Dear Mr. Molloy:
I was one of those engineers you spoke to about how to become popular in Tampa four weeks ago. I enjoyed your presentation but I took strong objection to your statement that America’s dominance in science was about to end .I was going to challenge you on it but I didn’t quite know how to go about doing it because the idea was new to me. I was busy at the time but I was laid up in bed for almost two weeks and could think of little else. I am sure it’s untrue since we invented the internet, the cell phone and made billionaires out of those who created Innovative ways of using either.
In addition you said engineers did not get the respect they deserved in Corporate America that may have been true years ago but it is not true today. Most corporations could not survive without the input of well trained engineers and they know it.
A Creative Engineer
In the first sentence in the above paragraph you state that Corporate America in the past undervalued engineers but today that is not the case. In the second sentence you say that corporations could not survive without engineers but then you finish by admitting that engineers do not run corporations when you said “and they know it”.
The primary reason we are going to lose our leadership in science Is today we produce 50,000 engineers a year while China produces 250,000.The same numerical disparity existed when we were competing with Russia but since our engineers were raised in a free society where free thought was encouraged and were convinced they could do anything they out invented the World. Today on college campuses everyone is told to think the same way and freethinkers are punished as they are in Russia and China. Second our research shows creative people are extremely competitive. When we spoke to those who made breakthroughs they said they dreamed of inventing, and beating the other guy before they invented anything. Today we teach our children that winning and losing are bad. As result, in schools today there are no winners or losers, everyone gets a trophy. In addition, today our schools are so bad that while we spend more money than any other country in the world on education our students ranked 25th in the world in math and science. That was not always true, my mother went to the public schools in New York in the early 20th century when they were the best in the world. Because she was bright and finished High School math in the first two years she was encouraged to take college classes. She graduated from high school with a special certificate in statistics, which was far more advanced then a junior college degree is today.
I know this because 32 years ago I was hired by a high-tech firm in California to study creativity. They hired me after I spoke to them about dressing for success when they interacted with non-technical people and the results of my advice dramatically increased their business. They wanted me to apply the same research techniques to studying creativity. Specifically they wanted me to compare their most creative engineers to engineers who work as hard and were as well qualified academically but didn’t seem ever to produce or contribute to breakthroughs.I took the job because I had been studying creativity for years on my own. It almost became a fixation or at least it became a hobby. I read every article and study I ran across on the subject and had already come to a few conclusions on my own.
Since this was going to be my first study of unquestionable creativity I asked for several weeks to design the project.I was very excited because I was going to be able to study people whose creativity was provable. Hollywood stars and many others claim they are creative when they may or may not be. Some of them make the claim because of the field they are in. The creative artist isn’t necessarily creative because their paintings sell. I own a painting of a pale young doll like girl holding a doll painted by a famous Mexican artist. It’s obviously a picture of a young girl who died, It isn’t worth much because once the artist died his paintings were not sought by those who are in control of the Art World. I own a number of paintings that are more valuable than that one but I believe it is a masterpiece. So the creativity of an artist is a matter of personal opinion. I may be right I may be wrong. That is why studying Engineers who had made breakthroughs was so exciting.
When we questioned the most creative engineers they told us that one of the motivating factors was they believed America was the finest country in the world and partially as a result we were special and more creative. Three months ago for the first time in 10 years I was hired to speak to a group on creativity in which a third of my audience were engineers. At the end of my presentation I opened the floor to questions which is my normal procedure. I was shocked when most in the audience challenged my assertion that America is a wonderful country, they said we were no better or worse than any other country. That is what is being taught in American schools today while in Germany, Japan, Russia, China, Great Britain, France and every other country I could check on teach their children that they should be proud of their country and very proud of who they are. Their textbooks ignore or de-emphasize or put the best spin on embarrassing parts of their history while emphasizing those facts which makes them look best. That’s important because when I interviewed people from other countries who had made breakthroughs in their field many of them said they did it to show that their country was great. Our researchers and engineers without a belief in their country will not have the same motivation. So unfortunately our leadership in science is probably coming to an end.