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Blog Category: STEM

Government Coming to Entrepreneurs

Ali Ansary, co-founder of SeventyK

Guest blog post by Ali Ansary, co-founder of SeventyK.

Ed. Note: SeventyK’s mission is to change cancer care by educating patients, families, and their healthcare providers through innovative ways about age-appropriate treatment and the unique needs of the adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer patient. Unlike pediatric and older adult cancer patients, for over two decades the rate of survival for AYA cancer patients has not improved.

Last Thursday I was honored to be part of a panel at the Colorado University Denver Anschutz Medical Campus where Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank discussed the importance of opening four new USPTO offices, including one in Denver.

As Acting Secretary Blank spoke to the new opportunities and growth that will spur from opening new USPTO offices, two quotes came to mind:

#1: "No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it" (Albert Einstein). 

For the first time, new offices outside of Washington, D.C. will be part of the solution to accelerate innovation in this country—an important recognition that innovation doesn’t happen in one place—it happens across the country. Now entrepreneurs who need to protect their innovation have a direct line to the government locally. A strong move when seeing that IP-intensive industries account for nearly 35 percent of the FY2010 U.S. GDP.

Acting Secretary Blank Speaks About Innovation Imperative at GlobalWIN’s Luncheon

Acting Secretary Blank Enjoys a Laugh With Members of the Global Women’s Innovation Network (Photo by Ben Droz - bendroz.smugmug.com)

Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank delivered remarks at the Global Women’s Innovation Network (GlobalWIN)’s third annual Innovation Luncheon at the Library of Congress today. GlobalWIN provides a forum for women executives and women working in academia, government and business in innovation-related fields. In her remarks, Dr. Blank highlighted the importance of women’s leadership in advancing America’s innovation agenda to compete and create jobs.

Blank emphasized that to be competitive in the 21st century, America needs to encourage students to enter science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. These fields produce many of the inventors and leaders who bring new ideas from the lab to the marketplace. Even though STEM jobs pay about 25 percent more than others, only about 13 percent of U.S. college graduates got degrees in the STEM fields. Blank affirmed that one reason America has so few STEM workers is because women are seriously underrepresented in these fields. Women make up nearly half of America’s labor force—but less than one-fourth of our STEM workforce. Some women lack information, others lack role models or mentors, while others may lack opportunity.

To provide opportunities, the Obama administration launched Educate to Innovate in 2009. This campaign brings together the federal government with private-sector partners with a particular focus on inspiring more girls, women and minorities to explore science and technology. Another example is Race to the Top, made possible by the Recovery Act. With about $4 billion in funding, Race to the Top provides competitive grants that support and reward states with high K-through-12 achievement with the only extra preference allowed in this competition is for states that focus on STEM. A third example of the president’s commitment came this week when he dedicated $100 million for a new corps of high-quality STEM teachers at 50 sites around the U.S. These teachers will get up to $20,000 on top of their base salary in exchange for making a multi-year commitment.

Blank reminded the audience that in the long run, America’s ability to innovate and compete as a nation will determine what kind of economy—and what kind of country—we pass along to the next generation.

Deputy Secretary Blank Advocates Public Service in Commencement Speech

Guest blog post by Commerce Deputy Secretary Rebecca M. Blank

This morning, I had the privilege of delivering the commencement address to graduate students at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) commencement ceremony.

I was also deeply honored to receive an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree during the ceremony for my work as a public servant, including the leadership I provided in my previous job at Commerce, overseeing the nation’s premier statistical agencies, the Census Bureau (during the 2010 Census) and the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The commencement speech provided an opportunity to give advice to the graduate students and to encourage them to use their expertise and experience to find solutions to the pressing problems facing our world. UMBC is particularly well-known for its scientific training. Science, technology, engineering and math–STEM fields–are particularly important, and it is STEM-related research that will drive innovation in the years ahead. In fact, STEM jobs have grown three times faster than other jobs, indicating the need for more workers with these skills.

Deputy Secretary Blank Delivers Remarks on Manufacturing at the Aspen Institute

Deputy Secretary Blank delivers remarks at the Aspen Institute (Photo: Steve Johnson, Aspen Institute)

This morning, Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank delivered the keynote address at “Manufacturing, Innovation, and Workforce Training: What Works In Germany and The United States For Jobs and Growth,” a conference co-sponsored by the Aspen Institute, the German Center for Research and Innovation, the German Embassy, and the Representative of German Industry and Trade. Her remarks come the week before Commerce Secretary John Bryson travels to Dusseldorf and Berlin to meet with government and business leaders.

Deputy Secretary Blank noted how both America and Germany have shown strength in areas such as manufacturing and exporting. She emphasized the importance of maintaining economic growth by strengthening the U.S.-German economic relationship.

Summary of Twitter #MFGChat on ESA's Manufacturing Jobs report

Today @CommerceGov, @EconChiefGov, and @TheMFGInstitute joined the manufacturing community on Twitter to discuss the Economic and Statistics Administration’s “The Benefits of Manufacturing Jobs” report. #MFGChat is held monthly. Below is a selected transcript of the conversation.

Secretary Bryson Discusses the Future of U.S. Manufacturing at MIT

Secretary Bryson Discusses the Future of U.S. Manufacturing at MIT

There is a powerful link between America’s ability to make things and America’s ability to innovate, compete, and create good jobs, as Secretary John Bryson said today when he spoke to CEOs, students and faculty at “The Future of Manufacturing in the U.S.” conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Secretary took the opportunity to discuss the importance of manufacturing in boosting U.S. economic growth, job creation and exports, as part of the administration's ongoing efforts to encourage companies to build things in America and sell everywhere around the globe.

Bryson also released a new U.S. Commerce Department Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) report titled “The Benefits of Manufacturing Jobs,” an analysis of wages and benefits of manufacturing workers, which provides fresh evidence that manufacturing jobs encourage innovation and support economic security for America’s middle class. The report finds that total hourly compensation for manufacturing workers is 17 percent higher than for non-manufacturing workers. It also shows that manufacturing jobs are becoming more skilled and heavily reliant on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, and that manufacturing is responsible for 70 percent of our private sector R&D, 90 percent of our patents, and 60 percent of our exports.

After a decade in which the United States lost many manufacturing jobs, American manufacturers have added back 489,000 jobs since January 2010—the best streak since 1995. In the first four months of 2012 alone, the U.S. manufacturing sector added 139,000 jobs. At the same time, the number of job openings in manufacturing has more than doubled.

Secretary Bryson Tours and Joins a Discussion with Business Leaders, Educators at Minneapolis Community and Technical College

Secretary Bryson Enjoys Mayor Rybak's Attempts at Welding

Today, Secretary John Bryson traveled to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to tour facilities at Minneapolis Community Technical College (MCTC), along with Mayor R.T. Rybak and U.S. Representative Keith Ellison. After the tour, Bryson held a discussion with business leaders, students and educators—including Steven Rosenstone, Chancellor of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, MCTC Graduate Mike Palm and Kimberly Arrigoni, President-Elect of Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association—on how the Obama Administration can continue to support successful partnerships between community colleges and businesses to train and place skilled workers. 

The rigorous education and hands on technical training offered at MCTC and other workforce training campuses has made a difference in the lives of people across the country. As President Obama said during his State of the Union Address a few weeks ago, having a strong workforce is a critical part of ensuring that our economy is built to last. 

Bryson noted that over the past two years, we’ve added over 3.7 million new jobs, including 404,000 manufacturing jobs. But there is still work to be done. That’s why the President has called for more programs and partnerships like the ones at MCTC. We need to support more colleges that teach people the skills that businesses need, and investing in the next generation of skilled workers is a smart investment that will pay off.

Acting Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank Highlights Skills Initiatives in Madison, Wisconsin

Image of a "truck classrom": Bringing the Classroom to the Community

President Obama recently laid out plans in his State of the Union address to foster an economy that’s built to last by ensuring that America has the highly skilled workers necessary for 21st century jobs. Yesterday, Acting Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank traveled to Madison, Wisconsin, where she visited the Madison Area Technical College, a training ground for students that leads directly to skilled manufacturing jobs nationwide. Blank met with students and sat in on a training class focused on hybrid vehicle technology. Blank also delivered remarks on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce training and met with business and university leaders. Commerce’s Economic Development Administration recently teamed up with Madison College to provide mobile technical training opportunities both on-campus and throughout the region. The training focused on advanced manufacturing and automotive technology.

Blank also visited with several business and academic leaders, who are vital partners in the area of technical training at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.

Science at Sea: Teaching Our Youth About the Jobs that Make it Happen

"If I Worked on a NOAA ship" book cover

As NOAA’s Teacher at Sea Program (TAS) prepares for its 2012 season, the lessons and materials created by its participants from the 2011 season are making it into the hands of their eager students around the U.S. In 2011, 34 teachers representing 21 states, participated in NOAA research cruises, involving science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts that can be integrated into their daily lessons. One of the goals of the TAS program is that teachers understand and use NOAA data in their classrooms. Teachers also obtain and translate this STEM knowledge for their students and the public in their blogs.

Another goal of the TAS program is for teachers to learn how different STEM occupations support NOAA’s mission and to then convey this information to their students. Each teacher is required to meet with, and sometimes interview, multiple crewmembers during the research cruise.  Often times, these interviews are featured in their blogs, but sometimes, teachers have the students create a product that explains the different jobs.

The State of our Union’s 21st Century Workforce

Recent and Projected Growth in STEM and Non-STEM Employment

In his State of the Union address, President Obama laid out an ambitious goal to train 2 million workers with the necessary skills to land a job.  What are those skills in a 21st century economy?  As we have written previously in this blog, the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) play a critical role in America’s global economic leadership and are vital to securing the highest quality jobs of the future, to decreasing the gender wage gap, and to ensuring America retains global economic leadership through innovation and technology. 

STEM & Employment

In 2010, 7.6 million people or 1 in 18 workers held STEM jobs.  (Watch this space for an update as 2011 data become available.)  Although STEM employment makes up a small fraction of total employment, STEM employment grew rapidly from 2000 to 2010, increasing 7.9 percent while employment in non-STEM jobs grew just 2.6 percent over this period.  (See Figure 1.) The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that STEM jobs will continue growing at a fast clip relative to other occupations: 17.0 percent between 2008-2018 (BLS’ most recent projection), compared to just 9.8 percent for non-STEM jobs.

STEM & Education

One of the more striking characteristics of STEM workers is their educational attainment.  More than two-thirds (68 percent) have a college degree or more, compared to just under one-third (31 percent) of other workers age 16 and over.  Nearly one quarter (23 percent) have completed an associate’s degree or at least some college.  Just 9 percent have a high school diploma or less.  Thus the majority of STEM workers tend to be college educated, but opportunities also exist for STEM workers with fewer years of study.