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China, India Produce Fewer Engineers

A study by Duke University shows overseas graduation rates are overstated.
The numbers don't add up. China and India aren't turning out nearly as many engineers as commonly believed, Duke University researchers report. And they're probably not as well-trained as their U.S. counterparts.

The reality is "contrary to what everyone else is saying," Vivek Wadhwa, an adjunct professor at Duke, told the House Committee on Education and the Workforce last month.

Counting computer science and IT degrees in 2004 from four-year schools, Duke tallied 137,437 engineering grads for the United States, 112,000 for India, and 351,537 for China. By comparison, the stats usually cited for 2004 engineering school graduates are 352,000 for India and 600,000 for China. But China and India include graduates of two- and three-year programs, and China defines engineer more loosely than the United States. "There was no standardization of degrees," Wadhwa said.

"My conclusion is that China truly is graduating more engineers than the U.S. in raw numbers, and that those numbers are very high," Wadhwa said. "However, their focus is on quantity, not quality."

It's nice to set the record straight, but that's small comfort to engineers losing their jobs to overseas workers.

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