Saturday, March 17, 2012

5 Percent American?

I just ran into this statistic in an IEEE article:

This table lists the top 25 universities from which the 2008 class of American engineering PhDs earned their bachelor’s degrees. Less than 5 percent of these PhDs are products of American universities.
5 percent? I can't help but wonder if they actually mean 50%, which is more close to what I would expect. Still either way it is a huge number.

I am torn on whether or not I consider this a good thing. Clearly we are hosting a competition where the very best from around the world come to America and see if they are good enough to make it among the best. As long as we can keep that true, we can depend on a special place in the world economy.

On the other hand, many of these people have poor English skills and little understanding of American culture. This creates real problems with educating the general public about science and engineering. There is already a huge divide where America has a scientific elite which is the best in the world and a general public which is clueless. If all of our talent is imported, that problem will continue to get worse.

No comments: