USA Science Losing Ground

Posted on May 21, 2008  Comments (1)

I have written about the continued decline in the relative position of science in the USA compared to the rest of the world: Engineering the Future EconomyEconomic Strength Through Technology LeadershipThe Best Research UniversitiesU.S. Slipping on ScienceDiplomacy and Science ResearchScientists and Engineers in Congress. The USA continues to act as though the rewards for scientific excellence automatically go to the USA. That isn’t the case and as many other countries make smart investments in scientific centers of excellence the USA chooses to do very little.

Has U.S. Science Lost Its Competitive Edge?

Craig Barrett, former CEO of Intel, delivered perhaps the most stinging indictment of the current political system. “There will be winners and losers, and the losers are the ones who insist on looking backwards,” said Barrett. “We continue to subsidize 19th century technology–like in the $290 billion farm bill–rather than the 21st century technologies that will allow us to remain competitive. We’re fat, dumb, and happy.”

hefty increases at three science agencies–the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Last summer, legislation that incorporates many of those recommendations became law. But funding for most of the initiatives has yet to materialize.

Speakers repeatedly pointed to those anemic budgets as evidence that politicians haven’t realized the threats to American preeminence in science posed by the rest of the world.

As I have said many times the consequences of failing to take sensible action today will be large. Science and engineering centers of excellence have been a very important factor in the economic success of the USA.

One Response to “USA Science Losing Ground”

  1. Jiri Reznicek
    May 23rd, 2008 @ 4:09 pm

    I strongly diagree. By subsidising food production we all enjoy cheep an plentifull food. I am not a farmer, I am professional design engineer. Although I agree that engineering centers of excellence are very important factor for economic success, we cannot eat them. Not to mention that they must taste awful.

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