Messages about maths education and the contribution of engineering to the economy are the same over the pond…

By Bob Cox (
One of the aerospace industry’s most respected leaders said Wednesday that government and industry badly need to take steps to reform the U.S. education system to dramatically boost teaching of math, science, engineering and technology.

Failure to do so, said retired Lockheed Martin Chief Executive Norman Augustine, will undermine the U.S. economy, security and place as a world leader.

Other nations, most notably China, are investing heavily in educating scientists and engineers and will eventually gain technological prowess and competitive advantages in key industries, like aviation and aerospace, in which the U.S. has long been the global leader, Augustine said.

“Technological innovation is likely to be the driver of the future of the American economy,” Augustine said at the Aviation and Aerospace Manufacturing Summit in Fort Worth.

The only way U.S. industry can compete with foreign competitors that have low-cost labor, Augustine said, is to “compete on knowledge-based resources.”

Scientists and engineers make up only 4 percent of the U.S. workforce. “They disproportionately create jobs for the other 96 percent,” he said.

Yet, the U.S. continues to lose ground when it comes to the quality of its educational efforts in math, science and engineering, and its ability to produce trained people.

China produces more English-speaking engineers than U.S. schools, he said, and Chinese scientists and engineers produce more technical papers on basic research than their American counterparts. And leaders of U.S. companies cut research and development spending to improve their bottom line.

U.S. politicians and business leaders too often blame China for declines in U.S. manufacturing and resulting job losses.

“Is it China that runs our public schools?”

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