Former Microsoft COO Concerned About US Universities vs. China: ‘The Big Risk for Tech is Talent’

Nov 12

Former Microsoft COO Bob Herbold discussed in an interview (below) the fact that computer science and engineering schools are now competing strongly with US universities. He says that even though the US tech sector continues to be strong, the big risk is talent and China has significantly strengthened their universities:

We (the US tech sector) continue to be strong, but the big risk is talent, frankly. What’s happening in China is that they are pouring a ton of money into these massive research centers. Secondly, they significantly strengthened their universities. So today, if you rank the top ten engineering schools in the world, such as U.S. News & World Report just did, you get five of them basically in Asia which is a real surprise compared to ten years ago.

The schools are good, the government is pouring in a lot of money, and what’s happening in the US is we are actually telling these kids who are getting master’s degrees and PhDs in computer science and engineering, we say to them, look, we don’t necessarily want you around. That’s the signal that we are sending them. It’s absolutely the wrong signal.

They have gotten caught up in this immigration flap, which is again an issue that keeps being kicked around. What’s happening is that in 2011, 45 percent of graduates from Asia would go back home. Today, that number is 80 percent. They’re going back home to good jobs and to environments that welcome them because they know that long-term their military and their industry is dependent on great technology.

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