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The Engineer of 2020: Visions of Engineering in the New Century
In the face of terrorist threats, the developed world moved to isolate the developing world to the degree that it could. Among traditional trading partners, it remained business as usual. While major international companies had long moved manufacturing and technical service jobs overseas in search of low-cost suppliers, the pressure to outsource “creative” jobs, such as engineering design, mounted. This placed severe downward pressure on the availability of engineering jobs in the U.S. economy. Further factors helping to displace jobs for new engineers were the productivity enhancements made possible by computer-aided design and software engineering. A new bimodal class system of engineers emerged: an elite few charged with controlling software improvements and a lesser class of technicians who executed the standard programs and implemented the results. Engineers found few jobs outside the defense industry, and only the major engineering universities survived the downturn in enrollments.
Dangerous concentrations of disaffected young people existed in many developing countries, driven by modest improvements in health care and high birth rates. Those countries with more enlightened leadership recognized that education is a solution and that technology is the engine of growth and thus moved to create or enhance their systems of technical education. The cadres of scientists and engineers created were available for outsourcing of technical jobs from the United States while their indigenous industries were being created.