This paper will describe a critical situation affecting the technical workforce in this country, how it relates to education reform, in particular STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math), and how professional organizations such as SFTE can engage and take steps to improve it.
The need for engineers, specifically US born aerospace engineers, will increase dramatically over the next few years due to a combination of an aging workforce and previous cyclic hiring practices in the aerospace industry. This coupled with high school students declining interest in engineering and science related careers will result in this country's increased dependency on non-US engineers, who have significant restrictions when working US defense projects.
After a short review of education reform efforts in this country to close the achievement gap between the US and foreign countries, this paper will describe the unique role flight test engineers have together with other professional aerospace societies and companies to awaken the technology curiosity in our young people so that more would consider careers in engineering. It will also include constructive ideas that individuals and organizations, such as ours, can implement in support of local high schools encouraging STEM activities at their schools.
Note: The author’s thirty years of flight testing experience and recent completion of a Masters in Teaching, which included a teaching certificate for high school physics, has provided a unique perspective on this issue.