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Analysis

Competitive Technology Hub Begins with Engineers

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 13:16

Mexico is gradually moving from being a low-wage manufacturing country to a more advanced, science and technology driven economy. This new trend, President Felipe Calderón claimed in October 2012, “has led to the promotion of over 130,000 engineers and technicians from universities and specialized high schools.” According to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), over 745,000 students – which equal roughly to 30% of the country’s total university population – are enrolled in engineering and technology courses. This means that Mexico is graduating around 115,000 engineering students per year, exceeding the number of engineers graduating from universities in countries such as the US, Brazil, and Germany. This has led to the creation of highly competitive technology hubs and convinced global technology driven companies such as Honeywell and GE to hire Mexican engineering graduates to work in their research and operation centers. For example, despite already having four global research centers in China, India, Germany, and the US, GE recently opened a Center of Excellence in Queretaro, dedicated to research and innovative technology specifically tailored to Mexican needs.

The President of the Mexican Association of Mechanical and Electrical Engineers (AMIME), Lilia Coronel Zamora, believes that in order for Mexicans to fully exploit their degrees and help Mexico become a leading technological and engineering nation, “foreign companies must hire Mexican engineers on a long-term basis in order for them to grow and eventually become technology creators rather than simply temporary technicians.” However, Coronel Zamora claims there is a large gap between the demands of engineering companies and the abilities and professionalism of recently graduated technology and engineering students in Mexico. “Mexican engineers are extremely well prepared and can compete at the highest levels, but if engineering companies believe there is a gap between their demands and the qualifications of the Mexican workforce, they should create programs to train engineers in whatever specific discrepancies they deem necessary,” she states.

To close the gap between company demands, recent graduate qualifications and professionalism, the Mexican College for Petroleum Engineers (CIPM) is in the process of creating a petroleum engineering certification system, to shorten the demand-qualification gap by giving the CIPM “the technical authority to be part of the most important decisions in the oil and gas industry while at the same time having an important say on the competitiveness and quality of petroleum engineering academic curricula nationwide,” explains José Serrano, President of CIPM.