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The Mythical Scientist Shortage

Does the United States face a shortage of scientists and engineers? Are drooping science enrollments undermining America's strength? You might conclude so from the anxious warnings that perennially occupy a prominent place in scientific establishment pronouncements. An American Scientist editorial, in its July-August 2001 issue, asserts, "We are not training enough American scientists and engineers to retain our prosperity ...." Former NASA head Dan Goldin wrote in the September 2001 Atlantic

Daniel Greenberg

Does the United States face a shortage of scientists and engineers? Are drooping science enrollments undermining America's strength? You might conclude so from the anxious warnings that perennially occupy a prominent place in scientific establishment pronouncements. An American Scientist editorial, in its July-August 2001 issue, asserts, "We are not training enough American scientists and engineers to retain our prosperity ...." Former NASA head Dan Goldin wrote in the September 2001 Atlantic Monthly, that he foresees "a serious deficit of scientists and engineers," leading to "an evaporating dominance."

Despite the alarms, no current or impending shortage exists, and never did. Instead, we're glutted with scientists and engineers in many fields, as numerous job seekers with respectable credentials can attest.

Here's the truth about science and engineering in America: This nation has never trained enough American-born scientists and engineers. We've prospered by luring the cream of foreign-trained scientists and foreign-born students,...

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