Monday, January 15, 2007

More Engineering Students in Mexico Than US

When American engineers talk about the need for the U.S. to better compete in the global economy, the discussion almost always centers on two countries: China and India. People rarely mention another country that is geographically closer to the United States: Mexico.

Mexico has quietly been building up its infrastructure over the past decade to educate more engineers and attract companies with advanced engineering design work. Some 451,000 students are currently enrolled in full-time undergraduate engineering programs in Mexico, up 20% since 2000.

American universities enroll 370,000 engineering undergraduates, a number that has barely inched up since 2000, even as the overall number of undergraduates has grown nationwide.

Multinational companies, including GE, Siemens and Honeywell, that once located facilities in Mexico to produce products are now opening up small operations for design and testing work, much of which is done by engineers. GE employs more than 500 engineers at a facility in Querétaro that designs and checks jet engines. Officials there expect to hire another 200 this year.

One reason for the hiring spree? Low salaries. Engineers fresh out of college in Mexico make around $15,000 annually; compare that with their U.S. counterparts, who graduate to $45,000-a-year jobs.

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At 1/15/2007 5:14 PM, Blogger David said...

Interesting. Of course, it turned out that the data on the large number of engineers in China included significant numbers of people who would have been called technicians, rather than engineers, in the U.S. Is the same thing true here? Intuitively,I kind of doubt it.

Also, of course, (and unlike China), Mexico's population is much less than that of the U.S., making their engineering focus proportionately even stronger.


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