Why so many engineers in the U.S.?

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Why so many engineers in the U.S.?

Post by Garth » Wed Oct 12, 2016 12:12 pm

Someone asked me recently why the U.S. has so many engineers and scientists compared to most (definitely not all) other countries. I didn't immediately have a very good answer, but I suspect it has to do partly with being a major power in WWII and the Cold War, plus Kennedy's challenge to put a man on the moon and bring him back safely before the end of the 60's. Obviously there's more to it than that, since the phone industry got started here long before that, the phonograph, the light bulb, telegraph, radio, TV, and so on.

I myself grew up in another country, and although there were electronics shops there (mostly for TV repair, plus a few hobby shops), it was nothing like the paradise I felt like I came back to in the States at age 14 where there were chain stores everywhere, like Radio Shack, Lafayette, Heathkit, etc., plus many stores that were not part of the chains, including surplus (much of it being from military and aerospace), and mail-order electronics stores galore, advertised in the electronics magazines (which we also didn't have where I was growing up). It was absolutely wonderful for this developing electronics nut! Even today, we find on the forums that electronics parts for hobbyists in many other countries are prohibitively expensive, partly due to customs or shipping costs.

But just how it all came about is something I'm not totally sure of, and would entertain discussion. I expect the higher standard of living was involved, since progress happens more easily when someone with an idea can more easily afford, or get the capital, to start making it, and the public can more easily afford to buy the product, providing a market for it. Education was no doubt involved, although now that has gone downhill, as we've discussed recently in another topic.
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Re: Why so many engineers in the U.S.?

Post by Chuckt » Thu Oct 13, 2016 5:49 am

More U.S. Scientists and Engineers Are Foreign-Born
(January 2011) Scientists and engineers working in the United States are increasingly likely to be foreign-born, primarily because the United States continues to attract large numbers of skilled workers from abroad. In an article in the journal Demography, Vanderbilt University professor Mariano Sana reported that the ratio of foreign-born to U.S.-born scientists and engineers doubled in little more than a decade (see figure).1 In 1994, there were 6.2 U.S.-born workers for every foreign-born worker in science and engineering occupations. By 2006, the ratio was 3.1 to 1.
http://www.prb.org/Publications/Article ... nstem.aspx

The article talks about the impact of American Universities. Since our country has outlawed a lot of manufacturing because of the environmentalists, the universities see the future in education. Why? Because we can't compete against someone in a third world country making half a dollar a day. One university teaches that we can sell them information, be competitive and be on top.

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Re: Why so many engineers in the U.S.?

Post by brad » Tue Oct 18, 2016 8:20 pm

I've never really thought about it to be honest.

Now that I think about it however, Australia really does seem to be lacking in this department. Even as you say, with the amount of hobby electronics stores, I can remember growing up there were really only three major franchises that dealt with hobby electronics. Now there is I think only one major franchise remaining today! I mostly buy components online but do appreciate the stores that were around back in the early 1990's that sparked my interest in this fascinating hobby.

Now that I really think about it, Australia doesn't seem to be doing a whole lot in the engineering innovation department!

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