Introduction: The Scarcity of Scientists and Engineers, a Hidden Crisis in the United States
Engineers are the unsung heroes of the twenty-first century. Engineers build the physical and technical infrastructures that laypeople often take for granted. Most of us do not think about civil engineers as we drive over bridges or about the work of electrical and computer engineers when we use our Blackberries. However, currently, U.S. high schools and universities do not produce enough students who pursue and persist in engineering careers. Our research is motivated by this crisis: a scarcity of new scientists in the United States. There is an urgent need for highly educated workers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields (STEM). Employment in STEM occupations during the current decade is expected to increase three times faster than employment in all remaining occupations (National Science Board, 2002). In addition, 25% of U.S. scientists and engineers will reach retirement age by 2010 (Building Engineering Science Talent Report, 2004). Important new opportunities emerging at the intersection of information technology, life sciences, materials sciences, and engineering are critical to the recovery and continued success of the U.S. economy. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that our greatest needs in the future will be in computer-related fields that drive innovation. To understand what can be done to facilitate the success of engineering undergraduates we conducted interviews, surveys and observations at several large public universities to gain first-hand, in-depth knowledge about engineering education.
KeywordsCommunity College Minority Student Engineering Program Engineering Student Underrepresented Minority
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.