Wednesday, 10 October 2007
The article stated that the coming shortage is the nearly universal conclusion of engineers and the educators who train them. The article noted that employers are pouring time, energy and money into selling the profession to school children, beginning in kindergarten, to avoid running short some day. The American Society for Engineering Education's annual survey of more than 300 colleges shows the number of degrees awarded has risen slightly every year since 1999, while the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics calls future demand for engineers "normal." As our infrastructure ages and deteriorates, however, that demand could change.
The article listed the ASCE Report Card for America’s Infrastructure and the collapse of the 35W Bridge in Minneapolis as indications that demand for engineering services will be increasing. Under current projections, the quality of the nation’s infrastructure is expected to decrease significantly over the next few decades. Adding a relative shortage of qualified engineers into the mix only serves to worsen the situation.
Among the ways to address this potential problem, the article noted the need to emphasis K-12 math and science education. ASCE has long championed the need to improve K-12 math and science education and was an active promoter in the effort to pass the Competes Act (H.R. 2272). In addition to authorizing funding for basic and targeted research and development, the legislation promotes improvement in math and science curriculum and further training for the nation’s math and science teachers. On its own, ASCE, is working to solve this impending problem is well. This summer marked the 7th year of the ExCEEd Program, an intensive practicum for civil engineering educators that focuses on improving engineering education. Beyond specific training programs, ASCE is always looking for ways to promote the profession and cultivate new practitioners. Visit http://www.asce.org to learn more about ASCE’s education and career programs.
Congress and the President also have been taking these issues more seriously lately, with the passage of the Competes Act and likely increases in funding for the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the research programs at the Department of Energy – progress is being made. The question is- will it continue?