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Decline in engineering/science jobs market? China outcompeting us?

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  • Thread starter elivil
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  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

I''ve just had enough of all this panic about China/India/BRICs/Asia outcompeting "the declining West". I mean, you would think by this time all the corporations would have moved to China and taken all the jobs with them. China graduates hundreds of thousands new engineers every year who are ready to work for a fraction of what your average engineer at Boeing/GM/Google is working for. But somehow most of the jobs that go there are the jobs in call centers or plastics manufacturing. Silicon Valley still remains the biggest center of innovation. The US universities still attract the best students from all over the world. None of my friends want to go to graduate school in China, even my Chinese friends. So I think all this depression and despair about "the nation" in decline that one often reads on the pages of NYT is rather misplaced.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
I think it depends on where you live, and if you've had family that's experienced it.

Of course I do agree that if anything we dug our own hole so to speak.
 
  • #3
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part of me is always super skeptical of people saying countries like china are going to lead the way in science. i did an REU this past summer in materials and there was a HUGE (massive, incredible, a lot) difference in the quality of the articles that were coming out of china and the articles that were coming out of western countries (US, europe, some s. american ones).
plus i always here about how competitive science is in china, that so much of the data is useless/fabricated.

i just dont see how a country like that can really expect to jump to "real" science from such a position.

but does someone else have more/better information?
 
  • #4
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flemmyd, I take offense to that. If you are such a pro engineer, then why don't you show those "dumb subhumans" how its done and publish your own peer reviewed articles as first author? Their papers are accepted in Nature, Science, Physical Review, etc so if you can't do that, tough luck I guess you admit you're an inferior loser compared to the Chinese "fake scientists". You can't have it both ways. Either they're real scientists that got their papers accepted and published, or they're fake but you're far inferior since you haven't even gotten close to a first authorship paper anywhere, much less prestigious journals. You think with a summer REU you're suddenly qualified to talk down to trained PhDs?

If you have a problem with their data, take it up with the top leading magazines that accepted and published their articles. Are you even skilled enough as an undergrad to judge what is a good paper and what is not? I've only seen half educated undergrads talk about other countries and a whole group of scientists this way. Never professional scientists and engineers.
 
  • #5
Choppy
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So I think all this depression and despair about "the nation" in decline that one often reads on the pages of NYT is rather misplaced.
Unfortunately newspapers with headlines that read: "Everything Fine, Status Quo Today" don't sell all that well.
 
  • #6
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Unfortunately newspapers with headlines that read: "Everything Fine, Status Quo Today" don't sell all that well.
And that isn't only for headlines, but every kind of sales pitch and political propaganda.
 
  • #7
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"dumb subhumans"
You're the only one who said that. It's one thing to take offense at what someone said. It's another to take offense at what they didn't say.
 
  • #8
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Unfortunately newspapers with headlines that read: "Everything Fine, Status Quo Today" don't sell all that well.
But it's not only newspaper headlines. There is a narrative advanced by many intelligent people,politicians from both parties, National Academies... They all say that we need to improve science education, encourage more students to do STEM degrees to remain "competitive". But is it really true? If China is going to become "the powerhouse" in place of the US, wouldn't all those talented American kids just go to Chinese universities just as now talented Chinese students come to study in the US? Also wouldn't all the corporations move to China in that case and decrease the number of jobs available in the US for all those people with newly minted STEM degrees?

And if China is not going to outcompete us, then what's the point of graduating many more scientists and engineers? One could argue that even now we have too many, judging by the number of tenured positions relative to the number of PhDs. Some of my friends are thinking of moving to Europe so desperate they are of finding openings here.
 
  • #9
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But it's not only newspaper headlines. There is a narrative advanced by many intelligent people,politicians from both parties, National Academies... They all say that we need to improve science education, encourage more students to do STEM degrees to remain "competitive". But is it really true? If China is going to become "the powerhouse" in place of the US, wouldn't all those talented American kids just go to Chinese universities just as now talented Chinese students come to study in the US?
No, I don't think Americans are going to flock to study in China anytime soon, because obviously the US still has top universities. And I don't think anyone is saying they've got you beat at that, but they are noticing the trends, which I think would be foolish to ignore. Just because they're not there yet, doesn't mean they're never going to be. If someone is approaching you at an accelerating pace, but you're just standing there and thinking he's not where you're at yet, what do you think happens if you start panicking and trying to accelerate when he is already at that position? In addition, there's other reasons why people wouldn't go study in China, even if the quality of education was better. At this stage, I just can't imagine Americans going to their arch enemy, to a country whose values are supposedly so far removed from what theirs are. Even if one day China does in fact surpass the US in terms of scientific output and quality, it's going to take much longer for this paradigm shift to take place in people's heads, as well, so the logic you're trying to apply here doesn't really hold much water.
Also wouldn't all the corporations move to China in that case and decrease the number of jobs available in the US for all those people with newly minted STEM degrees?
Again, there's other reasons why corporations don't just pack their bags and go to Asia, as being a corporation entails so much more than just setting up your seat where you think best-qualified people are. Plus, at that level, I'm pretty sure at least some owners can afford to forego moving there even if it was financially better for them to do so. The mentality of us vs. them has a big impact here, and that's why you'll find it hard for everyone to just move over there, and leave everything behind. Also, changing a seat is a big, big decision, and you can't really expect to have established companies making such calls before it's completely obvious that this is going to be in their best (financial) interests. Political stability also plays a big role here. In the US, they know the playing field, whereas in China it's all up in the air, even though you might think money would resolve any disagreements there, as well.

And also, some corporations are already moving there. Perhaps not so much those active in scientific or engineering fields, but it seems, say, financial firms have no qualms sending Americans to work in Hong Kong or Singapore. And this is something they were opposed to just a couple of decades ago, as well, so don't think things can't change in a similar time frame in other fields.
And if China is not going to outcompete us, then what's the point of graduating many more scientists and engineers? One could argue that even now we have too many, judging by the number of tenured positions relative to the number of PhDs. Some of my friends are thinking of moving to Europe so desperate they are of finding openings here.
I don't think the need for scientists and engineers is measured in terms of available tenured positions, but in terms of the needs of society as a whole.

It seems to me you're being extremely short-sighted here, although if there's one thing I agree with you it's that people shouldn't panic over this, but take concrete steps addressing the issue at hand nonetheless. Sure, the US is known for using scare tactics on levels unimaginable in other parts of the developed world, but I don't think this is one of those cases.
 
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  • #10
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You're the only one who said that. It's one thing to take offense at what someone said. It's another to take offense at what they didn't say.
The implication was, they're inferior due to nothing more than geographic location, because the education level of the poster is not yet able to fully understand leading topics in the field he/she is using as reference. That is a racist statement.
 
  • #11
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There is no question that India and China (and maybe some others too) are producing more graduates with engineering degrees (although I hesitate to use the word "engineers" because being an engineer is about so much more than a piece of paper from a university saying you've passed an engineering degree) than in the West.

However, and its not me saying this but rather the employers that I talk to, the problem lies in the quality and experience of these graduates. India and China have mastered rote learning, and indeed they do know a little more about the physics and equations behind things. But when it comes to actually applying this to solve real-world problems, they find it difficult. That's exactly what I've been told by Indian post-graduates at my university - engineering degrees in India do not even attempt to give you the skills to apply what you learn at university to real life situations in work.

Our engineering graduates usually also have a fair bit of hands on practical experience by the time they graduate. Many will have been interested in cars and electronics, and will have fiddled about with these as a kid. I played with a little bit of Meccano as a kid, but my designs were more concerned with aesthetics rather than performing tasks so I never really had to construct things that I'd have considered complex at the time, such as turning axles, pulley systems etc., and then I quickly became more interested in computers rather than mechanical and structural engineering, and I do feel that this lack of hands on practical experience hinders me a little compared to others when it's design time. Being book smart by rote learning how to solve problems only takes you so far. The guys who hand in the best projects and who make the best team members on group projects are always the guys who have a solid hands on background.

My those that I've talked to, when their companies have outsourced jobs to India and China, they've all been completely ****ed up. My dad is in IT and he says that they are excellent programmers, but when it comes to design, innovation, customer support, management and leadership, they are lacking.

So I'm not particularly worried about my future jobs getting outsourced yet.
 
  • #12
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more of the same "westerners are better at leadership and management" and "more creative". a good newsflash for you is that there will always be more followers than leaders and unless you think you're the Kobe Bryant of engineering, you'll probably be a follower, crunching numbers in a cubicle or fixing this 1 instrument interface and being managed by others. This is from my limited work experience, I'm sure the firm you're at is different and has lots of high flying, heavy on design, innovation, management and leadership positions open for people like yourself.
 
  • #13
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Perhaps it's "more of the same" because it is true?

If it wasn't then all of our engineering jobs would be outsourced tomorrow. A lot of our IT jobs, such as programming, have already been outsourced. Some of this has worked out fairly well but often it's been fairly disastrous too. Companies obviously seem to think that there is still work that is better done in the West, though.
 
  • #14
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@chillfactor: no where did i say it was china that was inferior and full of subhumans. particularly, i was referring to the (possible?) rampant dishonesty among the science there.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/07/world/asia/07fraud.html
http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100112/full/463142a.html
In other studies, one in three researchers surveyed at major universities and research institutions admitted to committing plagiarism, falsification or fabrication of data.
http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/hkedition/2010-06/02/content_9919871.htm
Even at China's best universities plagiarism and falsified data are preventing the country from developing advanced science, says a world-renowned mathematics professor
I'd find more data, but im tired of googling "china science data fabricate"

and i most certainly was not referring to articles that were being published in science/nature/etc. i was referring to the huge number of BS journals out there that publish anything (and if you are going to argue those don't exist...). In fairness, maybe i should have said so. although you probably shouldnt have assumed either. and maybe it's just as rampant in all countries as it (allegedly) is in china. maybe all this dishoensty is common at all universities, and i just hear about the chinese ones.

nor do i claim to be any form of expert. of course I could be wrong. thats why I added "but does someone else have more/better information?" i was inputting my 2 cents. if you want to correct me, fine. dont be an *** about it.
 
  • #15
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They all say that we need to improve science education, encourage more students to do STEM degrees to remain "competitive". But is it really true?
It's not. The problem isn't production. The problem is demand. What worries me is not so much that China is producing large numbers of engineers, but that it's getting to the point where jobs in China are more attractive than jobs in the United States.

If China is going to become "the powerhouse" in place of the US, wouldn't all those talented American kids just go to Chinese universities just as now talented Chinese students come to study in the US?
There is a capacity issue in that it's easier to get into a US university than a equivalent Chinese university. The big name Chinese universities like Qinghua, BeiDa, or CAST are just as good as US universities. The trouble is that there aren't the "University of Iowa" or "University of Pennsylvania" but that's likely to change over the next decade.

Also wouldn't all the corporations move to China in that case and decrease the number of jobs available in the US for all those people with newly minted STEM degrees?
They actually are. They aren't being loud about it. It's not that multi-nationals are shutting down US operations and shipping jobs to China. What tends to happen is that a multi-national quietly opens an office in Shanghai rather than in California.

One could argue that even now we have too many, judging by the number of tenured positions relative to the number of PhDs. Some of my friends are thinking of moving to Europe so desperate they are of finding openings here.
And a lot of people I know are thinking about moving or have moved to China. There's also a selection effect that you need to recognize. If you talk to a Chinese student in the US, they are likely to think that US schools are better than Chinese schools (otherwise they wouldn't come to the US). If you want to meet people that don't think that US schools are good, you need to talk to people in China.

The other thing is that it's not US versus China. If you look at Chinese students, they are *heavily* being courted by schools from the UK or Australia, and Australian schools are very heavily recruiting Chinese students. The curious thing is that if you go to an education fair, there are very few US schools there. I think part of this is politics. Australia sees its future as being part of Asia, and so schools will be happy to provide budges for people to attend recruitment fairs. If a US school paid people to show up at an education fair in China, I think you'd get a nasty public backlash.
 
  • #16
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In addition, there's other reasons why people wouldn't go study in China, even if the quality of education was better. At this stage, I just can't imagine Americans going to their arch enemy, to a country whose values are supposedly so far removed from what theirs are.
This causes an asymmetry. Most educated Chinese tend to be rather well informed about the US, because you have so many Chinese that have studied in the US and can read and speak fluent English. American's tend to be uninformed (even shockingly uninformed) about what China is like. Personally, I think it's in the national security interest of the US to have as many US students study in China.

There are other issues. The Chinese higher education admission system is examination based, so if you are a US student that wants to get admitted to a Chinese school, it's not clear what the process is. Also capacity issues. One good thing about US higher education is that anyone that wants to go to college in the US, can basically do it, which isn't true in China.

Again, there's other reasons why corporations don't just pack their bags and go to Asia, as being a corporation entails so much more than just setting up your seat where you think best-qualified people are.
What worries me is that the tendency has been to keep the innovative jobs in the West and then move the grunt work jobs into China/India. What worries me about this if you don't have grunt work jobs, then how are you going to train the next generation of innovators. The other thing that worries me is that there seems to be a lack of middle tier jobs in the West. That's bad for social mobility.

However, I think that things are going to change a lot over the next five years. Chinese universities are still in general worse than US universities, but they are starting to be "good enough."

It seems to me you're being extremely short-sighted here, although if there's one thing I agree with you it's that people shouldn't panic over this, but take concrete steps addressing the issue at hand nonetheless.
The thing that worries me is that any concrete steps I can think of involve spending money, and there isn't much desire to do that in the United States.
 
  • #17
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India and China have mastered rote learning, and indeed they do know a little more about the physics and equations behind things. But when it comes to actually applying this to solve real-world problems, they find it difficult.
The trouble with this is that people can change. The big name Chinese universities have radically changed their curricula over the last decade so I don't think that "lack of real-world practice" is a major issue for the top universities in China.

That's exactly what I've been told by Indian post-graduates at my university - engineering degrees in India do not even attempt to give you the skills to apply what you learn at university to real life situations in work.
Neither for the most part do US/UK universities. US/UK universities have gotten around this by intern and co-op programs, and Chinese universities are starting to copy this. Something you have to be careful about is that when someone says "we have problem X" not to assume that you have an unassailable lead. In China, what happens is that someone says "we have problem X, we are going to fix it with policy Y" and then you find that problem X gets fixed.

My those that I've talked to, when their companies have outsourced jobs to India and China, they've all been completely ****ed up. My dad is in IT and he says that they are excellent programmers, but when it comes to design, innovation, customer support, management and leadership, they are lacking.
Sure. But people learn from their mistakes. The thing about outsourcing is that I've heard dozens of of nightmare stories of outsourcing, but I haven't run into a single situation in which people decide that things are *so* bad that they pull the plug and move jobs back.

What tends to happen is that someone pays say 30% salary and it's a total disaster. Then they come in and may 50% salary and things work out.

So I'm not particularly worried about my future jobs getting outsourced yet.
You really should be. Even if outsourcing happens to be a stupid thing to do, you still lose your job.
 
  • #18
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I''ve just had enough of all this panic about China/India/BRICs/Asia outcompeting "the declining West". I mean, you would think by this time all the corporations would have moved to China and taken all the jobs with them. China graduates hundreds of thousands new engineers every year who are ready to work for a fraction of what your average engineer at Boeing/GM/Google is working for. But somehow most of the jobs that go there are the jobs in call centers or plastics manufacturing. Silicon Valley still remains the biggest center of innovation. The US universities still attract the best students from all over the world. None of my friends want to go to graduate school in China, even my Chinese friends. So I think all this depression and despair about "the nation" in decline that one often reads on the pages of NYT is rather misplaced.
I strongly object to these statement(s) of yours. While I do agree that US Universities are among the top choices to pursue graduate studies for international students, you must know that there are plenty of Asian/European universities which aren't doing a bad job in offering good quality education and research atmosphere. You might take a look at the global rankings of universities to get a clear picture.

http://www.usnews.com/articles/education/worlds-best-universities/2010/09/21/worlds-best-universities-engineering-and-it-.html
http://www.usnews.com/articles/education/worlds-best-universities/2010/09/21/worlds-best-universities-top-400-.html

Coming to where a Chinese or <insert any other nationality> student wishes to pursue his/her graduate studies, it highly depends on that individual's choice and it is not correct to make general assumptions based on your personal experience.
 
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  • #19
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Coming to where a Chinese or <insert any other nationality> student wishes to pursue his/her graduate studies, it highly depends on that individual's choice and it is not correct to make general assumptions based on your personal experience.
There's also a selection effect. If you talk to Chinese students that are doing graduate work in the United States, you will find (surprise, surprise, surprise) that they think a US school is better for them than a Chinese school, because if they thought Chinese schools were better, they would not have gone to a US school.

If you talk with people in China, things look very different.
 
  • #20
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There's also a selection effect. If you talk to Chinese students that are doing graduate work in the United States, you will find (surprise, surprise, surprise) that they think a US school is better for them than a Chinese school, because if they thought Chinese schools were better, they would not have gone to a US school.

If you talk with people in China, things look very different.
That's a good point.

I think its partly because the competition to get into a top university in China/India is higher compared to a top 50 university in US and I know for a fact that a top IT university in India admits only the top 2-4% percentile of the applications. The applicants who didn't make it find it easier to gain admission to a mid-ranking US university. Also there is little difference in the quality of education/research in a lesser ranked US university and a prestigious one. This doesn't hold true at least in India, but things are definitely improving.
 
  • #21
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@chillfactor: no where did i say it was china that was inferior and full of subhumans. particularly, i was referring to the (possible?) rampant dishonesty among the science there.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/07/world/asia/07fraud.html
http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100112/full/463142a.html

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/hkedition/2010-06/02/content_9919871.htm

I'd find more data, but im tired of googling "china science data fabricate"

and i most certainly was not referring to articles that were being published in science/nature/etc. i was referring to the huge number of BS journals out there that publish anything (and if you are going to argue those don't exist...). In fairness, maybe i should have said so. although you probably shouldnt have assumed either. and maybe it's just as rampant in all countries as it (allegedly) is in china. maybe all this dishoensty is common at all universities, and i just hear about the chinese ones.

nor do i claim to be any form of expert. of course I could be wrong. thats why I added "but does someone else have more/better information?" i was inputting my 2 cents. if you want to correct me, fine. dont be an *** about it.
LOL...Be careful before singling out any particular country. I googled "US science data fabricate" and this is an article I found: http://blogs.nature.com/news/thegreatbeyond/2010/11/us_scientists_more_prone_to_fa_1.html. Looks like the Germans are the cleanest.
 
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  • #22
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@chillfactor: no where did i say it was china that was inferior and full of subhumans. particularly, i was referring to the (possible?) rampant dishonesty among the science there.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/07/world/asia/07fraud.html
http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100112/full/463142a.html

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/hkedition/2010-06/02/content_9919871.htm

I'd find more data, but im tired of googling "china science data fabricate"

and i most certainly was not referring to articles that were being published in science/nature/etc. i was referring to the huge number of BS journals out there that publish anything (and if you are going to argue those don't exist...). In fairness, maybe i should have said so. although you probably shouldnt have assumed either. and maybe it's just as rampant in all countries as it (allegedly) is in china. maybe all this dishoensty is common at all universities, and i just hear about the chinese ones.

nor do i claim to be any form of expert. of course I could be wrong. thats why I added "but does someone else have more/better information?" i was inputting my 2 cents. if you want to correct me, fine. dont be an *** about it.
As a chinese american who has lived in china for periods of my life as well as meeting other chinese american as well as chinese international students, I can say with certainty chinese students tend to have less passion about the end goal of engineering itself.

Engineering is about creating or improving products. Engineering is about using passion and intellectual tools to achieve the end goal. Chinese students who take engineering at my undergrad institution tend to study for the purpose of getting a good grade. They don't really care about the fact that they need to use this knowledge for a purpose later down the road. As a result, they don't open their minds and have no creativity in engineering. Only in how to get a better grade. Basically chinese students focus more on getting a better degree with better grades

*applies to other students too, but generally to a lesser degree

As to the fraud and cheating on entrance exams, I attribute that to rejection of traditional morals and fixation on money/status. This generation of chinese students and scholars are exposed to an environment of commercial growth right after a cultural revolution that attempted a new world order with unclear moral foundations. It's no wonder so much fraud is happening. I'm glad my parents came to the United States before all the commercial change when China was still a simple society with agrarian values

And it's useless to 'teach' research ethics. Personal values are determined during upbringing.

This generation of chinese are doomed
 
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  • #23
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The trouble with this is that people can change. The big name Chinese universities have radically changed their curricula over the last decade so I don't think that "lack of real-world practice" is a major issue for the top universities in China.
We are not just talking about the top Chinese universities, though.

Although this certainly can change, and probably will very soon. When this happens that I have absolutely no doubt that China and India will be giving the West a run for its money.

Neither for the most part do US/UK universities.
Most UK universities do in their engineering degrees, yes.

Sure. But people learn from their mistakes. The thing about outsourcing is that I've heard dozens of of nightmare stories of outsourcing, but I haven't run into a single situation in which people decide that things are *so* bad that they pull the plug and move jobs back.

What tends to happen is that someone pays say 30% salary and it's a total disaster. Then they come in and may 50% salary and things work out.
I've heard of a few in IT, but not really for engineering as the engineering jobs here are very location specific.

You really should be. Even if outsourcing happens to be a stupid thing to do, you still lose your job.
I'm not given that the oilfields and wind-turbines, power stations etc. are here.

The aim is also to advance myself far enough that I can't be replaced by a new graduate somewhere in the East. My dad's IT firm outsources its actual programming, but the management and other stuff is still done here.
 
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  • #24
jbunniii
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When I was an undergraduate in the 1980s (in electrical engineering), I recall hearing repeatedly that my generation had better learn Japanese if we wanted to be able to compete in the "new" economy. That was not long before Japan's potemkin economy went bust, and it has stayed relatively bust ever since then.

The point is that today's major competitors may not be tomorrow's, and that applies just as much to the upstarts (e.g. China) as to the established players (the west).

The U.S. and Europe have many economic shortcomings, but so do China and India. We have massive debt but also the best universities and many of the strongest businesses in the world; China has a big surplus but the vast majority of its population remains in the impoverished countryside, and it was an economic backwater just ten years ago and could well be again in another ten years, like many previous "tiger" economies.

None of this, of course, implies that the U.S. (or anyone else) will be able to retain a dominant position indefinitely into the future.
 
  • #25
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As a chinese american who has lived in china for periods of my life as well as meeting other chinese american as well as chinese international students, I can say with certainty chinese students tend to have less passion about the end goal of engineering itself.

Engineering is about creating or improving products. Engineering is about using passion and intellectual tools to achieve the end goal. Chinese students who take engineering at my undergrad institution tend to study for the purpose of getting a good grade. They don't really care about the fact that they need to use this knowledge for a purpose later down the road. As a result, they don't open their minds and have no creativity in engineering. Only in how to get a better grade. Basically chinese students focus more on getting a better degree with better grades

*applies to other students too, but generally to a lesser degree

As to the fraud and cheating on entrance exams, I attribute that to rejection of traditional morals and fixation on money/status. This generation of chinese students and scholars are exposed to an environment of commercial growth right after a cultural revolution that attempted a new world order with unclear moral foundations. It's no wonder so much fraud is happening. I'm glad my parents came to the United States before all the commercial change when China was still a simple society with agrarian values

And it's useless to 'teach' research ethics. Personal values are determined during upbringing.

This generation of chinese are doomed
what qualifies you to make this sort of judgment? you're not thinking like a scientist here so it is hard to take you seriously. at the very least we can stay the hell away from pop psychology, no data assertions and arbitrary moral judgments

When I was an undergraduate in the 1980s (in electrical engineering), I recall hearing repeatedly that my generation had better learn Japanese if we wanted to be able to compete in the "new" economy. That was not long before Japan's potemkin economy went bust, and it has stayed relatively bust ever since then.

The point is that today's major competitors may not be tomorrow's, and that applies just as much to the upstarts (e.g. China) as to the established players (the west).

The U.S. and Europe have many economic shortcomings, but so do China and India. We have massive debt but also the best universities and many of the strongest businesses in the world; China has a big surplus but the vast majority of its population remains in the impoverished countryside, and it was an economic backwater just ten years ago and could well be again in another ten years, like many previous "tiger" economies.

None of this, of course, implies that the U.S. (or anyone else) will be able to retain a dominant position indefinitely into the future.
china wasn't a backwater 10 years ago. japan's economy is still very strong. 50% is not vast majority. reading graphs help.

don't worry about outsourcing. westerners should stick to finance and management where they have comparative advantages. i know this is a physics forum but in chemicals, the US is finished. at the pharmaceutical plant i used to work at in Los Angelos, the bulk precursors were imported from china and south korea, the reactors from china, the analytical equipment was imported from japan. even the workers weren't american; my manager was indian, the QC staff including me are chinese, the line workers and the accountant were hispanic. only the president of the company was american, and he doesn't even show up to the company more than once per month. he understands nothing about the technical aspects of our operation, but that's OK, since he pays us to understand for him, so i guess he has some sort of management skill. we didn't carry out a single chemical reaction in those reactors either. all we did was mix the precursors in the right amounts, package it, and run HPLC/GCMS for QC. i can't even imagine what the situation is like in materials.
 

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