The State of Engineering

When the governor speaks about our profession, we listen. In the run-up to his January state of the state address, Governor Schwarzenegger invoked some startling statistics about our engineering workforce and proposed a plan to fortify it.

According to the federal Labor and Workforce Development Agency, California will need an additional 20,000 to 24,000 engineers to meet the needs of the state’s aging infrastructure during the next 10 years. The shortfall in professional talent will be especially acute in civil, electronics, mechanical, aerospace and industrial engineering, due to an anticipated spurt in baby boomer retirements and ongoing economic growth.

The governor aims to beef up education at all levels—from steering greater numbers of young math and science students into engineering, to a new GI bill–type program to fast-track certification for engineering veterans—and establish an Engineering Education Council to attract private sector funding.

While details have yet to be worked out, both UC and the California State University system will have significant roles. Berkeley and the state’s other top engineering colleges are already turning away highly qualified students who could be making stellar contributions to our engineering workforce. Additionally, the COE has seen a large increase (15 %) in the number of applicants from last year. With the right level of resourcing, we would be very glad to take on more of this fine batch.

As the governor mentioned, California leads the nation in information technology, nanotechnology, biotechnology and clean technology. We have more members of the National Academy of Engineers, more winners of the Turing Award and other major international engineering awards, Nobel laureates, scientists and engineers than any other state. We are responsible for one of every four U.S. patents, one of every five U.S. technology jobs and nearly half of U.S. venture capital.

While much of this activity is centered around and originates from Berkeley, we cannot rest on these accomplishments. College administrators and faculty are now putting our heads together to determine how we can support a plan that is good for engineering, good for the state, and a critical investment in maintaining California’s technological excellence. I welcome your thoughts and ideas.

S. Shankar Sastry
Dean, College of Engineering
NEC Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences
Roy W. Carlson Professor of Engineering
Email Dean Sastry

Upcoming Events

February 21 BEARS '08: Berkeley EECS Annual Research Symposium: EECS faculty answer your questions about the future of technology.

February 26 Berkeley Engineering Innovation Awards: Please join us for our 37th annual celebration of outstanding achievements by alumni in the field of engineering and technology. This year we honor Peter Norvig (EECS '86), James Lau (Applied Mathematics and CS '81) and Rula Deeb (CEE '94, '99).

March 7 2008 UC Berkeley Energy Symposium: Leadership at the Nexus of Science, Policy, & Business.

Topics: Development engineering, Education & outreach, Public policy