Enrollments in graduate engineering programs for the next decade. Dr. George Ford Hillary Fearrington Jonathan Williams Western Carolina University

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1 Enrollments in graduate engineering programs for the next decade Dr. George Ford Hillary Fearrington Jonathan Williams Western Carolina University Abstract Nonresident alien students currently comprise over half of the current doctoral student population in engineering educational programs in the United States. A similar situation exists in the master s engineering programs where about 46% of all students are nonresident aliens according to the American Society of Engineering Education. Women are also a growing population in these programs. As the federal government and state legislatures continue to reduce funding of public universities, the importance of nonresident and women students to the survival of these programs increases significantly. Research performed by students in doctoral and master s degree programs in engineering are often a source of income for Universities. International students usually pay higher tuition rates than in-state residents and are another source of income for American universities. University funding models generally are based upon student contact hours 2. As the funding provided per student contact hour declines, additional funding obtained through research and from out of state tuition paying students will become more important as the number of manufacturing jobs in the United States also declines as predicted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This paper provides historical, current and future predictions of student enrollments in graduate engineering educational programs and recommendations for smaller universities to preserve their programs. Introduction Nonresident alien students currently comprise over half of the current doctoral student population in engineering educational programs in the United States. A similar situation exists in the master s level engineering programs where about 46 percent of all students are nonresident aliens according to the American Society for Engineering Education 6. Women are also a growing population in these programs. As the federal government and state legislatures continue to reduce funding of public universities, the importance of nonresident and women students to the survival of these programs increases significantly. Research performed by students in doctoral and master degree programs in engineering often produces a source of income for universities. International students usually pay higher tuition rates than in-state residents and are another source of income for American universities. University funding models generally are based upon student contact hours. Public funding of universities by state governments has been flat or falling for more than twenty years

2 [10,17]. As the funding provided per student contact hour declines 4, additional funding obtained through research and from out of state tuition paying students will become more important as the number of manufacturing jobs in the United States also declines as predicted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics 1. This paper provides historical, current and future predictions of student enrollments in graduate engineering educational programs. Recommendations for smaller universities to preserve their graduate programs in the coming hard times are also provided. Current graduate engineering enrollments Data collected from the 2009 and 2010 academic years gives a reasonable estimate of the current enrollments of graduate students in engineering programs 6. Master degree engineering graduates reached an all-time high of 43,023 in 2010 due to the 16 percent growth over the previous three years. Enrollment in master engineering degree programs stood at 103,335, which is 25 percent higher Almost all engineering fields increased in enrollments nationwide in recent years at the master s level. This data includes all students regardless of race or gender. Electrical Engineering (6,345), Computer Science Engineering (5,230), and Mechanical Engineering (5,066) were the 3 highest engineering disciplines that awarded master degrees in In 2010, there were 8,995 engineering doctorates, nearly an all-time high. Doctoral engineering degree enrollments have increased each year for the last eleven consecutive years. Total master degree enrollments in 2010 were 77.4 percent male, a rise of 0.4 percent in the past 3 years, and female enrollments were at 22.6 percent the total, a drop of 0.4 percent in the past 3 years 6. There were 60.9 percent Caucasian students who enrolled in engineering master degree programs, a rise of 3.4 since Asian-Americans comprised 14.9 percent of master level engineering students, a drop of 0.2 percent since 2009, and 11.7 percent were unknown ethnicity. Hispanics were recorded at 6 percent, a rise of 0.8 percent from African American s were recorded at 5.1 percent, a rise of 0.4 percent from Data concerning master degree enrollments based on residency show that 53.9 percent were permanent US residents, and the remaining 46.1 percent were nonresident aliens. This was a drop of 2 percent from the 2009 of foreign national student enrollments. There were 8,995 doctoral degrees awarded in Doctoral degree students were 77.1 percent (6,939) males, which was the lowest level since 2001 of 83.1 percent. Females comprised 22.9 percent (2,056) females, which is the highest number since The number of doctoral degree students based on ethnicity was highest for Caucasians at 65.7 percent (2564). Asian American students were 14 percent (564) of the total, Unknowns 10.7percent (737), Hispanics 5.2percent (215), and African Americans at 4.4percent (170). Doctoral Degree students by residency in 2010 included Permanent US Residents at 45.8 percent of the total and Nonresident Aliens at 54.2percent. The engineering disciplines that had the highest doctoral enrollment were Electrical/Computer Engineering (17,042), Mechanical Engineering (8,674), and Computer Science Engineering (7,031).

3 Historical graduate engineering enrollments Historically graduate engineering programs within the United States have been a non-diverse community of students looking to better their education beyond the undergraduate degree. Women and foreign students were seen as a minority in these programs with most graduate students being white males. But within the past ten years engineering programs have seen their diversity increase with increasing enrollments of females and foreign students. The proportion of women among all engineering and science graduate students was 43percent in 2005 and increased every year during the prior 20 years. As expected, the enrollment of men declined between the years 1993 and 1998 but then grew 14 percent between 1998 and 2003 due to the large enrollment of foreign national men which made up 84percent of the growth 9. Women have come a long way since earning only 1percent of undergraduate engineering degrees 30 years prior to today earning 20percent of the degrees. However, women were still underrepresented in mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering with most of their focus on biomedical, civil, and chemical. Engineering serves human needs, and it needs to have a more diverse workplace to reflect those it serves 13. As seen in the past and as well as today women were often not motivated to enroll in engineering programs and saw engineering as a man s field. In 2006 an article was published discussing the Girls Day that introduced young women to engineering. The article mentions that 90 percent of high school girls did not consider engineering an option which was fearsome to graduate schools because this was the prediction for the future of engineering. Women had the same training and skills as men but were afraid to enter the program due to the stereotype of an engineering profession only being for men 11. But, there were women who were willing to step beyond the stereotype to change the profession. And as seen today, women have begun to push this boundary aside to allow more women to enter the field. Foreign students are coming to the United States to seek higher education to better their lives in their own countries. In 2003 foreign students constituted 31percent of engineering graduate enrollments and then dropped slightly to 29percent in But over a 10 year period from 1995 to 2005, foreign enrollment had increased by 41percent. The reason for the growth in 2005 was because of the attraction of engineering and computer sciences which seemed to be the largest fields of enrollment by foreign students. Also within the United States, minorities who were U.S. citizens increased their enrollment into the engineering field. In 2005, white students accounted for 67percent of all U.S. citizens and permanent residents enrolled in science and engineering (S&E) graduate programs, down 1percent since 2004 and down 9percent since This drop was due to the enrollment of more females, foreign, and non-white students into the field. Underrepresented minority enrollment (African American, Hispanic, American Indian/Alaskan Native) had increased 50percent since 1995, and in 2005 accounted for 15percent of the U.S citizens and permanent residents enrolled. 9 Overall in the past, foreign and minority students were not a large proportion of graduate engineering program enrollments but within the past few years their numbers have increased. Historically graduate engineering programs were dominated

4 by white males, but throughout the past few years women, foreign, and minority students have been stepping into the field to defy the stereotype, diversifying the program and the industry. Future graduate engineering enrollments The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts some growth in engineering jobs 1, but there are some who predict a surplus of engineers in the next decade which could cause an increase in unemployment in the engineering fields 5. As manufacturing jobs continue to go to China and Mexico and national investment in engineering declines 10, the number of engineering jobs will decrease to a point where the number of graduates from engineering schools will exceed the number of jobs forecast to be available 5. If the quantity of available engineering jobs decrease, higher educational institutions will have difficulty maintaining enrollments in engineering programs, especially considering expected future cuts in federal and state funding. Public institutions will need to develop self-funding options and adopt the financial appearance of private institutions. For engineering programs, institutional graduate engineering program managers will need to expand enrollments of international, foreign students. The United States (US) hosts more international students than any other country. India sends the most graduate students to the US 7. The educational experience provided for international students coming to the US is not easily duplicated. The value of cultural, social and political influences on higher education cannot be easily quantified, but these values which western countries provide naturally do positively affect the ability and attitudes of college graduates, by design. The technical, knowledge part of the engineering professional may be taught, but interpersonal communication skills, political attitudes and cultural beliefs cannot be taught in some countries such as India and China as they are in the western countries, thereby insuring growth in international graduate students as these two population super-giant countries manufacturing base continues to develop. US based educational programs cannot be packaged and exported to other countries or provided on-line and still provide the same educational experience for students as they might in the US or other western countries. Administrators of graduate engineering programs should be planning to recruit in China and India and other countries where manufacturing and population are expanding and where the largest populations of international students exist 3. The current forecasts predict growth in the number of international students who received master-level and doctorate degrees in the US 11. In addition, the fraction of female US citizens who will attend engineering graduate schools is also forecast to increase. Conclusion The most successful graduate engineering programs in the next decade will market to foreign students and women. Research into successful methods of accomplishing this goal should be undertaken. Literature indicates that inviting minority and women faculty to teach is one way to diversify educational programs 14. Programs to allow visiting, non-citizen, foreign born faculty might provide assistance to acquire the needed supportive faculty. Integrating courses into

5 engineering graduate programs which are of special interest to minorities and women are another way to make programs more palatable to these markets. Learning communities, student clubs and other informal activities might provide additional incentives for international and women graduate students. During the last century, the US was the undisputed economic superpower. Many recognize the recent declines of the US economy since the turn of the century. This decline could continue as many expect. The economies of countries were the manufacturing base has been lost or is in decline such as the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan may provide models for economic planners in the US to formulate strategies. Maintaining leadership in education opportunities provided for its citizens will become more and more important to the survival of the American republic. Supportive funding of public educational institutions for US citizens by non-us citizens is one way to maintain educational leadership in graduate engineering programs and to extend a diplomatic hand to other countries. References [1] Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational employment projections to Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database. [2] Carrigan, S., Formula Funding, the Delaware Study, and the University of North Carolina. New Directions for Institutional Research, no. 140, Winter 2008 [3] Douglass, J. & Edelstein, R. (2009). Whither the global talent pool? Change, 41(4), [4] Doyle, W. and Delaney, J., Higher Education Funding: The New Normal. Change July/August [5] Ford, G. and Ball, A., (2011). The evolution of engineering and engineering technology educational programs in the United States. Conference proceedings of the American Society of Engineering Educators. Vancouver, BC, Canada [6] Gibbons, M., (2010). Profiles of engineering and engineering technology colleges. American Society for Engineering Education. Washington, DC. [7] McMurtrie, B., (2007). World Beat. Chronicle of Higher Education, 53(33), A46. [8] Newfield, C., Avoiding the Coming Higher Ed Wars. Academe, May/Apr2010, Vol. 96(3) [9] Oliver, J., (2007). First time S&E graduate enrollment for foreign students rebounds in Academic Sourcebook, November 2007 [10] Prieto, E., Holbrook, A., Bourke, S., O Conner, J., Page, A., and Husher, K., (2009). Influences on engineering enrollments. A synthesis of the findings of recent reports. European Journal of Engineering Education,34(2), [11] Professional Safety, (2006). Girl day takes on new urgency. January engineering. European Journal of Engineering Education, 31(6), [12] Tandberg, D., Politics, Interest Groups and State Funding of Public Higher Education. Res High Educ 51: [13] Tsui, L., (2009). Recruiting females into male dominated programs: Effective strategies and approaches. Journal of College Admission, Spring [14]Committee on Women in Science and Engineering and National Research Council, (2006). To Recruit and Advance: Women Students and Faculty in Science and Engineering by Committee on the Guide to Recruiting and Advancing Women Scientists and Engineers in Academia.

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