I was at an air show this past weekend at a nearby air force base. They had on display numerous aircraft that included those from World War I, World War II, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam War and present day, state-of-the art planes. I was amazed at the advancement in technology in such a relatively short time span, a mere 80 some years.
Bi-planes that began life with the Wright Brothers on the coast of North Carolina at Kitty Hawk in 1903. A P-51 Mustang that was the most advanced warplane of World War II. An F-4 Phantom that was used extensively in Vietnam and numerous present day war birds that included the F-22 Raptor. At one point in the show, they performed what they call a heritage flight, where aircraft of various eras fly together.
It was an amazing sight to see. During the flight, the show announcer mentioned that much of this was due to the advances in aviation engineering over the years. I got to thinking about all the other advances in engineering that have played such an important role in the advancement of mankind. And what about America’s future? Will America always be able to rely on the same level of advancement in technology as exhibited by these striking aircraft? What role will the field of engineering play in that future and will there be enough engineers to fill that role?
According to a report from the National Academy of Engineering and the National Research Council, adding engineering education in K-12 classrooms is a growing phenomenon that may have implications for engineering and other subjects such as science and mathematics. Specifically, the article stated that “engineering education may improve student learning and achievement in science and mathematics, increase awareness of engineering and the work of engineers, boost youth interest in pursuing engineering as a career, and increase the technological literacy of all students”. The teaching of science and mathematics in our schools must be improved in order to retain our competitiveness in the global economy.
U.S. Bureau of Labor (http://www.bls.gov/) statistics show about 36 percent of engineering jobs are found in manufacturing industries, and another 30 percent are in the professional, scientific, and technical services industries. Many engineers also worked in the construction, telecommunications, and wholesale trade industries. Federal, State, and local governments employ about 12 percent of engineers. About 6 percent were in the Federal Government, mainly in the U.S. Departments of Defense, Transportation, Agriculture, Interior, and Energy, and in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Many engineers in State and local government agencies worked in highway and public works departments. In 2010, about 3 percent of engineers were self-employed, primarily as consultants.
Overall engineering employment is expected to grow by 11 percent over the next decade. As noted earlier, engineers traditionally have been concentrated in slower growing or declining manufacturing industries. However, increasing employment of engineers in research and development, green sustainability and consulting services industries should generate most of the employment growth.
I hope you will join me over the next many articles as we delve deeper in the field of engineering. I will be exploring past and present engineering projects and their impact on society as well as the ever-expanding need for engineers. Designers imagine the future – engineers build it.
"Image from dreamstime.com"
Alan is a freelance writer for Engineer-Jobs.com. He has more that 30 years work experience in the environmental engineering and government regulatory fields. To read more of his blogs, please go to Engineer-Jobsblog.com, and be sure to check out the postings for jobs in nearly any industry at Nexxt .