[EAS] Next Year's Engineers

Peter J. Kindlmann pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Tue Dec 27 02:53:38 EST 2005

Hardly a cheerful look at the withering numbers of engineers that
will be graduated next year.  --PJK

(from INNOVATION, 21 December 2005)

       It sounds like a wild exaggeration, but it's true. China is turning
out nearly one million new engineers every year. India isn't far behind,
graduating about 350,000 engineers a year. And the US? A tiny fraction of
that total - perhaps 75,000. What does this engineering lag suggest about
America's future competitiveness? Leaders ranging from university deans to
chief executives to military officials are all worried, because the United
States has become a country of lawyers and business executives, not
engineers. Where will our future competitiveness come from? How can we
out-innovate countries that are graduating five, ten, maybe 15 times more
engineers than we are? The damage could be far greater than a simple trade
imbalance. Our trade deficit is already humongous, some experts say, but
it's traditionally been offset by the quality and creativity of our
innovations. One solution is for companies to invest more in corporate
research and development of new products. Too many companies fail to look
beyond the next quarter's profits, so innovation suffers. Congress also
needs to wake up to the fact that China and India are threatening our
future competitiveness. "Congress has no idea this problem exists," notes
Jerome Rivard of the National Academy of Engineering. "We need to tell them
about it in a way the country can understand." (Design News 5 Dec 2005)

Here is an example of "home-grown" technology. Where will it take us?

       Where is Google headed? Tech pundit Robert X. Cringely thinks the
search engine company is poised to take over the Internet. "Oh, they won't
steal it or strong-arm us. They'll seduce us into giving it to them" and,
he says, that may not be a bad thing. Google is currently designing huge
data centers that fit on the back of a tractor-trailer rig and can be
delivered anywhere and hooked up quickly and easily. "The idea is to plant
one of these puppies anywhere Google owns access to fiber, basically
turning the entire Internet into a giant processing and storage grid,"
Cringely says. Having hundreds of Google data centers worldwide does more
than offer simple redundancy and fault tolerance. They put Google closer to
users, reducing latency. They offer inter-datacenter communication,
load-balancing, and best of all, super-fast bandwidth connections at all
peering ISPs. "There will be the Internet, and then there will be the
Google Internet, superimposed on top. We'll use it without even knowing.
The Google Internet will be faster, safer and cheaper," Cringely says. "And
you know whose strategy this is? Wal-Mart's. Unless Google comes up with an
ecosystem to allow their survival, all the other Web services companies
will be marginalized. There will be startups and little guys, but no
medium-sized companies. The final result is that Web 2.0 is Google. "Game
over," Cringely adds. (I, Cringely 17 Nov 2005)

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