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Dianne Doriand, President-Elect American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) is pleased to submit comments on educational and societal forces that affect the engi- neering workforce in the United States. Our purpose today is to share data and ideas related to chemical engineering workforce issues that are important to potential policy development. WHO IS AIChE? The American Institute of Chemical Engineers, founded in 1908, is a pro- fessional association of more than 50,000 chemical engineers worldwide. AIChE fosters and disseminates chemical engineering knowledge, supports the professional and personal growth of its members, and applies the exper- tise of its members to address societal needs and improve the quality of life. Chemical engineers are creative problem solvers who perform re- search and develop processes and products utilizing the principles of en- gineering, physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics. They play key roles in such diverse industries as energy, chemicals, biotechnology, food, electronics, and pharmaceuticals. Chemical engineers are also leaders in environmental health, safety, and sustainability. They endeavor to im- prove the quality of life for people the world over. COMMITMENT TO DIVERSITY The AIChE Board of Directors announced the following AIChE State- ment on Diversity in 2000 and strives to encourage the development of a diverse profession and professional society:
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PAN-~CANIZAHONAL SUMMIT Diversity means, on a global basis, creating an environment in the Insti- tute and the profession in which all members, regardless of their sex, race, reli- gion, age, physical condition, sexual orientation or nationality, are valued equi- tably for their skills and abilities, and respected for their unique perspectives and experiences. The Institute has placed an emphasis on better understanding the needs of its diverse membership and other stakeholder populations. Re- search is being conducted in order to better serve underrepresented mi- nority, physically challenged, and female stakeholders of the Institute. A survey of member and nonmember populations focused on underrepresented minority and female chemical engineers has been com- pleted. The results of this survey are currently being evaluated and an action plan is being developed to implement results to address the follow- . . ng major areas: · Review the past and present status of diversity within the Institute and the profession, including a review of statistics describing undergradu- ate and graduate students · Assess future professional needs of chemical engineers · Assess future professional diversity needs of the profession · Recommend long- and short-term strategies to meet such needs Here is what we know so far with respect to gender: In light of the number of undergraduate chemical engineering de- grees earned by women, chemical engineering is often described as a "fe- male friendly" discipline. In 2000, 36 percent of B.S. degrees in ChemE were awarded to women; in 1990 that statistic was 33 percent, which was up from 29 percent in 1985. In 1996, specific initiatives implemented by the Institute were aimed at capitalizing on the fact that women choose chemical engineering in unusual numbers. These initiatives were designed to ensure the entry, retention, and full participation of women within the profession. One such initiative, a Women's Initiatives Committee, was estab- lished in 1997 as a standing committee of the Institute. This group pre- sents relevant programming at national meetings, hosts networking lun- cheons and receptions for women chemical engineers, sponsors career sessions during the Annual Student Conference, and maintains a listserv and Web site for cross talk among women engineers. The Committee serves as a vital representative of women's concerns within the Insti- tute. It has provided leaders for highly visible volunteer assignments within the organization. Additional programs and assessments will con- tinue to be conducted. For example, in collaboration with the Commit-
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AMERICAN INS'n'TUTE OF CHEMICAL ENGINE FRS ~ African American 400 350 300 (a ct ~ 250 ct ~ 200 cn m TO 150 100 50 o 4~ , Hispanic American Indian . 1980 1985 1990 Year 1 995 2000 FIGURE l Number of B.S.ChE degrees by year by ethnicity. Source: Data from the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, (NACME). tee on the Advancement of Women Chemists (COACH), AIChE is host- ing specialized advanced training for women university faculty at each annual meeting. Although data on other segments are still being analyzed, the num- bers are not as encouraging for minority chemical engineers. As can be seen in Figure 1, increases in the number of African-American and His- panic chemical engineering graduates have been recorded since 1990, but the relative numbers are still very low. TRENDS IN INDUSTRY Trends in industry are occurring that significantly affect the employ- ment of chemical engineers. Mergers, acquisitions, and globalization con- tinue to have a considerable impact on the opportunities for the workforce in the traditional chemical processing industry. For example, many chemi- cal engineers working in areas of technology development have had their jobs eliminated. The 2002 AIChE Salary Survey demonstrates that there is
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PAN-~CANIZAHONAL SUMMIT TABLE 1 Unemployment Rates for Engineering Disciplines Field 2001 Annual (%) 2002 Q2 (%) All engineers 2.3 4.0 Aerospace engineers 2.1 5.2 Chemical engineers 3.8 5.1 Civil engineers 1.1 1.6 Electrical engineers 2.0 4.8 Mechanical engineers 2.6 3.7 Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (unpublished) compiled by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE-USA). now less optimism among chemical engineers for advancement and job security. Changes in opportunities for chemical engineers are occurring. New graduates are moving toward life sciences and business industries, and flat- ter organizations are eliminating promotional and management tracks. Fur- thermore, the unemployment rate of new graduates is beginning to rise. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data for the various engineering dis- ciplines are described in Table 1. As you can see, unemployment rates for chemical engineers, along with aerospace engineers and electrical engi- neers, are worse than the other engineering disciplines. Please note, how- ever, that these BLS numbers are projected based on surveys, not on ac- tual unemployment filings, and that sample sizes are relatively small when broken out for the disciplines. The chemical engineering workforce is aging, and our recent salary and employment survey indicates that it is taking longer for older workers to return to the workforce, and that those in older age groups are more likely to be under- or unemployed. Compared to those age 45 or younger, under/ unemployment is about twice as likely for those ages 50-55, four times as likely for those ages 56-60, and seven times as likely for those ages 61-65. Issues such as how to retrain workers and the role of the government, universities, and professional societies in helping older workers are im- portant to consider. WHAT CAN BE DONE? Bringing more women and underrepresented minorities into the pro- fession and maintaining opportunities for older workers will help to en- sure an adequate workforce. Promoting greater diversity within the pro- fession requires a consistent, long-term effort focused on the education, recruitment, retention, and advancement of all groups. This approach re- quires the combined participation of businesses, government, professional
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AMERICAN INS'n'TUTE OF CHEMICAL ENGINE FRS ~7 societies, and the education community. AIChE will continue to address the promotion and education of a diverse workforce. AIChE supports public and private programs that improve the sci- ence and mathematics achievements of the nation's pre-college students and motivates them with special attention to women and minorities- to pursue engineering and scientific careers. Challenging young chil- dren with high-quality math and science programs will motivate them to learn and will provide the opportunity to pursue high-wage engi- neering careers. AIChE encourages the interaction of engineering colleges, industry, national laboratories, and federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF). For example, in an effort to raise the public's aware- ness of the engineering profession and the specific roles that women and minorities play in it, AIChE along with Girl Scouts, USA, developed engi- neering kits to be used in conjunction with Girl Scout troops. To help encourage the understanding of engineering at the high school level AIChE, in partnership with NSF and others, is developing a new high school chemistry curriculum, "Active Chemistry," which pre- sents sciences in the context of open-ended challenges. Engineering ap- proaches and problem solving are the key to this new curriculum, which also includes challenges related to using science and engineering to ad- dress sustainable development issues of providing adequate food and water for our world's population. AIChE encourages policy that will help fund innovative programs such as these and will help provide for the continuing education of our workforce. We respectfully submit the following options for consideration and study: · Continued establishment of public-private partnerships to ensure equality of opportunity and diversity in mathematics, science, and engi- neering at all levels. These partnerships would involve government, in- dustry, relevant associations, and individuals. · Increased funding of the NSF Math and Science Partnerships Initiative. The Partnerships bring local school districts, university de- partments of math and science, engineering schools, and other inter- ested parties together. The focus of the Partnerships Initiative is on both the teachers and the students, with an emphasis placed on en- couraging younger students to pursue their interests in science and mathematics. · Additional studies on retraining displaced workers to reenter the workforce are merited. Moreover, employer understanding of the port-
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PAN-~CANIZAHONAL SUMMIT ability of engineering skills transferable among various industry sectors should also be studied. In conclusion, AIChE looks forward to developing programs that en- sure a well-educated engineering workforce that is broadly utilized as we seek to address world problems.
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