of them pertain to what a company will need, but the mission of the company is different from the mission at Northwestern, and we need to keep them separate.”

“That said, many people trained within the lab environment are naturals as employees of a company, while others will want to do something completely different. For those who choose a company, that’s ultimately a relationship they establish on their own. This has worked extremely well. We have had a remarkable ten years of productivity and inventions, and many of those inventions have led to important commercial products. The story is still being told. I wouldn’t describe any of these companies as incredible successes, or failures. We’re not going to know how far they will go for another decade. But it’s looking pretty good.”

A participant remarked that the United States is having troubling attracting enough people to careers in science and technology. “If they could see this pathway we’re talking about,” he said, “where you go through college, come to graduate school, and then have a choice of the academic route or this other venture capital route, it could be a major draw for more students.”

Dr. Persons said he favored the use of prizes as incentives to innovators. He referred to the success of the X-Prize, the DARPA Grand Challenge for driverless vehicles, and others. “The brilliance of most of these,” he said, “is the high return on investment they trigger, and the inspiration for young people who participate all over the world. When you have a clear vision, like President Kennedy wanting to send a person to the moon, there are all the derivative benefits of this dream of going to space and what it means to students from K-12 up.”

Mr. Ross of the State of Illinois referred to Governor Quinn’s emphasis on STEM education, and the Illinois Pathway Initiative, a public-private partnership that strives to interest school children in S&T careers. He also emphasized that most such needs in Illinois were “on hold” until the state took strong measures to resolve its pension crisis. “Right now,” he said, “we have $83 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, and every day it grows larger.”

Dr. Mirkin asserted that the current strategy for teaching secondary and tertiary science was poorly designed. In biology and chemistry, he said, students are not exposed to laboratory work—where the hands-on excitement begins—until the third or fourth year of college. “Up to that point, we tell them to read about it, and we’ll test you on it; then read some more we’ll test you on that. It’s like setting out the bases for a baseball game and saying, Okay, for the next nine years we’re going to study each of the positions. Once you’ve learned all those, we’ll play a game. How many people will be excited by baseball?” He acknowledged that exposing students to labs was a lot of work and responsibility. “But it changes their view of science and maybe their lives. We have to give some thought as to how do that earlier.”

Dr. Persons made the parallel point about emphasizing the vision for STEM education. “Yes, we’re putting money into STEM ed. Will it go to internet access for classrooms? What is that for? Why is this important? We need to be saying, Here’s what you can do to help change the world.”



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