No One is Safe

byHelBell6 Views

  1. "After years of articles, public policy discussions, and initiatives, the authors question whether the idea that the US needs more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) majors in order to fill jobs in the sciences. Some of the data suggests that there is not as great a demand for STEM majors: while some individuals in the sciences (those in Information Technologies & petroleum engineers) are able to demand higher salaries (which would indicate either increased demand or limited supply), there are others who suffer a different fate:

    "[I]f you're a biologist, chemist, electrical engineer, manufacturing worker, mechanical engineer, or physicist, you've most likely seen your paycheck remain flat at best. If you're a recent grad in those fields looking for a job, good luck. A National Academies report suggests a glut of life scientists, lab workers, and physical scientists, owing in part to over-­recruitment of science-Ph.D. candidates by universities. And postdocs, many of whom are waiting longer for academic spots, are opting out of science careers at higher rates, according to the National Science Foundation."

    Also, while unemployment is higher among non-STEM majors, the statistics for STEM majors is not as promising as once believed:

    "Unemployment rates within STEM fields generally, while lower than the overall unemployment rate of 7.2 percent, are often higher than they've been in years—a sign that there is a shortage of jobs, not workers."

    Article also posits a theory that the reason for the push for STEM majors is to lower the salaries of current workers.  

    "This is all about industry wanting to lower wages," says Norman S. Matloff, a professor of computer science at the University of California at Davis. Mr. Matloff has investigated how IT employers benefit by raising the numbers of lower-paid foreign STEM laborers and by sending offshore the engineering and STEM manufacturing jobs of mostly older American workers. "We have a surplus of homegrown STEM workers now," he says. "We've had it in the past and we're likely to have it in the future."

    In the comments, one individual takes issue with one of the article's premises regarding the job market.  Disqus is down, so I can't copy and paste, but in summation:

    Article states that "Professors even at august research institutions report seeing many of their brightest minds in the hard sciences flee to Wall Street after being wooed by recruiters from financial companies" implying that STEM majors are fleeing to other disciplines due to a lack of jobs.  However the commenter states that Financial companies need STEM majors in order to deal with the influx of "big data" into their fields. 

    Related to the issue of merging sciences with other disciplines... Canada is trying to figure out how to insert more Humanities into Engineers. 
  2. Article discusses attempts to create "well rounded" engineers (engineers with a greater appreciation for how the world works).  Author isn't too impressed though:

    "Optional engineering courses offered at the University of Alberta, for instance, are designed to include “exposure to the central thought processes of the humanities and social sciences,” a phrase that has more in common with the laboratory vaccination of rats than an open-minded approach to learning about a new field. Instead of allowing students to choose any artistic courses that fascinate them in order to pursue new interests, universities offer specific courses such as “Sociology for Engineers” or “English for Engineers.”


    "ENGL 199, for example, is English for Engineers. English courses are typically a great opportunity for students from various faculties to discuss great works of literature, share opinions and learn from those of others, and gain an appreciation for a new field, all while developing and improving their communication skills. Instead, English for Engineers lumps together students who already spend 30 hours a week in class with each other and teaches them basic grammar and punctuation."