- Advocacy & Policy
- Research Center
May 03, 2007Members of Congress should support three pending bills that would boost efforts to attract young people to science, math, and engineering studies, AIA President and CEO John Douglass said Wednesday. Two House bills and one Senate bill would build upon the different Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics education programs currently underway within numerous federal and state agencies. The STEM initiative is a priority for the aerospace and defense industry as it looks to increase the number of students in fields that could lead to careers in the industry, Douglass said. "It's vitally important we do all we can to attract young people to these important fields of study," Douglass said. "The future of our industry and others in technical fields literally depends on the next generation of potential scientists and engineers." The aerospace workforce is aging, with 27 percent of employees eligible to retire in the next five years. In the meantime, young people are not choosing to pursue math, science, engineering and other technical areas of study in sufficient numbers to replace them. The result will be hundreds of thousands more positions available by 2011 than qualified candidates to fill them. The Senate bill (S 761); sponsored by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) an original cosponsor; would establish grants and programs to start math and science specialty schools, improve teaching skills among public school teachers, and create summer internships at national laboratories. The bill passed the Senate on an 88-8 vote and is pending in the House. On the House side, HR 362, would enhance and expand upon an existing scholarship program that places science, math and engineering students and professionals in teaching positions in elementary and secondary schools. HR 363 would create a research grant program for early career scientists and engineers as well as endorsing a balanced funding approach to NASA programs to make careers in that agency more attractive. Both bills are sponsored by Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) and cosponsored by committee Ranking Member Ralph Hall (R-Texas). They are awaiting action in the Senate after passing the House with bipartisan support.