[p2p-research] Slashdot | Study Says US Needs Fewer Science Students

Paul D. Fernhout pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Sun Nov 1 01:05:15 CET 2009

"It's an article of faith: the United States needs more native-born students 
in science and other technical fields. But a new paper by sociologists at 
the Urban Institute and Rutgers University contradicts the notion of a 
shrinking supply of native-born talent in the United States. In fact, the 
supply has actually remained steady over the past 30 years, the researchers 
conclude, while the highest-performing students in the pipeline are opting 
out of science and engineering in greater numbers than in the past, 
suggesting that the threat to American economic competitiveness comes not 
from inadequate science training in school and college but from a lack of 
incentives that would make science and technology careers attractive. 
Cranking out even more science graduates, according to the researchers, does 
not give corporations any incentive to boost wages for science/tech jobs, 
which would be one way to retain the highest-performing students."

The researchers—led by Lowell and Harold Salzman, a sociologist at the Urban 
Institute and Rutgers University, New Brunswick—argue that boosting the STEM 
pipeline may end up hurting the United States in the long-term.
This happens, they say,  by depressing wages in S&T fields and turning 
potential science and technology innovators into management professionals 
and hedge fund managers.
The way to promote US competitiveness in STEM fields is to "put more 
emphasis on the demand side," says Lowell, noting that U.S. colleges and 
universities produce three times more STEM graduates every year than the 
number of STEM jobs available. Cranking out even more STEM graduates, he 
says, does not give corporations any incentive to boost wages for STEM jobs, 
which would be one way to retain the highest-performing students in STEM.

One interesting comment there:

Guess no one got the memo about this collapse starting in the 1970s:
   "The Big Crunch" by Dr. David Goodstein, Vice Provost, Caltech

Even though he has testified about this to the US Congress a decade ago.

Anyway, this helps explain the rise of "Professional Amateurs":
"The 20th century witnessed the rise of many new professionals in fields 
such as medicine, science, education and politics. Amateurs and their 
sometimes ramshackle organizations were driven out by people who knew what 
they were doing and had certificates to prove it. This historic shift is now 
reversing with Pro-Ams: people who pursue amateur activities to professional 
standards are increasingly an important part of the society and economy of 
developed nations. Their leisure is not passive but active and 
participatory. Their contribution involves the deployment of publicly 
accredited knowledge and skills, and is often built up over a long career 
involving sacrifices and frustrations."

Which in turn is an aspect of P2P.

It's sad though that we don't have a basic income, etc. to otherwise handle 
this situation and let thinkers think and researchers research and so on.

Well, at least people with PhDs can go drive cabs. Oops:
"The continued development of autonomous robots has the potential to save 
lives. At PAVE, we conduct our robotics research with the intent to solve 
real-world problems, such as reducing the number of motor vehicle accidents. 
We strive to educate the community about advances in robotics technology, 
and to inspire students to pursue degrees and career paths related to 
robotics. ... PAVE has participated in some of the world's most challenging 
and prestigious robotics competitions. Our first autonomous vehicle, 
Prospect Eleven, was a finalist in the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge. Our 
current research vehicle, Prospect Twelve, was a semifinalist in the 2007 
DARPA Urban Challenge. PAVE placed third overall out of 47 teams and won 
rookie of the year at the 2008 Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition. We 
built an all new entry for the 2009 IGVC and placed first in the 
competition's navigation challenge."

See also:

--Paul Fernhout

More information about the p2presearch mailing list