National Academies Press: OpenBook

Engineering Employment Characteristics (1985)

Chapter: Executive Summary

« Previous: Front Matter
Suggested Citation:"Executive Summary." National Research Council. 1985. Engineering Employment Characteristics. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/584.
Page 1
Suggested Citation:"Executive Summary." National Research Council. 1985. Engineering Employment Characteristics. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/584.
Page 2
Suggested Citation:"Executive Summary." National Research Council. 1985. Engineering Employment Characteristics. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/584.
Page 3

Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Executive Summary The Panel on Engineering Employment Characteristics prepared its report as a part of the overall effort of the National Research Council's Committee on the Education and Utilization of the Engineer. Follow- ing is a summary of the major points from this report. The Engineering Work Force Data on the makeup of the engineer- ing community are collected on a nonuniform basis with resulting inconsistencies. Conclusions reached from the data in this report, therefore, are best viewed in terms of trends rather than in terms of absolute numbers. Between 1960 and 1982, the number of engineers in the United States almost doubled, to more than 1.5 million. Engineers made up only 1.4 percent of the U.S. work force in 1980. About 90 percent of U.S. engineers are employed in engineering or scientific jobs and work essentially in their degree fields. About 75 percent of employed engineers work in business and indus- try. Federal agencies and programs account directly or through contrac- tors for the employment of 300,000 to 500,000 engineers [on the order of 20 percent to 33 percent of the total), some 100,000 [about 7 percent) of them being employed directly by the federal government. Most engi- neers work on development- and production-related tasks and in man- agement. Less than 5 percent of engineers are engaged in research and less than 1 percent in basic research. Only 2.3 percent of engineers work as teachers, compared to 15.7 percent for all scientists. 1

2 ENGINEERING EMPLOYMENT CHARA C TERIS TICS The primary tasks of doctoral engineers are research {24 percent) and teaching { 18.6 percent). An increasing percentage of doctoral engineers are entering development and management. The absolute numbers of doctoral engineers engaged in teaching increased between 1973 and 1981, but the percentage in teaching declined from 24.6 percent to 18.6 percent. Engineering is a stable career: unemployment exceeded 2 percent in only 3 years of the 20-year period from 1963 to 1982; average retirement age is about 62. Engineers are the highest paid of non-self-employed professionals. Women and Minorities in Engineering The representation of women and minorities in engineering is as follows: women in 1983 constituted 5.8 percent of the engineering work force, more than 3 times the 1970 level of 1.6 percent. Women comprised 16 percent of undergraduate engineers and earned 13.2 percent of all B . S. engineering degrees in 1-983. They make up about 30 percent of computer scientists. Women engineers are more likely than men are to enter research and teaching. As are women, blacks and Hispanics are underrepresented in the engineering work force, while Asians are highly represented. In 1981, blacks and Hispanics combined made up 4.6 percent of employed engineers, and Asians comprised 2.8 percent of employed engineers. Education and] Utilization of Engineers According to an informal survey conducted by the panel, employers of engineers generally feel that young engineers are of high quality. Engineering educators, how- ever, are concerned about the quality of engineering education, particu- larly in light of high student-to-faculty ratios, obsolete equipment, expanded curriculums, and the decrease in numbers of U.S.-bom Ph.D. graduates. The increasingly large number of engineers graduated by foreign competitors such as Japan suggests a need to pay more attention to engineering education and to renew national attention to education in science and mathematics in elementary and secondary schools. Fur- thermore, the need now exists for "lifelong education" of engineers to assure currency in the face of rapid technological change. Experience to date indicates that the breadth of scientific training incorporated into engineering curriculums permits engineers to move productively among a variety of programs. The opinions of engineers on the effectiveness of their utilization vary widely. Preliminary results of a survey by the American Associa- tion of Engineering Societies show that, depending on the group sur

EXECUTIVE SUMMAR Y 3 veyed, positive responses from engineers asked whether they are well utilized range from about 45 percent to 70 percent. Formal measurement of the impact of computer-based engineering tools is sketchy, but, based on the panel survey of employers mentioned above, there has been an estimated 30 percent to 40 percent improve- ment in productivity with the new tools.

Next: 1. Introduction »
Engineering Employment Characteristics Get This Book
Buy Paperback | $40.00
MyNAP members save 10% online.
Login or Register to save!
Download Free PDF
  1. ×

    Welcome to OpenBook!

    You're looking at OpenBook,'s online reading room since 1999. Based on feedback from you, our users, we've made some improvements that make it easier than ever to read thousands of publications on our website.

    Do you want to take a quick tour of the OpenBook's features?

    No Thanks Take a Tour »
  2. ×

    Show this book's table of contents, where you can jump to any chapter by name.

    « Back Next »
  3. ×

    ...or use these buttons to go back to the previous chapter or skip to the next one.

    « Back Next »
  4. ×

    Jump up to the previous page or down to the next one. Also, you can type in a page number and press Enter to go directly to that page in the book.

    « Back Next »
  5. ×

    To search the entire text of this book, type in your search term here and press Enter.

    « Back Next »
  6. ×

    Share a link to this book page on your preferred social network or via email.

    « Back Next »
  7. ×

    View our suggested citation for this chapter.

    « Back Next »
  8. ×

    Ready to take your reading offline? Click here to buy this book in print or download it as a free PDF, if available.

    « Back Next »
Stay Connected!