Science and Engineering

Broad Federal Effort Urgently Needed to Create New, High-Quality Jobs for All Americans in the 21st Century [the broken link was removed], news release on a report from the National Academies Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy – Rising Above The Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future:

U.S. 12th-graders recently performed below the international average for 21 countries on a test of general knowledge in mathematics and science.

This is not a new discovery, but the continuing persistence of this result is none-the-less an important issue to consider.

In 2001 U.S. industry spent more on tort litigation than on research and development.

As Dr. Deming stated decades ago “Excessive legal damage awards swelled by lawyers working on contingency fees” is one of the seven deadly diseases of the American economy.

The report makes four major recommendations:

  • Increase America’s talent pool by vastly improving K-12 mathematics and science education.
  • Sustain and strengthen the nation’s commitment to long-term basic research.
  • Develop, recruit, and retain top students, scientists, and engineers from both the United States and abroad.
  • Ensure that the United States is the premier place in the world for innovation.

Hopefully significant action will be taken as the result of this report (or for any reason, actually). The continuing decline of the relative position (to the rest of the world) of the United States science and engineering success will not stop. The only question is how quick that decline will be By taking this, and similar, reports seriously, and then taking action, the decline of that relative position can be slowed.

Partially the relative position of the United States is falling because others are improving significantly. I am glad that is true. The portion of the decline due to the very slow improvement (or absolute decline) in the scientific and engineering success of the United States is something I hope can be changed. I believe improving the application of science and engineering will grow the “pie” for everyone.

Interesting specific example provided in the news release:

Last year chemical companies shuttered 70 facilities in the United States and have tagged 40 more for closure. Of 120 chemical plants being built around the world with price tags of $1 billion or more, one is in the United States and 50 are in China.

It is one, small, example of why I feel this is an economic issue. And while obviously a politically motivated move why the title of the report has some merit (I still think it still silly that the news release and report don’t mention science or engineering in their titles, but mention the economy and jobs).

previous posts on similar topics:

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