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Stats United States Science Technology

How Engineers and Scientists Cluster In the U.S. 79

Posted by timothy
from the you-forgot-seattle dept.
First time accepted submitter DERoss writes "The National Science Foundation has published a research paper titled Regional Concentrations of Scientists and Engineers In the United States. The lead paragraph contains the sentence 'The three most populous states — California, Texas, and New York — together accounted for more than one-fourth of all S&E employment in the United States.' According to the 2010 census, however, those three states also contain more than one-fourth (26.5%) percent of the U.S. population. In other words, there is no concentration beyond how the general population is concentrated." The clustering is studied with finer granularity than the per-state level, though, and the paper names several places (like the Santa Clara area, and Houston) where such jobs are particularly prevalent.
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How Engineers and Scientists Cluster In the U.S.

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  • Can someone please explain to me what the point of this is? Even the summary suggests there is no point. The is the worst slow-news-day posting I've ever seen here.
    • Horrible summary. The article points out states with larger numbers of tech per capita too - and by this measure, DC, Maryland, and Virginia are a leading cluster.
      • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @03:54PM (#44665447)

        by this measure, DC, Maryland, and Virginia are a leading cluster

        It's called "pork". I frequently travel to the Rockville-Gaithersburg-Germantown corridor of Maryland on business, and I never fail to be amazed just how much STEM work is there, and in nearby areas, mostly sucking off the government teat. I know it extends well beyond STEM, but that's the part of it that's most visible to me. It's nice to know the rest of the country's tax dollars are going towards keeping the people there fat and happy, while most of the rest of the country limps along.

        • by mjwalshe (1680392)
          you know that (milatery rnd) is how SV got started?
          • That's true to some extent, but lots of places have gotten some federal spending (both legitimate and pork). The DC area is an endless hog trough.

            • by mjwalshe (1680392)
              Ah thats what all the senators and congressmen say I am pure as the driven snow and the other states are all money grubbing swine.

              You need to have rules of debate that ban sneaking non related items into the motion which is how a lot of the worst pork gets passed.
        • by devman (1163205)
          You should try VA 267 from McLean to Ashburn and to a lesser extent from Sterling to Centreville on VA 28. Tech and defense companies abound.
        • 1 - watch the movie "Real Genius"
          2 - read some [expletive deleted] history
          3 - read the "military industrial complex" speech, two or three time as a minimum
          4 - watch "samaratin snare"

          Then answer the question please, are you a Pakled?

          To quote "Red" - dumbass - it is where the easy money is.

      • by Shavano (2541114)
        Massachusetts is higher than Virginia, but there's a definite concentration around DC. The lowest rates of S&E employment are in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and South Dakota.
      • by Tokolosh (1256448)

        DC, Maryland, and Virginia are a leading cluster.

        If you drill down, you will see that "social sciences" are included, which is what boosts this cluster. Including "social" as a science fails the whole thing. They might as well have included the Dismal Science.

    • ... bears spotted shitting in the woods. Story at 11.

    • by oodaloop (1229816)

      The is the worst slow-news-day posting I've ever seen here.

      Stick around a few more days; you'll see worse.

    • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @02:58PM (#44665177)

      Knowing where the engineers cluster, and why, can help plan industries or plan job hunting. The clustering also strongly affects engineer salaries and competitive skills, and where to plan conferences of engineering or computer science. And fine granularity can be very helpful for start-up companies, advancing to mid-size companies, who need a larger pool of qualified employees as they move to larger offices.

      Conversely, knowing where the _managers_ like to work is important as well. I know competent engineers who literally can get nothing done because their managers call them in for 3 or 4 meetings on the same day, demanding status reports on the projects the engineers would be working on if they weren't in meetings. This is partly because they are in cramped offices where the managers can reach them too easily and keep trying to micromanage the engineers, asking "when will you have a fix for this" and recording it on Gant charts.

      • I should imagine that scientists and engineers in the United States cluster around wherever the work and research is being done, same as they do in other countries.
        • The study is about testing a common-sense assumption. As other's have pointed out the study has basically confirmed that "a bear shits in the woods". But that's what most science is about, identifying a common-sense assumption that does not hold up under scrutiny, eg "time and space are constants". As in most cases, the common-sense assumption was upheld in this study. Sure it's not very interesting as a news story, but make no mistake, there is a point.
    • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @03:01PM (#44665203)

      Can someone please explain to me what the point of this is?

      The point is to give someone an excuse to post a link to the relevant xkcd [xkcd.com].

    • I suppose you can take it as confirmation of other research that American production is flat [nytimes.com]. Meaning that there isn't a lot of geographic variation (except in agriculture) in what people do in different states.

      But then, even at the end of his post, Krugman concedes that there's not much point to the analysis.
    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      The summary is wrong. The submitter even contradicts himself. He states that the four biggest states do not have a population-representative number of scientists and engineers, implying there is clustering not in those states, then insists there is no clustering.

      • What ever the case, IBM's three state side research centers are located in... wait for it...

        IBM Research - Almaden: San Jose, California
        IBM Research - Austin: Austin, Texas
        IBM Research - Watson: Yorktown Heights, New York

        For anyone who hasn't been to Austin, it's call Silicon Hills for a reason. Texas (Austin, Dallas, Ft Worth) is the second largest tech epicenter behind California. The rest of the jobs are in the DC / New York area, typically government contracts. These three places (CA, TX, NY/DC/

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by radarskiy (2874255)

      The summary says that there is no state-level clustering shown by the 3 most populous states, not that there is no clustering whatsoever. (I think the main implication is that these states are so large that they behave like they are more than one state.)

      Table 1 shows 4.1% of all workers across the country are in science and engineering, and the spread for NY, CA and TX is 3.6-4.9, so they're pretty close. However, there are other states that stray quite far from this, such as Mississippi at 1.7% to DC at 10

    • Well, we could start with the fact that, just because 25% of the Science and Engineering population can be found in an area that constitutes 25% of the total population, that in no way indicates that " ... there is no concentration beyond how the general population is concentrated." If you read the conclusions of the submitter and take them to the bank, you will generally be disappointed with the dividends.
    • by slick7 (1703596)

      Can someone please explain to me what the point of this is? Even the summary suggests there is no point. The is the worst slow-news-day posting I've ever seen here.

      Can someone please explain to me what the point of this is?

      The terse answer is, beyond your grasp.
      The sarcastic answer is, up an MBA's (More Bean-counting Assholes) ass.
      A more realist answer, from my pointless of view is, sitting in an office somewhere away from the harsh realities of the field. Hence the name field engineer.
      I'm sure there are good engineers out there, somewhere, maybe, but, if you want to find them, you need to look for them in their natural habitat, the field. Not in an office, although you will find them there. Not in a boardroom, though, the

  • by alen (225700) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @02:42PM (#44665107)

    news at 11
    highly educated people like to live in areas with good schools, lots of shopping and stuff to do. holy crap, unvbelievable

  • Here's a choropleth map [choropleth.us] based on the first table. Unfortunately the map generator doesn't seem to handle non-integers, so "1" really means "1.0 to 1.999" and so on.
  • where the jobs are (Score:5, Insightful)

    by confused one (671304) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @03:34PM (#44665341)
    Engineers cluster where the jobs are. So do most people. We're sort of past the question, which came first, the population or the jobs? Businesses build where they can acquire (1)people (2)space (3)economic benefits (4)access to transportation for goods. That describes most of the urban population centers (although #2 might require building in the suburbs).
    • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @04:04PM (#44665491)

      Businesses build where they can acquire (1)people (2)space (3)economic benefits (4)access to transportation for goods.

      You forgot #5: happenstance. The best explanation for why Silicon Valley is where it is, is that Bill Shockley's mother lived there. He could have started Shockley Semiconductor Laboratories almost anywhere he wanted, and either New Jersey or SoCal would have made more sense. Seattle became a big tech hub because Gates and Allen were from there, and they missed home more than they liked New Mexico.

      • by confused one (671304) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @04:46PM (#44665705)
        fair enough. I can't argue with that; although, there have been a number of analysis done which showed that without the support of people who happened to be living in the San Francisco bay area, and the liberal support of the University of California system, Silicon Valley could not have happened. Attempts to replicate it have failed due to a lack of the right people or lack of economic support.
        • Also the weather and demographics (especially crime rate) matters. The University of Illinois system, along with leading businesses in the region and nationwide, trying to recreate another "Silicon Valley" in the Chicago area, but to no avail. You get the money, you get the infrastructure, you get the people, people rather go elsewhere.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            As someone from Chicago, I can concur with this. The best schools in the state are Northwestern, UoChicago, and UoIllinois Urbana. UoC could arguably be the best school we have but is in the middle of the south side ghetto. UoI is in the middle of state and nothing but farm fields. NW is on the north side of the city and tends to feed Abbott and UOP and such, but nothing of a STEM cluster that pulls people in. And Chicago is as liberal if not more that SF.

        • there have been a number of analysis done which showed that without the support of people who happened to be living in the San Francisco bay area, and the liberal support of the University of California system, Silicon Valley could not have happened

          That's probably true, but there was nothing unique about the bay area when SV got started. Many other places had/have good universities, and most of the people who started SV weren't even from that area. The "gang of eight", for example, were all people who moved there because they got jobs at Shockley Semiconductor Laboratories.

          Attempts to replicate it have failed due to a lack of the right people or lack of economic support.

          Or because Shockley and his mom are dead. It was really the IC that made SV, and inventions like that don't come along very often.

        • fair enough. I can't argue with that; although, there have been a number of analysis done which showed that without the support of people who happened to be living in the San Francisco bay area, and the liberal support of the University of California system, Silicon Valley could not have happened. Attempts to replicate it have failed due to a lack of the right people or lack of economic support.

          It's a mostly forgotten fact that the Sun in Sun Microsystems was from Stanford University Network.

        • Paul Graham wrote an essay about trying to replicate Sillicon Valley elsewhere.

          http://www.paulgraham.com/siliconvalley.html [paulgraham.com]

          For Graham, it's mainly about two things: nerds (that create tech startups) and rich people (that invest in said startups):

          "I think you only need two kinds of people to create a technology hub: rich people and nerds. They're the limiting reagents in the reaction that produces startups, because they're the only ones present when startups get started. Everyone else will move.

          Observation bears this out: within the US, towns have become startup hubs if and only if they have both rich people and nerds. Few startups happen in Miami, for example, because although it's full of rich people, it has few nerds. It's not the kind of place nerds like.

          Whereas Pittsburgh has the opposite problem: plenty of nerds, but no rich people. The top US Computer Science departments are said to be MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, and Carnegie-Mellon. MIT yielded Route 128. Stanford and Berkeley yielded Silicon Valley. But Carnegie-Mellon? The record skips at that point. Lower down the list, the University of Washington yielded a high-tech community in Seattle, and the University of Texas at Austin yielded one in Austin. But what happened in Pittsburgh? And in Ithaca, home of Cornell, which is also high on the list?"

  • by crepe-boy (950569) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @03:46PM (#44665401)
    The obvious conclusion is that people tend to cluster around scientists and engineers - they follow us wherever we go. Fear our Pied Piper powers!
  • I've made a table which shows (S&E population percent)/(U.S. population percent)! This is more useful because it shows density of S&E workers in a state population. PDF: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B1W_IMAeewo2bVZMYmFkMUN0OTA/edit?usp=sharing [google.com]
  • by sgt scrub (869860) <saintium@yaho[ ]om ['o.c' in gap]> on Saturday August 24, 2013 @05:10PM (#44665823)

    100% of all Scientists and engineers in the U.S. live in the U.S. On a serious note, I thought S&E jobs were located close to the fairchildren [wikipedia.org] and military industrial complex.

  • Interactive map (Score:5, Informative)

    by webplay (903555) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @06:06PM (#44666061)
    Here is an interactive map showing where computer and mathematical occupations are overrepresented [city-data.com].
    • Fantastic link. That's much more useful than TFA.

      Zooming down from a national view to the valley is a perfect example of how that map is useful. CA as a whole shows up as about average nationally. Zoom in a little, and Santa Clara County is a bright spot pulling most of the weight for the whole state. Zoom in further, and you can identify the tech mini-corridors like the Sunnyvale/Cupertino/Mountain View triangle (software-heavy), the North 1st Street chunk (hardware heavy), and SOMA (the app-development he

  • Ain't nobody got time to read stats.

  • by Jeff1946 (944062) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @08:50PM (#44666699) Journal

    Federal R&D funding agencies often have to justify why certain states get a disproportional amount of their funding. Information like this can be used to show why some states get a lot more federal funding than others. About 20 years ago I looked at DOD basic research funding per capita. As I recall Mass. got about $50 per person vs. 50 cents for Maine. NSF has a program called EPSCOR to set aside funding just for the have not states.

  • California might have the average number of engineers but that doesn't mean there aren't a lot of them concentrated in the bay area. People concentrate for resource reasons being able to hire or change jobs, being able to locate funding etc. A state the size of California (especially surrounded by low population states) are too big to look at as a whole. You need to be within commuting distance for network affects to be of any use. This is the equivalent of stating that the country side in the 19th century

Reality must take precedence over public relations, for Mother Nature cannot be fooled. -- R.P. Feynman

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