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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Induction Immigrants have provided a transfusion of new talent throughout U.S. history to support our nation's economic and cultural growth and development. m Sir presence has generally been accepted as the norm in the United States, and immigrants have helped our nation to become the effective pluralistic society that it is today. However, the absorp- tion of these successive grams of immigrants has often been accc~a- n~ bar issues associate with their integration into our work force and our society. In recent year;, there has been a Mark Lease ~ foreign and nic~rant Firers and er~g~rir~ students, insipid s especially A large pro portion of these ~vlcmals remam in the unto states and are beccm ~ an Firmly important Opponent of err engineering work force. Once more, their presence is creating not only real opportunities, but also possibly problems. qualified by advanced education and professional skills. Motivates by a growing interest in the implications of the ~ncreas- ing prevalence of these foreign-born engineers Ln Our society, 1 the National Academy of Engineering asked the Office of Scientific and Engi- neering Personnel (OSEP) to undertake a preliminary examination of the issues associated with this international movement. In particular, OSEP was asked to identify the major issues associated with this mave- ment, to assess their validity or importance, and to suggest follow-on studies that may be neared for proper evaluation of the issues in- volved. me Committee on the International Exchange and Movement of Engineers (cede) As chats ~ urxiertake this task. me work of the Committee included ~ compilation of relevant Eta, the commissioning of a set of papers Find the implications of this influx: of for- eign-born engineers; on Trials Sears of the econa~r, and the aornr~- ing of a workshop at Pith the data and papers were reviewed and dis- cussed by the participants. the Cxlmmitt~'s fifties, conclusions, and 1 See Committee on the Education and Utilization of the Engineer, Comnission on Engineering arx] Technical Systems, National Research Council, Engineering Education and Practice in the United States: Foundations of Our l~chno-Eaonom~c Furry, Washington, D. C.: National Academy Press, 1985. 1
rations are ash on the information gathers thrum these activities. F~ndi~s mree basic findings emerged freon the factual data examined by the Canine. First, there has been a grams hit substantial increase the over apportion of foreicn-born erxtineers residing and working ~ _ _ _ _ . . . . . . . ~ . . . . . . . _ . In One unlash static. For example, noncitizens constl~cute~ 3.5 percent of the total ungirting labor force In 1982, about the same ~ In 1972, bile the proportion of naturalized citizens grew freon 5 pat In 1972 to 14 patent In 1982. The fraction, of the engineering work force - that is foreign-bo~-n has confirm" to ~ = since 1982 . 2 The prevalence of these foreign~born ~r~neen; varies considerably with ~ h^; ~ 1 ~r^1 ~ Swarm; ~ = - ha; I ~, Abed ~ eve ~ w~ And - Ezra "~1 ~ eve. :Ct1 1982, noncitizens and nature- ized citizens together actuated form pament of the bachelor agree holders, 22 pen pant of the mast ~ ;, and 36 percent of the Ph.D.s In the American engineering labor force. The continuing increase in the num- ber of foreign and foreign-born engineers reflects two facts: (1) many foreign students and professionals enter the United States with the pri- mary goal of becoming permanent U.S. residents, and (2) many of the for- eign engineering students, who initially came here to study, later change] their goals and decided to remain because of better living con- ditions and more attractive employment opportunities than are available in their home countries. m e second finding is that the reorient increase in the number of foreign-born engineers has occurred disproportionately in the~academic sector. For example, the proportion of foreign assistant professors of engineering younger then age 35 has increased f ~ 10 percent in 1972 to over 50 percent during the period 1983-1985. About twc,thirds of the postdoctoral university appo =~^P~ are not U.S. citizens. Also, the number of foreign applicants for graduate stay in engineering is greater than the number of U.S. applicants, and about 60 percent of for- eign students Obtaining Ph.D. degrees in the United States remain here. Over 90 percent of undergraduates in engineering but only about 45 per- cent of new engineering Ph.D.s are U.S. citizens (about 4 percent of this later group were naturalized citizens). The latter proportion is ~- .- _ _ 2 m e most reliable source of data on the foreign eng mooring labor force is the National Science Fcundation's (NSF) Postcensal Survey, which in 1982 surveyed a representative sample of the total 1980 U.S. science and engineering labor force. These data are preferentially used in this report. The NSF makes available more recent estimates, which are model-generated and based on updated surveys of the post- censal cohorts and a number of more recent surveys. The latter, how- ever, miss recent immigrants and some recent y~-aduatPs of U.S. univer- pities, especially those with foreign addresses. Ibe number of foreign-born assistant professors to have become na- turalizedcitizer~s is small (less than 5perrent). 2
small, even with selects efforts; to restrict the ~nm~ of foreigners admitted to graduate er~ineering education thresh imposition of a~nis- sion ceilings at a ~ of major diversities. The third finding relates to ~ origin of these foreign-bon engi- nearing shunts. A dippr~ortiorat~ly large nut cam frmn coun- tries where the language art tune backs are likely to be sig- n~ficantly ctifferer~ frmn those of red native-bon, Africans. In 1985, for example, 31 percent of the foreign engirazering Rents in U.S. schools came fmn the Far East, 6 percent from Apia, and 20 per- cent from the Midge Base. Issues Dependence on Foreign-Born Engineers Very significant, positive at arise fun the prudence of for- eign-born engineers in Air society. It must be recognized that winch these foreign engineers the United States is attracting an unusually gifted group of individu~ds with high intellectual competence and dili- gence. The diversity of intellectual backgrounds and experience that other fo~=ign-born eng beers have brought in the past greatly contri- burns to U.S. engineering competence, and there be no reasons to be- lieve that new immigrants will not contribute similarly. Since these engineers provide definitely needed supplements to our labor force, their absence would lead to curtailment of important pro- grams. Without the prep onderenc" of foreign-born individuals among faculty and graduate students In academy, American engineering schools waNId be unable to provide educational and research programs of the cur- rent magnitudes. The influence of fo~=ign-born engineers has become highly significant also in industrial research and devel~nt (R&~), particularly In disciplinary areas that were viewed to be of secondary importance In the Unity Shake several years ago but are ~ criticial to Air International c~etitiqveness In select fields, such ~n non1~n- ~ar Optics and the associated manifold applications of laser technolo- gies. A surrey of the R&D di~ors of 20 firms that account for a large fraction of the technological output of be U ~ ted Stat ~ (SAC Peter Cannon, Appendix D) indicated that "their particular industries are, in fact, dependent upon foreign talent and that such dependency is growing." Thus, it is clear to the Committee that these foreign-born engineers enrich our culture and make substantial contributions to U.S. economic well-being and competitiveness and that without the use of non- citizen and foreign-born engineers, universities and industries would experience difficulty in staffing current educational, research, devel- opment, and technological programs. 4 This information was presented by numerous participants at the cammittee-sponsored workshop and the commissioned papers include d in Appendix D' particularly "'Foreign Engineers in U.S. Industryl' by Peter Cannon. 3
Foreign Engineering Students As already no, aft 45 percent of engineering late S~1- dents ~ 1985 were foreign; with tm4?or~y visas, abut another ~ O percent hod E = t residence visas, am 4 percent were for- eign-born citizens. me relatively large proportions of foreign stu- dents In gala ~ te eng Barring prig rains reflect a lack of interest on the part of American students ~ such pro grams. The well-pay1ng employ- ment cpportuniti~c for engineers with new backed or's degrees are one of the major rouses of this lack of interest in graduate education by I_ ___ ~__~ _~ [10~ __. ~. A] ~ ~ it' :~ ~ I ~ - ~= ; ~ Alll~lC~1 ~3lEleeC9 . 110 -~r1~1~ ~U1 Q1 t~L=1~} Gleam ~ =~ 1= considerably larger than that of Americans/ and their academic records and tent scores are very high. Us, African graduate students Could becc~ne an even smaller fraction of the engineering graduate-s~dent pi ulation without continuation of the curmnt preferential treatment for American students or sane financial incentive'; for Americans to enter graduate stoves instead of immediate employment upon receipt of them bachelor's degrees. Effects on Engineering Education The productivity, growth, and international competitiveness of the U.S. economy are influenced by many factors. Although it was beyond the scope of this study to rank the relative significance of these fac- tors, the Committee has taken as a premise that the quality and effec- tiveness of the U.S. engm^=ring education system is important in ma m- taining and improving the current U.S. position in world affairs. Troublesome problems could arise if the quality an] character of engineering education were not maintained. Three particular issues sur- faced during the course of this study. _ First, the large-scale use of foreign teaching assistants (quads) has been reported to be detrimental to the instructional programs offered in major engineering schools be- cause of language difficulties. It is clear, of course, that language and communication difficulties should be resolved before foreign teach- ing personnel are allowed to assume responsibility for classroom teach- ing. It has even been suggester that, because of their cultural back- grounds, some foreign-born engineering IAS may discourage female 2 minority students from entering the engineering profession. For this supposition, the Ccmmitt^P fcund both anecdotal support and ccunterexam- pies. m e third issue arises from the fact that In some foreign cul- tures, science and technology training tends to be preferentially slanted toward engineering science rather than to ward practice. One of the strengths of the American system of engineering educa- tion has been and continues to be its acceptance of pragmatic solutions to engineering problems and its recognition of the importance of hands-on training in the design and operation of engineering systems. Thus, there is some concern that, as a result of the large and growing ranks of new foreign faculty members, some of the character of American 4
~g~eerir~ education could be Irked (it must, of curse, be r~n- bered that new ~ineexir~ junior faculty are selected by mostly U.S.- lx)n, faculty A). However, the Remittee has not examined possi- ble charges in engine?rir~ education and their potential, lor~-terTn effects. It should be noted that The suggestion has been made that U.S. engineering education does not respond properly to current needs and requires drastic revitalization of the type that occurred in the 1950s, when broadly based eng~neering-science curricula were first introduces. Just what this revitalization should involve is properly the subject of another study. Give;n Me ignorance of teaching personnel ~ n the tray ring of an essential engineering talent pool, any adverse effects could span gen- erations. Consequently, careful monitoring of the development and per- formance of the academic engineering establi~nt--both indigenous and foreian-born--Tmst be viewed as a continuing, high-priority obligation. Limitations in the Engineering Supply Afraid able to the National Security Sector While the national security sector (both industrial and governmen- tal) employs only about 20 percent of the total U.S. eng Leering work force, its intellectual health and vitality are essential for the ma~n- tenance of an adequate level of defense. A major issue has emerged frog the increased prevalence of foreign engineers (temporary visas) among the new a*vance5-eng~neering graduates in our education system (27 percent of master's degrees and about 45 percent of doctorates) and the foreign-born constituent of our engineering labor for me (22 percent of master's and 36 percent of doctorates). mese inaivioNa~s, espe- cial~y foreign nationals and immigrants with close relatives in foreign countries, are rep orbed to encounter long-term difficulties ~ receiv- ing special-access security clearances. Therefore, a substantial frac- tion of the most highly skilled talent of this ration may not be avail- abJe to enter critical areas of defense research and engineering. As a consequence, the necessary work In this sector may have to be ~er- taken by less highly trained engineers than is desirable. The net re- sult is certainly a less Man climax use of available toners arm, possibly, a retch leered of effort. Another consequence is a larger concentration of foreign engineers within the academic sector than might otherwise be the case. International Interactions of American Engineers Considerable concern was expressed at the workshop and by C~mnit- tee members that both new American engineering Ph.D.s and engineers al- rea~y in the U.S. labor for me do not spend sufficient time abroad to benefit flus the highly developed technologies of many foreign coun- tries. In the case of the employed engineers, the view was frequently 5
expressed that managers whcs initiated or approved foreign trips fre- quently did not appreciate the importance of these foreign visits. Available Eta or this Bee of foreign fiction indicate that only 1 Percent of near engineering doctorates In 1983 select ed ~ al study abroad. The Committee believes that, in a world where other na- tions' technological competence has increased significantly, Lnt~r- national contacts along scientists and engineers are imperative for effective national development and international competitiveness. Data Gaps The study of this Committee was handicapped by major gaps in avail- able data. Almost no quantitative information was found on the ~nter- national movement of American engineers, career patterns of foreign graduates who returned to their home countries, and the exact magnitude of foreign applicants for engineering graduate education. fire gener- a~ly, data gaps exist on the value to the United Skates of educating foreign nationals, on the went of the deficiency In foreign visita- tions by Punerican engineers, and on the full inibalan~ in the pool of potential veneering graduate students. E~ures to overcome this data deficiency were identified bar the Committee and should be imple- mented. Decreased Work Opportunities for U. S. Engineers Me Unity Came aware of a belief that Diaries of U.S. engi- neers are substantially depressed by the willingness of foreign engi- neers to work for rawer wages, or~tU.S. engineers lose JO por- tunities to foreign engineers. This concept does not appear to be sported be' evidence available to the Remittee. SO e foreign engi- neers as a group represent only 3.5 percent of the total U.S. engineer- ing labor force, they are not displacing Americans to a significant extent. As for salary depression, a study of 13,000 engineers Thawed no evidence that foreign engineers earns either more or less than their American colleagues. Cne may, however, conjecture that salaries of U. S . -bon, engineers would have been stat higher, especially among Ph.D.s, if the foreign-born pool of applicants had not been available. Subsidization of Foreign Students A notion exists ~ at foreign students, whether they remain in the Unite] States or not, are unfairly subsidized. Although the Committee had only limited information on the issue, it did not consider the is- sue to be a valid one. The basis for this judgment lies in the Commit- tee's findings that a substantial fraction of these trained students remain in this country and become productive members of our society.
An add; tional consideration motivating the Remittee ' s conclusion was that most of these studer~ts received their undergraduate trainer abroad. The Sacs of this foreign investment acnstib~te an offset to any subsidy provided for graduate trainers in the Unity States. Fur- th~re, if there were only U.S. students, current excess capacitor gra~te er~ineerir~g pate would be even larger, making the current marginal costs of e~catir~ foreign students relatively low. Exclusion of U. S . Graduate Students or Junior Faculty There is a concern that qualified U.S. citizens are being excluded from scarce openings ~ engineering graduate schools. This concern is at variance with the preferred treatment accorded to qualified indige- nous applicants through the use of either formal or informal ceilings on the number of foreign graduate students admitted. However, opera- tion of normal engineering school appointment practices, which fre- quently favor expertise In engineering science and theoretical studies, may be limiting the appointr~3nts of U.S. AD. engineers to fat po sitions at major meat uni~rersiti~es because of the availabili~r of a pool of eE - cially well~ualifi~, foreign-born engineers;. E3rr~ader Considerations and Pow rotations During its investigation, the Committee discussed several issues that are of central importance in assessing the longrterm impact of foreign engineers on the Unity States. These issues include the qual- ity and appropriateness of the eng mooring curriculum in the United States, particularly at the undergraduate level; the need to make a larger part of the American public sensitive to the interactions between technology and society; and the relationships among engineering curricula, advanced training, and international competitiveness. These issues, although important, are beyond the sac pe of this study. They should, however, form the bases for subsequent inquiries by other groups. Specific recommendations derived from this study are as follows: Competitive fellowship programs for U.S. students in engineering should be evaluated to determine what stipends are needed to make g`-ad~te study an attractive, cost-effective alternative to imme- diate employment. m is approach cowld provide a signific ant ~n- cr~ase in the number of American engineering graduate sbudents.5 5 See Committee on the Education and Utilization of the Engineer, Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems, National Rc#c arch Council, Ehg~near~ng Education and Fraction in the United States: Foundations of Our Techno-Econonuc Future, Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1985, paged 56-59. 7
University officials should rigorously mentor language profi- ciency of all teaching personnel, especially teaching assistants, and insist that communication problems be resolve] before indi- viduals are placed In teaching positions. It has been suggested that some foreign-born eng Leering teaching assistants may disocurage female and minority students from enter- ing the engineering profession. Although there is anecdotal evi- dence both to support and to refute the existence of such discouragement, the implications are sufficiency Clerics to warrant efforts to develpE? a firmer factual basis for evaluating the validity of this issue. Although the committee recognizes the need for rosary and ap pro priate s ~ urinal clearances, the U.S. Department of Defense should examine ways to make the most effective use possible of the for- eign and foreign-born talent pool that is potentially available for defense engineering. o Major efforts are needed to improve the scientific an] mathemati- ~1 content and standards of Recode education for a larder portion of the Cation. . . , , Such improved training Would provide students with better preparation for intelligent citizenship In a highly complex, technological society. Also, better trained pre- college students are morn likely to enter both undergraduate and graduate technical studies, and this influx is likely to augment the number of highly qualified, U.S.-born graduate engineering students. m is influx may be important in view of demographic changes that will reduce the traditional cohort populations of U.S. undergraduates. _ _ _ _ a ~ , · _ , _ e _ , ~ ~ Efforts should be made to fill data gaps on career patterns of for- eign students who have left the United States, on the interna- tional movements and interactions of American eng Leers, and on foreign applicants to engineering graduate education. We should also obtain quantitative data on the reasons that such large num- bers of foreigners choose to come to the United States for g~-adu- ate education in engineering. More extensive studies should be initiated to assess or determine the reasons for the failure of many qualified American engineering undergraduates to enter graduate shies; the appropriate eng~n^Pr- ing curricula for the l990s and beyond; and the relationships among engineering, engineering education, the international flow of engineers, and international competitiveness. 8