I have pointed out before that I am a child of the American post-Sputnik boom in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education, which spread to other countries through books like the ones below, but which faded away in the US over the decades that followed.
I have also previously written about the Times Higher Education “top 100” university list for Engineering and Technology and its relationship to solar-car racing. The USA has 31 of the institutions on the list, making it still the world leader in STEM. But things change when we look at the number of such institutions per million of national population (plotted in the bar chart below). Then the USA ranks only 13th. The top six countries/regions become Hong Kong (with 4 institutions), Singapore (with NTU and NUS), Sweden (with 3 institutions), Australia (with 7 institutions), Switzerland (with 2 institutions), and the Netherlands (with Delft, Eindhoven, and Twente).
So where might one create the next Silicon Valley?
- In Ontario, Canada, perhaps (near Toronto and the University of Waterloo).
- Or in the vicinity of Melbourne, Australia (near Monash University and the University of Melbourne).
- Or in the vicinity of Sydney, Australia (near UNSW and the University of Sydney).
- Or in Hong Kong (near HK Polytechnic University, HK University of Science and Technology, the University of HK, and the Chinese University of HK).
- Or in southeast England (near Imperial College London, University College London, Oxford University, and the University of Cambridge).
- Or in the southern Netherlands (near Delft, Eindhoven, Twente, and Leuven across the border).
The San Francisco Bay Area has to work hard to compete with those locations! If the US truly wants to lead the world in STEM, it may need to lift its game a little. And a nation cannot be “great” in the modern era without excellence in STEM.