I am from down under (Australia) I take in interns for industry training and we have the same problem they are due to.
High schools in general have stopped metal and wood work classes therefore
That students do not the names of hand tools or hoe to use them.
Technical collages charge fees for courses and do not give enough time for lab work.
Universities do not give enough time to hands on (lab) experence.
The students are not given enough advice their ability to do the course. It is a requirement for students to go to year 12 even if the are going garbage collectors, street sweepers, labours we are ending up with a lot a educated unskilled people, GO BACK TO BASIC'S
And it happens to be in our neck of the woods. I will be showing it to our fifteen year old son this evening. I called the company and they are willing to do teenager/adult classes - I am thinking this would be a lot of fun for the whole family and may just re-energize our son's flagging interest in learning how technology works.
Neil certainly has a good point about a couple of things. The media certainly does not seem to respect engineeringvery much, or even understand just what it is. Of course a lot of others don't understand it either. Besides that, and unfortunately, engineering does not seem to pay that very well, especially compared to so many other professions that provide no benefit to society or anybody else. And that is a pity.
The FIRST program is indeed a very excellent program that introduces young folks to engineering in an interesting manner and gathers a lot of good attention for engineering. BUT not that big of a percentage of students are involved in FIRST. So while it does a good job for some, the majority probably never even hear about it. And those others also need some education in science, at least an understanding of some of what we use daily, in order to not be "just plain ignorant." Some exposure to at least some of the rules of physics and kinematics is needed for things like driving safely and being able to do many activities, like mowing the lawn, safely.
Unfortunately a large portion of our population is simply not able to focus their attention long enough to even listen to lessons on these topics. Thatis one root of the problem, and lack of ability to focus is probably one of the real challenges that we have today. I believe that it is something new, and I am not certain about how to solve that problem.
The problem is multi-faceted; not all students are suited for STEM, but interests can be inspired incrementally and time phased.
Educational and vocational programs must begin early and continue through to adulthood.
Technical programs at the elementary, middle, high school levels must be in sync with the innovative developments of creative industries.
Unfortunately, most of the educational institutions (both primary and secondary) do not concentrate on STEM programs. Most institutions focus on careers where the current job openings seem to have highest demand. Unfortunately, service related jobs seem to be more important to society today.
Check the "smart Van" blog/website and it will become clear that well qualified service people are indeed in great demand currently, and probably will remain in demand even if the economy collapses, since then replacing things will be much less of an option.
And right now the severe engineer shortage is really a shortage of engineers that will work for lower pay under poor conditions. Good engineers that would work in reasonable conditions for a competitive income are available in adequate quantities.
I have ben a contract engineer at a few jobs and in most cases the contract cost was about twice what I was paid, which was costing my employer a lot more than what my medical insurance would have cost.
So I would submit that the benefit of hiring contractors is the ability to dump them the moment that they perceive that they are not needed. That is typical MBA thinking, having no understanding that engineering talent and skills are not evenly distributed, and that it is seldom simple for one to step in to replace another without a bit of cost penalty.
The way to solve the engineering shortage is to start regulating the daylights out of the financial manipulator crooks, so that there will be far less of the very high profits for them. Then suddenly an engineering career will be more lucrative looking. And the secondary results could be that we don't have another financial crash that injures the rest of our country while thye dishonest weasels get rich.
Note that this is not an original opinion, but it is one that I agree with completely.
Good points, William K. The eagle eye to the quarterly return has worked against true business health for decades now. Oddly, the CEO is in the same bind. If the CEO doesn't slave to the quarterly return, the company will find a CEO who will.
Rob, you are certainly correct. And the very worst of it all is that the boards are so very short sighted. Unfortunately, in a free country such as ours there is not a lot that can be done about it. In China they routinely solve business problems with hangings, at least that is what I read in their paper when I was there a while back. Drastic, but certainly effective against repeaters.
Most of the new 3D printers and 3D printing technologies in this crop are breaking some boundaries, whether it's build volume-per-dollar ratios, multimaterials printing techniques, or new materials types.
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Automakers are adding greater digital capabilities to their design and engineering activities to promote collaboration among staff and suppliers, input consumer feedback, shorten product development cycles, and meet evolving end-use needs.
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