Constructing an economy that's built to last depends on a ready supply of talented individuals: people who invent, create and develop the ideas that will drive exports and those who can assemble them. China gets it. To make its economy more knowledge- and technology-intensive, China is investing heavily in science and engineering education, infrastructure and R&D support. Already wages are increasing, the middle class is growing, and the country is developing new technology rather than just assembling products. And while the U.S. continues to file more patents than any other country, the Far East's investment in R&D, fueled by China, matched U.S. contributions in 2009, according to the National Science Foundation's report, Science and Engineering Indicators 2012.
To compete, the U.S. needs more engineers and scientists. But of the world's engineering graduates, less than 4 percent of degrees are earned in the U.S. vs. 56 percent in Asia, says a report from the NSF. It's no wonder such companies as Airbus, 3M and Caterpillar are looking East for R&D talent.
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