June 1972 Popular Electronics
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published October 1954 - April 1985. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.
The origin of the phrase "Everything old is new again" is credited to everything from the Bible to Shakespeare to Mark Twain. It might be one of the most oft-repeated statements. The topic of this editorial from a 1972 issue of Popular Electronics is a prime example of why people like me invoke the aforementioned dictum. For as long as I have been aware of the state of engineering and technology, opinion writers (aka "journalists"), have lamented the sorry state of education in that it cannot motivate and produce a qualified new crop of replacement engineers, scientists, technicians, doctors, nurses, chemists, and other white collar workers (I can't recall ever hearing of lawyer shortage, unfortunately). Looking back at how the "shortages" have been handled, a large portion of the deficit was rectified by importing foreign talent rather than filling the academic pipeline with domestic prospects.
Editorial - Engineering Enrollments Down Sharply
By Milton S. Snitzer. Editor
Engineering Enrollment Down Sharply
Because of a substantial drop-off in enrollments last fall, there are 26,000 fewer engineering students now than there were a year ago.
This figure is from a study just completed by the Engineering Manpower Commission of the Engineers Joint Council. The survey covered almost 300 institutions offering bachelor's or higher degrees in the various engineering fields.
The decline hit all levels from beginning freshmen to doctoral candidates. Half the total drop occurred in the freshman class, which was 18 percent smaller in 1971 than in 1970, and 25 percent smaller than in 1967. The sophomore class was also hit, with a decrease of 10 percent. Junior and senior enrollments were lower by about 2 percent.
The reason far the drop-off is obvious. Primarily it is due to a fear of not being able to get a job when the training is completed. There have been a large number of layoffs in the engineering field so that it is no longer as glamorous as it used to be.
With all the talk these days about conserving our natural resources, it seems to us that the figures given above indicate a serious loss to all of us - a loss in technical manpower. Same will say that the average effect is a good one since now only those who are seriously interested in engineering will be the ones to choose this as their profession. No longer will students go into engineering simply because it is the thing to do.
Despite the reduced levels of engineering recruiting and hiring in 1970 and 1971, new engineers generally fared better than graduates in most other disciplines, according to Dr. Robert J. Raudebaugh, President of Engineers Joint Council. Also, long-range projections by the U.S. Department of Labor continue to show a need for large numbers of engineers in the next decade.
We seem to be perpetually an a swinging pendulum of supply and demand. In the last year or two, the supply in certain areas has exceeded the demand, but now we see signs of an equalization. Perhaps in the near future the demand will again exceed the supply. The difference in the rates is what really hurts one side or the other.
In any case, it is safe to predict that the supply of engineers will start to drop while the demand in new areas for them increases. We seem to be more and more a country that is service-oriented as well as product-oriented. This bodes well for technical people who will be required to serve these areas.
Posted November 12, 2019