Getting and keeping a work force capable of meeting the demands of the 21st century is one of the key challenges most U.S. manufacturers face today. That's not even news anymore. I - and others - have been talking about it in editorials and speeches for ten years now. It's also not news that the job is a tough one and that industry-wide response often has not been particularly effective.
"More than half our young people leave school without the knowledge or foundation required to find and hold a job." according to a 1991 report from the U.S. Dept. of Labor. A huge gap exists between the needs of employers (especially in manufacturing) and the training received by most high school students.
In this issue of Gear Technology, we are focusing on using computers to their greatest advantage in gear design and manufacturing. In a sense, that's old news. It's a cliche to suggest that computers make our work life easier and more productive. No company that wishes to remain competitive in today's global manufacturing environment can afford to be without computers in all their manifestations. We need them in the office; we need them next to our desks in place of drafting boards; we need them on the shop floor.
"Opportunity is the start of great enterprises." said the Greet statesman Demosthenes, and what was true 2300 years ago is no less true now. Plenty of opportunities which can grow into great - and successful - enterprises are waiting for us right now if we only have the foresight to take advantage of them.
"We have met the enemy and he is us," says Pogo, the cartoon character. The enemy is the crisis in our educational system, and "crisis" is the only term that accurately describes the situation. It is every bit as serious, if not more so, than the crisis that followed the Soviet launching of Sputnik in 1957 - and for many of the same reasons. Our failing public education system threatens our position int he global political and business arenas; and this time, it's not just the Soviets or the Japanese who need to be taken seriously as competitors. Every country int he world that graduates better prepared students than we do - and there are a great many of them - has us at a competitive disadvantage.
This issue's editorial is a reprint of the keynote address given by Michael Goldstein at the Computer Aided Gear Design Seminar held at the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA on November 9, 1987.
What was once recognized as the unique
genius of America is now slipping away
from us and, in many areas, is now seen as a "second rate" capability. Unless
action is taken now, this country
is in real danger of being unable to regain its supremacy in technological development and economic vigor. First Americans must understand the serious implications of the problem; and second, we must dedicate ourselves to national and local actions that will ensure a greater scientific and
technological literacy in America.