It has been a long time since we have gotten together. As a Cal grad, with a family of Cal grads, who went to Stanford B-school, I know exactly what you are saying about the differences in the personalities of the students, grads and faculty--the difference between kids of working/middle class families and the entitled few. Go Bears.
On your serious note, I was out of EDA for a few years and just joined one of those companies outside of Norcal who is making great strides. It is an Israeli company of entrepreneurs with reconfigurable processors as tools which do what we were doing at Quickturn and Aptix for 1/10th the cost, and with 1/100th the pain level. There is a passion, scrappiness and focus in such a company, that is hard to deny. It is compelling. The drive is like our early days at Quickturn, in our death battle with PiE Design, and equally hungry and focused startup. Much of that gets lost when you go public, and then get acquired by one of the big three, or four.
I think your points are right-on. For too many of our children, engineering, or biology, is just too much work. But if we don't put some fire in them, the exciting opportunities will all be overseas, across the dateline, or elsewhere.