WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation announces the following full committee hearing on Advancing American Innovation and Competitiveness.
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Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IVU.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
WASHINGTON, D.C.—We are here today to talk about science: science for research, research for innovation, the innovation behind new technologies, and technology development that leads to high-tech jobs.
Science-based innovation drives enormous economic growth and helps America compete in the global economy.
For centuries, innovation has made this country a global economic leader, from the steam engine driving the Industrial Revolution to computers and networks powering the Internet Revolution.
But we cannot take that leadership for granted and we need to redouble our efforts to make sure we never lose ground.
At a time when the economy continues to struggle, our future depends on the investments we make today to keep our nation competitive and ensure our communities’ long-term economic security and prosperity.
Five years ago, the National Academies report “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” sounded the alarm that U.S. leadership in science and technology was eroding.
And so Congress responded in 2007 with the America COMPETES Act—landmark legislation to increase national investment in research and development, as well as science, technology, engineering, and math education—popularly known as STEM education.
Now the legislation is set to expire this year and, as we look toward reauthorization, we need to evaluate our progress since the law was passed.
President Obama began his presidency with a call to “restore science to its rightful place.”
He has followed through on that promise with proposed funding increases in science, technology, innovation, and STEM education.
And we also made a significant investment with last year’s Recovery Act.
Research institutions across the country have received the kind of grants and awards that will allow them to jumpstart new projects and hire new employees.
I know West Virginia colleges and universities have already received nearly $29 million to continue their important work.
But we have much more to do and we need to look even further down the road at the same time.
And in this difficult budgetary climate, I agree with the president's focus on research and investments in STEM education.
We may not see the immediate pay-off from these budget increases, but the long-term dividends will be immeasurable.
A world-class STEM workforce is fundamental to addressing the challenges of the 21st century—from developing clean sources of energy that reduce our dependence on foreign oil to discovering cures for diseases.
And very importantly—that means quality jobs, too.
Projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicate that over 80 percent of the fastest-growing occupations depend on knowledge of mathematics and science.
We simply cannot afford to continue jeopardizing our nation's future by failing to invest today.
This hearing is an opportunity to examine how and where we are making those investments as we consider the path ahead and what more needs to be done.
And I am pleased to say that I don’t think we could have a better qualified group here today to answer those questions.
Dr. Holdren, President Obama's Science Advisor, is responsible for the broad federal science enterprise as the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Dr. Bement is the Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), the primary source of Federal funding for the nation's universities for engineering and the physical sciences.
Dr. Bement knows I have been a longtime champion of The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), which is part of NSF’s vital work to assist smaller states competing for research grants.
Dr. Gallagher is the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology or NIST, which is a small but absolutely critical agency just up the road in Gaithersburg conducting cutting-edge measurement research for new technologies.
Finally, we have Dr. Braun, who has recently been named as NASA's Chief Technologist. NASA research has led to the commercialization of products and services that have benefitted our economy and society in profound ways.
I want to thank you all for being here today and I look forward to your testimony.
Senator Kay Bailey HutchisonU.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee,
STATEMENT OF SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON,
COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
FULL COMMITTEE HEARING on ‘ADVANCING AMERICAN INNOVATION AND COMPETIVENESS’
MARCH 10, 2010
Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing today. I want to welcome our witnesses, each of whom has an important role to play in encouraging research and development efforts and in realizing the goals of the America COMPETES Act.
With the U.S. economy still fragile, I think the issue of America’s long-term competitiveness is more critical than ever. We have important work to do in making sure that we have sustained economic growth and a strong supply of private sector jobs to employ the next generation of American workers.
Science and technology are at the core of America’s ability to compete in an increasingly globalized economy and to solving many of the challenges we face as a nation in energy independence, biotechnology, and healthcare.
According to the National Science Board’s Science and Engineering Indicators 2010 report, U.S. leadership in research and development (R&D) and technological innovation is not growing, it is shrinking. We are still world leaders in R&D, but if this trend continues, a future where we are no longer world leaders in technological development is imminent.
In order to compete, the U.S. needs to not only train the best scientists and engineers in the world, but we must ensure that every student is prepared with a strong proficiency in math and science so that they can be competitive for the high-paying, high-tech jobs of the 21st century.
Members of Congress have been talking for years about how to encourage young students to pursue strong coursework in math and science and eventually to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
However, despite this discussion and our efforts to date, the rates of American students going into STEM fields remain disturbingly low.
In my home state of Texas, only 41 percent of the high school graduates are ready for college-level math (algebra), and only 24 percent are ready for college-level science (biology). Furthermore, only 2 percent of all U.S. 9th-grade boys and 1 percent of girls will attain even an undergraduate science or engineering degree.
In contrast to these troubling numbers Mr. Chairman, 42% of all college undergraduates in China earn science or engineering degrees.
Furthermore, in 2000, nearly 80 percent of the 114,000 science and engineering (S&E) doctorates awarded worldwide were from institutions outside the United States. And this situation has only gotten worse in the last 10 years.
I think we can make America even more competitive and innovative than it is today. We can and we must.
To grow high paying, highly skilled American jobs, we need to increase investment in research by lowering the corporate tax rate, including a permanent extension of the R&D tax credit. We need to encourage student interest in careers in math, science, and technology. And, we need to foster an atmosphere of private-public partnerships between our educational institutions and those companies that need STEM graduates.
Key aspects of the America COMPETES Act are focused on improving the academic opportunities available to young Americans including significant efforts to attract and train teachers qualified to teach courses in science and math and expanding the availability of Advanced Placement (AP) courses. These are efforts we should continue and build upon as we move forward this Congress with efforts to reauthorize the America COMPETES Act.
Thank you again, Mr. Chairman. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses.
Witness Panel 1
The Honorable John P. HoldrenDirectorOffice of Science and Technology Policy
The Honorable Arden L. Bement Jr.DirectorNational Science Foundation
The Honorable Patrick D. GallagherDirectorNational Institute of Standards and Technology
Dr. Robert D. BraunChief TechnologistNational Aeronautics and Space Administration