time to have experience in the others. Though admittedly some of the problem is not with the hiring manager, he understands that, he really wants a set of engineers with all those skills combined not one engineer with all those skills, but HR doesn't understand, they get the checklist and eliminate everyone without all those skills. You can imagine what happens next.

In the very late 1990's it was obvious that tech was in a boom state, when secretaries and landscapers were trying to learn to program that was a warning sign I failed to heed. Just like when JP Morgan knew that it was time to get out of the stock market in 1930, because the shoe-shine boy was giving him stock tips.

Outsourcing isn't working all that well yet but they are learning, in 10 years they will have figured it out. Just like Japan did to the US car manufacturers and what Korea did to Taiwan in chip manufacturing.

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