I’m going to come back to this later — it’s sleep time on the East Coast — but I think that the oft-trumpeted impending shortage of engineers in the space industry workforce is a myth.
I’ve just come across an article in Issues in Science and Technology, “Where the Engineers Are,” by Vivek Wadhwa, et al. The quote that most sticks in my mind, though I have not finished the article:
“…we found no indication of a shortage of engineers in the United States.”
I hope to read the article soon, and do a bit more research on the topic. I’d really like to blow someone’s mind with this concept — at the least, raise the question — because I’ve heard the “workforce gap” refrain so many times from space cadets and space realists without considering if it was a verified claim. Considering it now, it seems to exist of its own momentum, passed on by people who are anxious that their beloved craft may be in peril. (On the contrary, this would be a good thing because it seems there is a ready supply of young engineers to take over; however, perhaps there are other aspects such as production that are lacking.)
It looks like this article raises another issue that I wondered about: how can the number of engineers in India and China increase so dramatically without incurring problems with the quality of the number of engineers produced. Meaning: (1) is the student to instructor ratio dramatically increased? (2) or is the number of instructors dramatically increased? In either case, more engineers does not mean more better or equal quality engineers.
This doesn’t mean that I’m entirely pleased with the US education system either — it’s not bad, but there is no facet of our country that I would want to improve more than this. To me, this topic of the “shrinking workforce” builds into education: people — some with lobbying influence, I presume — wave their arms at the hot topic in hopes of making a windfall on it, and eventually the hot topic takes on a perpetuated life of its own, supplanting what should always be the most important point: to provide the highest quality education possible, in my opinion, regardless of the intended industry in which it is applied.
All hypotheses for now, however, I call shenanigans; let’s have a look under the hood and see.