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A call to action!

I don’t think any of us would argue with the assertion that our nation’s future will not be secure, from either economic or security threats, without an adequate supply of exceptional engineers and scientists. However during the last twenty years, the number of engineering degrees earned in the U.S. has dropped by 20,000, to only 65,000 per year. By contrast, China and India graduate nearly 800,000 engineers per year. In China, 25 percent of all college degrees granted are in engineering . . . that percentage is only five percent in our country. Many other nations, including Germany, Japan, South Korea and Mexico, have percentages that are two to four times of the U.S.

The negative effects on our economy and the retention of our nation’s technological leadership are beginning to emerge. HP employs 3,300 software engineers in India and Boeing has 700 employees in its Moscow design center. Auto suppliers and OEMs, and even some local civil engineering firms, are outsourcing some engineering jobs abroad.

International technical partnerships will strengthen our economic and political partners and raise the standard of living across the world, affording us an “inside track” to growing markets. However, if we don’t maintain technological leadership, our nation’s security and economic viability may be greatly impaired.

At UDM we have taken a number of important steps to redress this situation by better informing, preparing, educating and focusing our future engineers:

Informing: The “Engineering Road Show” was created and presented to more than 1,000 students in 15 high schools, making them aware of the excitement, satisfaction and rewards of engineering careers. The target is to present at 40 schools by next March.

Preparing: We have two partnerships supported by Ford Motor Company that introduce new courses and engineering projects into 20 partner high schools. These will motivate and teach students, better preparing them for studies in engineering and science.

Educating: The College is continually partnering with leaders from industry and government to assure that our graduates have differential competencies to justify the differential salaries compared to foreign engineers. These include capabilities in systems engineering and product development created in the Masters in Product Development Program and mechatronics courses created through two NSF curriculum development grants.

Focusing: Finally, we are developing a stronger partnership with the U.S. Army Tank Command allowing us to focus on technologies important to our nation’s defense. Last summer seven of our students worked at TARDEC (Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center). Dr. Richard McClelland, Executive Director, TARDEC, has become one of our most active members of the College Advisory Council, providing guidance on critical technologies that we should teach and advance with research.

We are determined to do our part to assure that our nation’s and our region’s future is secured through technological leadership. Our alumni can do their part by:

Please call me at 313-993-1216 or e-mail me at if you would like to help us in these important areas.

Dr. Leo E. Hanifin ’69, ’72, ’75