Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ted Kaufman (D-DE), and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY) introduced legislation that would help boost science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) education programs in the nation’s elementary, middle and high schools. The bipartisan Engineering Education for Innovation Act (the E2 for Innovation Act) would create competitive grant programs to fund the implementation of engineering curricula and instruction to increase student achievement and interest in science and engineering disciplines.
“During these tough economic times, we need to continue investing in education to prepare our students for the new green economy,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This bipartisan legislation would help the next generation learn the importance of math, science and innovation for the jobs of the future. No other state is poised to lead in the high-tech economy of the future like New York. Our state is home to the universities, businesses, laboratories, researchers and the bright minds we need for long-term economic strength.”
“As a nation, our future success depends on our ability to produce a greater number of engineers,” Senator Kaufman said. “Job growth and the future of the American economy requires our continued ability to lead the world in innovation as we tackle the grand challenges of the 21st century — from clean water to life-saving cures for diseases and biomedical developments to green energy. Much of the answer lies in classrooms across the country. This legislation will give schools nationwide more incentive to implement science and engineering education into K-12 curricula.”
“It is clear that the face of our economy is changing and we must do everything within our power to prepare our workforce for the demands of the global market,” Senator Snowe said. “With this bill, we can lay the foundation for a strong educational system that encompasses the right resources and training to ensure students can succeed in the competitive 21st century workforce.”
“If we are going to support an economy that is driven by our ability to solve problems through technology development, than we need to increase our students’ interest and understanding of engineering down to the earliest ages,” said Rep. Tonko. “This bill is a critical step to prepare our children for the jobs of tomorrow and retain our standing worldwide as the home of innovation.”
The E2 for Innovation Act is targeted at increasing the number of students who choose science and engineering as a career and to maintain our country’s competitiveness in the world economy. According to the National Science Board’s 2010 Science and Engineering Indicators, only 5 percent of college graduates in the United States major in engineering, compared with 12 percent of European students and 20 percent of those in Asia. The report also notes that the performance of elementary and secondary school students in the United States lags behind many nations on international assessments of mathematics and science.
The E2 for Innovation Act would:
- Integrate engineering education into K-12 classrooms by designing challenging content and curricula frameworks and assessments that include engineering.
- Increase engineering and technology teacher preparation programs and recruit qualified teachers to provide engineering education in high-need schools.
- Increase student achievement in STEM subjects and knowledge and competency in engineering design skills.
- Promote aspirations for a career in engineering among diverse students, especially among girls and underrepresented minorities.
- Promote partnerships among K-12 school administrators and teachers, and engineering member bodies and engineering professionals.
The E2 for Innovation Act is a five year program (2011-2015) that would award grants through the Secretary of Education in consultation with the National Science Foundation for the planning and implementation of engineering education into K-12 classrooms. It would also provide funding for three years to the Institute of Education Sciences for research and evaluation grants to assess the effectiveness of the funds used for planning and implementation.
Numerous organizations and corporations, including the National Society of Professional Engineers, Intel, IBM, and Lockheed Martin, have endorsed the bill.