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Thursday, September 16, 2010

It's A World Gone Mad (With MBA's)

I recall that my dad once told me that engineering is the only profession where one works to put one's self out of business; a quick scan of the numbers at the Bureau of Labor & Statistics' website as well as 'census.gov' confirms the general vector of what he was saying.

To frame the numbers in the right context one should note that (of a population of approximately 300 million Americans) approximately 13% (i.e. 40 million people) are between the ages of 25 and 34; of those, 22.8% have a bachelors degree and 8.3% have an advanced degree. What's the breakdown of those degrees? Of the 600,000 graduate degrees conferred in 2006 ~150,000 were business degrees, ~170,000 were education degrees, and ~33,000 were engineering degrees.

The number of students enrolled in engineering programs are obviously higher with proportions for engineering students in B.S./M.S./Ph.D. programs reported as 475,000/120,000/29,000; of the students enrolled in engineering majors in 2006 only 115,00 were enrolled at doctorate-granting colleges. In 2006 there were 2,000 electrical engineering Ph.D.'s.; in contrast, there were ~15,500 M.D.'s and ~43,000 J.D.'s that same year.

The Institute for Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE), which is the international professional association for "EE-types" like myself boasts 395,000 members and more than 90,000 student members. In the U.S., "IEEE-types" constitute only 0.25% of the workforce (~370,000 people) in almost equal proportions of electrical and electronics engineers (i.e. 153,00 electrical, 138,000 electronics, and 79,000 computer hardware engineers).

How has the picture for electrical engineers changed over time? In 1971 an electrical engineer could expect to earn ~$11,000/yr. and growth in the number of engineers over the last ten years has been ~6% (the lowest for any of the major engineering disciplines). According to The Economist, the growth in MBA's between '69-'70 and '06-'07 was 600% (21,561 to 150,211).

For additional perspective one should note that there are ~11 million cancer survivors in the U.S. with ~325,000 of those diagnosed at age 15 or younger.

Electrical engineers are a rare breed!
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