An op-ed written by Clemson Professor Mark Thies and published in the Greenville News says the number of U.S. students enrolled at Clemson in STEM fields is up 60 percent over the past five years. Furthermore, he says that one-third of STEM graduates aren't working in the field and starting salaries within the field have remained flat since 2010.
Thies teaches Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Clemson University in South Carolina. He says that enrollment in his Thermodynamics class is the highest its been in his 28 years of teaching. He uses his observations to criticize both the Gang of Eight's immigration proposal and Sen. Lindsey Graham's suggestions that the U.S. suffers from a "brain drain" - highly educated people leaving the country because they can't stay and work in the country after graduation.
"[A]ccording to Ross Eisenbrey in The New York Times, almost 90 percent of Chinese and Indian students who earn STEM PhDs stay here. Ross comments (and based on my 28 years at Clemson University I concur) that if a student is talented enough to be wanted by industry, they are essentially guaranteed to get a work visa."
Thies says it's not just recent graduates that are seeing flat starting salaries. He says expereinced STEM workers have also seen their salaries stop rising and there's evidence to prove that there are no labor shortages in the high-tech industry.
"[T]he National Association of Colleges and Employers, which tracks STEM salaries of new graduates, reports that overall engineering starting salaries have been flat since 2010, with a tiny 0.3 percent increase. Similar trends exist for more experienced workers. In fact, according to Professor Norman Matloff (EPI Briefing Paper No. 356, Feb. 28), no study other than those sponsored by industry has ever confirmed a shortage! Industry’s continual claims that there are too few Americans in STEM fields — and that U.S. citizens are less talented than their foreign counterparts — have been refuted by several recent studies.
"As far as the brain drain is concerned, Matloff’s study reached a somewhat startling conclusion: There indeed is a brain drain — but it’s an internal brain drain, as the best and brightest U.S. students move out of the STEM field after graduation into areas where salaries are more lucrative because of less worker competition."
Read Prof. Thies's full op-ed at GreenvilleOnline.com.
Updated: Tue, Mar 19th 2013 @ 10:56am EDT