||Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D.
President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
There is a quiet crisis building in the United States a crisis that could jeopardize the nation’s pre-eminence and well-being. The crisis has been mounting gradually, but inexorably, over several decades.
If permitted to continue unmitigated, it could reverse the global leadership Americans currently enjoy.
The crisis stems from the gap between the nation’s growing need for scientists, engineers, and other technically skilled workers, and its production of them. As the generation educated in the 1950s and 1960s prepares to retire, our colleges and universities are not graduating enough scientific and technical talent to step into research laboratories, software and other design centers, refineries, defense installations, science policy offices, manufacturing shop floors and high-tech startups.
This “gap” represents a shortfall in our national scientific and technical capabilities.
The need to make the nation safer from emerging terrorist threats that endanger the nation’s people, infrastructure, economy, health, and environment, makes this gap all the more critical and the need for action all the more urgent.
We ignore this gap at our peril.
Closing it will require a national commitment to develop more of the talent of all our citizens, especially the under-represented majority the women, minorities, and persons with disabilities who comprise a disproportionately small part of the nation’s science, engineering, and technology workforce.
For the United States to remain competitive in a vibrant global innovation and research environment, it must have access to the best minds. The nation’s technological strength depends entirely on its ability to attract, educate, recruit, and retain the best science and engineering workers.
Our government, universities, and industry must act now to develop the intellectual capital of the future.
Profile of Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D.