The Effect of the Cold War on Stem Education

3949 Words Dec 3rd, 2012 16 Pages
The Effect of the Cold War Arm’s Race on STEM Occupations during the Cold War
Ketib Oldiais
Mr. Kelley
IB Asian and European History HL
00450-

A. Plan of Investigation 5 marks During the Cold War, the struggle for power between the communists of Soviet Russia and the pro-democracy politicians of the United States escalated in numerous proxy wars, acts of espionage, and potential nuclear warfare. Behind it all however, the Cold War was a breeding ground for competition in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. From the 1960s, upon the spark of the Space Race with the Soviet Launch of Sputnik, to the 1990s with the reunion of East and West Germany, the Cold War was a period of increase in occupations related to
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Both sides clearly understood the power of having the best possible weaponry, something that could only be attained with the brightest minds. Gone were the days were having the most men would win the battle; the Cold War was an era of scientific and technological progress. Even in the American education system, trends in doctorate degrees were evident enough of the public’s enthusiasm in participating in a new, fruitful field. From 1971 to 1985, the number of engineering and engineering technology master’s and doctorate degrees increased from 16,443 to 21,555 degrees. (National Science Board, Science and Engineering Indicators 2008, Figure 3-1).
It is very evident that the American people were just as concerned about national security and patriotism at the time than the politicians were. From 1950, there were less than approximately 500,000 STEM employees. By 1960, this figure had increased to approximately 1.25 million, by 1970 at least 1.75 million, and by 1980 about 2.5 million ((National Science Board, Science and Engineering Indicators 2008, Figure 3-1). (Refer to appendix 1 for a more accurate line graph of this trend.) It is important to note however, that all these growth spurts were sparked by the technological, scientific, engineering, and mathematical advancements that both the Soviet Union and the United States accomplished. It was during the Cold War that atomic energy, the most powerful energy that could possibly be