OT: An answer to why the reduction in science and engineering majors in US universities

Several recent threads have pointed out the reduction in the number of engineering and science/math majors in US universities
over the last few years. This may also affect the other majors. For something to be an investment, there must be a net payback, i.e. return over cost.
High-priced student loans spell trouble
By MARCY GORDON, AP Business Writer Sun Sep 30, 2:13 PM ET
The near doubling in the cost of a college degree the past decade has produced an explosion in high-priced student loans that could haunt the U.S. economy for years. <snip> for rest of article click on http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/student_loans_the_spiral ;_ylt=AnL0_VfKIjCsBgBgehwHPABvzwcF
Unka' George [George McDuffee] ===========Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains.
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. president. Letter, 17 March 1814.
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Here's another reason: The owner of a software company on the west coast was interviewed recently and complained loudly about the shortage of US-educated software engineers. So he went to India, where he got all he wanted for $15,000/yr. "It saved my company $30 million," he said. And he said that he plans to get as many of his engineers in India as he can from now on.
If you're a potential engineering student and you hear a US company saying it wants $15k/year engineers, and you read every day about how much engineering work is being offshored -- and you discover that an entry-level risk analyst on Wall Street makes $150,000+, what would YOU do?
-- Ed Huntress
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'course, after tax that's about $100K, yer apt is about $60K/yr, yer liquor/restaurant/party/pussy bill about $30K/year, so basically, yer Wall St. anal-ist is taking subways and sleeping on a thin mattress on a bare floor--but with a good address.
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The NYT says starting salaries for freshly minted analysts in areas that deal with risk, such as hedge funds, are running up to $200,000/yr. That's *starting* salaries.
-- Ed Huntress
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I think that's a very small number of the best Wharton grads, or at the quant funds like Renaissance, exceptional math PhD's. In addition, the bottom may be about to fall out of that market. But I agree the compensation is incredible. Private equity firms charge 2% of money under management and 20% of net gain. Many of these funds are over a billion dollars and the firms may consist of relatively few employees whacking up a pretty big prize. Makes the rest of us wonder why we didn't even think of a career in finance......
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As you say, though, it comes and goes like the tides. At one time a seat on the NYSE was a license to print money. Then it started to go south, and various kinds of arbitrage took its place, ending with risk arbitrage (Robert Rubin's former career). Then it was currency, and then a few other things, and, today, hedge-fund and private-equity-fund management.
Those jobs aren't very transferable so you have to make it quick. In some of those jobs, it's assumed you will commit suicide or quit before you're 50. They give huge bonuses and it's very dclass to spend them. You're supposed to save $10 or $20 million or so for your early retirement.
It's not for me, although there are times...
-- Ed Huntress
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Ed Huntress wrote:

Yeah, back in "the day", like the 1950's to 1980's, they could charge $100 for a single stock transaction. Now, anybody can do it online for $5.99 or something.
Jon
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I don't know, I think as an entire sector, the financial industry in the metro NY area has been incredibly good to a LOT of people over the last 25 years, not just the high stakes traders on the floor. Of course, I'm just seeing that now and wondering why I never considered it as a career when I was younger.
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Ask those tens...or make it hundreds of thousands of financial workers who are being RIFed because of the housing bust...with more to follow.
They have mortgages to pay every month...and educational loans to repay...just like everyone else.
TMT
I'm thinking of higher level employees- I don't doubt that many of them are overextended but they had a really good run and should have had some pretty decent equity built up.
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On Mon, 1 Oct 2007 21:51:21 -0400, "ATP*"
<snip>

<snip> I think you nailed it.
This is a variation on the old "guarantee" "you can make up to 200,000$ the first year."
When parsed, what this says is that we guarantee you won't make more than 200k$.
It as also an attempt to generalize from a very small selected sample to an entire polulation.
No sane person would encourage their child to be a golf pro with the expectation they will earn like Tiger Woods. To be sure there will be one or two that do, but the odds are better if you "invest" in Power Ball tickets (and a whole lot less work).
Unka' George [George McDuffee] ===========Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains.
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. president. Letter, 17 March 1814.
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Are those 15k/y engineers worth 15k per year? Have you heard from him regarding his experience using them?
i
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Ignoramus28457 wrote:

Those 15k/year engineers are getting more rare. Here's some old information; someone can dig for more recent numbers if they care:
About three years ago I had a conversation with a former hiring manager for one of the big companies in the PDX area. He had left his company because they had a hiring freeze, with directives to hire all software help from India. When the whole "Indian engineer" thing had started you could get 10 Indian engineers for the price of one Oregonian. Since then, the demand exceeded supply, to the point where when we had the conversation the ratio was more like 4:1 or 3.5:1, and dropping. Not only that, the Indian engineering job shops never gave their current employees raises -- the only way to get a raise was to change jobs. This meant that not only was an Indian engineer not nearly the deal that he/she used to be, but that you could just about count on him/her not lasting long on your project.
Add to that the fact that I've worked with their code, and it's crap. The metalworking equivalent would be to mount an engine in a car by welding on the motor mounts -- it works great until you need to modify or repair things.
So now you're seeing a quiet uptick in the number of people working in-house, and you're seeing buzzwords like "insourcing" and "onshoring" in the business rags. There are a good number of folks who are going to work in the sticks (i.e. Montana, eastern Oregon, the Utah mountains, etc.), either because they're dedicated hikers or because that's where they came from before they followed the money to the coasts. The living costs less so they can charge less, but they speak American English perfectly, they understand the meaning of "good work", and they live in the same (or nearly the same) time zone.
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Tim Wescott
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This all sounds great, but they'd better stop being so quiet about it or they'll look around one day and find there aren't any engineers to "onshore" to.
-- Ed Huntress
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Ed Huntress wrote:

True. To some extent, however, the powers that be have always been shortsighted WRT engineering schooling -- our leaders forget that it exists until there aren't any engineers available, then they all run around waving their arms and bumping into walls in panic. During these times all the highschool guidance councilors are pointing kids toward engineering schools, at least until they forget again.
They're cranking up the attention, so just about the time that the economy really hits the skids there'll be tons of graduates making their contribution to the boom/bust engineering economy.
--

Tim Wescott
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Can engineers operate CNC?? :)
Mebbe when ICNAL gains steam (the Int'l Consortium for the Neutering of All Lawyers), there'll be plenty of per diem work for unlaid, I mean, laid off engineers--iffin you don't mind working for, uh, tips.
The American chapter, ANAL (Americans for the Neutering of All Lawyers), of which I am, uh, head, should be especially busy.
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Proctologically Violated wrote:

Engineers who are also competent CNC operators can operate CNC. The rest of us have to use hand-operated machines, or files.
If someone comes to you and says "I am a trained C# (pronounced 'cee sharp') programmer, so I can operate CNC" ask them if they're a lawyer. If they say "yes", put them on one of your machines that you don't care much about, but which will skewer the operator's balls if it is programmed wrong.
Then step aside, and let them demonstrate their quality.
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Tim Wescott
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I'd like to see some engineering types teaching engineering as an elective in the public school system. Damn closed shop, teaching certificate, crap keeps them out.
I know damn well some retired engineer would like to fan the flames of knowledge if he could get a chance to teach.
Wes
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Wes wrote:

My wife's uncle, who's a retired engineer, teaches middle school in North Carolina. I'm sure that he puts an interesting spin on his science classes.
I should ask him about the textbooks -- the ones my kid brings home have some pretty inaccurate information in them. Science textbooks, after all, are written by educators & apparently aren't vetted very closely (or at all) by actual experts in the field.
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Tim Wescott
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wrote:

Well, they could in some states, before Bush's No Child Left Behind act. Now the schools have to meet a provision for "highly qualified teachers" which means they need full state teaching credentials, including a degree in education, and, with a few exceptions, specific credentials in the specialty they teach. In a suburban or urban school, a credentialed general science teacher can't teach physics.
According to the current administration, your retired engineers are not "highly qualified." It has nothing to do with closed shops.
-- Ed Huntress
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Ed Huntress wrote:

My, you've been lapping up the propaganda from the teachers unions haven't you...
Not saying that NCLB is anything great, but the teachers unions are one of the largest reason for the sad state of "education" in the US.
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