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STEM ed policy, the next wave from DC
September 16, 2010 12:28 PM   Subscribe

Three years after the National Academies (US) report Rising Above the Gathering Storm outlined eroding science and technology "advantages," the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released today an outline for the development of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education: Prepare and Inspire (executive report).

Also released today, the National Science Foundation's report Preparing the Next Generation of STEM Innovators. Both reports focus on the development of human capital and both look for ways of widening the pipeline for those identified with early talent.

These should be all the talk at the Inaugural USA Science & Engineering Festival, with an expo in October on the National Mall. Hopefully this amounts to a set of new directions for post-NCLB education policy, though you can revisit A Nation at Risk if you want to benchmark of what can be done in a quarter century.
posted by cgk (15 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
American engineers don't get paid enough as is. We don't need any more competition for jobs!
posted by mr_roboto at 12:30 PM on September 16, 2010


Math is hard. Let's talk about our feelings instead.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:07 PM on September 16, 2010


American engineers don't get paid enough as is

Define enough. Engineers are the highest paid category (besides CEOs) in the country.
posted by outlandishmarxist at 1:17 PM on September 16, 2010


here's my two point plan:

1) free early childhood education/care for everyone
2) free public university tuition for everyone for 4 years.

Fund it by cutting the budget for the NIH: given the size and capitalization of the health care industry and our continued confidence in having a private health care system, why should the federal government be subsidizing R&D?
posted by ennui.bz at 1:29 PM on September 16, 2010


Counterpoint.
posted by haltingproblemsolved at 1:51 PM on September 16, 2010


Speakign as a pawn of big pharma, a few years ago I was bluntly informed during my annual review that some people felt that I was "too theoretical" Or as I like to think of it, "concerned with knowing what the hell I'm doing" which would be fine for academia but...." Trust me when I say that the research that the NIH does is nothing that the private healthcare would bother with.

A big part of the problem is that modern capitalism doesn’t seem to have a view much longer than the suspension lines on the CEO’s golden parachute. Doing actual science takes time. As a result the past 30-40 years has seen a lot of yesterday’s tech that is polished to as fine a finish as possible, but underneath, it's just yesterday's tech, and real innovation that has been punted on first down to pump up someone's stock price.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 2:48 PM on September 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


And Bell Labs is dead.

Companies want their money now, right now, now now now, not 5-10-20-30 years later, right now. Because if they don't then the shareholders sue them and win because they're not making money now, right now now now now!
posted by peppito at 3:09 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Trust me when I say that the research that the NIH does is nothing that the private healthcare would bother with.

A big part of the problem is that modern capitalism doesn’t seem to have a view much longer than the suspension lines on the CEO’s golden parachute. Doing actual science takes time. As a result the past 30-40 years has seen a lot of yesterday’s tech that is polished to as fine a finish as possible, but underneath, it's just yesterday's tech, and real innovation that has been punted on first down to pump up someone's stock price.


i was largely being facetious the lack of industrial positions doing fundamental i.e. too theoretical research is one of the laundry list of normal problems with science in this country.

but the people who put out these reports are complete whores, like the lobbyists in any industry.
posted by ennui.bz at 3:20 PM on September 16, 2010


Engineers are the highest paid category (besides CEOs) in the country.

In which bizarro universe is this true? Off the top of my head, I can think of doctors, lawyers, accountants, bankers and anyone on Wall Street all making more than your average engineer.
posted by indubitable at 3:33 PM on September 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


"Prepare and Inspire"

Oh! C'mon! Totally ripped off from the Catholic clergy's "Oppress and Diddle" campaign.
posted by En0rm0 at 4:19 PM on September 16, 2010


Bell Labs existed as part of the consent decree that allowed AT&T to be a monopoly. Ma Bell wasn't funding research out of the goodness of their heart, they were required to spend a certain percentage of their revenue on research as part of the agreement with the government that allowed them to continue operating as a (kinda abusive) monopoly. They didn't fund telecom research because they were making money hand over fist with the existing system, so they funded research into totally random crap.

Other than Bell Labs, what are the other big successful private research labs throughout history? Because I am pretty sure that public funding of research is the only way most research is going to happen, but am willing to be proven wrong.
posted by pmb at 7:49 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Because I am pretty sure that public funding of research is the only way most research

Medical and scientific research are often funded by consortiums backed by companies in their respective industries. But, right, most scientific and long-term research are carried through public money…

Why am I talking about this.. I don't even know the numbers. Does anyone know the breakdown?
posted by polymodus at 8:34 PM on September 16, 2010


Medical and scientific research
should read
Medical and engineering research

posted by polymodus at 8:35 PM on September 16, 2010


Why do you never hear Engineers exclaiming how there are too few lawyers/doctors or MBAs and that the price of lawyers is too high?
posted by sien at 9:20 PM on September 16, 2010


Why do you never hear Engineers exclaiming how there are too few lawyers/doctors

I don't think that anyone in their right mind thinks that there are too few lawyers in the world, but "we're not producing enough doctors" and "American doctors are overpaid" were and are a big theme of the ongoing debate over healthcare. The AMA has effectively functioned as a supply cartel and managed to keep the salaries of doctors much higher than you'd expect given the supply of people willing to do it as a career; I've heard lots of engineers as well as non-engineers point this out.

Also anyone who's ever hired a lawyer is likely to think that the price of lawyers is too high. (Though you could replace "lawyers" with just about any skilled trade and it's likely to be true.)

But as to what I think is the basis of your question — why do people think that 'more engineers' are the solution to our economic problems, and 'more lawyers' isn't — probably lies in the perception that engineering, which is really just a shorthand for technological development, is the best way to sustainably grow the economy and create export-generating industry, and that engineering jobs will beget more jobs down the line. Even if most people can't articulate exactly why, I think they understand on some level that an economy consisting wholly of lawyers wouldn't work so well.
posted by Kadin2048 at 5:09 AM on September 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


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