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From international, national and local sources, highlights continuously updated news, events, and announcements affecting Virginia’s engineering community. Virginia’s Professional/Technical societies, colleges and universities, private firms, and industry are strongly encouraged to submit news pertaining to their engineering activities. We want to hear from and about you. Contact us at for details.

Most Recent News Item:
Study Suggests Visa Policies May Be Obstacle For Hiring By Startups
October 18, 2019

As developments in technology across the wide range of STEM fields continues at an ever-accelerating pace, the lack of available candidates to fill newly created positions is forcing small technology startup firms to compete in an increasingly uneven playing field to attract top talent.

Currently, according to information provided by Cornell University (Cornell), foreign-born Ph.D. graduates with science and engineering degrees from American universities apply to and receive offers for technology startup jobs at the same rate as U.S. citizens, but are only half as likely to actually work at fledgling companies.

Rather than finding positions with new technology startups, they choose to work at large technology companies with the resources and experience to sponsor foreign workers for highly coveted H-1B or permanent residency visas.

The findings of the new Cornell study, “Why Foreign STEM Ph.D.s are Unlikely to Work for U.S. Technology Startups,” suggest visa policies are an obstacle for small companies seeking to hire foreign-born workers with specialized, in-demand skills. The fact that so many Ph.D. graduates in STEM fields are international, these policies effectively create an uneven playing field for startups as they compete with established companies to attract top talent.

“Startups are an important engine for innovation and economic growth,” said Michael Roach, the J. Thomas and Nancy W. Clark Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell and the study’s co-author. “A key insight from this research is that rather than fostering entrepreneurial activity, U.S. visa policies may disadvantage young technology startups – and this applies to startups founded by immigrants and U.S. citizens alike.”

“But hiring is one of the key challenges for early-stage technology startups, and current U.S. visa policies make it even harder,” Professor Roach goes on to note.

With support provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Junior Faculty Fellowship and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the research, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was based on a nine-year survey of more than 2,300 Ph.D.s, beginning in graduate school and following them into their careers.

Tech skills such as machine learning and data science are in extremely high demand by companies, and unemployment among Ph.D. graduates in STEM fields is less than 2%. According to the NSF Science and Engineering Indicators 2018, half of the people who receive doctorates from U.S. universities in computer science were born in other countries, so access to this pool of workers is key for small and large companies alike.

“Over the past few decades, the American economy has become more dependent on science and technology innovation for growth, and at the same time, our science and technology Ph.D. programs have become more dependent on foreign talent,” according to co-author John D. Skrentny, director of the Yankelovich Center for Social Science Research and professor of sociology at the University of California, San Diego.

“We often see great innovations coming from Google and Apple, but a lot of their innovation is actually from buying startups,” Prof. Skrentny said. “These startups have trouble accessing the foreign talent our best universities are graduating.”

Ph.D.s with U.S. citizenship whose first jobs are in industrial research and development are nearly twice as likely to work at startups as foreign-born Ph.D.s, even though both groups applied for and were offered startup jobs at the same rate. Nearly 16% of Ph.D.s who are U.S. citizens worked at startups after graduation, compared with nearly 7% of foreign Ph.D.s who required a work visa.

The researchers used the results of the survey, which began in 2010 and focused on Ph.D. students in STEM fields at 39 leading U.S. research universities, to rule out several possible explanations for this disparity. They asked questions gauging participants’ interest in working at startups; more foreign-born students said they were interested than students who are citizens.

They considered whether international graduates were more risk-averse than U.S. citizens, indicating that, despite their interest, they’d ultimately be more inclined to work for larger, more stable companies, but the survey also showed foreign-born Ph.D.s had a greater tolerance for risk.

Studies have shown that startups pay lower salaries to their employees than established companies in exchange for equity, but the researchers also found in the survey that foreign-born Ph.D.s rated high pay as less important to their ideal job than their U.S. citizen counterparts.

Though the study did not provide a direct link between visa policies and the hiring of foreign-born workers, the body of evidence indicates visa requirements play a role, the researchers said. Revisiting visa policy as it relates to startups might help them thrive and stimulate the economy, Prof. Roach said.

“The findings of this study suggest the need to consider immigration policies that make it easier for technology startups to hire highly skilled foreign workers with Ph.D.s from U.S. research universities,” he said. “We may want to consider ways to make it easier for high-growth startups to hire the workers they need.”

News Items
Below are listed the 12 most recent News Items.
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Study Suggests Visa Policies May Be Obstacle For Hiring By Startups
October 18, 2019

New technology start-up companies face uneven playing field in talent acquisition process.

Radford University Awards On-Call Professional Services Contract
October 18, 2019

Contract includes a wide range of provided services with four one-year renewals.

Study Shows Fire Blankets Can Protect Buildings From Wildfires
October 17, 2019

Researchers conduct the first study to scientifically assesses this method of defense.

DEQ Issues Permits For New Solar Projects
October 17, 2019

New solar projects will generate 192 megawatts of electricity.

AASHTO Announces Presentation of Major Awards
October 16, 2019

Four major awards presented at the organization’s annual meeting.

Transistors and Electronic Devices Made Entirely From Thread
October 16, 2019

A team of Tufts University engineers has developed a transistor made from linen thread, enabling them to create electronic devices made entirely of thin threads…

Fundamental Barrier To Accuracy Uncovered
October 15, 2019

As researchers continue to push the limits of imaging, a scientist at Washington University in St. Louis has uncovered a fundamental barrier to accuracy when it comes to…

2019 America’s Transportation Awards Competition Winners Announced
October 15, 2019

Grand Prize and People’s Choice award winners announced.

Remote Monitoring For Managing Ecosystems and Agriculture Developed
October 14, 2019

By tracking wavelengths of light beyond the visible spectrum, tools like spectrometers pick up unique signatures of plants’ biochemical makeup…

Advancing Our Knowledge Of Floating Wind Farms
October 14, 2019

The collaborative study aimed to better understand how the wake effects of large wind farm arrays decrease power output and reduce the lifespan of the turbines.

Forestry Products Company Announces $31.75 Million Facilities Expansion
October 11, 2019

Company is committing to source 100 percent of its net new timber purchases from the Commonwealth.

Exploring Differences Between Square and Round Hay Bales
October 11, 2019

A recent Sustainable, Secure Food blog explores the reasons behind the different shapes in hay bales.

News Items Archive
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