November 28th, 2010
09:00 AM ET

Letters to the President: #678 'Math, science, and encouragement'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: The president has spoken of the need to encourage students in math and science. In this season of giving, it might be a good time to give them an extra boost.

Dear Mr. President,

I did not mention to you that our elder daughter came home for the weekend. Or maybe I did. In any event, she is winging her way back to Georgia Tech today and bending into the books until Christmas break in a few weeks. (At least she says that’s the plan. Who knows with these college kids?) She is full of wonderful stories about her school and her experiences there. Just wait. Your girls will be off on their own adventures soon enough and you’ll hear similar tales, no doubt.

Her engineering studies have me thinking about China a lot lately. I can’t remember the precise number, but unless I am mistaken they are producing something like…oh say…a million new engineers every six months. Well, maybe it’s not that high, but you get my point. They are stamping them out like license plates.

For all the concerns we are raising about the growing power of China, this is one that I feel continues to be understated, and that’s not good. It is one thing for any nation to grab a temporary economic advantage, but when they invest that heavily in their young people - in something as valuable as engineering education - they are staking a claim to future technological dominance.