Click for next page ( 14


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 13
3 FINDINGS Adaptability as an Issue Interest in adaptability stems from concern over whether there will be enough well- trained people to do engineering jobs in the future-although rapid technological development makes it virtually impossible to foresee what these new jobs win be. The committee found that adaptability is not a new issue: historically, the United States' scientific and engineering work forces have adjusted to shifts in demand. However, the committee did find that the current context for examining adaptability to be different in two malor ways: I . Whole complexes of new technologies-for example, information technology, biotechnology, and genetic engineering~eqmre rapid adjustment to their use and commercial exploitation.ll Although technological change is not new to engineering, the rate of change in some areas may make it more difficult than ever before to remain current. Engineering has always been among the faster-changing disciplines;l2 this will probably become more pronounced in the future as new technologies are developed and disseminated more rapidly than in the past. 2 . The erosion of its technological leadership means that the United States is less able to control the pace at which new technologies and knowledge are disseminated; consequently, the need increases for the ~ ~ ~ nese sentiments were also expressed by M. P. Manahan, W. B. Ashton, and G. S. Stacey in "Who's on Watch?," Manufacturing Engineering, June 1989, p. 54. 12Saul Gorn, "Adapting to Computer Science," a paper prepared for the Workshop on National Needs and Technological Change: Fostering Flexibility in the Engineering Work Force, September 29, 1989. 13

OCR for page 13
United States' economy to respond to new challenges from international ~ e e e scientific, engineering, and economic commutes Some of the ways in which supply has adjusted in the past to changes in demand are no longer sufficient. For example, because of demographic changes in the United States, companies can no longer expect to hire substantial numbers of new engineers every year from traditional sources-that is, white males. We must think in terms of, and act on, bolder initiatives, such as tapping more effectively new sources of engineering talent- women and underparticipating minorities (black Americans, Native Americans, Mexican Americans/Chicanos, Puerto Ricans). Moreover, if dhe United States is to remain competitive internationally, we must enhance our understanding of what facilitates and impedes-adaptability to maximize our capacity to adjust smoothly and efficiently to changes in knowledge and technology. Although technological sow qualifies a nation to enter Me competitive arena, no single technological achievement yields a lasting competitive advantage.l3 During the 1920s Europe excelled in scientific discovery, while the United States excelled in worker productivity, per capita income, and trade surplus. Now the U.S. excels in scientific discovery, while Japan excels in trade surplus. Product leadership can be built without scienuf~c leadership, if companies excel at design and He management of puce on. For example, market shares already lost by U.S. consumer electronics and automobile producers can be Debuted neither to fairies of new science nor to failures of ~nnovanon, but rather to failures to make such refinements as customizing a product for more and more market segments, malting it more reliable, and gelling it to market more cheaply. 14 Mobility Among the U.S. Engineering Work Force 3 . There does not appear to be a lack of mobility Among individuals in the engineering work force. 13"Compeiing Beyond Technology," Harvard Business Review 67~6):93, November-December 1989. 14Gomory, op. cit. 14

OCR for page 13
Mobilit~v refers to movement of various types-changes in employer, occupation, and responsibilities. Estimates of mobility rates from 1976 to 1982 indicate that among engineers, almost 22 percent changed employer, l l percent changed occupation, and 32 percent changed responsibilities. During this period, a larger percentage of engineers changed responsibilities than did physical scientists, biological scientists, and social scientists.lS The mobility data tell us that some mobility is self-generated by such things as a better job, and some is forced by such things as layoffs or being fired. This only indicates that engineers are employees subject to the vagaries of the economy; it says nothing about the quality of the move-for example, the ability of a vacuum tube engineer to switch to transistors with a minimal reduction in productivity. Analyses were done on data from three sample-based surveys of scientists and engineers sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF).l6 The data were on persons with degrees in engineering and working as engineers in 1980, who were re- surveyed in 1982, 1984, and 1986; this does ant include persons with degrees in engineering who were already working in conscience or nonengineering positions in 1980. Between 1982 and 1986, the data indicate that about 20 percent of the total with B.S., or M.S., degrees in engineering switched either out of or back into engineering employment. These analyses identified two groups: one group who are "stayers" in the same engineering field and another group of "switchers" who, once they have switched, continue to switch at relatively high rates either to other engineering fields or to conings ing fields. First, the following character sacs that might differen~aate between switchers and stayers were idendf~ed: age; number of years since the last degree in engineering was earned; primary work activity; and degree field of study. Then, comparisons of desc~iphve statistics were made to identify differences between switchers and stayers on these charactelis~acs. Sampling complexities and urne constraints precluded tests for staDshcal 15Robert C. Dauffenbach and Michael G. Finn, "Evidence of Adaptability in the Labor Market for Engineers: A Review of Recent Studies," a paper prepared for the Workshop on National Needs and Technological Change: Fostering Flexibility in the Engineering Work Force, September 29, 1989. 16Data on persons with a doctoral degree in engineering are from the 1987 Survey of Doctoral Scientists and Engineers, a biennia longitudinal survey conducted by the National Research Council's Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel. Data on experienced world force participants with bachelor's or master's degrees in engineering are from the 1986 National Survey of Natural and Social Scientists and Engineers, conducted by the United States Census Bureau. Data on 1984 and 1985 graduates with bachelor's or master's level degrees in engineering are from the 1986 Survey of Science, Social Science, and Engineering Graduates, conducted by the Institute for Survey Research at Temple University. 15

OCR for page 13
significance. The findings consistency indicate that there appear lo be some differences between switchers and stayers. The committee found it useful to examine the characteristics of stayers and switchers by degree level-separating those with bachelor's and master's degrees In engineering from those with Me doctorate in engineering. Ph.D.s in Engineering Among those with the doctorate in engineering, there are no significant differences in average age between the groups of stayers and switchers. Switching does not appear to be related to the number of years since We doctorate in engineering was earned. Switching employment fields does not appear to be strongly related to degree field of study. Switchers are somewhat more Idcely than stayers to be employed in business, industry, and government and much less likely to be employed in education institutions. As Compaq to stayers in terms of primary work activity, switchers are much less likely to be involved in teaching and research and development (R&D); about as likely to be involved In R&D management; and more likely to be involved In other management and "operat~ons/oth=." However, note that managing engineers or R&D management is in the strictest sense not switching out of engineering but pursuing the management track instead of the technical track. B.S. and M.S. Degrees in Engineering Age does not appear to be related to employment field switching for those with the B.S., or M.S., degree in engineering: the difference in average age for those in engineering employment versus those in nonengineering employment is only about Me years. In general, switchers to nonengineenng employment from engineering employment have had their degrees longer than stayers in engineering employment. Among B.S., and M.S., degree holders in eng~neenng, switchers from engineering to noneng~neenng employment tended to be more expenenced than stayers. This is consistent with anectiotal evidence that older engineers that is, late 40s and older-often have been laid off and replaced by younger engineers who are both cheaper to employ and weD-versed in the new "hot" engineering technologies. B.S., and M.S., switchers are more likely to be employed in business and industry and less likely to be employed in government than stayers; this could be at least partially attributable to government pensions, which make staying appear to government engineers 16

OCR for page 13
to be a more attractive option than leaving. As compared to stayers, B.S., and M.S., switchers to nonengineering employment fields are more likely to be involved in the primary work activities of R&D management and other management-and therefore to be managers by occupation. According to the data, those with B.S., and M.S., engineering degrees in civil, mechanical, and petroleum engineering have somewhat higher proportions staying employed in the same field as their degrees. Among all B.S., and M.S., degree holders in engineering, those with degrees in industrial, chemical, and mining engineering have somewhat higher proportions switching into nonengineering employment. One reason for this might be the poor employment opp~uni~aes for chemical and mining engineers at the time of the surveys. Among new B.S., and M.S., engineers (i.e., the classes of 1984 and 1985 surveyed in 1986), the fields with the highest percentage of switchers are chemical, industrial, mining, nuclear, and mechanical. The data indicate that earning a nonengineering degree is positively correlated win switching. For example, those staying in the same engineering field or switching back to engineering from nonengineering tend to have quite low percentages earning a nonengineering degree. However, the data do not enable us to determine whether the degree is earned before, after, or during the switch. 4 . In quanatanve terms, there does not appear to be a lack of adoptability among the U.S. engineering workforce. Extant data are inadequate to assess the qualitative aspects of adaptability. If one indicator of adaptability is Be correspondence between occupation and education, then the extent of adaptability among scientists and engineers seems quite large.17 Analysis of data from the Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) shows that 45 percent of all working engineers did not have an exact match between their detailed field of employment and the detailed field in which they earned their highest degree; and, perhaps even more noteworthy, 20 percent earned a degree in a nonengineering field.l8 Unfortunately, we lack sufficient data to assess the qualitative aspects of adaptability among the U.S. engineering work force. Dauffenbach and Finn, Op. Cit. 18Ibid. 17

OCR for page 13
Education and Training While e~lonng the roles of education and training In enhancing adaptability in the engineering work force, He committee focused on how to reduce the degree of mismatch between the competencies required in industry and Be competence of both new and experienced engineers. First, the committee identified the characteristics of an adaptable engineer: . technical ability ~ Cl~lOSlty ability to see interconnections between scientific discovery and commercial product; new technical developments and Heir potential applications; and such corporate functions as R&D, design, engineering, and sales. Then, the committee med to identify He kinds of education and training that promote the development of these characteristics. 5. Adaptability results as much from socialization as education. Adaptability is fostered by a mind-set~reated In school and nurtured in the workplace- that inculcates into engineers their professional responsibility to remain current. Perhaps the most important lesson of undergraduate engineering education is that continuing education is necessary for engineers to be technically current professionals. Academic faculty could illustrate the need for adaptability by continually providing examples of new applications of products, processes, and procedures; they could teach the importance of flexibility by exampl~that is, by remaining current themselves. Many engineering schools make the curriculum more consistent with the needs of professional practice. Some institutions allow graduation of engineers whose skills are entirely analync: these engineers are clearly needed-mainly at He doctoral level to pursue research careers in ~ndus~y or in academia. However, it becomes a problem when Ph.D.s teaching undergraduate students most of whom will become practicing engineers cannot address in their courses the issues and techniques required for successful practicing engineers. 18

OCR for page 13
Undergraduate Engineering Education' 6. Adaptability among engineers is enhanced! by goods grounding not only in the basics mathematics, statistics, physics, chemistry, and engineering-but also in problem-solving.l9 Most engineers go through a two-year common core followed by a two-year upper division sequence that continues development of the core in context and focuses on special topics. Within the constraints of a four-year undergraduate eng~neenng education curriculum, more courses in the basics mean fewer specialized courses. Yet, rapid technological development results in the need for more specialized courses. This exemplifies a widely recognized issue in undergraduate engineering education-that is, the conflict between preparing students to be practicing professional engineers and providing a base for lifelong learning in specialties that may not yet exist.20 Additions to the curriculum are resisted because they entail either eliminating existing requirements, or increasing the total number of courses required for the degree (which means increasing the length of time required to acquire a B.S. degree in engineering; or both. Therefore, it is not likely that significant quantities of new core material can be added to meet the projected needs of the profession and increase the adaptability of engineers. One way to add information to a curriculum is to develop better ways to systematize the information. Recent developments in computer and information technologies suggest new ways whereby more infotma~aon can be taught in a given period of time.21 Although most U.S. engineering schools educate well in the science underlying engineering, many engineers graduate from college without realizing that at the core of their chosen profession are such matters as designing products and systems of quality that can 19Michael L. Dertouzos, Richard I. Lester, and Robert M. Solow, Made in America: Regaining the Productive Edge, Cambndge,Mass.: The MIT Press, 1989. 20Committee on the Education and Utilization of the Engineer, Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems, Engineering Education and Practice in the United States: Foundations of Our Techno-Econorruc Future, Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1985b, p. 68. 21J. S. Watson, "Adaptability in Chemical Engineering," a paper prepared for the Workshop on National Needs and Technological Change: Fostering Flexibility in the Engineering Work Force, September 29, 1989. 19

OCR for page 13
be manufactured, implemented, and used in a cost-effective way.22 In the final analysis, however, industry gives the signals: for example, a computer company will prefer to hire a digital systems "hot shot" rather than a broadly educated but unspecialized graduate.23 The committee found that 7. What impedes production of adoptable engineers may not be the engineering curriculum but how that curriculum is Slivered. Academic disciplines do not reflect actual eng~nemng work are ties. As existing fields and new disciplines develop, these disciplinary boundaries will appear to be even more arbitrary.24 For example, a recent National Research Council study assessing areas of likely growth in opportunities for chemical engineers identified areas that an involve . . tic interdlsc~plmary activates. Continuing or Lifelong Education and Training The committee found that a. Continuing Canon could enhance adaptability in the engineering work force. Within the next decade, the concept of lifelong education win gain greater prominence in the workplace as workers of an ages and levels of employment win need to be retrained several times throughout their working life to keep pace wid1 the changing demands of the work env~nment.26 22Simon Ramo, "National Secunn,r and Our Technology Edge," Harvard Business Review 67~6~:115-12O, November-Decenaber 1989. 23This point was provided by a reviewer of this report. 24Although Watson (op. cit.) makes this point about undergraduate chemical engineering education in particular, it applies to undergraduate engineering in general. 25Committee on Chemical Engineering Frontiers, Frontiers in Chemical Engineering: Research Needs and Opportunities, Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1988. 26Population Reference Bureau, Inc., America in the 21st Century, A Demographic Overview, May 1989, p. 19. 20

OCR for page 13
Engineering is a profession whose success is measured by its solved problems. Consequently, not only must all engineers be educated and trained throughout their careers, they must also acquire an understanding of the problems in the discipline to which their work is being applied.27 Although some workshop participants suggested the need to educate for adaptability, we do not know how to do it. Nevertheless, engineering undergraduate education can impart to students a sense of professional responsibility to keep current throughout their engineering careers. Not only must schools socialize for adaptability, companies must manage for it. Companies should set lifelong education and training as an expectation for employment and then facilitate the realization of this expectation by doing such things as building into product plans and work schedules time for continuing education and training. Further, companies should examine their policies and practices to determine whether the ways in which they do business encourage-or discourage- adaptability in their engineering work force. Do early retirement policies and practices convey the message that industry wants to send to its engineering work force-that is, that their careers are going to peak at age 50? The cycle time for engineering education-that is, on average =5 years-is longer than the cycle time for many new technologies and new products; if industry asks its employees to be ready to fill future needs without forecasting what those needs are, industry has not adequately addressed the issue of adaptability. Companies should articulate to their work force where the company sees itself going in the next 10 years in order for employees to assess where their talents and skins will be nee~ed.28 Companies have problems with engineers becoming obsolete. Relying on in-house training and guidance is problematic when a company is not sure that it knows which of its senior technical people are technically current. It is difficult not only to identify engineers who do not remain current, but also to motivate those so identified to become current. Obsolescence is a problem-even for newly twined engineers In fields in which the technology is rapidly changing. Not surprisingly, adaptability is less a problem for new eng~neenng graduates than for more experienced engineers. New engineering graduates have good basic skills and are motivated to continue their education they want to take 27Gorn. op. Cit. 28The number of years given is 10 because, depending on the discipline, obsolescence can begin to overtake engineers as early as 10 years after graduation, according to the National Research Council report Engineering Employment Characteristics. 21

OCR for page 13
courses to increase their understanding of their field and often ask potential employers about educational opportunities; anecdote evidence indicates that this trend seems more pronounced possibly because today's young engineers are less likely than in the past to expect to work for the same company throughout their careers. Much of our interest in adaptability stems from concern about whether there will be enough well-trained people to do engineering jobs in the future. Actually, the concern will be more over the readiness of the work force, than its actual size. Between 1989 and the turn of the century, the rate of growth of the U.S. labor force win steadily decline; yet, the number of workers in the labor force is projected to be more than 140 million by the year 2000 (as compared with the 120 minion in 1989).29 Moreover, the composition of the U.S. labor force is changing: between 1985 and 2000, U.S. minorities and immigrants to the United States win account for approximately 42 percent of the growth of the U.S. labor force; white males win account for 16 percent.30 Because of these changes, companies can no longer expect to hire an adequate number of new engineers from traditional sources that is, white males. This leaves companies wad two choices: either lure talented professionals from their competitors or upgrade their own professionals; of these, tile latter has the Neatest long-term potential for achieving national economic goals.3 Although the private sector is expected to forecast future demand and then act on that forecast, the largest single uncertainty is the supply of people.32 People do not have a problem making these shifts if there is both an economic force to compel them to do it (push) and a shortage of people in the new position (pull). Companies are concerned with moving people Tom current jobs into new positions but generally lack specific, standardized ways of bringing new skills to those people, and them to the new jobs. The issue is not whether an employer can move an engineer, but whether that engineer can handle the new job. 29Population Reference Bureau, Inc., op. cit. 30Workforce 2000: Work and Workers for the Twenry-First Century, William B. Johnston, project director; Arnold E. Packer, co-project director; with contributions by Matthew E. Jaffe, et al., Indianapolis, Indiana: Hudson Institute, 1987. 3 1Atkinson, op. cit., p. 3. 32From Peter Cannon's charge to the Workshop on National Needs and Technological Change: Fostering Flexibility in the Engineering Work Force, September 29, 1989. 22

OCR for page 13
Continued investment in on-thejob training is needed-especially in situations where engineers have highly specialized training and the demand for that training evaporates. According to a recent study, computer-based tools continue to change the practice of engineering dramatically and challenge the engineer's ability to remain current; since it is impossible to predict what these changes will be and where they Will take place, achieving technical currency within a business is management's responsibility.33 Regardless of size, companies "must encourage engineers to keep up-to-date and know what is going on in the outside world so that when the time is right engineers can pus new technology rather than oppose the unfamiliar being pushed at them."34 This entails commitment not only of time from the engineer, but also of both time and money from the company. Attitudes of line managers are critical in this regard: line managers are willing to give their engineers released time for in-house courses with immediate, short-range application; they seem less willing to do so for courses with less immediate, longer-range application. Although many companies consider education and training to be as crucial to their success as research and development, education funds are often the first cut and the last reinstated when those companies experience economic difficulty.35 Many engineers do not work in companies with large in-house education and Raining faciii~aes; therefore, at die present lime, their only alternative for continuing education is to reman to academe. When experienced engineers reman to academe, they find Mat She content is not geared to the monvanon and leanung style of older, experienced engineers but rather to those of the young person Gaining to become an engineer. Few colleges and universities provide ~ns~uchon Trough Weir eng~neenng departments rather than extension divisions without in-class exam~nanons; these exa~nanons can be difficult for individuals who have been away for a long time fiom both We classroom and the student role. This is interpreted as an indicator of lack of responsiveness on the part of academe to the needs of the expenenced engineer and to industry, which wants high-quality, need- spe~fic, weD-produced programs designed for adult lean~ers.36 Despite their concern about the need for continuing education of engineers in industry, many engineering schools 33Committee on the Education and Utilization of the Engineer, 1985b, p. 32. 34Gomory, Op. Cit., p. 103. 35Atkinson, Op. Cit., p. 6. 36Atkinson, op. Cit., p. 10. 23

OCR for page 13
view this as industry's problem-not academe's; consequendy these schools choose not to be involved. Some academics view current training programs as being more concerned with fixing immediate problems than with preventing future ones; although they decry the lack of structure, quality control, and planning of these programs, they refuse to be directly involved in remedying Me situation . Continuing professional development is needed not only for engineers in industry, but also for engineers in academe. Because most undergraduate students go into engineering practice- rather than research or academe-engineering professors must be able to address in their courses the issues and techniques required for successful careers as practicing engineers. This means that undergraduate engineering professors should be aware of current engineering practice particularly in industry. This awareness can be maintained through attending meetings, workshops, seminars, and short courses sponsored by professional engineering societies. One frequently cited example is the Faculty Professional Development Program sponsored by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). This program "is uniquely designed to maximize the inclusion of recent technological developments into the ever-changing undergraduate curriculum. The ultimate goal is to enhance the teaching capabilities of faculty members so they can return to their campuses with new material enabling them to teach with greater knowledge and effectiveness."37 Senior faculty and corporate staff who are leaders in their disciplines teach the courses, which focus on topics Tat belong in a modern undergraduate or f~rst-year graduate program rather Wan emphasizing only the latest research techniques and developments. Since its inception in 1986, this program has been attended by approximately 350 professors of all ranks. According to an ASEE survey, 95 percent of professors who attended this program in 1989 rated it as excellent or very good. Perhaps accreditation organizations such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) could make continuing professional development of faculty a c~itenon for accreditation. 37ASEE Faculty Professional Development Program brochure, 1990. 24

OCR for page 13
. An ongoing exchange between academe and industry is needed to better target education arm training to meet the needs of industry as well as those of the individual engineer~oth new and experienced. To facilitate the transition from school into the engineering work force, both faculty and students would benefit from visiting industry to see how it applies processes and techniques taught in the classroom; industry could develop and implement special courses for faculty concerning these applications. Engineers from industry would benefit from visiting colleges and universities to see how engineering is currently being taught so that industry could make better-informed decisions as to what equipment to donate to academe and how best to instruct faculty to use it. To facilitate the participation in such an exchange of engineering educators from smaller and less well known departments or institutions, an organ~zanon like ASEE could play a broker role. Data and Knowledge Bases 9. Taxonorrues usually used to collect data on engineers are not adequate to capture the kinds of shifts of specialties anal skills occurring in the engineering labor market. For example, the SIPP data provide practically the only evidence available on the correspondence between education and occupation in the U.S. labor force. This evidence is highly aggregated and subject to large sample variation because of the relatively small sample base. The Occupational Employment Statistics Survey (OES) obtains only wage and salary employment data about employees; because data are obtained from employers, the results count jobs, not individuals.38 The absence of demographic data limits the usefulness of the OES survey in examining the adaptability of engineers. One limitation of the Current Population Survey (CPS) data is that they understate entrants because the CPS excludes individuals who change residences between surveys. Since many individuals are 38Alan Eck, "Adaptability of the Engineering Work Force: Information Available from the Bureau of L abor Statistics," a paper prepared for the Workshop on National Needs and Technological Change: Fostering Flexibility in the Engineering Work Force, September 29, 1989. 25

OCR for page 13
likely to move after completing school, they are not counted in the second survey, even though they are likely to be working as engineers. It is difficult to determine how much of the movement is real and how much is term~nological-that is, due to different survey definitions of engineers in general and subcategories of engineers in particular, as well as to people reclassifying themselves without really changing their activities. Suggestions to remedy this include standardizing data categories or classifications and devising cross-references or translations among data bases. Although the data indicate a fairly high degree of adaptability among engineers insofar as more than 50 percent of those with bachelor's and higher degrees in engineering work outside science and engineering-they tell us nothing about the extent to which these individuals are both willing and able to return to science and engineering careers. One major gap in our knowledge at present is the lack of data on the quality of the adaptation of engineers who change fields or functions. Another major gap is the lack of data on those engineers who stay in their field or function but are adaptable insofar as the s make Increment improvements' In products, technology, or process. Research is needed to find out how We success of the firm is linked to how it uses its engineering work force. The subjects of this research should include not only the engineering work force- traditionally line and bench engineers and technicians but also project and group leaders, upper-level management, and chief executive off~cers.39 Systematic research needs to be conducted to identify the link between continuing education and adaptability-including the relationships between the success of the firm, how it develops and uses its engineering work force, and the amount of money it spends on various types of continuing education and training. Because so little is known about the costs and effectiveness of programs designed to upgrade engineering skills, pilot projects and demonstrations should be developed and put in operation to increase the stock of knowledge. Moreover, mechanisms should be devised and implemented to collect, evaluate, and disseminate information on these pilot projects and demonstrations. If implemented, these suggestions could enhance the systematic collection, evaluation, and dissemination of information; facilitate the communication of successful interventions; and perhaps encourage their implementation elsewhere. 39Atkinson, op. cit., p. 1. 26

OCR for page 13
Unless there is a way to make it clear to all the key institutional players industry, government, academe, and the engineering professional societies that having a flexible eng~neenng work force benefits all of us, adaptability will be seen as somebody else's issue, and some doable changes will not be made. Since the process of change is influenced by top-level endorsement, any initiatives proposed to enhance adaptability among the eng~neenng work force should be endorsed on a national level by an organization that commands the attention and respect of the engineering community. Therefore, it seems warranted to begin planning the kinds of activities for example, forums, symposia, action-oriented, problem-solving sessions that bring together these key players to initiate ways to enhance our knowledge as a prerequisite to devising, implementing, and monitoring policy to enhance adaptability among the United States' engineering work force. 27

OCR for page 13