As we know there is a real dearth of available engineering talent but the prospects for improvement are showing some signs of progress . We recently accepted and completed a search for a Manager of R&D for a specialty chem and gases company that caters to the integrated circuit and photovoltaics industries. The search was successful because we worked in tandem with our client to create a critical mass of candidates who possessed the right attributes, skill sets and experience to tackle the job. The hired candidate is a terrific person who will make a difference in the long term growth and development of the company.
What we observed though is that there simply is not a deep or broad enough channel of qualified engineers—in this case, in electro/organometalic chem ready to step up to the opportunity we were marketing. What can be done about this issue?
Clearly, there are many organizations who are trying to encourage more young people to study engineering—-civil, mechanical, chemical, electrical, etc., and they are to be applauded for their efforts. Here in New Jersey the Liberty Science Center is supporting STEM ( Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) education initiatives. At NJIT and other universities like them, they are encouraging their engineering students to not only learn these academic skill sets but also how to work in teams to develop innovative skill sets. On NPR this morning I heard that the 4H Club is promoting a program designed to educate 1 million new engineers . To the extent that we can all recognize the value of these efforts and support them we will be helping to close the engineering gap here in the United States and around the world.
Having acted as a judge of a recent engineering class showcase at NJIT about 1 month ago, I can attest that our higher education institutions are working hard to make engineering more attractive to its students. Can they do it fast enough and well enough, only time will tell. But to the extent that each one of us in a place of influence can support the work of universities to graduate more well trained engineers right here in the United States, we will be helping to address a critical need of our country.
A bright young person with an interest in and aptitude for STEM related subjects will have absolutely no problem becoming employed upon graduation. Clearly, the graduates of these programs must be more than one dimensional subject experts. If the work that NJIT is now doing to educate the whole student is any indication, the class of 2102, 2013, 2014 and those to come will have learned about the value of invention, innovation and how to be a real problem solver in the manner of Steve Jobs and his many antecedents. We need to keep at it—-and keep graduating well prepared young engineers, business majors & scientists who will become tomorrow’s successful entrepreneurs.