"It's true that in a "knowledge economy" —one where new information and ideas increasingly form the basis of useful products and government programs—nations need an adequate science and engineering (S&E) workforce. But it's emphatically not true, as much of the alarmist commentary on America's "competitiveness" implies, that the United States now faces crippling shortages in its technological elites."
"[A] country's capacity for scientific and commercial innovation does not correlate directly with its number of scientists and engineers. Hard work, imagination and business practices also matter. Here the United States has some significant strengths: widespread ambition; an openness to new ideas, especially from the young; an acceptance of skilled immigrants; strong connections between universities and businesses; and well-funded venture capitalists."
The New York Times Top Advisory Panel Warns of an Erosion of the U.S. Competitive Edge in Science
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"A panel of experts convened by the National Academies, the nation's leading science advisory group, called yesterday for an urgent and wide-ranging effort to strengthen scientific competitiveness.
The 20-member panel, reporting at the request of a bipartisan group in Congress, said that without such an effort the United States "could soon loose its privileged position." It cited many examples of emerging scientific and industrial power abroad and listed 20 steps the United States should take to maintain its global lead.
"Decisive action is needed now," the report warned, adding that the nation's old advantages "are eroding at a time when many other nations are gathering strength.""The National Academies Broad Federal Effort Urgently Needed to Create New, High-Quality Jobs for All Americans in the 21st Century
Given the United States' history of economic and scientific pre-eminence, it is easy to be complacent about these complex issues, the report says. Following are some indicators that illustrate why decisive action is needed now:
- For the cost of one chemist or one engineer in the United States, a company can hire about five chemists in China or 11 engineers in India.
- Last year chemical companies shuttered 70 facilities in the United States and have tagged 40 more for closure. Of 120 chemical plants being built around the world with price tags of $1 billion or more, one is in the United States and 50 are in China.
- U.S. 12th-graders recently performed below the international average for 21 countries on a test of general knowledge in mathematics and science.
- · In 1999 only 41 percent of U.S. eighth-graders had a math teacher who had majored in mathematics at the undergraduate or graduate level or studied the subject for teacher certification -- a figure that was considerably lower than the international average of 71 percent.
- Last year more than 600,000 engineers graduated from institutions of higher education in China. In India, the figure was 350,000. In America, it was about 70,000.
- In 2001 U.S. industry spent more on tort litigation than on research and development."
“Bioinformatics will be at the core of biology in the 21st century. In fields ranging from structural biology to genomics to biomedical imaging, ready access to data and analytical tools are fundamentally changing the way investigators in the life sciences conduct research and approach problems. Complex, computationally intensive biological problems are now being addressed and promise to significantly advance our understanding of biology and medicine. No biological discipline will be unaffected by these technological breakthroughs.”BIOINFORMATICS IN THE 21st CENTURY
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