Working together to improve STEM education and promote research

By: David Young
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Self-driving cars are a hot topic in tech policy today, but did you know that a Romanian teenager developed an autonomous, self-driving car system that cost only $4,000 – or about 5 percent of what an unmanned car costs to develop today? The news generated international headlines and countless accolades from the scientific community.   

“I don't have to be at MIT or Stanford to do amazing research,” said Ionut Budisteanu, whose invention won him a $75,000 scholarship and first place in the International Science and Engineering Fair. “Intention is everything. A sculptor can create a Stradivarius if he wants to, or he can create a broom. It's the same with programming ... you can use your computer to play games, or you can use it to win a Nobel Prize. Everyone has a chance to do something amazing.”

At Verizon, we couldn’t agree more. That’s why Verizon applauds bipartisan efforts on Capitol Hill to identify ways in which government, industry and academia can work together to boost critical investment in research and increase participation in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. U.S. Sen. John Thune, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, convened a full committee hearing today titled “Leveraging the U.S. Science and Technology Enterprise.” The hearing featured a panel of experts drawn from the public and private sector whose testimonies will inform a bipartisan working group charged with developing future national science and technology policy.

In the future, the greatest and most innovative opportunities will be high-tech jobs requiring skills in STEM. These are the careers that will help create a brighter future for hundreds of millions, and potentially billions of people.

Over the next decade, STEM jobs are expected to grow by an estimated 17 percent. The growth in STEM jobs comes at a time when American workers currently employed in engineering and advanced manufacturing are retiring at a much faster rate than workers in non-STEM fields.

What does all this mean? It means that in today’s digital age, our country is in great need of an infusion of new, young and diverse talent to fill the jobs of the future. This is why improving STEM education – with a special focus on closing the gender and diversity gaps – is one of our Foundation’s highest priorities.

At Verizon, we believe powerful technology can help solve many of society’s biggest problems – from healthcare, to education, to environmental sustainability – and that a good idea can come from anywhere. But the only way to do that is to provide people closest to the problems with the skills and tools needed to create innovative solutions and powerful answers.

About the author(s): 

David Young has an engineering background, which enables him to develop positions on emerging public policy issues and asses key technology and communications industry trends. Prior to 2000, he spent six years working in Verizon’s Research and Development (R&D) group on many advanced technologies including VoIP, data network architectures, and audio, video and image compression. He has been awarded ten U.S. government patents for his R&D work. David is a member of the IEEE and IEEE Communications Society.