Finding North American Engineering Graduates

Looking for a good engineer? Join the club. The world’s ever increasing demand for new, better, and more economical products continues to drive the need for great engineering talent. As a North American engineering services company, Lumenance has a keen interest in understanding trends in engineering education to better serve our customer base in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. So where can one find newly minted North American engineers these days?

Our Observations

#1: The United States produces the most engineering graduates
In the United States, engineering has become much more popular since 2009, with degrees awarded increasing by 7.2% per year. This is great news for a country that may be facing an engineering shortage. While we expected the United States to lead, Mexico also impressed us with roughly 75,000 engineering graduates.

#2: Mexico has the highest number of engineering graduates per capita
Mexico continues to transition from a country known for manufacturing to a country known for innovation. The Mexican government encourages people to pursue engineering careers, and they have experienced tremendous growth. Now they outpace the United States in engineering graduates per capita with double the production. Canada also produces more engineers per capita than the United States.

#3: There are interesting cross-country findings for specific disciplines
We compared the three countries across engineering disciplines (see graphic below), and we found some unexpected results. Here are our top seven observations.

(A) Aerospace Engineering
The United States owned over 90% of all aerospace degrees in 2014, which is by far the largest margin between the countries for any discipline.

(B) Civil/Architectural Engineering
Mexico led North America with 14,881 civil/architectural engineering degrees, and the United States followed with 12,940 degrees. One explanation could be that most United States universities separate architecture from engineering, so architectural engineering degrees are uncommon in the United States.

(C) Computer Science
Readers likely expected the United States to award most computer science degrees in North America, however, Mexico led that category with 55.5% of the degrees. Surprised? So were we.

(D) Industrial/Manufacturing/Systems Engineering
Mexico dominates this category with just over 75% of degrees awarded within these disciplines. Mexico has earned a reputation as a manufacturing-focused country, and trends in their engineering education certainly reflect that.

(E) Mechanical Engineering
The United States awards significantly more mechanical engineering degrees than its North American counterparts. Mechanical engineer is the most popular discipline across North America with 35,144 degrees awarded in 2014. This outpaces civil/architectural (30,509) and industrial/manufacturing/systems (23,811).

(F) Petroleum Engineering
The United States owns 63.0% of petroleum engineering degrees. Mexico awards the majority of the remaining North American degrees within this specialty. The data indicates that Canada, with only two accredited petroleum engineering programs, awards very few degrees within this discipline.

(G) Physics/Science Engineering
Canada’s strongest showing was in physics/science engineering. Canada, Mexico, and the United States each award roughly 1/3 of all North American degrees in this category.

#4: Mexico has some very large engineering schools
Mexico may award fewer engineering degrees than the United States, but they have the largest engineering schools in North America, and by no small margin. Take a look at these numbers.

North America’s Largest Engineering Schools (2014)

Across North America, we observed an increased interest in engineering degrees. This is terrific news for companies looking for entry-level talent. But where are the largest engineering schools located? Here is what we found.

1. Instituto Politécnico Nacional (MEX) – 4,876
IPN is one of the largest schools in Latin America. It is a public university with 26 campuses spread across Mexico, but most are located around Mexico City. Over 100,000 undergraduate students are enrolled across all campuses. Mexico has encouraged people to pursue engineering careers, so the IPN system has quickly become one of the biggest suppliers of fresh engineering talent.

2. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (MEX) – 2,881
UNAM is the largest university in Latin America. It has many campuses spread across Mexico, and over 180,000 undergraduate students are enrolled at UNAM. UNAM is both a culturally significant school and a large supplier of engineering talent with roughly 11,000 students enrolled in its engineering programs.

3. Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León (MEX) – 2,339
UANL has seven campuses across the state of Nuevo León in Mexico. It is the third largest public university in Mexico with nearly 78,000 undergraduates. Several organizations recognize UANL as one of the best universities in Latin America.

4. Georgia Institute of Technology (USA) – 1,977
By comparison, only 15,000 undergraduates are enrolled at Georgia Tech. But they have always been focused on engineering. When the school was founded, it’s only degree offered was mechanical engineering. Georgia Tech routinely awards more bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees in engineering than any other school in the United States.

5. Universidad Veracruzana (MEX) – 1,794
Universidad Veracruzana was founded by consolidating the other schools in the state, and it has campuses in every large city across Veracruz. There are 75,000 undergraduates enrolled. Universidad Veracruzana is not primarily known as an engineering school, but they still offer a variety of engineering degrees.

6. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (USA) – 1,782
7. Universidad de Guadalajara (MEX) – 1,586
8. Pennsylvania State University (USA) – 1,584
9. Texas A&M University (USA) – 1,517
10. Virginia Tech (USA) – 1,509
11. University of Michigan (USA) – 1,492
12. Purdue University (USA) – 1,477
13. Universidad Autónoma de Baja California (MEX) – 1,429
14. Ohio State University (USA) – 1,300
15. North Carolina State University (USA) – 1,274
16. Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (MEX) – 1,270
ITESM is one of the largest private universities in Mexico with 31 campuses spread across 25 cities throughout the country. Roughly 50,000 undergraduate students attend ITESM each year. ITESM is recognized for its academics and has a good reputation with employers. ITESM has been accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) since the 1950s, which is one of six accreditation agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

17. University of California, Berkeley (USA) – 1,195
18. University of Texas at Austin (USA) – 1,140
19. Iowa State University (USA) – 1,121
20. University of Waterloo (CAN) – 1,113
UW produces more engineering graduates than any other school in Canada. UW is comprised of a main campus in Waterloo, Ontario, and four satellite campuses. Roughly 30,000 undergraduate students attend the university, and roughly 7,000 of those students are enrolled in the school of engineering. UW offers the only nanotechnology engineering program in North America.

21. Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (MEX) – 1,088
22. University of Florida (USA) – 1,086
23. University of Central Florida (USA) – 1,086
24. California Polytechnic State University (USA) – 1,056
25. University of California, San Diego (USA) – 1,015

Our Methodology

Finding data for the number and types of engineering degrees awarded isn’t as easy as one may think, especially when trying to identify trends across three countries. There isn’t a universally applied methodology for tracking engineering graduation statistics or a standard taxonomy for classifying engineering degrees. A certain amount of detective work is required to sift through data to ensure that one is comparing “apples to apples.” It’s admittedly not an exact science.

After sifting through various sources, the Lumenance team settled on these sources for their respective countries engineering education statistics:
1. United States: American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE)
2. Canada: Engineers Canada
3. Mexico: Raw data tables from the Secretaria de Educación Publica (SEP) and the Secretaria de Educación Superior (SES)

For the data from Mexico, Lumenance engineer Javier Ortega spent hours reviewing and evaluating the raw data tables, removing or recategorizing the information to what best aligned with the conventions used by the United States and Canada. Javier developed graphics and pivot tables to show Mexico’s data. He also translated the documents from Spanish to English. His research served a crucial role in completing this study.

Lastly, we used statistics from 2013-2014. This was the most recent year for which data was reasonably available from all three countries.

Published 05/22/17. Written by Grant Francis, Ted Messerly, and Javier Ortega. Thanks to the ASEE and Engineers Canada for their primary research, and thanks to Mexico’s SEP and SES for compiling Mexico’s graduation numbers.

Sources:

American Society of Engineering Education. (2015). Engineering by the Numbers 2014 [online]. Available: https://www.asee.org/papers-and-publications/publications/college-profiles/2014-undergraduate-engineering-degrees.pdf

Engineers Canada. (2015). Enrolment and Degrees Awarded Report 2014 [online]. Available: https://engineerscanada.ca/sites/default/files/EnrolmentReport2014-e-r2.pdf

México Secretaria de Educación Publica and Secretaria de Educación Superior. (2015). Grados y matrícula [online]. Available: http://www.ses.sep.gob.mx

United States Census Bureau. (2015). International Data Base [online]. Available: https://www.census.gov/population/international/data/idb/informationGateway.php

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