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Blog Entries from January 2013

Deputy Secretary Blank Highlights Workforce Skills Development as Key to Attracting Investment, Creating Good Jobs

Yesterday, Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank delivered keynote remarks at an event focused on the importance of developing a skilled workforce in order to attract more investment and create more good jobs.

The event, hosted by German Ambassador Peter Ammon, attracted CEOs of German-owned companies that have invested in the United States (such as STIHL, BMW, Volkswagen, and Siemens) as well as leaders of U.S. community colleges, universities, and think tanks. 

Blank cited key Obama administration programs that are strengthening the links between colleges and employers–ensuring that more graduates are ready to fill jobs that are open right now in areas such as advanced manufacturing. She also praised the German Embassy’s newly-announced “Skills Initiative,” an effort to help more German companies form partnerships to train American workers and expand their operations in the U.S.

Blank emphasized that education and training are crucial not only for helping individual workers find good jobs, but also for fostering a deeper pool of talented and skilled citizens throughout society. She noted that the U.S. has historically led the way to establish free public education and world-class public universities. She also cited Germany’s unique “dual system”–a model that blends education with hands-on training–which is well-known for helping young people who have graduated high school but who are not pursuing four-year degrees.

Blank stressed the importance of continued leadership and partnership between the U.S. and Germany overall, noting that hundreds of thousands of Americans go to work each day at German companies that operate in the U.S., and vice versa.

Commerce’s PTO Wins Award for Program Encouraging Patent Holders to Address Global Humanitarian Challenges

Patents for Humanity

The Commerce Department’s Patent and Trademark Office was honored yesterday for its Patents for Humanity initiative, a pilot program designed to encourage the use of patented technology to address humanitarian challenges. USPTO Director Kappos launched Patents for Humanity in February 2012 as part of a series of Obama administration initiatives to promote game-changing innovations to solve long-standing development challenges. The program is an awards competition recognizing patent owners and licensees who address humanitarian needs around the globe.

“We are honored to be recognized for our Patents for Humanity initiative, which recognizes those who use patented technology to aid the less fortunate,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos. “In an increasingly interconnected world, the ability of technology to transform lives is real and powerful. This program plays a key role in advancing President Obama’s global development agenda.”

Entrants compete in four categories: medical technology, food and nutrition, clean technology, and information technology. Winners receive accelerated processing of select matters at the USPTO. Applications to the pilot were accepted through Oct. 31, 2012, with winners to be announced at an awards ceremony later in 2013.

The non-profit Licensing Executives Society International (LESI) presented the National IP and Technology Transfer Policy Award to the USPTO at a ceremony in Geneva Switzerland at LESI’s annual Global Technology Impact Forum (GTIF).

“Our People. Our Future.” Helping One Another Through Service

National Day of Service logo (Learn. Serve. Pledge.)

Guest blog post by Dr. Rebecca Blank, Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce

As we head into the inaugural weekend, I’m looking forward to the National Day of Service on Saturday. Four years ago, President-elect Obama asked all of us to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by participating in a National Day of Service. We’ve made this a tradition in every year since then. The president believes that the strength of our country comes from our people. That’s why the theme of this year’s inauguration is “Our people. Our future.” It is through the combined hard work of Americans in the four years since the president first took office that we’re getting back on track. But our work isn’t done. There is still plenty of work to be done in our nation and in our communities and the president is asking for our help.

That is why on Saturday, I will be visiting a local elementary school in Washington, D.C. to lend a hand in beautifying the building and improving the learning environment for children who will be America’s next generation of leaders. Thousands of fellow Americans in all 50 states will be helping their neighbors by:

  • Rebuilding homes destroyed by natural disaster
  • Providing guidance on how to start a business or get a job
  • Mentoring students
  • Cleaning up their local parks
  • Providing for the less fortunate among us
  • Educating members of their community on medical concerns and resources available
  • Serving our veterans and military families in return for their service to us.

To participate in the National Day of Service, go to www.2013pic.org/service and learn about ways to participate. Then, sign up to serve on Saturday, January 19, to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and pledge to serve in your community in the future.

Once you have selected your project, continue the conversation with others in your community and across America on Twitter. The Day of Service hashtag is #iserve and we’d love to hear what you are doing to make our future a brighter one.

You Are Invited To Commerce's Open House Tomorrow

Tomorrow, Friday, January 18th, the U.S. Department of Commerce will be opening our doors as part of the administration’s inauguration activities so that you can learn more about the available resources and work being done by the Commerce team. If you are in the area, please stop by for our two panels. These are all free and open to the public.

“Building it Here, Selling it Everywhere”

The U.S. Department of Commerce will host an open house panel discussion on “Building it Here, Selling it Everywhere.” The program will be built around Commerce’s key priorities, including manufacturing, innovation and exports. Department officials will be on hand to talk about how our work on these initiatives plays a key role in creating jobs here at home and making us more competitive abroad.

  • Bruce Andrews, Chief of Staff, Office of the Secretary of Commerce
  • Phillip Singerman, Associate Director for Innovation and Industry Services at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
  • Francisco Sánchez, Under Secretary for International Trade (ITA)
  • Matthew Erskine, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Development (EDA)

Where:  U.S. Department of Commerce
When:  1:00pm – 2:30pm
RSVP


“Technology, Innovation, and Job Creation”

Learn more about administration initiatives that drive technological progress and job creation at an open house hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will discuss key activities that help bolster the economy, including open data initiatives, tech transfer, patent reform and internet policy.

  • Todd Park, U.S. Chief Technology Officer
  • Larry Strickling, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and Administrator, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)
  • Patrick Gallagher, Under Secretary of Standards and Technology and Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
  • Terry Rea, Deputy Under Secretary for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

Where:  U.S Department of Commerce
When:  3:00pm – 4:30pm
RSVP

NOAA Satellites Aid in 263 Rescues in 2012 After Detecting Distress Signals

Satellites vital to search and rescue operations

The same NOAA weather and climate satellites that accurately tracked Hurricane Sandy’s path in October also played a key role in rescuing 263 people in 111 emergencies in the United States and surrounding waters in 2012.

Since NOAA’s seven operational satellites circle the globe or sit above the United States, they also carry instruments to detect distress signals from emergency beacons carried by downed pilots, shipwrecked boaters and stranded hikers.

In addition to their role in weather prediction, these polar-orbiting and geostationary satellites are part of the international Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking System, called Cospas-Sarsat. This system uses a network of satellites to quickly pinpoint the location of the distress signals. Release

State-of-the-Art Sonar Map Reveals New Details of Sunken Civil War-era Warship

Top: The USS Hatteras as depicted in a drawing by Civil War artist Francis H. Schell that he titled, “The Destruction of the USA gunboat Hatteras.” Below:  This three-dimensional sonar scan shows remains of the USS Hatteras protruding above the seabed as surveyed in late 2012.

A new, 3-D state-of-the-art sonar map released January 11 by NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, ExploreOcean, Teledyne Blueview, and Northwest Hydro shows never-before-seen details of the USS Hatteras, the only Union warship sunk in combat in the Gulf of Mexico during the Civil War.

One hundred and fifty years ago this month, approximately 20 miles off the coast of Galveston, Texas, the Hatteras, an iron-hulled steamship the U.S. Navy converted into a gunboat, was sunk during a battle with the famous Confederate commerce raider CSS Alabama. The battle was one of the skirmishes that saw the key southern port of Galveston change hands twice and remain one of the last bastions of the Confederacy.

Today, the wreck of the Hatteras is largely intact, resting 57 feet underwater in sand and silt. Recent hurricanes and storms have removed some of the sediment and sand that once encased the vessel like a time capsule. Given shifting sands may once again rebury the Hatteras, the team used a short window of opportunity for a two-day mission last fall to create 3-D photo mosaics of the Hatteras for research, education, and outreach purposes.  Read more  |  Photo gallery

By a Wide Margin, 2012 was the United States’ Warmest Year on Record

Map of U.S. showing temperature anomoly

According to the latest statistics from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, the average temperature for the contiguous United States for 2012 was 55.3° Fahrenheit, which was 3.2° Fahrenheit above the twentieth-century average and 1.0° Fahrenheit above the previous record from 1998. The year consisted of the fourth-warmest winter, a record-warm spring, the second-warmest summer, and a warmer-than-average autumn.

The map shows where the 2012 temperatures were different from the 1981–2010 average. Shades of red indicate temperatures up to 8° Fahrenheit warmer than average, and shades of blue indicate temperatures up to 8° Fahrenheit cooler than average—the darker the color, the larger the difference from average temperature. Full release