January 23, 2011

NORM AUGUSTINE: America Is Losing Its Edge In Innovation.

In fact, scientists and engineers are celebrities in most countries. They’re not seen as geeks or misfits, as they too often are in the U.S., but rather as society’s leaders and innovators. In China, eight of the top nine political posts are held by engineers. In the U.S., almost no engineers or scientists are engaged in high-level politics, and there is a virtual absence of engineers in our public policy debates.

Why does this matter? Because if American students have a negative impression – or no impression at all – of science and engineering, then they’re hardly likely to choose them as professions. Already, 70% of engineers with PhD’s who graduate from U.S. universities are foreign-born. Increasingly, these talented individuals are not staying in the U.S – instead, they’re returning home, where they find greater opportunities. . . .

Global leadership is not a birthright. Despite what many Americans believe, our nation does not possess an innate knack for greatness. Greatness must be worked for and won by each new generation. Right now that is not happening. But we still have time.

Read the whole thing.

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