September 2009 – IEEE News

Unemployment Rate for Electrical Engineers Soars to New Record,
Engineering Jobless Rate Up for Second Consecutive Quarter

WASHINGTON (7 July 2009) — The unemployment rate for U.S. electrical and electronics engineers (EEs) hit a new record in the second quarter, while the rate for all engineers increased for a second straight quarter, according to data released last week by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).”Technology drives our economy, which means engineering unemployment is a bellwether for recovery and job creation,” IEEE-USA President Gordon Day said. “These new data suggest we’ve got a long way to go as the United States attempts to regain its economic footing.”

The news for EEs was particularly bad as the jobless rate more than doubled from 4.1 percent in the first quarter to a record-high 8.6 percent in the second. The previous quarterly record was 7 percent, in the first quarter of 2003.

For all engineers, the unemployment rate jumped from 3.9 percent in the first quarter to 5.5 percent in the second quarter. The rate for computer professionals steadied at 5.4 percent, after a significant jump in the first quarter. The second-quarter unemployment rate for all professional workers showed a modest uptick, from 3.7 percent to 4.3 percent.

The BLS reports that 29,000 EEs were unemployed in the second quarter, up from the first-quarter figure of 13,000. On a small positive note, the number of employed EEs seems to have stabilized, actually rising 2.3 percent quarter-to-quarter, but at levels well below those of the past decade.

“Taken together, these data may suggest that engineers laid off last year and early this year are having trouble securing the new engineering jobs being created,” Day said.

IEEE members can find career enhancement resources at http://www.ieeeusa.org/careers/. Help for unemployed and at-risk members is available at http://www.ieeeusa.org/careers/help/.

Past, Current White House Science & Technology Advisers to Speak at STEM Enterprise Workshop

WASHINGTON (16 July 2009) — Dr. John Marburger, who served as science adviser to former President George W. Bush, will be the keynote speaker during a STEM enterprise event here in October. He will be followed by Kei Koizumi, assistant director for federal research and development at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

“STEM Enterprise: Measures for Innovation and Competitiveness” is designed to measure the impact and effectiveness of all federal, state, private and academic money spent on research and development in the STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — enterprise. Work in this area serves as the driving force for economic and social advancement in the United States and worldwide.

Marburger, former director of the Office of Science and Technology, is now a university professor of physics and electrical engineering at Stony Brook (N.Y.) University, where he served as president from 1980-84. Before coming to the Executive Office of the President, he was director of the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, N.Y. While working as a professor of physics and electrical engineering at the University of Southern California, he developed theory for various laser phenomena and co-founded USC’s Center for Laser Studies.

Koizumi, who assisted President Barack Obama during the transition as a member of the Technology, Innovation and Government Reform Policy Working Group, works on federal R&D budget issues and tracks funding. He previously served as director of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Research and Development Budget and Policy Program. He was AAAS’ principal budget analyst and author of its annual federal R&D spending reports.

Workshop Chair and former IEEE-USA Congressional Fellow Marty Sokoloski and the organizing committee have designed the event as a forum for STEM thought leaders to better measure the outcome and impact of R&D investment on society and quality of life.

“The economic health of the STEM enterprise is important to everyone, and policies put in place should be grounded and derived from basic incorruptible data and measures,” Sokoloski said. “This will help us to better plan for a healthy and productive enterprise, future economic growth and steady innovation.”

The event will be at George Washington University on 21 October from 8 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Registration is $100 and includes continental breakfast, lunch and coffee breaks. For more information, see http://www.ieeeusa.org/calendar/conferences/stem/default.asp.

Unemployment Survey E-Book Provides Insight into High-Tech Job Loss

WASHINGTON (24 July 2009) — With the unemployment rate for U.S. electrical and electronics engineers (EEs) at an all-time high in the second quarter, an IEEE-USA e-book provides insights into the causes — and remedies — for job loss among technical professionals. The e-book is based on a 2008 survey of unemployed U.S. IEEE members.

The jobless rate for EEs increased from 4.1 percent in the first quarter to a record-high 8.6 percent in the second, according to data released in early July by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. The previous quarterly record was 7 percent, in the first quarter of 2003.
 
The first section of the e-book reports the percentage distribution or mean response for each of the questions in the survey. The second features the results of selected cross tabulations that focus on age and various aspects of employment status. The third highlights the results of a multivariate analysis that focuses on the impact of age on the duration of unemployment when other factors are held constant. The final section compares some of the current results to those in 1995, 1996, 1998, 2002, 2004 and 2006.

“2008 IEEE-USA Unemployed Members Survey: The Results” can be purchased at www.ieeeusa.org/communications/ebooks for $9.95 (IEEE members) or $19.95 (nonmembers).

IEEE members can log in using their IEEE Web account to purchase IEEE-USA e-books at deeply discounted prices and to download free e-books.

IEEE-USA Commends DOE’s $2.4 Billion Grants to
Accelerate Development of Electric Vehicles, Components

WASHINGTON (7 August 2009) — IEEE-USA commends the Department of Energy for awarding $2.4 billion in grants to fund 48 new advanced battery and electric drive projects. “We welcome these investments, because electrifying transportation addresses two of our greatest needs: reducing our consumption of petroleum and limiting the release of greenhouse gases,” IEEE-USA President Gordon Day said.

The grants are the largest single investment in advanced battery technology for hybrid and electric-drive vehicles. When coupled with an expected $2.4 billion in cost share from the grant awardees, they are expected to create thousands of jobs in the U.S. battery and automotive industries. General Motors will receive about $241 million, Ford will get nearly $100 million and Chrysler $70 million.

IEEE-USA called for electrifying the transportation system through widespread deployment of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in its January “National Energy Policy Recommendations.” See http://www.ieeeusa.org/policy/positions/energypolicy.pdf.

The grants were announced by President Barack Obama on Wednesday. See http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/24-Billion-in-Grants-to-Accelerate-the-Manufacturing-and-Deployment-of-the-Next-Generation-of-US-Batteries-and-Electric-Vehicles/.

IEEE-USA Engineering Mass Media Fellows Report on Sci-Tech — from a New Type of American Car to Wii for Seniors — at Ohio Radio Station, Sacramento Newspaper

WASHINGTON (19 August 2009) — Covering sci-tech subjects, from clean coal and a new type of American car to disputed Web information and a Wii for seniors, IEEE-USA Engineering Mass Media Fellows David Lukofsky and Nicholas Diakopoulos completed their 10-week summer media internships this week. Lukofsky reported on sci-tech at WOSU-FM, a public radio station in Columbus, Ohio; and Diakopoulos, at the Sacramento (Calif.) Bee. Lukofsky received his Ph.D. in engineering physics from Dartmouth College in June; and Diakopoulos, his Ph.D. in computer science from Georgia Tech.

At the midpoint of his reporting assignment this summer at WOSU-FM, Lukofsky wrote: “I mostly learn by following my coworkers’ example. My most surprising observation was how quickly the reporters go from deciding on a story idea, to making phone calls, to bolting out the door for interviews. Grad school taught me to be prudent in my approach. This newsroom teaches me to be efficient.” He added: “Most of my interviewees are scientists. I feel at ease with them, and enjoy the opportunity to talk to them about their new idea, process or discovery.… Being a scientist myself helps me enter their world. I think what allows this to occur is our shared experience of the ‘scientific failure.’ The past years spent in a lab have taught me that success in science hinges on a healthy approach to failure.”

Also at the halfway point of his reporting stint at The Bee, Diakopoulos wrote: “Programming skills are indeed in heavy demand in the newsroom. There are tons of opportunities for adding interactive content to the Web site to either go with a print story or sometimes even stand on its own.… The editors generally seem quite excited by the new storytelling opportunities afforded by computational and interactive media … [and] I’ve been working with the online Web site team to help out with their redesign, since my degree is in human computer interaction.” He added: “Of course, I’ve also had some great opportunities to do straight-up reporting and writing stories.”

Bee Assistant Managing Editor Scott Lebar praised Diakopoulos as “a splendid addition to our staff for the summer,” adding that “he stimulated conversation and ideas…a dedicated journalist who wanted to know what the future held.”

Lukofsky described the WOSU-FM internship as “the perfect springboard to the media and policy experience [that] I need for my dream job — to act as the messenger who informs members of government on sci-tech issues.” Diakopoulos cited garnering “valuable knowledge of journalism that will help me innovate better technologies for journalists of the future.”

To see the reports prepared by the IEEE-USA Engineering Mass Media Fellows:

–For David Lukofsky at WOSU-FM, go to:

“Can one exist without the other: light bulbs and mercury?,” at http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/wosu/news.newsmain/article/0/1/1527436/WOSU.News/Light.Bulbs.and.Mercury….Can.One.Exist.Without.the.Other

“Is clean coal the solution?,” at http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/wosu/news.newsmain/article/0/0/1532703/WOSU.News/Is.Clean.Coal.the.Solution

“A new type of American car,” at http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/wosu/news.newsmain/article/0/1/1525141/WOSU.News/A.New.Type.Of.American.Car

“Scientists test strength of spider silk,” at
http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/wosu/news.newsmain/article/0/0/1523961/WOSU.News/Scientists.Test.Strength.Of.Spider.Silk

–For Nicholas Diakopoulos at Sacramento Bee, go to:  

“Intel project seeks to mark disputed Web information,” at http://www.sacbee.com/business/story/2035868.html

“For seniors, a Wii may be a win-win: fun and brain-nourishing,” at http://www.sacbee.com/ourregion/story/1994584.html

“Univ. of Calif. Davis camp offers summer tech fun,” at http://www.sacbee.com/ourregion/story/2035914.html

“Crowd sourcing site lets Web users make a few bucks,” at
http://www.scrippsnews.com/content/crowdsourcing-site-lets-web-users-make-few-bucks

Since 2000, 13 U.S. IEEE undergraduate and graduate students have served as IEEE-USA Engineering Mass Media Fellows, helping journalists in print and broadcast fields communicate authoritatively to the public about science, engineering and technology. IEEE-USA is the only engineering organization in the Mass Media Fellows program, which is administered by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). IEEE-USA is also one of a smaller group of sponsoring societies that supports more than one Fellow. From 2006-08, AAAS Science & Engineering Mass Media Fellows produced more than 600 first-run news stories on science and technology. Entering its 35th year in 2009, more than 550 Fellows have participated.

As a result of IEEE-USA’s participation in the program, volunteers and staff have established contact with key journalists to promote IEEE-USA activities. IEEE-USA Communications Committee Chair Abby Vogel and former Chair Allan Schell helped to select the organization’s 2009 Fellows. In 2005, Vogel was an IEEE-USA Engineering Mass Media Fellow at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

For more information on IEEE-USA involvement, see http://www.ieeeusa.org/communications/massmedia.asp.

Sustainable Energy, S&T Policy among Government
Documents Available through IEEE-USA E-Books

WASHINGTON (19 August 2009) — Did you know that the federal government publishes numerous documents and reports that are available to the general public? IEEE-USA has packaged some of these into e-books and is making them available free to IEEE members. Here are the latest titles: “Building a Sustainable Energy Future Draft Report” (10 April 2009), prepared by the National Science Board, offers key findings, recommendations to the U.S. government, and guidance to the National Science Foundation (NSF) on how to transform the nation to a sustainable energy economy.

“Science and Technology Policymaking: A Primer” (27 May 2009), prepared by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), is an introductory guide for members of Congress and their staff. It provides an overview of U.S. science and technology policymaking, describes the processes and key players that contribute to that policy, and concludes by highlighting the opportunities and challenges facing the current S&T policy decision making process.

“The President’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP): Issues for Congress” (3 June 2009) is a background report prepared by CRS for Congress. It provides a brief history of OSTP and issues and options for Congress regarding the office. These include, among others, the title, rank, roles and responsibilities of the OSTP director, and whether OSTP should remain within the Executive Office of the President.

Government documents and reports can be downloaded at www.ieeeusa.org/communications/ebooks for free to IEEE members. The nonmember price is $9.95.

To purchase IEEE members-only products and to receive the member discount on eligible products, members must log in with their IEEE Web Account.