Private Sector STEM Initiatives Make Big Impact

Jan 9, 2014

Washington, D.C. – The Research and Technology Subcommittee today held a hearing to review science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education initiatives developed and conducted by private organizations. 

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “A well-educated and trained STEM workforce will promote our future economic prosperity. But we must persuade our nation’s youth to study science and engineering so they will want to pursue these careers. We need to learn what is taking place outside of the federal government so we can be sure we are not spending taxpayer dollars on duplicative programs. And we need to more effectively use taxpayers’ dollars to gain the most benefit for our students and our country. You can’t have innovation without advances in technology.  The STEM students of today will lead us to the cutting-edge technologies of tomorrow.”

The administration’s fiscal year 2014 budget request proposed over $3 billion across more than thirteen different agencies of the federal government for STEM education. Despite this level of federal spending, according to a recent poll, American students rank 26th in math and 21st in science. Witnesses today discussed what is being done by industry to support STEM education. Understanding the work of the private sector in the STEM fields will inform the federal government’s role, help to reduce duplication of effort, and leverage existing programs.

Research and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.): “One of the most essential aspects to keeping America at the forefront of STEM innovation, advancement and development is engaging students at a young age and keeping them interested in pursuing STEM degrees and careers. As a cardiothoracic surgeon and father of four children between the ages of 9 and 20, I understand that such programs and activities are necessary to enhance America’s economic growth and competitiveness.”

The first panel of witnesses today discussed how industry and philanthropic organizations offer financial or technical support for students, professional development opportunities for teachers, and technology for classrooms as a way to encourage interest in and support for STEM education. On the second panel, high school students who benefitted from private sector STEM initiatives discussed their positive experiences and what they learned.

Many industry sectors, non-profit organizations, entrepreneurs and educational institutions are working in a variety of ways in order to bolster the STEM related workforce pipeline. Partnerships with education providers, STEM focused competitions, and other opportunities have become important pieces of private sector efforts to strengthen the STEM workforce.

The following witnesses testified today before the Subcommittee:

Panel I

Mr. Dean Kamen, Founder, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), Founder and President, DEKA Research & Development Corporation
Mr. Hadi Partovi, Co-founder and CEO, Code.org
Dr. Kemi Jona, Director, Office of STEM Education Partnerships, Research Professor, Learning Sciences and Computer Sciences, Northwestern University
Dr. Phillip Cornwell, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Panel II

Ms. Ellana Crew, 12th Grade, South River High School, Edgewater, Maryland
Mr. Brian Morris, 12th Grade, Chantilly Academy, Chantilly, Virginia
Mr. Daniel Nette, 11th Grade, George Mason High School, Falls Church, Virginia
Mr. Vishnu Rachakonda, 12th Grade, Eleanor Roosevelt High School, Greenbelt, Maryland

For additional information on today’s hearing, including witness testimony, you can visit the Science, Space, and Technology Committee website.