IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - Winter 2014 - 32

TRENDS

J. PANARETOS

C.C. MALESIOS

Influential Engineers:
Where Do They Come From
and Where Do They Go?

T

he objective of this study is to examine the
intercontinental movement of highly cited
researchers (HCRs) in the field of engineering. We use the data on HCRs available
from the Thomson Scientific database (http://www.
highlycited.com/), covering a 20-year period (1981-
1999), combined with information collected from the
internet and the researchers themselves, to examine
the movement in engineering around the world of the
HCRs from birth to their present affiliation. We establish that there is a steady movement of engineers from
Europe and the rest of the world to the U.S.

Movement Is Common
Intercontinental movement of scientists is a very
common practice. Among scientists, 41.4% have
completed at least one of their degrees, or are working, in a continent different from the one where they
were born.
Table I provides information on the numbers of
highly cited (HC) engineers according to their present
affiliation. U.S. institutions dominate the list, in terms
of HCRs in engineering (68.2%).
Next we examined the geographical breakdown of
the numbers of HCRs, taking into consideration the
Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/MTS.2014.2363982
Date of publication: 1 December 2014

32

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country of their birth, the country where the researchers' first degrees were obtained, and the country
where Ph.D. degrees were obtained.
We first looked at the countries where the HCRs
obtained their Ph.D. degrees (Table II).
U.S. universities still have a clear advantage over
European, Asian, and universities in the rest of the
world, but the advantage is slightly decreasing when
the comparison is made with respect to current affiliation of the HCRs.
In engineering, one in three HCRs who completed
their doctorates in Europe are now affiliated with a
U.S. institution, a pattern that was also observed in
the field of mathematics (see [1]). The opposite is
very rare. Asia has a much higher retention rate than
Europe, as has Canada (5) and Australia (3).
We also found that there is no movement at all
between Europe and Asia. It seems as though many
scientists from Asia and Europe who had an exceptional career that allowed them to become HCRs,
either did their Ph.D. in Asia and Europe and then
moved to the U.S., or they obtained a Ph.D. degree in
the U.S., and then returned to their country of origin
(this happened mainly with Canada and Australia).
This finding, if supported by further evidence, may
suggest that Europe and Asia need to strengthen their
scientific collaboration in this important field of scientific endeavor.
IEEE TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIETY MAGAZINE

|

WINTER 2014


http://www http://www.highlycited.com/

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