It's time to get the train of scientific progress and engineering innovation back on track.
U.S. Experts Bemoan Nation's Loss of Stature in the World of Science
By Keith B. Richburg
Speaking at a science summit that opens this week's first World Science Festival, the expert panel of scientists, and audience members, agreed that the United States is losing stature because of a perceived high-level disdain for science. They cited U.S. officials and others questioning scientific evidence of climate change, the reluctance to federally fund stem cell research, and some U.S. officials casting doubt on evolution as examples that have damaged America's international standing.
"I think there's a loss of American power and prestige that came about as a result of our anti-science policies," said David Baltimore, a biologist and Nobel laureate and board chairman of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Raising questions about the science of evolution, he said, "leads to a certain disdain for American intelligence." He added, "What we need is leadership that respects science."
Although the United States has long been the recognized global leader in science, Fedoroff said, that position is now being challenged by others, specifically China, which is raising its global profile. "They're educating 10 times as many students as we are," she said. "The next generation of scientists in other countries might not speak English."
The National Academy of Engineering: Looking Toward the Future
Charles M. Vest, President-elect
April 26, 2007"To lead in the knowledge age, we need knowledgeable people – men and women who have vision, deep understanding of engineering, and the ability to participate in the system that translates innovative new ideas and technologies into new products, processes, and services. Such engineering leaders must successfully address the Herculean national challenge of being competitive in the emerging world economy while maintaining our standard of living.
We must inspire and educate a new generation of diverse young men and women to pursue careers in engineering for the purpose of improving the quality of human life and strengthening American and worldwide economies. We must develop engineering leaders to drive transformative technological advances, and to turn globalization from a threat to an opportunity.
Engineering in the 20th century was based on physics, chemistry, and electronics, and largely focused on energy, transportation, communication, and defense. In the 21st century, engineering will additionally be based on life science and information science, and must increasingly focus on the environment, sustainability, and new approaches to energy. The nation’s well-being and our place in the world community depend in large measure on our leading and implementing the new, cutting-edge innovations that come from both basic research and sophisticated development.
Going forward, the National Academies must sustain and enhance synergy across science, engineering, and medicine to strengthen the nation’s ability to discover, create, and heal."