Washington D.C. – The Subcommittee on Research today held a hearing to examine industry and non-profit philanthropic science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education initiatives.

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas):  “Since our founding, American innovators have played an important role in our nation's growth and prosperity. Some of the most prominent people in American history were also our nation's greatest inventors. From Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison to the Wright brothers and Henry Ford, American inventors have led the world in innovations for centuries.

“But in order to achieve the innovations of tomorrow, we must better educate American students today.  America lags behind other nations when it comes to STEM education. American students rank 23th in math and 31st in science.  These are troubling statistics that could spell disaster in the future.  We have to invest in STEM education if we want to remain globally competitive in the 21st Century.”

According to the National Science Board’s 2012 Science and Engineering Indicators, over the past twenty-five years the science and engineering workforce has more than doubled in size and currently represents over four percent of all U.S. jobs.  And job losses from the 2007 to 2009 recession were relatively less severe for those in science and engineering related jobs compared to the U.S. workforce overall. 

Research Subcommittee Chairman Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.): “I believe STEM education is an essential element in America’s economic growth and competitiveness.  As we consider federal support for STEM education we must also recognize the importance of private sector and non-profit collaborations to STEM education. As we move forward with COMPETES reauthorization, we can draw on the expertise of industry and philanthropic initiatives to ensure taxpayer dollars are not duplicating efforts and are being used in the most efficient and effective manner ”

The federal government spends over 3 billion dollars per year across 13 federal agencies on STEM initiatives and projects. A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report completed in January, 2012 concluded a need for strategic planning to better manage the overlap of federal STEM programs. GAO suggested the Office of Science and Technology Policy should work with agencies and produce a government wide strategy for STEM initiatives that ensures efficiency and eliminates duplication and ineffective programs. 

The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 required the National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on STEM to develop and implement a five-year STEM education strategic plan to specify and prioritize annual and long-term objectives and describe the role of each federal agency supporting STEM programs and activities.  The plan is expected with the Administration’s fiscal year 2014 budget request.

The following witnesses testified:

Ms. Shelly Esque, President, Intel Foundation; Vice President, Legal and Corporate Affairs; and Director, Corporate Affairs Group, Intel Corporation
Dr. Bob Smith, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Engineering and Technology, Honeywell Aerospace
Dr. Vince Bertram, President and Chief Executive Officer, Project Lead the Way
Ms. Andrea Ingram, Vice President of Education and Guest Services, Museum of Science and Industry