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Suggested Citation:"6 Final Observations." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2012. Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Developing Regional Innovation Environments: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13391.
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6

Final Observations

During the final session of the workshop, the participants engaged in a free-wheeling discussion of the important points they heard during the previous two days and steps to be taken next. Their individual observations and suggestions, which have been organized according to the four major sessions of the workshop, should not be taken as a consensus of the workshop participants as a whole or of the planning committee.

REVITALIZING K-12 SCIENCE AND MATH EDUCATION

•  A coherent vision of the knowledge and skills that education should provide to students can drive improvement.

•  Future generations will learn in different ways than have people in the past, which will require new and innovative approaches to education.

•  Metrics for educational achievement among students and teachers can guide educational improvement.

•  The informal STEM learning that occurs in such places as museums can have a powerful effect on both knowledge and attitudes.

•  An emphasis on results rather than just funding can increase the interest of industry in contributing to K-12 education.

•  Teachers need to be more adequately represented in discussions of education, perhaps through electronic connections from the schools where they are working.

Suggested Citation:"6 Final Observations." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2012. Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Developing Regional Innovation Environments: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13391.
×

•  Giving teachers continuing education credits for learning how to apply for and manage grants could enable them to foster partnerships with the private sector.

•  Teachers also need to spend time to learn through collaborative lesson planning and professional development.

•  The valley of death plagues education as well, because few organizations exist that can develop promising innovations to the point that they can make a sustainable difference in the classroom.

STRENGTHENING UNDERGRADUATE SCIENCE
AND ENGINEERING EDUCATION

•  Revisions of undergraduate curricula across departments could produce a better alignment of undergraduate STEM education and workforce needs.

•  Different states and regions have different needs that could be reflected in undergraduate STEM education.

•  Two-year colleges are a critically important component of the higher education system in the United States.

•  Recognition and support of students who are skilled at bringing others together and fostering achievement could produce major educational dividends.

•  If more people could experience science as a means of exploring the unknown, they would better understand the process of bringing discoveries to the market to create jobs and wealth.

BUILDING EFFECTIVE PARTNERSHIPS

•  Precompetitive cooperation in building production capacity can prepare the infrastructure needed for future production.

•  Representatives from industry, K-12 education, and higher education rarely meet together, yet, as demonstrated by the conference, such meetings can be highly productive.

•  Cooperation among academia, governments, and industry must be based on trust and on an appreciation of the value that each partner brings to the table.

•  Partnerships succeed when all members of the partnership believe it to be to their advantage to make the collaboration work.

•  Sharing information can build the trust necessary for collaborations to succeed.

•  The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), an initiative by the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies to help build the research bases of jurisdic-

Suggested Citation:"6 Final Observations." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2012. Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Developing Regional Innovation Environments: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13391.
×

   tions that have historically received relatively low levels of federal research funding, provides a valuable model of collaboration to achieve shared goals.

•  Many barriers prevent faculty members from moving between academia and the private sector, despite the importance of such exchanges.

•  Cooperation among a group of states that share common interests can yield better outcomes than competition.

FOSTERING REGIONAL TECHNOLOGY
DEVELOPMENT AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP

•  Innovation applies not just to products but to new approaches to technology development and entrepreneurship, such as new financing models.

•  Financing for early-stage prototypes can demonstrate the feasibility of a product so that private industry will invest in its commercialization.

•  A simple message is needed to convey the importance of science, innovation, and entrepreneurship to regional economies.

•  Legislators tend to respond more positively to suggested solutions to problems than they do to requests for funding.

•  Fellowship programs for scientists within state and local governments can create a connection between science and policy that is often missing.

Finally, Julie Underwood, the dean of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, observed that the conversation begun at the conference needs to be continuous, not a one-time event. “This conversation needs to go on and on.”

Suggested Citation:"6 Final Observations." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2012. Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Developing Regional Innovation Environments: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13391.
×

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Suggested Citation:"6 Final Observations." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2012. Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Developing Regional Innovation Environments: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13391.
×
Page 43
Suggested Citation:"6 Final Observations." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2012. Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Developing Regional Innovation Environments: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13391.
×
Page 44
Suggested Citation:"6 Final Observations." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2012. Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Developing Regional Innovation Environments: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13391.
×
Page 45
Suggested Citation:"6 Final Observations." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2012. Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Developing Regional Innovation Environments: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13391.
×
Page 46
Next: Appendix A: Workshop Agenda »
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In October 2005, the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine released a policy report that served as a call to action. The report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future observed that "the scientific and technological building blocks critical to the United States economic leadership are eroding at a time when many other nations are gathering strength." The report laid out 20 recommendations in four broad areas - K-12 education, science and engineering research, higher education, and economic and technology policy - and warned that a failure to take action could have dire economic consequences.

Rising Above the Gathering Storm sparked intense discussion among policy makers, industrial leaders, and the general public. Five years after the release of the Gathering Storm report, a second report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5, assessed changes in America's competitive posture. This report concluded that "our nation's outlook has not improved, but rather has worsened" since the Gathering Storm report was released. The report noted examples of other nations that have upgraded their investments in education, technological infrastructure, and innovation systems to a greater extent than has the United States.

The ability of the states to drive innovation was the impetus behind a major workshop held in Madison, Wisconsin, on September 20-22, 2011. Titled "Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Developing Regional Innovation Environments," the workshop brought together leaders in education, government, economic development, and industrial innovation to discuss state and regional initiatives to boost competitiveness through science, technology, and innovation. The conference was organized around four major themes:

- Revitalizing K-12 Science and Mathematics Education

- Strengthening Undergraduate Education in Science and Engineering

- Building Effective Partnerships Among Governments, Universities, Companies, and Other Stakeholders

- Fostering Regional Technology Development and Entrepreneurship

Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Developing Regional Innovation Environments: A Workshop Summary gives an overview of the presentations, observations, and recommendations made during the workshop.

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