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Stanford dean provides CMOS, education outlook

Posted: 28 Jun 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:CMOS outlook  lithography  EUV  extreme ultraviolet  photovoltaic 

What's happening in the globalisation of education as China and other developing countries create their own great universities?
In the short term, we get tremendous students—the best and brightest of the world. Today the biggest sources are China and India. Historically it was Japan and Taiwan. These foreign students make up more than half our grads and in some schools as much as 75 per cent. The quality of undergrads in these counties in Asia is superb.

In the short term, the top U.S. schools need to continue to be attractive to these students as the place to go and do everything we can to keep them here. Longer term, China, India, aspire to have their own world-class engineering programmes. This is already happening in Taiwan and Korea.

You can debate if it's five or 50 years away—my view is it's probably 25 years out—but they will get there. As they get closer, the numbers of students who want to come to the United States will decline—especially as students see world-class economic opportunities at home. So in the long term, we have to have a different strategy.

What's that strategy?
We are not producing enough people in this country who want to have careers in science and engineering. That answer is to do a better job, and it's a tall order but I'm optimistic.

If you look at every developed country—even South Korea and Taiwan—they say the same thing: not enough students pick science and engineering, so this is something symptomatic of the developed world.

It's a tough set of disciplines, but there's more to it than that. We have K-12 education that is not world class and certainly does not do a good enough job of helping young people understand what science and engineering is about.

It's a huge problem, but a bunch of people think the root cause is the teachers. The teachers are not that good or inspiring. We need to pay enough to get high quality people taking those jobs and provide the continuing education and summer experiences that are helpful for them so when they walk into classroom they are not only informed but enthusiastic.

The teachers are not trained in science, math and engineering in many cases and so they cannot teach these subjects well or inspire students to consider these kinds of careers.

What can the universities do?
The typical high school senior doesn't understand that much about a career in science and engineering. Yet many universities make high school seniors decide they have to chose a major to apply to a school or college of engineering.

Yet once you get to Berkeley or Stanford, finding a back door to the engineering college is very rough. So we've been really stupid about how we do this. We see students come here not knowing they want to be an engineer, then trying to become engineers.

So we need to help K-12 understand the opportunities in science and engineering, and then change the way we admit students to universities. Some engineering schools think that's impossible. They say students have to take calculus and physics as freshman or they are history. I say we can rethink the curriculum. If we don't do that, we have shot ourselves in the foot.

Stanford actually does admit to the university, then tries to make it possible for students to shift into engineering. Most engineering schools do not.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times


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