Monday, January 30, 2012

Thoughts about articles re manufacturing

Speaking of Apple, here are some spot on comments from a friend re. the two articles I sent around re. manufacturing:


I thought these two articles were fascinating and could not stop reading them.  I am so glad you forwarded them.  The Isaacson biography of Steve Jobs also touched upon the Obama+Silicon Valley dinner and focused on the anecdote of the 30,000 missing engineers--essentially the US could not supply 30,000 engineers period in order to support the 700,000 people working on the iPhone.  The Times makes it sound as if it's a question of not being able to source them quick enough but apparently it's a real structural gap in our labor force as Isaacson takes the time to explain in his book.


Like the Times article, Isaacson describes these missing engineers as folks who have a few years of post-high-school training in engineering but are not full-fledged 4-year college graduates.  In other words, the kind of training that countries like Germany and so many Asian countries are so good at providing.  Seems like this is an urgent memo to our community colleges whose curricula needs some serious strategic overhauling.


But fundamentally, it speaks to the sad state of math education in our country.  Like many folks, I was a casual observer of this as I read headlines about our latest PISA failures  etc.  Seems like that's been going on since we were in school!  But now that I am a parent and collaborate with the math committee at my son's school I have seen firsthand how limited we are by very poor curriculum materials and completely inadequate training of elementary school teachers in math instruction.  The result:  a nation of kids heading to middle school and high school without a strong foundation of mathematical understanding and weak math skills.  The repercussions in terms of employability and lifetime earnings potential have been documented by many.

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