Who Will Fill Science and Engineering Jobs?

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Organizations that track science trends are reaching the same troubling conclusion: the number of U.S. citizens training to become scientists and engineers is declining steadily, although jobs requiring such training are on the rise, according to the Biomedical Research Institute of America (www.biomedirb.com). Biomed IRB, a nonprofit, independent Institutional Review Board, provides scholarships and programs for young students to further their interest and education in science and research. If the training trends continue, it says, they could threaten the country’s scientific excellence and the economic welfare of the country.

Here are some figures on the declining trends in science and engineering training:

• The National Science Foundation reports that the number of new doctorates in the sciences peaked in 1998 and fell 5 percent the next year, a loss of more than 1,300 new scientists.
• Applications from foreign graduate students to research universities are down by a quarter.
• The American Association for the Advancement of Science states that the Bush administration’s proposed budget for the next five years would cut financing at 21 of 24 federal agencies engaging in scientific research.
• CHI Research reports that foreign countries now account for more than 25 percent of U.S. industrial patents awarded each year.
• NSF also states that baby boomers in science and engineering fields are expected to retire in 20 years, and their children are not choosing science and engineering careers in the same numbers as their parents.