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Assessment of Corrosion Education
ate education over the 2- to 5-year time frame necessary for students to earn their degrees. These funding trends will also lead to a decline in the supply of corrosion specialists as well as in the number of papers on research in corrosion.
Since graduate schooling is the leading way to educate corrosion specialists and since graduate work is funded by research grants, it is reasonable to suppose that the supply of corrosion specialists is almost directly proportional to the number of grants and the total dollar value just as it is dependent on the number of faculty conducting corrosion research. To attract graduate students who eventually become corrosion specialists, university engineering programs offer graduate research assistantships (GRAs). Universities must have the financial resources to offer a GRA, which involves a research stipend, tuition, and health insurance, not to mention indirect costs of roughly 50 percent. R&D programs at universities and the funding of GRAs rely heavily on research grants and/or contracts. Much of this funding comes from the federal government and various state government agencies; some comes from industry and private foundations. Partial funding has recently been offered by technical societies.
How much does it cost to produce a corrosion expert through graduate education? The national average for funding a faculty member specializing in corrosion is $200,000, with wide variation. This amount supports between two and four graduate students or two postdoctoral research associates, assuming annual costs of $50,000 per student plus associated experimental and equipment costs as well as faculty time, raising the yearly costs to $80,000 to $100,000 per student. A master’s-level student takes 2 years to complete the program, while a Ph.D. student takes 4-5 years. Overhead costs are about a third of the total. So the costs of educating a corrosion specialist are about $200,000 for a master’s-level corrosion expert ($80,000 to $100,000 per year for 2 years) and $320,000 to $500,000 for a Ph.D.-level corrosion expert ($80,000 to $100,000 per year for 4-5 years). These numbers can be used to estimate how many new corrosion experts can be created for a given increment of research funding.
CONTINUING CORROSION EDUCATION
Those engineers in the upper part of the corrosion workforce pyramid (Figure 2-1), specialists who hold M.S. or Ph.D. degrees in corrosion, typically do not need to undertake continuing education except perhaps to learn a new technique or refresh their knowledge in it or an area they do not typically use, such as when moving to a new employer in a different technical area.
Engineers in the midsections of the pyramid—that is, those with a baccalaureate in engineering but without significant corrosion knowledge—can learn about corrosion in the workplace by means of employer-sponsored short courses that teach technical skills or basic knowledge. Few employers hire corrosion experts.