I read David Lammers' "Alarming export: engineers" (Nov. 14, page 4) with great interest.
I went to a university in Germany and then moved to the United States and have worked here for over five years. I also enrolled in an engineering master's program at a local university. I am no longer surprised that nobody picks engineering as a master's. Compared to the German university I attended, the classes are not at all challenging and the instructors are sometimes less prepared than the worst students. This really hurts when tuition is at about $1,000 per class.
Those universities that really want to graduate more engineers should offer tuition-free programs to U.S. citizens and to those who agree to work for five or 10 years at a U.S. company after they graduate. At the same time, these programs need to use the best practices in teaching and get away from the traditional ways of engineering studies.
With "traditional," I mean the three math classes, the physics class, the chemistry class, the "basic" classes and so on. I started my master's program with 200 students; after three semesters and all the theory that has no direct application to engineering tasks, we were down to 30. Most dropped out, as they could not stand the five hours of math per week for three semesters.
With tuition costs being what they are, the reduction in cost to become an engineer is an important step. When the studies are closer to the real world, more students will stay on. Math and physics are tools that are to be learned and used when needed.
When the industry complains that there aren't enough engineers in the United States, then the industry better get going. To make this happen, industry needs to pick up the bill for educating the engineers.
Software Support Engineer
Lack of female EEs is cultural: They're told they don't belong
I was very disappointed that you gave so much space to the silliness of Amos Young's Crosstalk letter about the gender gap in engineering (Nov. 7, page 30).
Only a man who has never been told that he shouldn't do something, not because he isn't qualified or capable to do that thing, but simply because he is a man, could have written that letter. And yet this is the experience of many girls and women in our society who are talented in science and mathematics. It has been my personal experience, and the experience of many women I know, that peers, teachers and professors tell young women that they don't belong in technology fields, not because they aren't capable, but because they are female.
The point that Mr. Young misses is that there are many girls in this country with strong ability in mathematics, science and logical reasoning, and these girls are not going into engineering. These are the girls we want to reach. Contrary to Mr. Young's implication, no one is seriously considering taking any child, girl or boy, who lacks engineering aptitude and training her or him to become an engineer.
It may interest Mr. Young to know that when I attend conferences, it is invariably true that the majority of the women who attend belong to ethnic minority groups. If cultural and socialization issues played no role in women's participation in engineering, then simple demographics would mean that there would be more Caucasian women than minority women.
Texas Instruments Inc.
The global economy will drive some EEs into $8/hour jobs
I agree with the guy in Florida who sent the e-mail Jack Ganssle described in his Opinion piece ("The Wal-Mart Economy," Oct. 31, page 4), and I think it is disastrous not only for U.S. engineers but for our country's security as well. Incidentally, Wal-Mart is part of the problem buying up everything China puts out to the detriment of U.S. manufacturers, if there are any left.
Chief Executive Officer
Advanced Storage Concepts Inc.