Posts about centers of excellence

Offering Residency to Foreign Engineers and Scientists

Rep. Lofgren wants residency for foreign engineers

Foreign-born engineering, science, and math students in the United States should be automatically granted legal residency when they get a job in this country, said California Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren.

Lofgren, a Democrat, spoke to an audience Friday at the Joint Venture: Silicon Valley conference about threats to innovation in the area. She said that about 56 percent of the Ph.D. candidates at the finest schools in the United States are immigrants, and because of the government’s current immigration policy, many of those people leave the country.

I support such legislation. I also think it is only one, of many measure to take to encourage science and engineering excellence (which will in turn help the economy). I have no doubt that other countries are going to be successful establishing their own global centers of excellence and attract scientists and engineers from around the world: including from the USA. The Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog now includes a tag cloud on the right side of our home page, tags for this post include: government and economy.

Related: Brain Drain Benefits to the USA Less Than They Could Beeconomic benefits of science and engineering excellenceUSA Losing Brain Drain Benefits

Economic Strength Through Technology Leadership

One of the topics I keep coming back to is the future economic impact of science, engineering, technology and the supporting structures in countries for the same. I believe a significant part of the benefit we enjoy today and will enjoy in the future is tied to how well those areas are integrated with economic factors (raising capital, open financial markets, infrastructure…). Some past posts include: The Future is Engineering, U.S. Slipping on Science, Diplomacy and Science Research, Shrinking Science Gap and Engineering the Future Economy. Fortune discusses the issue in – The United States of Technology?:

As we celebrated the nation’s birthday, I asked myself a patriotic question: Does the United States still lead in tech? As an American myself, my lens is inevitably distorted. Even so, the answer is hardly an unqualified yes.

I agree. While I still think the USA leads the question is debatable in various fields and as I have said before the future looks to be moving in the other direction. This is more due to the rest of the World improving than the USA failing. The continued reduction in advanced science and engineering degrees awarded to USA citizens compared to the rest of the world is a leading indicator I believe. Along with my belief that we will attract fewer leaders to the USA than we have in the past.

No other country can duplicate the American environment of tech creativity, which arises from a unique stew of entrepreneurs, academics, engineers, imaginative marketers and savvy financiers packed together in an atmosphere of risk-taking and plentiful capital. There is nowhere outside the United States remotely like the three places where this formula is most clearly at work – Silicon Valley of course, plus Austin and Boston.

True but the precursors for doing so are being created, the question is whether countries can pull all of it together. If only one country had a shot, I would guess that they would fail, because it is a difficult thing to do. But given how many places have a chance (including: China, Japan, UK, Singapore, France, India, Germany, Korea, Canada, Finland…) it seems very possible other centers of such excellence will appear. I must admit I would not put Austin in such a class, but maybe I am uninformed…

Related: Education, Entrepreneurship and ImmigrationGlobal Technology LeadershipThe World’s Best Research UniversitiesAussies Look to Finnish Innovation ModelScience, Engineering and the Future of the American EconomyChina challenges dominance of USA, Europe and JapanChina and USA Basic Science ResearchAsia: Rising Stars of Science and EngineeringBasic Science Research Funding

Harvard Plans Life Sciences Campus

Harvard Unveils Plans for 250 Acre Stem Cell and Life Sciences Campus:

During the first 20 years of the expansion, Harvard would build 4 million to 5 million square feet of buildings and create at least 5,000 jobs, university officials said. Construction in Allston could begin this summer when Harvard hopes to break ground on a 500,000-square-foot (46,450-square-metre) science complex that will house the school’s stem-cell researchers and other institutes. The science complex, university officials said, would be the nucleus for new interdisciplinary research and is expected to go a long way toward boosting Boston’s economy by encouraging partnerships with biotechnology firms that may displace the region’s long-fading manufacturing base.

5,000 jobs is a huge number (even looking out 20 years). Manufacturing is still a huge economic factor (for the USA and the world) but investing in creating science and engineering centers of excellence is critical in determining where strong economies and good jobs will be 30+ years from now. They don’t explain what those 5,000 jobs are, but it seems that thousands could be for science and engineering graduates. The value of that to Boston’s economy is huge.

Related: Engineering the Future EconomyDiplomacy and Science ResearchIncreasing American Fellowship Support for Scientists and EngineersThe Future is EngineeringChina’s Economic Science ExperimentChina’s Gene Therapy InvestmentSingapore Supporting Science Researchers

$75.3 Million for 5 New Engineering Research Centers

Claire Gmachl

Photo: Claire Gmachl, associate professor of electrical engineering at Princeton, the MIRTHE center director.

NSF Awards $75.3 Million for Five New Engineering Research Centers including the Mid-Infrared Technologies for Health and the Environment (MIRTHE):

The goal of the research is to produce devices that are so low in cost and easy to use that they transform aspects of the way doctors care for patients, local agencies monitor air quality, governments guard against attack and scientists understand the evolution of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

will combine the work of about 40 faculty members, 30 graduate students and 30 undergraduates from the six universities. The center also is collaborating with dozens of industrial partners to turn the technology into commercial products, and is working with several educational outreach partners, which will use MIRTHE’s research as a vehicle for improving science and engineering education.

Diplomacy and Science Research

Today more and more locations are becoming viable for world class research and development. Today the following have significant ability: USA, Europe (many countries), Japan, Canada, China, Brazil, Singapore, Israel, India, Korea and Australia (I am sure I have missed some this is just what come to mind as I type this post) and many more are moving in that direction.

The continued increase of viable locations for significant amounts of cutting edge research and development has huge consequences, in many areas. If paths to research and development are blocked in one location (by law, regulation, choice, lack of capital, threat of significant damage to the career of those who would choose such a course…) other locations will step in. In some ways this will be good (see below for an explanation of why this might be so). Promising new ideas will not be stifled due to one roadblock.

But risks of problems will also increase. For example, there are plenty of reasons to want to go carefully in the way of genetically engineered crops. But those seeking a more conservative approach are going to be challenged: countries that are acting conservatively will see other countries jump in, I believe. And even if this didn’t happen significantly in the area of genetically engineered crops, I still believe it will create challenges. The ability to go elsewhere will make those seeking to put constraints in place in a more difficult position than 50 years ago when the options were much more limited (It might be possible to stop significant research just by getting a handful of countries to agree).

Debates of what restrictions to put on science and technology research and development will be a continuing and increasing area of conflict. And the solutions will not be easy. Hopefully we will develop a system of diplomacy that works, but that is much easier said than done. And the United States will have to learn they do not have the power to dictate terms to others. This won’t be an easy thing to accept for many in America. The USA will still have a great deal of influence, due mainly to economic power but that influence is only the ability to influence others and that ability will decline if diplomacy is not improved. Diplomacy may not seem to be a science and engineering area but it is going to be increasingly be a major factor in the progress of science and engineering. Continue reading

Phony Science Gap?

A Phony Science Gap? by Robert Samuelson:

And the American figures excluded computer science graduates. Adjusted for these differences, the U.S. degrees jump to 222,335. Per million people, the United States graduates slightly more engineers with four-year degrees than China and three times as many as India. The U.S. leads are greater for lesser degrees.

It is good to see more people using the data from the Duke study we have mentioned previously: USA Under-counting Engineering GraduatesFilling the Engineering Gap. However, I think he misses a big change. It seems to me that the absolute number of graduates each year is the bigger story than that the United States has not lost the percentage of population rate of science and engineering graduates yet. China significantly exceeds the US and that India is close to the US currently in science and engineering graduates. And the trend is dramatically in favor of those countries.

There has been a Science gap between the United States and the rest of the world. That gap has been between the USA, in the lead, and the rest. That gap has been shrinking for at least 10 years and most likely closer to 20. The rate of the decline in that gap has been increasing and seems likely to continue in that direction.

Despite an eroding manufacturing base and the threat of “offshoring” of some technical services, there’s a rising demand for science and engineering skills. That may explain higher enrollments and why this “crisis” — like the missile gap — may be phony.

I wonder what eroding manufacturing base he is referring to? The United States is the world’s largest manufacturer. The United States continues to increase its share of the world manufacturing and increase, incrementally year over year. Yes manufacturing employment has been declining (though manufacturing employment has declined far less in the United States than in China). Granted China has been growing tremendously quickly, but they are still far behind the United States in manufacturing output.
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