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SPIE Leaders Share PCAST Concern For STEM Education
October 12, 2010

The International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE) leaders have expressed support for recommendations made by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) for meeting the urgent need to improve science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education in the U.S.

The PCAST report, Prepare and Inspire: K-12 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Education for America’s Future, reiterates concerns raised in another new report from the National Academies, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5.

The reports, both released recently, find that America has fallen behind in STEM education and needs a sustained investment in education and basic research to keep from slipping further.

The Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) at Georgetown University reported in June that there will be eight million jobs available in STEM-related fields by 2018. However, CEW said that American youth will not be prepared to fill those jobs: American 15-year-olds rank 21st in science and 25th in math internationally.

“These thoughtful and thorough reports, prepared by some of the best minds in the country, provide a troubling analysis of a major and immediate crisis,” said M.J. Soileau, chair of the SPIE Engineering, Science, and Technology Policy Committee. “It is imperative that Congress acts on these recommendations and not let them simply gather dust on a shelf somewhere. The consequences of doing nothing are simply too grave to ignore.”

SPIE contributes $90,000 yearly to educational outreach projects, and offers grants, scholarships, and other awards. The Society’s contribution to education and outreach programs exceeded $2 million in 2009.

SPIE has a lead role in establishing criteria for college and university degree-granting programs as a member of ABET, (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) for college and university programs in the U.S.

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