. "Report Brief: Reshaping the Graduate Education of Scientists and Engineers." Adviser, Teacher, Role Model, Friend: On Being a Mentor to Students in Science and Engineering. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 1997.
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Adviser, Teacher, Role Model, Friend: On being a Mentor to Students in Science and Engineering
should offer better career information and guidance to students so that they can make well-informed decisions in planning their academic and professional careers. Graduate education should prepare students for an increasingly interdisciplinary, collaborative, and global job market and should not be viewed only as a byproduct of immersion in an intensive research experience. The primary objective of graduate education should be the education of students.
The changing job market. Scientists and engineers with PhDs and other advanced degrees play a central and growing role in American industrial and commercial life. They contribute directly to the national goals of technological, economic, and cultural development-not only as researchers and educators but in a wide variety of other professional roles. And as the country responds to expanded economic competition, urgent public health needs, environmental degradation, new national security challenges, and other pressing issues, a widening variety of professions and organizations are hiring the approximately 25,000 people who receive a PhD each year (up from about 18,000 a decade ago).
But a mismatch between the numbers of new PhDs and traditional research-oriented jobs in academia has led to considerable frustration and disappointment among young scientists and engineers. Fewer than one-third of those who received PhDs in science and engineering in 1983-86 were in tenure track positions or had tenure in 1991. New PhDs are spending more time as postdoctoral fellows while they wait for permanent jobs to become available. Downsizing and restructuring in industry and government also have reduced the number of jobs focused on basic research in those sectors.