Heroic Engineers Needed

By Eric Lundquist  |  Posted 2008-06-23

The yin and yang of being an IT professional were in evidence today.

Presidential candidate John McCain came up with the idea of offering a $300 million prize for a battery that would far exceed the capabilities of today's present power sources for hybrid cars and such. I don't think you can pay too much attention to presidential candidates offering up prizes which are often designed to attract press attention, but his mention of a need for "heroic efforts in engineering," caught my attention.

The idea that engineering can indeed be a heroic effort has been lost of late. That is too bad as in addition to big efforts in new energy sources, the latest news about levees being broken and bridges falling down, indicates to me that engineers certainly do have an important role to play these days.

So the need for engineers will be up, but it looks like the supply will be down. The same day that one presidential candidate was calling for heroic efforts, the Associated Press ran a story that fewer students were pursuing computer science degrees at a time when demand was up and baby boomers are retiring. It is very difficult to suddenly crank up students with degrees in engineering or computer science, but this is one shortage that could stunt economic growth at a time when the economy needs to get back on track.

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