Engineering Job Prospects Could Increase for Minorities


    Although there has been growing concern over the potential shortage of engineering jobs in the U.S., a recent study by the Engineering Income & Salary Survey shows entry-level engineers earn higher salaries than their peers in other professions.

    According to the survey, the average salary of an engineer with less than a year of experience is $46,059. Engineers with one to two years of experience earn an average of $48,451.

    "We’ve heard the horror stories about a potential shortage of U.S. engineering graduates due in part to a decline of job opportunities for engineers," said NSPE (National Society of Professional Engineers) Executive Director Al Gray in an U.S. Newswire article. "But engineering continues to be a viable and in-demand profession, and engineering graduates can expect starting salaries and job opportunities well into the future."

    However, what does this mean for aspiring engineers who wish to attend an HBCU for their training? Clark Atlanta University announced in 2003 that it would be shutting down its engineering program by May 2008, citing the school’s $7.5 million deficit and a need to focus on other areas of study that would attract more donors, such as mass media, business and biology.

    This move would bring the number of HBCUs with accredited engineering programs to 13, including: Alabama A&M University, Normal, Ala.; Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, Fla.; Hampton University, Hampton, Va.; Howard University, Washington, D.C.; Morgan State University, Baltimore, Md.; North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, N.C.; Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View, Texas; Southern University, Baton Rouge, La.; Tennessee State University, Nashville, Tenn. and Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Ala.

    Many recruiters and agencies are scrambling to fill the shortage of blacks and other minorities in the fields of science and engineering. According to a recent study by the National Science Foundation, only 12 percent of all science doctoral degrees awarded in the United States in 2003 went to minorities.

    In June, the Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) announced it would do more to recruit blacks and minorities in these fields by working with different HBCUs. "Our aim is to support these institutions and their students and also give them greater opportunities to work with our corporation," said Arnold Punaro, SAIC executive vice president and general manager of Washington Operations in a June 28 press release.

    The company’s plan includes establishing scholarships, providing training and funding schools and other minority outreach programs.

    Other companies with similar programs include Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Ford Motor Company, Hewlett-Packard Company, Corning Inc., ExxonMobil Corporation, General Electric, IBM Corporation, NASA, Northrop Grumman Corporation, Procter & Gamble, Sprint and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

    Tyrone D. Taborn, founder and CEO of Career Communications Group said in a recent blackcollegian.com article, "This list is important because for many years, the relationship between HBCUs and non-HBCUs has not been equitable. Corporate and government execs naturally tend to support the college they came from. If you don’t have HBCU graduates in your executive ranks, you don’t think about HBCUs."