A Congressional Forum on Science Literacy that challenged institutions of higher learning to become more active in supporting science education was held Thursday, Oct. 17 during Hispanic Engineering Science and Technology Week (HESTEC) at The University of Texas-Pan American.
Congressman Rubén Hinojosa applauded the University for its efforts and encouraged other institutions to follow suit.
"They've raised the mark so high that other colleges will have far to reach," Hinojosa said.
The same sentiments echoed by a prestigious group of corporate leaders and education advocates who participated in the three-hour discussion to find ways to encourage students, especially Hispanics, to enter fields of science and technology.
National Science Foundation Director Dr. Rita Colwell called HESTEC a "historic event" timely in the face of a critical shortage of scientists and researchers. One, that if not corrected, could place the country's standard of living and national security in jeopardy.
"By the end of this decade every job will require some technical experience," Colwell said. "The country's future well being will rest with the success or failure of its diversity. We want our country to be the global leader in tomorrow's science and technology innovation and manufacturing, and we can only do that by developing the talent of all our citizens."
John Slaughter - president of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) - discouraged recommendations for more studies on the minority deficit in engineering and math schools calling instead for a three-point plan of action. He said we must encourage, inform and inspire students and have higher expectations and demand more from them.
Slaughter - whose agency is the largest provider of scholarships to minority students in engineering schools - called for more government and corporate funding for higher education.
Other recommendations that came out of the congressional forum include calls for more companies to join adopt-a-school programs; more computers in schools for one-on-one education; more mentors for all children; and educational policies sensitive to the needs of our bilingual region.