Attracting New Blood
In your editorial “Attracting New Blood Tougher Than Building Jets and ICBMs,” (Sept. 2009) you have accurately characterized the acute shortage of scientists and engineers that faces the defense industry, especially those scientists and engineers who can get a security clearance.
Despite being in an area of the country that is rich in technologically oriented institutions of higher learning, industry leaders in the New England region work daily to solve this worsening dilemma. One of the more innovative initiatives designed to target potential science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) students has been developed through a collaboration of Boston-based ConnectEDU and the Massachusetts High Technology Council.
ConnectEDU (http://www.connectedu.net) is the nation’s leading technology firm dedicated to providing students, educators and employers with comprehensive solutions to successfully navigate education and employment transitions; the Massachusetts High Technology Council (http://mhtc.org) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan lobbying organization that represents technology employers.
The collaboration of these two has resulted in the launch of TalentConnect, a comprehensive new work force development program that uses ConnectEDU’s web-based technology to create a seamless talent pipeline from high school through college and into the work force.
High school students benefit from TalentConnect by having free access to a full-service college to career development program. TalentConnect gives college students the ability to reach out to prospective employers for internship and long-term employment opportunities.
I very much appreciated the chance to read your piece on attracting new talent. It presents a balanced and interesting view of youth’s declining interest in science and engineering.
I am an active published senior research engineer in industry with experience dating back to 1974. I hold one technology degree, two engineering degrees, and a Ph.D. in computer science.
I am extremely concerned about America’s declining education system. Even if youth are interested in science and engineering, they are not, as a whole, getting the background needed to embrace such fields of work. As an adjunct professor, about 50 percent of the people who enter my graduate classes don’t have the slightest appropriate undergraduate preparation. Worse, their study-learn-work-produce ethic is nearly absent. As a money-making system seeking to increase its customer base, “education institutions” stretch further and further along the left-hand side of the bell curve, that curve being defined by a student’s willingness to learn. Courses get watered down to graduate students of lower and lower willingness.
When I started studies in electrical engineering, the college had to run what amounted to a high school since students were arriving so poorly prepared. The idea that “every child deserves a degree” will only make this situation worse. Everyone does indeed deserve the opportunity to earn a degree but standards must be maintained. Otherwise, the degree is just a meaningless piece of paper. In the end, our education system is responding to their customers, students and their parents. It is a sad situation that does not produce the educated population America needs.
Although, in my experience, 25 percent of students do have a good study-learn-work-produce ethic, they are not being challenged. They are not receiving the education they need and could absorb if offered.
Without a strong education system, America cannot maintain its standing in the world. Already we witness our declining influence. Partly, this is due to our citizen’s lack of education. Why else would the Defense Department assert that it “yields the best value for the American citizen” to outsource production of a critical weapon system to a foreign country? In my own mind, this is a signal that our own government has given up on our “education system” and turned to people educated elsewhere.
As we continue our downward spiral in education and national influence, we will be left with an uneducated, incompetent population.
Peter G. Raeth
Your Sept. 2009 Defense Watch article provoked many thoughts. Personally I think you put the question concerning the necessity of interaction between man (society) and technological development in a completely different perspective than we are used to reading about.
For your next article it would be interesting to see whether your “trend spotting” is broader than an “American aerospace problem.” Is it perhaps a problem related to all western industrialized countries and their defense industries?
Swedish Armed Forces HQ
A co-worker showed me your recent article in Defense Watch, Sept 2009, “Attracting New Blood Tougher Than Building Jets and ICBMs.”
Near the end of your article you hit the nail on the head where you quoted Mooney & Kirshenbaum as stating “We also have to do something the cultural standing of science — heavily influenced by politics and mass media.”
I groan every time I read a story about changing our corporate culture to attract young engineers.
Or how we need to hit the kids in middle schools to begin engaging them in math and science.
While this is happening, our politicians continue to cancel high profile programs —super conducting super collider, national aerospace plane — they’re now debating the Constellation program and Ares rocket development. The message to me would be loud and clear: stay away from these professions.
I just wanted to thank you for an article that finally seemed to hit on the true root cause.