Archive for the ‘engineering’ Category

The Search for Skills: Demand for H-1B Immigrant Workers in U.S. Metropolitan Areas

July 18, 2012 Comments off

The Search for Skills: Demand for H-1B Immigrant Workers in U.S. Metropolitan Areas

Source: Brookings Institution

An analysis of the geography of H-1B visa requests — particularly in the metropolitan areas with the highest demand between 2001 and 2011 — reveals that:

Demand for H-1B workers has fluctuated with economic and political cycles over the last decade and reflects a wide range of employers’ needs for high-skilled temporary workers.

Employer requests have exceeded the number of visas issued every year except from 2001 to 2003 when the annual cap was temporarily raised from 65,000 to 195,000. Employers requesting the most H-1B visas are large companies subject to the cap specializing in information technology, consulting, and electronics manufacturing. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) occupations account for almost two-thirds of requests for H-1B workers; healthcare, finance, business, and life sciences occupations are also in high demand. Over the last decade the federal government has distributed about $1 billion from H-1B visa fees to fund programs to address skills shortages in the U.S. workforce.

One hundred and six metropolitan areas had at least 250 requests for H-1B workers in the 2010–2011 period, accounting for 91 percent of all requests but only 67 percent of the national workforce.

Considerable variation exists among these metro areas in the number of workers requested and the ratio of requests to the size of the total metro workforce. On average, there were 3.3 requests for H-1Bs per 1,000 workers in these 106 metro areas, compared to 2.4 for the nation as a whole.

Metropolitan areas vary by the number of employers using the H-1B program and the cap status of the employers.
Demand in corporate metro areas (such as Columbus, IN and Seattle, WA) comes predominantly from private employers subject to the annual visa cap, while in research metro areas (such as Durham, NC and Ann Arbor, MI), the demand is driven by universities and other research institutions exempted from the cap. In mixed metro areas (such as Atlanta, GA and Trenton, NJ), a variety of employers are demanding temporary highskilled foreign workers.

In 92 of the 106 high demand metropolitan areas, STEM occupations accounted for more than half of all requests.
Computer occupations were the most highly requested occupation group in all but 11 metros of the 106 high-demand metros, where engineering, healthcare practitioners, and postsecondary teachers were more requested. Metropolitan areas also vary on occupational concentration, ranging from 74 occupation groups requested in the New York metro area, to 15 groups requested in Bloomington, IL.

H-1B visa fees designated for skills training and STEM education have not been proportionately distributed to metro areas requesting the highest number of H-1B workers.
Metropolitan areas with a high demand for H-1B workers are only receiving $3.09 on average per working age person 16 years or older of the technical skills training grants compared to $15.26 for metros that have a lower demand for H-1Bs from 2001-2011. STEM education funds are similarly distributed with the high H-1B metros receiving only $1.00 per working age person 16 years or older compared to $14.10 in the low H-1B metros.

Economic Survey of the United States 2012

July 2, 2012 Comments off

Economic Survey of the United States 2012
Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
From press release:

The United States should do more to foster innovation and provide more equitable access to high-quality education in order to maintain its status as the world’s most vibrant and productive economy, according to OECD’s latest Economic Survey of the United States.

Data from the Survey suggest the United States is losing its cutting edge in innovation. This affects prospects for long-term growth and for maintaining living standards. Productivity in the U.S. is still growing faster than in most other OECD countries but growth has slowed down since the 1970s. Also, U.S. companies are no longer more likely to innovate than companies in other OECD countries.

Particularly worrying is the performance in education, which is essential to provide workers with the skills necessary to become more productive and to adapt to technological change. Attainment in tertiary education stagnated over the past three decades while it grew significantly in almost every other OECD country. Today, 22 out of 30 OECD countries surveyed have more graduates in science and engineering among the 25 to 34 year old workers than the United States.

Report overview and data available for free download. Full report available for purchase.

Changing and Evolving Relationships between Two- and Four-Year Colleges and Universities: They’re Not Your Parents’ Community Colleges Anymore

June 15, 2012 Comments off

This paper describes a summit on Community Colleges in the Evolving STEM Education Landscape organized by a committee of the National Research Council (NRC) and the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and held at the Carnegie Institution for Science on December 15, 2011. This summit followed a similar event organized by Dr. Jill Biden, spouse of the Vice President, and held at the White House in October 2010, which sought to bring national attention to the changing missions and purposes of community colleges in contemporary American society.1 The NRC/NAE event built on the White House summit, while focusing on the changing roles of community colleges in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. An in-depth summary of the summit was prepared by the NRC and NAE for publication in late Spring 2012 by the National Academies Press (NRC and National Academy of Engineering, 2012 ). This paper provides a synopsis of that report, which is available at, and emphasizes how we can use the report to improve STEM education for our students, but also how much progress still needs to be made to realize this ideal.

NSF Releases Report Detailing Substantial Growth in Graduate Enrollment in Science and Engineering in the Past Decade

June 6, 2012 Comments off

NSF Releases Report Detailing Substantial Growth in Graduate Enrollment in Science and Engineering in the Past Decade
Source: National Science Foundation

A recent report released by the National Science Foundation found that graduate enrollment in science and engineering grew substantially in the past decade.

Approximately 632,700 graduate students were enrolled in science, engineering and health programs in the United States as of fall 2010. This was a 30 percent increase from 493,000 students in 2000, according to the National Science Foundation’s Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering.

The growth in first time, full-time graduate student enrollment in science, engineering, and health programs over this time was even greater, with a 50 percent increase from approximately 78,400 students in 2000 to almost 118,500 students in 2010.

Enrollment in biomedical engineering, which increased by over seven percent between 2009 and 2010, continues to be one of the fastest growing science and engineering fields and has experienced 165 percent growth–the most rapid growth over the last decade–from approximately 3,200 graduate students in 2000 to 8,500 students in 2010.

+ Full Report

AAAS Report Shares Strategies to Recruit New Generation of Highly Qualified Science and Mathematics Teachers

May 31, 2012 Comments off

AAAS Report Shares Strategies to Recruit New Generation of Highly Qualified Science and Mathematics Teachers
Source: American Association for the Advancement of Science

s U.S. science test scores stagnate, a new report by AAAS shows how high-quality science and mathematics teachers can be recruited and trained to help reverse this trend.

The report describes the innovative strategies used by the National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program, which trains science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) undergraduate majors and STEM professionals to become K-12 teachers. The program has found new ways to recruit, prepare, and support these new teachers by offering them a chance to work in after-school programs, mentoring them with the help of local educators, and providing funding for research projects of their own.

Now a decade old, the program’s successes are being scrutinized as part of a national conversation on how to improve science education.

Improvements are urgently needed, education experts say. Results from the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) science test, which were released on 10 May, show that only a third of eighth-graders who took the test scored at or above the proficient level for their grade.

CRS — Immigration of Foreign Nationals with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Degrees

May 18, 2012 Comments off

Immigration of Foreign Nationals with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Degrees (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Although the United States remains the leading host country for international students in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) fields, the global competition for talent has intensified. A record number of STEM graduates—both U.S. residents and foreign nationals—are entering the U.S. labor market, and there is a renewed focus on creating additional immigration pathways for foreign professional workers in STEM fields. Current law sets an annual worldwide level of 140,000 employment-based admissions, which includes the spouses and children in addition to the principal (i.e., qualifying) aliens. “STEM visa” is shorthand for an expedited immigration avenue that enables foreign nationals with graduate degrees in STEM fields to adjust to legal permanent resident (LPR) status without waiting in the queue of numerically limited LPR visas. The fundamental policy question is should the United States create additional pathways for STEM graduates to remain in the United States permanently?

The number of full-time graduate students in science, engineering, and health fields who were foreign students (largely on F-1 nonimmigrant visas) grew from 91,150 in 1990 to 148,923 in 2009, with most of the increase occurring after 1999. Despite the rise in foreign student enrollment, the percentage of STEM graduate students with temporary visas in 2009 (32.7%) was comparable to 1990 (31.1%). Graduate enrollments in engineering fields have exhibited the most growth of the STEM fields in recent years.

After completing their studies, foreign students on F-1 visas are permitted to participate in employment known as Optional Practical Training (OPT), which is temporary employment that is directly related to an F-1 student’s major area of study. Generally, a foreign student may work up to 12 months in OPT status. In 2008, the Department of Homeland Security (HHS) expanded the OPT work period to 29 months for F-1 students in STEM fields.

Many F-1 visa holders (especially those who are engaged in OPT) often change their immigration status to become professional specialty workers (H-1B). Most H-1B beneficiaries are typically admitted to work in STEM occupations. In FY2010, the most recent year for which detailed data on H-1B beneficiaries (i.e., workers renewing their visas as well as newly arriving workers) are available, almost 91,000 H-1B workers were employed in computer-related occupations, and they made up 47% of all H-1B beneficiaries that year.

The H-1B visa and the OPT often provide the link for foreign students to become employmentbased LPRs. In total, foreign nationals reporting STEM occupations made up 44% of all of the 676,642 LPRs who were employment-based principal immigrants during the decade of FY2000- FY2009. Of all of the LPRs reporting STEM occupations (297,668) over this decade, 52% entered as professional and skilled workers. STEM graduates seeking LPR status are likely to wait in line to obtain LPR status. Those immigrating as professional and skilled workers face wait times of many years, but those who meet the criteria of the extraordinary ability or advanced degrees preference categories have a much shorter wait.

There may be renewed interest in establishing STEM visas in the 112th Congress, and several bills (H.R. 399, H.R. 2161, H.R. 3146, S. 1965, and S. 1986) have been introduced. The House Committee on the Judiciary held two hearings on these issues in 2011. These issues also arose during a 2011 Senate Committee on the Judiciary hearing on the economic rationale for immigration reform. No legislation on STEM visas, however, has moved through committees thus far.

CRS — The Army Corps of Engineers’ Nationwide Permits Program: Issues and Regulatory Developments

May 10, 2012 Comments off

The Army Corps of Engineers’ Nationwide Permits Program: Issues and Regulatory Developments (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

Permits issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers authorize various types of development projects in wetlands and other waters of the United States. The Corps’ regulatory process involves two types of permits: general permits for actions by private landowners that are similar in nature and will likely have a minor effect on wetlands, and individual permits for more significant actions. The Corps uses general permits to minimize the burden of its regulatory program: they authorize landowners to proceed with a project without the time-consuming need to obtain standard individual permits in advance. About 90% of the Corps’ regulatory workload is processed in the form of general permits.

Nationwide permits are one type of general permit. Nationwide permits, which currently number 50, are issued for five-year periods and thereafter must be renewed. They were most recently reissued in total in March 2012. The reissued permits include modification of one nationwide permit, number 21, which authorizes discharges associated with surface coal mining activities and has been controversial.

The current nationwide permit program has few strong supporters, for differing reasons. Developers and other industry groups say that it is too complex and burdened with arbitrary restrictions that limit opportunities for an efficient permitting process and have little environmental benefit. Environmentalists say that it does not adequately protect aquatic resources, because the review procedures and permit requirements are less rigorous than those for individual or standard permits. At issue is whether the program has become so complex and expansive that it cannot either protect aquatic resources or provide for a fair regulatory system, which are its dual objectives. Controversies also exist about the use of specific nationwide permits for authorizing particular types of activities, such as surface coal mining operations.

In addition to general objections, interest groups have a number of specific criticisms of the permits, such as requirements that there must be compensatory mitigation for impacts of some authorized activities, impacts of regional conditioning through which local aquatic considerations are addressed, and the need to define “minimal adverse effects” for purposes of implementing the nationwide permit program. Coordinating implementation of the nationwide permits between federal and state governments also raises a number of issues. Of particular concern to states is tension over whether their authority to certify the nationwide permits is sufficient to assure that water quality standards or coastal zone management plans will not be violated.

Congressional interest in wetlands permit regulatory programs has been evident in the past in oversight hearings and in connection with bills to fund the Corps’ regulatory programs. For some time, there has been a stalemate over legislation that would revise wetlands regulatory law and that could, if enacted, modify the nationwide permit program. During this time, no consensus has emerged on whether or how to reform overall wetlands policy legislatively. Recently, Obama Administration initiatives and actions intended to restrict harmful effects of surface coal mining activities in Appalachia have drawn congressional attention and criticism that is likely to continue in the 112 th Congress and that could include oversight of the Corps’ regulatory program generally.

Report Warns of Rapid Decline in U.S. Earth Observation Capabilities; Next-Generation Missions Hindered by Budget Shortfalls, Launch Failures

May 4, 2012 Comments off

Report Warns of Rapid Decline in U.S. Earth Observation Capabilities; Next-Generation Missions Hindered by Budget Shortfalls, Launch Failures
Source: National Research Council

A new National Research Council report says that budget shortfalls, cost-estimate growth, launch failures, and changes in mission design and scope have left U.S. earth observation systems in a more precarious position than they were five years ago. The report cautions that the nation’s earth observing system is beginning a rapid decline in capability, as long-running missions end and key new missions are delayed, lost, or cancelled.

“The projected loss of observing capability will have profound consequences on science and society, from weather forecasting to responding to natural hazards,” said Dennis Hartmann, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington, Seattle, and chair of the committee that wrote the report. “Our ability to measure and understand changes in Earth’s climate and life support systems will also degrade.”

The report comes five years after the Research Council published “Earth Science and Applications From Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond,” a decadal survey that generated consensus recommendations from the earth and environmental science and applications community for a renewed program of earth observations. The new report finds that although NASA responded favorably and aggressively to the decadal survey, the required budget was not achieved, greatly slowing progress. Changes in program scope without commensurate funding, directed by the Office of Management and Budget and by Congress, also slowed progress. A further impediment, the report says, is the absence of a highly reliable and affordable medium-class launch capability.

Despite these challenges, NASA has been successful in launching some of the missions in development when the survey report was published. It has also made notable progress in establishing the “Venture-class” program, as recommended in the decadal survey. The suborbital program and the airborne science program are additional areas where significant progress is being made. In accord with the decadal survey’s recommendations, NASA also aggressively pursued international partnerships to mitigate shortfalls and stretch resources.

In the near term, the report concludes, budgets for NASA’s earth science program will remain inadequate to meet pressing national needs. Therefore the agency should focus on two necessary actions: defining and implementing a cost-constrained approach to mission development, and identifying and empowering a cross-mission earth system science and engineering team to advise on the execution of decadal survey missions.

+ Earth Science and Applications from Space: A Midterm Assessment of NASA’s Implementation of the Decadal Survey

VA Gov. McDonnell: Aviation and Space Workforce Report Published

April 26, 2012 Comments off

VA Gov. McDonnell: Aviation and Space Workforce Report Published
Source: Southern Governors Association

Today Governor Bob McDonnell released the Aviation and Space Workforce Development Analysis and Strategy Development. The report highlights the aviation and space industries’ current employment levels and future projections for growth. According to the report, approximately 12,000 new employees will be required to fill positions that include airline pilots, aircraft mechanics and technicians, aerospace engineers, mechanical engineers, air traffic controllers and other technical jobs that require strong science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM) skills.

“The goals of the report were to determine the current size and impact of the Commonwealth’s aviation and space industry, project industry growth, identify core workforce support entities and to isolate any gaps in the current workforce,” governor McDonnell said. “We plan to implement these recommendations leading Virginia in a direction to capture a greater share of the nation’s industry growth.”

Additional goals are to enhance interest in STEM-related careers by focusing on the educational pipeline and include secondary education, increase industry visibility through promotional and marketing efforts, develop a statewide strategic plan mentorship programs to transfer institutional knowledge from the senior generation to the younger generation of the workforce as well as place former military personnel with defense contractors.

Implementation of the recommendations will be executed as a joint effort between the Department of Aviation, the Virginia Department of Education, and aviation and space industry partners. The Virginia Department of Education and the Virginia Community College System identified several existing programs that support the recommendations and provided guidance on developing programs that strengthen STEM-related skills.

The report was commissioned through the collaboration of the working group-Working Smarter Alliance-which consisted of industry partners including the Office of the Secretary of Education, NASA Langley Research Center, the National Association of Manufacturers Institute and the Federal Aviation Administration.

+ Full Report (PDF)

CRS — National Science Foundation: Major Research Equipment and Facility Construction

April 10, 2012 Comments off

National Science Foundation: Major Research Equipment and Facility Construction (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) account of the National Science Foundation (NSF) supports the acquisition and construction of major research facilities and equipment that are to extend the boundaries of science, engineering, and technology. The facilities include telescopes, earth simulators, astronomical observatories, and mobile research platforms. Currently, the NSF provides approximately $1.0 billion annually in support of facilities and other infrastructure projects. While the NSF does not directly design or operate research facilities, it does have final responsibility for oversight and management. Questions have been raised by many in the scientific community and in Congress concerning the adequacy of the planning and management of NSF facilities. In addition, there has been debate related to the criteria used to select projects for MREFC support.

The Administration’s FY2013 budget request for the NSF is $7,373.1 million, a 4.8% increase ($340.0 million) over the FY2012 estimated level of $7,033.1 million. Included in the request total is $196.2 million for MREFC, slightly below the FY2012 estimate of $197.1 million. The FY2013 request proposes support for four projects—Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory ($14.9 million), Advanced Technology Solar Telescope ($42.0 million), Ocean Observatories Initiative ($27.5 million), and the National Ecological Observatory Network ($98.2 million).

EU — Regional development and creativity

March 28, 2012 Comments off

Regional development and creativity (PDF)
Source: Research Papers in Economics

The aim of this paper is to assess the role played by creativity and other components of human capital on the process of economic growth for 257 regions in the 27 member countries of the European Union. We first decompose the regional human capital endowment to distinguish between the educational component (the share of individuals with a university degree) and the creativity component, which considers the actual occupations of individuals in specific jobs like science, engineering, education, arts and entertainment. We define three non overlapping categories of human capital (creative graduates, bohemians and non creative graduates) which are simultaneously included in a spatial model as determinants of regional growth measured by labour productivity. After extending the analysis to control for other relevant factors which may affect regional development, such as physical, technological and social capital, cultural diversity, industrial and geographical characteristics, we provide robust evidence on the growth enhancing effects of graduates, in particular for those of the creative category.

Frontiers of Engineering 2011: Reports on Leading-Edge Engineering from the 2011 Symposium

February 17, 2012 Comments off

Frontiers of Engineering 2011: Reports on Leading-Edge Engineering from the 2011 Symposium
Source: National Academy of Engineering of the National Academies

The practice of engineering is continually changing. Engineers today must be able not only to thrive in an environment of rapid technological change and globalization, but also to work on interdisciplinary teams. Cutting-edge research is being done at the intersections of engineering disciplines, and successful researchers and practitioners must be aware of developments and challenges in areas that may not be familiar to them.

At the U.S. Frontiers of Engineer Symposium, engineers have the opportunity to learn from their peers about pioneering work being done in many areas of engineering. Frontiers of Engineering 2011: Reports on Leading-Edge Engineering from the 2011 Symposium highlights the papers presented at the event. This book covers four general topics from the 2011 symposium: additive manufacturing, semantic processing, engineering sustainable buildings, and neuro-prosthetics. The papers from these presentations provide an overview of the challenges and opportunities of these fields of inquiry, and communicate the excitement of discovery.

New From the GAO

January 24, 2012 Comments off

New GAO Reports and Testimony
Source: Government Accountability Office


1. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education: Strategic Planning Needed To Better Manage Overlapping Programs across Multiple Agencies. GAO-12-108, January 20.
Highlights -

Related Product

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education: Survey of Federal Programs (GAO-12-110SP, January 2012), an E-supplement to GAO-12-108.  GAO-12-110SP, January 20.

2. Arleigh Burke Destroyers: Additional Analysis and Oversight Required to Support the Navy’s Future Surface Combatant Plans.  GAO-12-113, January 24.
Highlights -

3. Department of Energy: Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy Could Benefit from Information on Applicants’ Prior Funding.  GAO-12-112, January 13.
Highlights -

Reissued Report

1. Government Auditing Standards: 2011 Revision (Yellow Book).  GAO-12-331G, December 12, 2011.


1. Department of Energy: Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy Could Improve Its Collection of Information from Applications, by Frank Rusco, Director, National Resources and Environment, before the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology: Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee.  GAO-12-407T, January 24.

CRS — Nuclear Power Plant Design and Seismic Safety Considerations

January 24, 2012 Comments off

Nuclear Power Plant Design and Seismic Safety Considerations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station and the earthquake that forced the North Anna, VA, nuclear power plant’s temporary shutdown have focused attention on the seismic criteria applied to siting and designing commercial nuclear power plants. Some Members of Congress have questioned whether U.S nuclear plants are more vulnerable to seismic threats than previously assessed, particularly given the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC’s) ongoing reassessment of seismic risks at certain plant sites.
The design and operation of commercial nuclear power plants operating in the United States vary considerably because most were custom-designed and custom-built. Boiling water reactors (BWRs) directly generate steam inside the reactor vessel. Pressurized water reactors (PWRs) use heat exchangers to convert the heat generated by the reactor core into steam outside of the reactor vessel. U.S. utilities currently operate 104 nuclear power reactors at 65 sites in 31 states; 69 are PWR designs and the 35 are BWR designs.

One of the most severe operating conditions a reactor may face is a loss of coolant accident (LOCA), which can lead to a reactor core meltdown. The emergency core cooling system (ECCS) provides core cooling to minimize fuel damage by injecting large amounts of cool water containing boron (borated water slows the fission process) into the reactor coolant system following a pipe rupture or other water loss. The ECCS must be sized to provide adequate make- up water to compensate for a break of the largest diameter pipe in the primary system (i.e., the so- called “double-ended guillotine break” (DEGB)). The NRC considers the DEGB to be an extremely unlikely event; however, even unlikely events can occur, as the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami that struck Fukushima Daiichi proves.

U.S. nuclear power plants designed in the 1960s and 1970s used a deterministic statistical approach to addressing the risk of damage from shaking caused by a large earthquake (termed Deterministic Seismic Hazard Analysis, or DSHA). Since then, engineers have adopted a more comprehensive approach to design known as Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Analysis (PSHA). PSHA estimates the likelihood that various levels of ground motion will be exceeded at a given location in a given future time period. New nuclear plant designs will apply PSHA.

In 2008, the U.S Geological Survey (USGS) updated the National Seismic Hazard Maps (NSHM) that were last revised in 2002. USGS notes that the 2008 hazard maps differ significantly from the 2002 maps in many parts of the United States, and generally show 10%-15% reductions in spectral and peak ground acceleration across much of the Central and Eastern United States (CEUS), and about 10% reductions for spectral and peak horizontal ground acceleration in the Western United States (WUS). Spectral acceleration refers to ground motion over a range, or spectra, of frequencies. Seismic hazards are greatest in the WUS, particularly in California, Oregon, and Washington, as well as Alaska and Hawaii.

In 2010, the NRC examined the implications of the updated NSHM for nuclear power plants operating in the CEUS, and concluded that NSHM data suggest that the probability for earthquake ground motions may be above the seismic design basis for some nuclear plants in the CEUS. In late March 2011, NRC announced that it had identified 27 nuclear reactors operating in the CEUS that would receive priority earthquake safety reviews.

New Report Outlines Trends in U.S. Global Competitiveness in Science and Technology

January 20, 2012 Comments off
The United States remains the global leader in supporting science and technology (S&T) research and development, but only by a slim margin that could soon be overtaken by rapidly increasing Asian investments in knowledge-intensive economies. So suggest trends released in a new report by the National Science Board (NSB), the policymaking body for the National Science Foundation (NSF), on the overall status of the science, engineering and technology workforce, education efforts and economic activity in the United States and abroad.
“This information clearly shows we must re-examine long-held assumptions about the global dominance of the American science and technology enterprise,” said NSF Director Subra Suresh of the findings in the Science and Engineering Indicators 2012 released today. “And we must take seriously new strategies for education, workforce development and innovation in order for the United States to retain its international leadership position,” he said.
According to the new Indicators 2012, the largest global S&T gains occurred in the so-called “Asia-10″–China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand–as those countries integrate S&T into economic growth. Between 1999 and 2009, for example, the U.S. share of global research and development (R&D) dropped from 38 percent to 31 percent, whereas it grew from 24 percent to 35 percent in the Asia region during the same time.
In China alone, R&D growth increased a stunning 28 percent in a single year (2008-2009), propelling it past Japan and into second place behind the United States.

Science and Engineering Indicators 2012

The Foreign-Born with Science and Engineering Degrees: 2010

November 18, 2011 Comments off

The Foreign-Born with Science and Engineering Degrees: 2010
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

This brief, based on 2010 American Community Survey estimates, examines patterns of science and engineering educational attainment among the foreign-born population, with attainment of specific science and engineering degree types by place of birth and sex, as well as metropolitan statistical area. It also compares attainment of such degrees by the foreign-born and native-born populations.


  • In 2010, 48.5 million (28 percent) of the 170.7 million native-born population 25 and older and 9.1 million (27 percent) of the 33.6 million foreign-born population 25 and older had a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • Foreign-born residents represented 33 percent of all bachelor’s degree holders in engineering fields, 27 percent in computers, mathematics and statistics; 24 percent in physical sciences; and 17 percent in biological, agricultural and environmental sciences.
  • Of the 4.2 million foreign-born science and engineering bachelor’s degree holders in the U.S., 57 percent were born in Asia, 18 percent in Europe, 16 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean, 5 percent in Africa, 3 percent in Northern America and less than 1 percent in Oceania.
  • The majority (64 percent) of foreign-born residents with degrees in computers, mathematics and statistics were born in Asia, including 24 percent who were born in India and 14 percent who were born in China.
  • Overall, only 7 percent of foreign-born residents with science and engineering degrees had majored in psychology.
  • Of the 9.1 million foreign-born residents 25 and older with bachelor’s degrees, 51 percent were female. However, only 37 percent of the 4.2 million foreign-born residents with science and engineering degrees were female.
  • Looking at areas with a foreign-born population greater than 100,000, the highest proportion of foreign-born residents with science and engineering degrees was in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. metro area (29 percent), followed by the Baltimore-Towson, Md. metro area (24 percent).

Internet address: <>. [PDF]

CRS — Selected STEM Education Legislative Activity in the 112th Congress (memorandum)

November 15, 2011 Comments off

Selected STEM Education Legislative Activity in the 112th Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via STEM Education Coalition)

This general distribution memorandum summarizes selected legislative activities related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education—including legislation, hearings, and appropriations—in the 112th Congress. It will not be updated. Please contact the author with additional questions or for more information.

Although STEM education programs and activities can be found across at least 15 federal agencies, most of the funding and programs are in three agencies: the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Education (ED), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Further, because almost all of the NIH funding is in a single specialized scholarship program that primarily supports biomedical students and researchers in higher education, this memorandum focuses on STEM education activities at NSF and ED. These two agencies provide much of the federal STEM education assistance for kindergarten-through-grade 12 (K-12) schools, students, and colleges.

Science panel calls for federal research into geoengineering

October 6, 2011 Comments off

Science panel calls for federal research into geoengineering
Source: Bipartisan Policy Center

Leading experts on climate change science and technology are calling on the federal government to launch a coordinated investigation of the potential effectiveness, feasibility, and consequences of so-called geoengineering.

The Bipartisan Policy Center’s (BPC) Task Force on Climate Remediation Research says in its report that ideas such as removal of CO2 from the atmosphere or using particles to reflect sunlight back into space should be investigated in case they turn out to be necessary.

+ Full Report (PDF)

See: Science panel calls for federal research into geoengineering

FDA outlines plans for an outside network of scientific experts

October 6, 2011 Comments off

FDA outlines plans for an outside network of scientific experts
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) is soliciting comment on a plan to create a network of outside scientific experts who would provide staff with rapid access to specific specialized knowledge about emerging technology, as well as other topics. To further enrich this comment period, CDRH will also conduct a 12-week pilot of the network through Dec. 30, 2011.

CDRH has a world-class scientific staff that includes scientists, engineers, and clinicians. Nevertheless, there are times when staff must turn to external sources to further enhance their scientific understanding, given the rapid advancements in certain scientific fields, the development of pioneering technologies and increasingly complex medical devices.

The CDRH Network of Experts would allow CDRH staff to tap into a vetted network of scientists and engineers for detailed scientific information on topics related to medical devices.

CDRH already uses outside experts for its advisory panels. But panel membership is limited to a pool of Special Government Employees who must be recruited and enrolled. The Center cannot be assured that an expert in an emerging technology will be available when that expertise is needed. Other traditional sources of external expertise, such as public workshops, conferences and literature may lag behind current research or may not be available when a scientific question arises at CDRH.

“Medical devices continue to become more diverse and complex. The CDRH Network of Experts will help us broaden our existing expertise and expose our staff to a variety of scientific viewpoints, especially on emerging technology,” said William Maisel, M.D., CDRH deputy center director and chief scientist.

Members of the Network of Experts will not provide policy advice or opinions. Instead, network members will share their particular expertise on specific topics to help center staff form their own conclusions.

+ Network of Experts- Expert Utilization Standard Operating Procedure (DRAFT)
+ Network of Experts – Expert Enrollment Standard Operating Procedure (DRAFT)

NFAP policy brief cites Kauffman-funded research that shows highly skilled immigrants could wait up to 70 years for a green card

October 6, 2011 Comments off

NFAP policy brief cites Kauffman-funded research that shows highly skilled immigrants could wait up to 70 years for a green card
Source: Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation (National Foundation for American Policy)

The National Foundation for American Policy released a policy brief today that says international students who graduate from U.S. universities with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) should get a green card with their diplomas. The paper also says such a policy would significantly benefit U.S. competitiveness and the economy overall.

In “Keeping Talent in America” (PDF), the NFAP conducted research funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation that shows a highly skilled Indian national sponsored today for the most common skilled employment-based immigrant visa could wait 70 years to receive a green card. The report addresses the need for STEM graduate talent and solutions to the backlog.


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