The decline of American education and the impact on our critical materials supply chain



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The offshoring of US manufacturing industries that precipitated the supply chain crisis dominating today’s news cycle has had a very disturbing and overlooked consequence. America has lost its lead over people with the experience and skills to rebuild and operate critical supply chains in a growing number of industries.

Not only has basic research and development in the refining and manufacturing of products of critical metals and materials been severely reduced and eroded in North America, but also legacy skills are disappearing due to the simple facts of an aging population. industrial engineering and science combined with little interest in the specialized education needed to replace them.

The small remaining critical materials R&D community is concentrated in academia where wacky ideas and the number of publications, not sales of goods and services, or the good of the country, are the metrics of success. Legacy industrial R&D and manufacturing engineering skills are scarce and no replenishment system is even considered. Government policies are set by academics with no industrial experience. Politicians don’t seem to understand how worrying this is, as their information is only filtered through academia and bureaucracy.

The considerable sums spent on education related to social justice at all levels of our society and the emphasis placed on this by government and, increasingly by industry, have replaced the emphasis on social justice. science and engineering that once dominated the educational direction of government and industry and have depleted funding for what remains of that earlier focus. TThe current attack on math and science in American K12 education is a worrying sign of national failure to even try to compete on a global scale.

There can be no “resumption” of American dominance in the production and use of critical materials for our technological age without a massive reset of educational priorities.

America’s “leaders” are determined to meet the lowest common denominator, through a social media approach to solving problems. All that is easy and popular right now is the government’s response to everything.

Children need to be motivated from the start of their education to understand the value to themselves and to society of educating the most capable among them in science, engineering and medicine. This process cannot be interrupted by ideologues without serious long-term consequences. The Chinese realized the importance of science and engineering over 25 years ago, and they reformed their society’s educational goals for ruthless selectivity among their children for the skills required. They have had huge success.

After World War II, America experienced a similar awakening. Less than 25 years after this end, Americans walked on the moon and science and engineering were celebrated. Industrial R&D in WWII was controlled by the government. Subsequently, private industry took over and gave the world modern semiconductor electronics, and a cornucopia of miniaturized electronics followed and changed the world and society forever. This American tsunami of new technologies that changed the world forever has now receded.

It’s time to either refocus American education or lose our rapidly diminishing technological lead forever.

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