America's innovation economy
Reports warn that the U.S. is falling behind in science, technology, engineering and math as other countries rise in these areas.
It seems that today you can’t turn on the TV (or the radio) without hearing talk of American decline. The country is in the throes of a financial crisis, and grinding through two wars. China, India, Russia and others are sitting at the big kids’ table, and even a recent National Intelligence Council report warns that America’s unipolar moment is over. Others say, not so fast—the US has been declared dead before, but it turns out it was just resting. "America Abroad" takes measure of American power and leadership amid the rise of the rest of the world, starting with America's innovation economy.
While America is loosing its manufacturing jobs to China and other developing countries, the growing fear is that America will also loose its lead in innovation. Given that innovation is a major driver of the U.S. economy, it's critical for America to keep its technological edge.
Reports warn that the U.S. is falling behind in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM -- the arguments are that America's educational infrastructure isn't keeping pace, and that not enough Americans are going into STEM fields. Furthermore, foreign-born workers are leaving as economic opportunities increase in their home countries.
For several decades now, the U.S. has been bringing in immigrants to fill the ranks of graduate programs in STEM fields. For example, in 2005 foreign students walked off with nearly 60 percent of the PhDs in engineering.
W. Clem Karl, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Boston University remarks on the dirth of Americans in the engineering field: "My sense is that we went through this period where there just wasn't a lot of popularity for STEM-related stuff ... I graduated from MIT and I know of peers of mine who were trained similarly and ... now they work at financial institutions, and they make a lot more money than I'll ever see."
There are plenty of Americans smart enough, and educated enough, but they end up in business, law, or other fields where earning potential is higher.
But according to Richard Freeman, Professor of Economics at Harvard University, this is changing as the troubles of Wall Street may just drive Americans back to careers in the STEM fields.
Guests on this segment:
Mitch Tyson, the CEO of Advanced Electron Beams
Richard Freeman, Professor of Economics at Harvard University
W. Clem Karl, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Boston University
This segment is the third in a five-segment program from "America Abroad." Listen to other segments and/or entire program.
Hosted by veteran public radio journalists Ray Suarez and Deborah Amos, "America Abroad" documentaries explore the critical international issues of our time.