Getting more U.S. K-12 students to consider the possibility of a career in engineering is not the only reason for implementing new messaging. Yet the prospect that the United States is, or will soon be, in danger of having an insufficient supply of creative, young innovators cannot be ignored.
Across Asia today, 21 percent of university graduates are engineers. In Europe, 12.5 percent of university graduates are engineers. In the United States, the number is just 4.5. And according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States ranks 27th among developed nations in the proportion of college students receiving undergraduate degrees in science or engineering. The overall number of engineering degrees granted in the United States has gone up in recent years, although not to its historic high of almost 80,000 in 1985.
At the same time, the production of engineers in places like China and India has soared. It’s not all about numbers, of course. We must also worry about the overall quality of education at the K-12 level. On this parameter, we're not doing so well, either. The United States ranks 20th in high school completion rate among industrialized nations, and U.S. students’ performance on international comparative assessments in mathematics and science places them well below their peers in other countries.