This month’s cover story, “Changing the Face of Engineering,”
looks at some of the cultural issues that have historically deterred
Hispanics, the largest U.S. minority group, from joining the field
of engineering. Although Hispanics are almost 15 percent of the
population, only 4 percent of engineers in the workforce are Hispanic,
and they are less than 6 percent of engineering degrees. These statistics
are all the more striking when coupled with the fact that Hispanics
are the fastest-growing minority group in the country, with the
U.S. Hispanic population expected to increase 45 percent by 2015
compared with 1 percent for Caucasians. Prism spoke with a number
of Hispanic engineering deans to learn what programs are now in
place and what other steps should be taken to attract more Hispanics
A European Union report released last year concluded that the European brain drain to America is cause for considerable concern. The exodus of European scientists and researchers to the United States that began in the 1950s continues unabated. Between 1991 and 2000, 71 percent of the 15,000 EU graduate students who studied here, stayed here. Prism ’s article “Please Don’t Go” found that the reasons for exodus are many but include better salaries, easier funding and availability of top technologies. Furthermore, jobs are more plentiful in the United States and geographic mobility is less an issue than in Europe. While European nations have recognized the need to invest research funds in order to make Europe competitive, the problem remains a pressing one for the region.
Looking east, “ Japan’s Slow-Moving Tide” reports on the attempt by a handful of Japanese engineering schools to shake up the engineering curricula. This is not an easy task, given the tightly regulated nature of Japan’s academe, but the goal is to better prepare Japanese graduates for today’s global economy. While Japan remains a mecca of microelectronics, many Japanese engineers still find it difficult to function effectively overseas, lacking language and adaptability skills. But this spring, Kogakuin University introduced a global engineer major, which offers the usual technical courses along with classes in world history, global business and English.
As you will note, several of this month’s articles have an international and diverse flavor consistent with ASEE’s own expanding international activities. The ASEE Global Colloquium, which recently met in Brazil, was a great success with more than 450 representatives from 34 countries. One of the best-attended programs addressed the issue of “the global engineer.” As the world grows smaller through technology, countries increasingly share the same interests and concerns.
As always, I would welcome your comments or suggestions.
Frank L. Huband
Executive Director and Publisher