Momentum - April 2020 - 20

CAREER PATH

FOCUSING ON THE 'E' IN STEM
I HAVE WRITTEN SEVERAL articles for SAE International on the
need to do a National Academies (NA) study on recommending
policies and actions to increase the number of U.S. citizen Ph.D.s
to work in U.S. National Laboratories, industry, and as faculty.
I proposed that the study focus only on engineering-not
STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics),
which is so popular now in terms of K-12 funding by the federal
government and industry. I also outlined a strategy to increase
M.S. degree engineering graduates, and in turn Ph.D. graduates,
for this purpose.
Recently, a Government Accounting Office (GAO) Annual
Duplication Report stated that the federal government runs
more than 160 different programs to promote STEM education.
All told, 13 different agencies have programs totaling $2.9 billion
in spending in a single year. GAO stated, "Nearly all of these
programs overlapped with at least one other program."
STEM has become a term used to raise funds, and the "E"
for engineering has been lost. I want to expand on why more
directed focus should be on engineering. Students earning a B.S.
degree in engineering can get very good-paying jobs-in the
$60,000-$80,000 salary range, as I stated in the ASEE PRISM
and Update article.
Engineering really encompasses study in science,
mathematics, and engineering science, and engineers are critical
for designing and developing technology. Most engineering
disciplines rely only on physics and chemistry fields of science in
their undergraduate studies.
Engineering is a unique profession which is described in a 2018
National Academies study as "a dynamic discipline and practice
that integrates and applies knowledge from various fields and
draws on a broad and expanding portfolio of technical as well as
professional skills, such as creativity and design, oral and written
communication, teamwork and leadership, interdisciplinary
thinking, business acumen and entrepreneurship, and
multicultural understanding. Trained engineers use their
knowledge and skills in a variety of occupations and industries
and across all sectors of society."
The STEM workforce, as defined in a recent NA study,
includes "science and engineering occupations (currently
about 5.7 million people) and science and engineering-related
occupations (currently about 7.4 million people; National Science
Foundation, 2016)." These two groups of occupations have
been carefully defined and studied by the NSF. In this definition,
the science and engineering occupations include computer
and mathematical scientists; biological, agricultural, and
environmental life scientists; physical scientists (e.g., physicists,
chemists, geoscientists); social scientists (e.g., psychologists,
economists, sociologists); engineers; and postsecondary
teachers in science and engineering fields.
The science- and engineering-related occupations include
health care workers (e.g., physicians, audiologists, nurses);
science and engineering managers (e.g., engineering managers,
natural and social science managers); science and engineering
precollege teachers (e.g., K-12 science teachers); technologists

20 April 2020

2004_Career Path_18-20.indd 20

and technicians in science and engineering; and other science
and engineering-related occupations (e.g., actuaries, architects).
There are a large number of occupations included in the NSF
STEM definition, and it is my opinion that engineering is a small
fraction of them. Engineering-along with nursing, physical and
occupational therapy, and accounting, for example-is unique
in that it offers good-paying, professional occupations for those
with only a B.S. degree, and therefore students in engineering
need to be actively recruited and funded if they are to be
convinced to go into graduate programs. Also, many of the
science jobs require an M.S. or a Ph.D. degree in order to practice
in these occupations.
SAE International has for the past 25 years run a program
called A World in Motion (AWIM) for primary, elementary, and
middle school students that involves a teacher-led engineering
design experience supplemented by engineer professionals
who volunteer to assist the teachers in implementing the
program. For organizations that want to financially support
STEM programs that focus on engineering, this is the approach
that is needed.
There is now a need for organizations and individuals to
financially support development of programs in K-12 that have
a focus on engineering, with engineer professionals assisting
the teachers, so that students become proficient in science and
mathematics and pursue engineering as a profession.
Also, university graduate program funds are needed to
increase graduate fellowship support, with goals and plans to
recruit more U.S. citizens at the M.S. and Ph.D. degree levels.
Technical societies and universities need to extend their
traditional fundraising support for undergraduate degree
programs to additional graduate-level funds with a focus on
recruiting U.S. citizens into the programs. And there is a need
for K-12 programs and junior-senior undergraduate efforts
in engineering degree programs to develop more domestic
engineering graduate students.
There is also a need to focus on developing U.S. citizen Ph.D.
engineering graduates that become faculty. Wouldn't it be a loss
for the U.S. if we put all this effort to support STEM education
for K-12 grades and to promote pursuit of engineering degrees
among undergraduates, but end up not having engineering
faculty to teach the next generation of B.S., M.S., and Ph.D.
engineering graduates?
SAE Fellow John H. Johnson wrote this article for
MOMENTUM. The Presidential Professor Emeritus at
Michigan Technological University has served on a
number of National Academies Committees.

MOMENTUM

3/19/20 11:06 AM



Momentum - April 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Momentum - April 2020

Momentum - April 2020
Start a new SAE Chapter in your life
BENEFITS U
Focused on design
Taking the classroom to the racetrack
Great moments happen due to the work of many
ONE-ON-ONE – Emily Kerr
Sticking to the schedule
BRIEFS
GM deploying electricals of the future in new architecture
Myers Awards winners named
SAE 101: Industry Leadership Award
Dossier: Justin Lange of John Deere
Focusing on the ‘E’ in STEM
Momentum - April 2020 - Momentum - April 2020
Momentum - April 2020 - Cover2
Momentum - April 2020 - 1
Momentum - April 2020 - Start a new SAE Chapter in your life
Momentum - April 2020 - BENEFITS U
Momentum - April 2020 - Focused on design
Momentum - April 2020 - 5
Momentum - April 2020 - 6
Momentum - April 2020 - Taking the classroom to the racetrack
Momentum - April 2020 - 8
Momentum - April 2020 - Great moments happen due to the work of many
Momentum - April 2020 - ONE-ON-ONE – Emily Kerr
Momentum - April 2020 - 11
Momentum - April 2020 - Sticking to the schedule
Momentum - April 2020 - 13
Momentum - April 2020 - BRIEFS
Momentum - April 2020 - GM deploying electricals of the future in new architecture
Momentum - April 2020 - Myers Awards winners named
Momentum - April 2020 - SAE 101: Industry Leadership Award
Momentum - April 2020 - Dossier: Justin Lange of John Deere
Momentum - April 2020 - 19
Momentum - April 2020 - Focusing on the ‘E’ in STEM
Momentum - April 2020 - Cover3
Momentum - April 2020 - Cover4
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/sae/19MOMP11
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/sae/19MOMP09
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/sae/14MOMP10
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/sae/14MOMP09
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