PCAST Recommends Expansion of MOOCs to Ensure U.S. STEM Competitiveness

In a report letter to the president this week, the U.S. President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) advocated the expansion of massive open online courses (MOOCs) to boost U.S. competitiveness, STEM learning and economic mobility. PCAST recommends that the federal government avoid setting technology standards for these programs at this point, as online education is still in its infancy. Instead, they call for accrediting bodies to become more flexible in response to educational innovation and institutions to improve their sharing of effective practices. Read the report letter...

Useful Stats: Science and Engineering Doctorates by Area of Study and by State

A record number of U.S. students received doctorates in 2012, according to new data from the National Science Foundation. For the first time, the number of doctoral recipients broke 50,000, with a final tally of 51,008. Total doctorates awarded grew by 4.3 percent over the previous year, the largest increase since 2007 and a significant improvement from the previous four years in which the numbers remains fairly steady. The NSF data shows large increases for doctorates in STEM areas, including life sciences, physical sciences and engineering between 2002 and 2012, and little growth in other major fields, including the social sciences, education and humanities.

EPSCoR Vital to Nation's Research Enterprise, According to National Academies

The federal, cross-agency Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) has proven so invaluable to developing STEM expertise across the country that the word "experimental" should be removed from its name, according to a comprehensive new report from the National Academies. The academies, however, recommend that the program be restructured to create a more rigorous competitive process for research projects and improve project evaluation. Download the report...

MA Gov Details Planned Investments in Economic Development, Education

In the latest of a series of announcements outlining MA Gov. Deval Patrick's spending strategy for the coming year, the governor has released his administration's FY14 Capital Investment plan, including details on economic development and education funding. As released, the plan would fund the Governor's Life Sciences capital program at $62.6 million, $13.4 million for the MA Broadband Institute program, $10 million to expand high-speed broadband in unserved areas, and $56.2 million for the state's public infrastructure funding program. STEM education programs also would receive enhanced funding, as outlined in the governor's recently released STEM strategic plan (see the November 12 issue). Another $4 million would support early education and afterschool programs through the new Early Education and Out of School Time Capital Fund. Read the announcement...

MA Rolls Out High-Tech Workforce, STEM Education Strategy

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has made a series of announcements over the past few weeks aimed at improving the high-tech skill set of the state's workers and students. A new STEM strategic plan released yesterday would refine Massachusetts' efforts to expand the pipeline of young, skilled science and technology workers and improve the quality of STEM education. The plan is an update of goals originally set by the governor in 2010, and is focused on increasing the percentage of highly-skilled Pre-K-16 STEM teachers and growing the share of students who enter post-secondary STEM programs. Read the announcement...

Voters Reject Research Tax in MO, Approve Higher Ed Bonds in ME

A measure to increase the sales tax in Jackson County, MO, to fund medical research across Kansas City and St. Louis was rejected by greater than a 5-to-1 ratio, reports the Kansas City Star. Unofficial returns found that 84 percent of voters rejected the proposal that would raise up to $40 million annually through a sales tax increase of one-half of 1 percent to support an institute of hospitals, universities and research institutes working to recruit scientists and turn research into commercial products and treatments. Voters in Maine approved $15.5 million in bonds to renovate and upgrade labs and other STEM facilities at all seven campuses within the University of Maine System and $4.5 million toward a public-private effort to build a science facility at Maine Maritime Academy.

Careers in Nanotech Goal of Latest Investments in NY, IL

A public-private investment of $1.5 billion to create a nanotech hub in upstate New York and a $250,000 educational investment in Illinois illustrate recent state efforts to elevate nanotechnology in workforce development. New York is putting $200 million toward the Nano Utica facility for purchasing new equipment. The initiative is being led by six global technology companies, and the facility will serve as a cleanroom and research hub for computer chip packaging and lithography development and commercialization. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn recently announced a $250,000 state investment for equipment to prepare high school students for careers in nanotechnology. The school receiving the funds also plans to incorporate nanotechnology programming within its STEM summer camp curriculum.

U.S. Workforce Lacks Skills to Compete in Global Economy, Survey Indicates

U.S. adults are less proficient in basic reading, math and problem-solving skills than many of their international counterparts, according to the first Survey of Adult Skills from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). OECD found that, overall, U.S. adults possessed below average proficiency in literacy, numeracy and problem solving in technology-rich environments. In most of the countries included in the study, younger adults entering the workforce generally possessed better skills than older adults leaving the workforce, leading to better prepared labor pools over time. In the U.S., however, adults 55-65 years old performed at levels close to the international average, while younger adults ranked among the least skilled in the 24 countries surveyed.

Two Vying for Virginia Gov’s Office Tout Benefits of Biotech, STEM Workers

Only two states will hold gubernatorial elections this year: New Jersey and Virginia. But those states have garnered a great deal of media attention because of the candidates’ stark policy differences on a wide range of issues, including jobs and the economy. This week, SSTI takes a look at the plans for economic growth and higher education put forth by Virginia Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe and Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli.

SSTI Award Winners Blaze Onward: Library Space, STEM Grants and Tech Commercialization

On the heels of their big win last week in Portland, OR, SSTI’s 2013 Excellence in TBED award winners have announced more exciting news surrounding their programs’ impact and new initiatives to support regional growth strategies. This year’s winner for Most Promising TBED Initiative, ASU Entrepreneurship & Innovation Group (EIG), has attracted a new partner to expand on their model for entrepreneurial support by repurposing existing library space. The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center announced nearly $200,000 in grants for STEM education as they continue to improve the competitiveness of the life sciences sector, and in Utah, two impact reports have been released by partners of USTAR detailing progress made to expand research capacity.


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