Engineering Jobs Move Overseas

Engineering Jobs Move Overseas

Huband, Frank L

Engineering jobs at U.S.-based companies, by the hundreds of thousands, are being given to engineers in India, Russia, China, and other countries where engineering salaries are just a fraction of those in the United States. One recent survey by Gartner Inc., a high-tech forecasting firm, predicts that 10 percent of all computer services and software jobs will probably be moved offshore by 2004. Predictions of the “export” of engineering jobs have given rise to questions about its impact on engineering education in this country. The cover story in this month’s Prism examines some of the complexities of globalization and its effects on engineering education. With jobs migrating offshore, the best and brightest students may avoid engineering and turn to law or business. Should this happen, what would be the effect on our traditional high-tech competitive advantage? Since the benefits of globalization include improved standard of living worldwide and cheaper goods and services for everyone, the flow of jobs to lower-cost regions is likely to continue. This month’s article addressing these issues, “My Job Lies Over the Ocean,” is the first of two parts. Next month we will continue to look at the challenges the engineering education community is facing regarding globalization.

Richard Baraniuk, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Rice University, has developed an exciting publishing tool that could become the model for engineering education. Connexions is a dynamic electronic textbook that Baraniuk and his colleagues have developed that allows students to better connect related concepts and more easily learn from materials derived from a variety of sources. With Connexions, a faculty member posts teaching materials on a specific topic area on the Web. Other faculty members or students anywhere in the world who see this information can freely add their own research or links, and this dynamic up-to-date database can be shared by instructors and students worldwide. Those “reading” this information can filter it to select subsets of their choosing. Those who have used Connexions are enthusiastic and say it’s best described as Legos with education materials. See “Connecting the Dots.”

In-flight icing-ice on aircraft wings – has continued to pose a dangerous problem in spite of all the other advances in aircraft design. To detect icing, pilots still rely largely on visual clues, which can be misleading. In “The De-Ice Man Cometh,” you can read about a Canadian professor of mechanical engineering who may have come up with a better solution.

We try to provide a varied and interesting mix of articles for your interest. As always, I welcome your comments and views.

Copyright American Society for Engineering Education Dec 2003

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