Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Is there a STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) crisis?

The Torch Bearers
The following information comes largely from the people at Schools Matter. The topic is somewhat controversial since the common rhetoric seems to be about the so-called shortage of STEM professionals. Are there good jobs and occupations in the STEM disciplines? Certainly. But we must proceed cautiously in making sure there is actually research and statistical proof for so of our shared or common beliefs. -Dr. Petrosino 

It is not clear that there is a STEM shortage, Some analysts, in fact, have claimed that there is a surplus of STEM-trained professionals (Teitelbaum, 2007; Toppo and Vergano, 2009; Bracey, 2009.)

A report of the World Economic Federation (Schwab, 2012) confirms that there is no crisis. The US ranks near the top of the world on all categories related to STEM education and availability of expertise: According to the World Economic Federation, the US ranks 5th out of 144 countries in "availability of scientists & engineers," is tied for 5th in "quality of scientific research institutions," ranks 3rd in "university-industry research collaboration” and ranks 7th “capacity for innovation,” which means that American innovation comes largely from research efforts done in the US. 

Only three countries ranked in the top ten in all four of these categories: Sweden, Israel, and the US. China didn’t come close to the top ten in any of them.

"… the impending shortage of scientists and engineers is one of the longest running hoaxes in the country" (Bracey, 2009). 


Bracey, G. 2009. Education Hell: Rhetoric Vs. Reality. Alexandra, VA: Educational Research Service.
Schwab, K. 212. The Global Competiveness Report, 2012-2013: Full Data Education. World Economic Forum.
Teitelbaum, M. 2007. Testimony before the Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation. Committee on Science and Technology, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC, November 6, 2007 
Toppo, G. and Vergano, D. 2009. Scientist shortage? Maybe not. USA Today, August 9, 2009

Picture: In 1955 Anna Hyatt Huntington and her husband donated her sculpture “The Torch Bearers” to the University of Madrid. The work symbolizes “the passing of the torch of civilization from one generation to the next.” The version seen at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken (pictured above), New Jersey is one of three replicas. It was donated to Stevens in 1964, where it joined the college’s growing collection of paintings and sculpture. Two other replicas of “The Torch Bearers” are located at the Museum of Art, Science, and Industry in Bridgeport, Connecticut and the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, Virginia.

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