Norman R. Augustine at the University of Mississippi

September 3, 2008 at 2:18 pm | Posted in Etc. | 1 Comment

by P.J. Blount with the blog faculty

Norman R. Augustine spoke at the University of Mississippi September 3, 2008. Augustine has had a distinguished career in the Aerospace industry:

Augustine was raised in Colorado and attended Princeton University, where he graduated with a BSE in Aeronautical Engineering and an MSE. The retired chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corp., Augustine serves on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and has served as undersecretary of the Army. He is a recipient of the National Medal of Technology and the Joint Chiefs of Staff Distinguished Public Service Award.

A five-time recipient of the Department of Defense’s Distinguished Service Medal (its highest civilian decoration), Augustine was selected by Who’s Who in America and the Library of Congress as one of Fifty Great Americans on the occasion of Who’s Who’s 50th anniversary. A prolific author, he co-wrote “The Defense Revolution” and “Shakespeare in Charge” and authored “Augustine’s Laws” and “Augustine’s Travels.” Augustine holds 22 honorary degrees and has served in the leadership of numerous professional societies and organizations.

Augustine’s speech did not directly address the aerospace industry, instead it focused on securing the nations ability to compete in a changing global economy. He stated that the ability of the United States to create jobs would depend on its ability to stay competitive in science and engineering. This is challenging due globalization and the great changes it has caused in the global economy. He cited numerous examples of a trend towards outsourcing and people being able to do their jobs from afar. Globalization, according to Augustine, creates candidates from all over the world for domestic jobs, without the need for those candidates to leave their homes.

Augustine stated that the crucial question is “can Americans compete in this new world order.” He stated that leadership in any field is not a birthright and that nation’s do not have “an innate right to greatness.” Pointing to numerous statistics, he stated that high technology jobs have been moving overseas and that the cost of labor is a contributing factor to this, and that equivalence in wages among countries may be a long wait. Therefore, America’s the competitive edge will be found in on the vanguard of technological innovation. The key to gaining this edge is education, and according to Augustine, by global averages United States students are failing. This is particularly so in math and science. He stated that numerous teachers lack certificates in math in science despite the fact that they teach it. This decline in teaching is due to many factors, but he specifically pointed out the lack of prestige in the teaching profession and a lack of competitive wages.

He then gave specific statistics on the engineering profession and the declining percentage of American engineering Ph.D.’s. He stated that China is currently graduating more English speaking Ph.D.’s than the United States is, and that women and minorities are underrepresented in the engineering profession. He also said that American immigration policy forces foreign Ph.D.’s out of the country after they gain their degree.

In conclusion, Augustine said that the key to American competitiveness was to be first to the market with new technologies. He referred to the recommendations of a National Academies’ committee, which he chaired, that addressed this topic. While he did acknowledge that such a program would be costly, he stated that “you can either pay now or pay later.” He said that this year’s federal budget failed to fund the initiatives that were suggested by the committee, but that he had hopes that it would be fully funded in the coming year.

1 Comment »

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  1. I was looking up engineering and imagine my surprise to see Aerospace engineering in the top spaces. I am interested in Airplans more but hey… SWEET!



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