Monday, August 6, 2007

H.R. 2272: The America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Act (COMPETES)

Last Thursday, in a 367 to 57 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2272, a bill that provides $33.6 billion towards federal science, technology and research programs. Thursday night the bill was also approved by the Senate and is now on the President's desk.

H.R. 2272 is the result of 18 months of work led by the bipartisan House Science and Technology Committee and based on recommendations in the, 2005 Rising above the Gathering Storm National Academies report. This is from the H.R. 2272 bill summary:

"H.R. 2272 is the culmination of a year and a half-long, bipartisan effort led by Members of the House Science and Technology Committee to pass a package of competitiveness bills in response to recommendations in the 2005 National Academies report, Rising above the Gathering Storm".

"The Conference Agreement follows through on a commitment to ensure U.S. students, teachers, businesses and workers are prepared to continue leading the world in innovation, research and technology – well into the future".

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Title Portion of the bill is extremely encouraging with a strong emphasis on 2-year colleges and the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) Program:

"The conference agreement provides $22 billion to the National Science Foundation (NSF) over fiscal years 2008 - 2010, putting it on a path to double in approximately 7 years. Particularly strong increases are provided in fiscal year 2008 for K-12 STEM education programs at NSF. These programs, including the Noyce Teacher Scholarship program and the Math and Science Partnerships program will help to prepare thousands of new STEM teachers and provide current teachers with content and pedagogical expertise in their area of teaching.

In addition to providing increased support for programs that address the earliest stages of the STEM workforce pipeline, the conference report will help create thousands of new STEM college graduates, including 2-year college graduates, through increased support for the STEM talent expansion (STEP) program and the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program.

For those STEM graduates who continue on the path toward academic careers, the conference agreement provides critical support for young, innovative researchers by expanding the graduate research fellowships (GRF) and integrative graduate education and research traineeship (IGERT) programs, strengthening the early career grants (CAREER) program, and creating a new pilot program of seed grants for outstanding new investigators. Such programs have an additional benefit of helping to stimulate high-risk, high-reward research by identifying and taking a chance on the best and brightest young minds".

As the director of an NSF ATE Center at a Community College it is wonderful to see recognition of the work being done at all NSF funded institutions including K-12 and the two-year schools.

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