According to the report, the US leads the world in science and engineering, however China leads in total volume of science papers published. (Image credit: Pexels)


According to the National Science Foundation’s 2018 Science and Engineering Indicators report, the US is the global leader in science and technology (or engineering). To put that into a general perspective ─ The US invests the most in R&D endeavors (both academic and commercially), attracts the most venture capital revenue, awards the most advanced degrees and is the most significant producer in high-technology manufacturing sectors, however China tops the US in the total number of science papers published.


The in-depth report details a wealth of information and vital data with insights on how science and engineering R&D are linked to economic and workforce development as well as how STEM education around the globe is helping to bolster growth in those sectors. The US saw only modest gains in math over the past two decades based on PISA (Programme for International Student Assesment) test scores, below the average of most other OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries. That said, US students score at or above the global average in the sciences at the high school level with a good percentage of graduates moving forward to higher-learning institutions to pursue degrees in many of the STEM-related fields.


The US issued over 1-million associates degrees in 2015 with a nearly a quarter of those awarded in science and technology fields, primarily in health and engineering related academics. While women accounted for almost 60% of associate’s degrees since the year 2000, only 42% were awarded in 2015 in S&E fields- a 21% drop over 15 years. Proportionally, the US saw an increase in bachelor’s degrees by more than one-half over the last two decades, with one-third accounted for S&E related fields. Of course, the US remains the destination of choice for international students looking for degrees in STEM-related areas as well, numbering over 800,000 in 2014, however those numbers are dropping due to other countries vying for attraction.


The numbers don’t lie, the US is seeing dwindling numbers for STEM-based academic pursuits due to a few rising trends, including economic and social factors (among several others) and while the US still retains top-billing as the leader in science and engineering endeavors, they are declining in others, which will impact the US workforce. As it stands now, business R&D keeps America at the forefront of technology development, accounting for 72% of the $495-billion in science and engineering related revenue in 2015 alone. We may very well see that number decline significantly over the next decade if STEM academics continue to decline.


It's a good time to study STEM fields. Plenty of jobs will soon be opening up.


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