The problem of and concern about our country's youngsters seemingly not being overly interested in pursuing technical career paths is a theme often heard in the tech news media and workplaces. As our world grows increasingly automated and everything from light bulbs (LED, CFL, etc.) to telephones (smartphones) and automobiles are so packed with "no user serviceable parts inside," there seems to be little motivation for an otherwise potential budding tinkerer to take stuff apart to discover what makes it work. In the "old days" like, say, 1955, products were much more accessible to kids' curious nature and explains why fostering the next crop of engineers, scientists, and technicians took care of itself. You might think so, but alas, the dilemma evidently persists with each succeeding generation. Read through this editorial that appeared in the May 1955 issue of Radio & Television News for evidence. To wit: "It is unfortunate, we feel, that in this age of technological achievement and progress that so few teenagers are encouraged at school level to examine the tremendous possibilities in the fields of science - particularly electronics." It's déjà vu all over again.
For the Record: Technological Revolution
By the Editor (Oliver Reed)
America has long been described as "the land of opportunity," and indeed it is. Today, more than at any other time in the history of radio, television, and electronics, are there numerous and promising opportunities for youth to enter the fastest-growing of all the world's major industries.
It is unfortunate, we feel, that in this age of technological achievement and progress that so few teenagers are encouraged at school level to examine the tremendous possibilities in the fields of science - particularly electronics. Educators are failing to encourage these teenagers in things technical, but are devoting their efforts in educating youth to study other arts which, in the future, do not possess the practical advantages of an expanding industry.
Our country was known many years ago for its craftsmen. Today it is comparatively rare to find one skilled in things mechanical which, by comparison, are more profitable as a vocation than numerous other arts commonly taught in our high schools. In spite of the tremendous growth of electronics, its opportunities apparently are overlooked by the educators. This, in spite of the fact that today electronics is and will continue to be the fastest-growing industry of our times. It takes no crystal gazer to realize that the electronics industry will probably more than double its growth within the next ten years.
Recently, your editor visited his local high-school at a regular P.T.A. meeting to see the "end products" of various classes - including the arts. Instructors, without exception, took great pride in displaying pottery, glassware, oil and water-color paintings, cartoons, pen and ink sketching, etc., to name but a few. But nowhere could we find evidence of any scientific instruction like electronics that offered a real opportunity for future employment for the average student. We don't mean to imply that no opportunities exist in the other arts. But compared to electronics, they are indeed most limited. We feel that the educators are failing miserably to foresee and to analyze the great opportunities presented by the fastest growing of all the world's major industries - electronics.
Our government has recognized the weakness of our educational system in its failure to supply potential scientists and engineers for its vast defense system, and even without the opportunities for a bright future in military electronics there also remains a vacuum of talent in all of the scientific fields. Our industry is said to have only 25% of essential technical know-how, and points with alarm to our potential enemy and its progress in scientific educational development. Electronics, as an industry, has expanded at a rate that almost defies comprehension. To many it is still a magical term.
It's the old story of the three blind men and the elephant. The one who felt the trunk described it as an animal built like a tree; the one who patted its side thought of it as built like a door; and the one who grabbed the tail said .it resembled a snake.
It could hardly be otherwise. Electronics is today a highly complex industry because of the many miracles that it can perform in the home, in industry, and in commerce. Youth does not realize, for example, that the entertainment end of the industry comprises but a fraction of its over-all productivity and application. The field of industrial electronics, as one example, will some day reach proportions that may dwarf either military or entertainment electronics.
Our friends in Canada have made tremendous progress in electronics during the past few years. Interest has been reflected in our own growth across the border. We talked to many visitors to the recent IRE convention in New York and, without exception, these Canadian engineers wholeheartedly agreed that equal opportunities exist in the Canadian electronics industry for new blood. Hi-fi is booming, we are told.
As you read this editorial, I will be in Toronto to visit their 2nd annual Audio Show - and to later report on our observations of Canada's expanding electronics industry.
Numerous opportunities are available to youth in the field of electronics, but he cannot possibly seize upon these opportunities unless he is first encouraged at school level and, accordingly, to understand and consider its advantages. And it is logical to assume, we think, that if the educators would encourage and teach electronics subjects that they would make an outstanding contribution in the prevention of juvenile delinquency. This is so because electronics, compared with other fields of endeavor, is able to offer not only a lucrative vocation but, of equal importance, has its well-known avocations including the hobbies of amateur radio, high-fidelity, model control, and a host of other interesting pastimes.
Here we think is a very real opportunity for educators to use a bit of common sense in designing a curriculum that would serve a positive purpose - one that would result in future security for millions of teenagers.
We would like every teenage boy in high-school to read the following from a recent speech by W. Benton Harrison, of Sylvania. Electric Products Inc., in which he states; " ... from the standpoint of sales and revenues, the electronics industry is today virtually a $9,000,000,000 industry. In the three-year period, 1958-60, total sales will come close to $14,000,000,000 a year. And, ten years from now, in 1964, we are positive we will be justified in calling electronics an industry with sales and revenues totaling over $20,000,000,000 a year. ...
"I repeat, today electronics is a $9,000,000,000 industry; by 1960 it will be a $15,000,000,000 industry; and by 1964 it will be a $20,000,000,000 industry. That means that within a decade it will have more than doubled its present size. It is extremely difficult to envision any other major industry that will grow that fast between now and 1965."
Will your son grow with it? ... OR.
Posted May 17, 2019