National Science Board
Here’s a Plan for US to Keep High Rank in STEM Skills

Here’s a Plan for US to Keep High Rank in STEM

May 8, 2020
“Our nation is no longer the uncontested leader in science and engineering,” said Diane Souvaine, NSB Chair. “We cannot be complacent. We must adapt."

The National Science Board (NSB) says the U.S. needs a well-defined vision to ensure that it keeps “America’s lead in fundamental research and to increase science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills and opportunities for all Americans, all of which are necessary to empower U.S. businesses to succeed globally.”

So on May 5, the organization which serves as an independent body of advisors to both the President and the Congress, released a new report, Vision 2030, to achieve that goal. 

“This report provides a vision of where the U.S. S&E enterprise must be in 2030 and lays out the actions that the Board, NSF, and others can take to achieve that vision so that America remains a global leader,” said Roger Beachy, NSB Vision 2030 Task Force Chair. “We hope Vision 2030 inspires others to join with NSF to take the actions our country needs.”

The current pandemic highlights the crucial role that S&E play in guiding the U.S. to a better future. Scientists and engineers across the country have joined the fight against COVID-19 and are studying the virus, scaling up manufacturing processes to produce critical equipment, and developing vaccines and treatments. NSF-funded research and education are key foundations for these and other efforts that enhance the lives of people around the globe. 

Vision 2030 builds on NSB’s recently released Science and Engineering Indicators, which found that the U.S. is playing a less dominant global role in many S&E areas than it did in preceding decades. Indicators also reported that U.S. K-12 student performance in science and mathematics is mediocre and stagnant and, despite some progress, that women and minorities remain underrepresented in many S&E degree programs and jobs. 

“Our nation is no longer the uncontested leader in S&E,” said Diane Souvaine, NSB Chair. “We cannot be complacentWe must adapt. As we look to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, we can be sure that scientific discoveries and inventions will continue to open new, unexpected frontiers that benefit us all.”

Focus on the Future

The Board’s vision is for the U.S. to retain and enhance its global S&E leadership, offering unparalleled opportunities for students, researchers, workers, and entrepreneurs. Key leadership elements include being on the forefront of the practice of science, a strong STEM talent pool both for research and development and for a range of jobs across the economy, leading-edge and widely accessible research infrastructure, and robust strategic partnerships.

Realizing this vision will require all entities in America’s S&E ecosystem to act. The NSB will focus its efforts on enabling faster translation of NSF-funded research outcomes to benefit the U.S. economy, developing America’s STEM talent, expanding innovation capabilities across the country, and fostering a global community of scientists and engineers who share core values. 

NSB commits – in partnership with NSF and other leaders in the S&E enterprise – to a number of actions that include:

  • Undertaking an organizational review of NSF and offering recommendations on changes to directorate structure, funding models, and programmatic offerings.
  • Convening university, industry, and state partners to identify best practices and regulatory, structural, or administrative barriers to partnerships and translation of NSF-funded research.
  • Engaging with Congress and the Administration about the benefits of a new federal program for public post-secondary education institutions that would develop STEM-capable Americans in every state.
  • Working with NSF to develop and expand the agency’s strategies and partnerships to grow international collaborations, attract global talent, and create international education and training opportunities.

“We are currently facing unprecedented challenges as a nation, but we will persevere together as we have done in the past with NSF and the U.S. S&E enterprise playing a key role,” said Kelvin Droegemeier, acting NSF Director. 

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