Getting the Numbers Right: International Engineering Education in the United States, China and India


Getting the Numbers Right

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The United States is well-positioned to reap the benefits from growing international competition, but other countries are catching up fast in the global talent race.

This article, published in the Journal of Engineering Education, challenges the commonly cited statistics for engineering graduates in the United States, China, and India. Our research shows that the gap between the number of engineers and related technology specialists produced in the United States versus those in India and China is smaller than previously reported, and the United States remains a leading source of high-quality global engineering talent. Furthermore, engineering graduates in China and India face the prospect of substantial unemployment, despite high corporate demand for their services; this raises questions about the quality of recent graduates. The United States, however, also confronts problems in its continued ability to attract and retain top engineering talent from abroad because of visa uncertainties and growing economic opportunities in their countries of origin. We argue that the key issue in engineering education should be the quality of graduates, not just the quantity, since quality factors have the biggest impact on innovation and entrepreneurship.