Commerce.gov is getting a facelift soon. See the new design.

Remarks at NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction Ribbon-Cutting

Printer-friendly version

AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY
Monday, October 15, 2012
CONTACT OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS
202-482-4883

Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank
Remarks at NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction Ribbon-Cutting

As you can see, this is an impressive facility.Not only is it an energy-efficient building with 268,000 square feet for about 800 NOAA employees, but it’s also a place where government, academia, and others can come together to make new discoveries and drive innovation and it’s also a place where we’ll uncover new ways to give our citizens and our businesses the information they need to make smart decisions – from planning a family road trip… to deciding how to ship products to their customers.

At the Commerce Department, we’ve learned that good things happen when government and top U.S. universities collaborate.

For instance, six years ago we opened the National Weather Center at the University of Oklahoma.  We brought together experts from places like our Storm Prediction Center along with OU’s School of Meteorology – and they’ve been tracking severe storms and tornadoes with more accuracy than ever before.

This approach extends to other parts of the Commerce Department, too.  Just two weeks ago, I was in New York City to announce a partnership between Cornell University’s new tech campus with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  We expect this will foster innovation and entrepreneurship, helping good ideas move to the market more quickly.

And that brings us to today.  I’m confident that we’re going to build on our track record right here with the Center for Weather and Climate Prediction at the University of Maryland.

So what’s inside this building?

First, more than half of the space in this building hosts the National Centers for Environmental Prediction.  They produce everything from short-term rain forecasts to longer-term climate outlooks for upcoming seasons.

Second, this building also houses the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service – NESDIS.  They analyze satellite data and images to help improve our operations and to identify global hazards in real-time.

Third and finally, the Air Resources Laboratory – one of four nationwide – helps us model the spread of things like volcanic ash and radiological releases. And the lab’s ground-level ozone forecasts help inform the public about whether it’s OK to go outside.

So, overall, this new facility will enhance our understanding of our natural world… support America’s trade and flow of goods… and improve our quality of life.

And, as I said, we have a great partner in these efforts with the University of Maryland. 

When researchers at NOAA interact with top researchers at one of the nation’s leading public universities, we will have a major opportunity to drive innovation.

We will uncover new knowledge about our climate, our natural resources, and our atmosphere.  That knowledge will feed into new applications. And – in an environment like this – knowledge and applications will begin to cycle and feed off each other. 

Also, new ideas will be sparked in the private sector as startups and businesses build new weather-related products and services, leading to economic growth and jobs.

Just as importantly, I’m excited about the potential to use this new facility to attract young people into careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering or mathematics – the STEM fields.  

As many folks here know, the demand for STEM workers is growing quickly.  Those jobs pay about 25% more than other jobs – helping provide more economic security for middle class families.

We can and should use this new hub as a magnet to inspire students at all levels: high school, college, graduate students, post-docs and more.  And we must do more to help women and minorities – in particular – find the paths to these degrees and jobs.

So there’s no time to waste.  With this facility:

  • We’re going to provide opportunities for interns, graduate students, and post-docs to work with NOAA on special projects.
  • Students will be able to interact with our researchers through guest lectures and seminars. 
  • And we will be pairing researchers with undergraduates to mentor them and help put them on the path to become meteorologists and oceanographers. 

My hope is that the vibrant and growing community here in this new facility will not only make scientific breakthroughs and inspire the next generation… but will also ensure that NOAA itself continues to attract the best and the brightest.

So, it’s clear that this facility is an important investment in our nation’s future. The day-to-day work that happens here combined with the new discoveries made here will lead to more innovation, more prosperity, and a better quality-of-life for all Americans.

I look forward to hearing about the activities at this new Center.  And I look forward to seeing all of the success stories that will flow out of this community.

Thank you.