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April 28, 2010 - Engineering Societies Letter - America COMPETES Act

April 28, 2010

The Honorable Bart Gordon                             The Honorable Ralph Hall
Chairman                                                       Ranking Member
House Science and Technology Committee       House Science and Technology Committee
2321 Rayburn House Office Building                 394 Ford House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515                                    Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Gordon and Ranking Member Hall:

As leaders of the engineering community, we are writing to express our support for the full reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act. The extension of this bipartisan legislation is fundamental to ensuring America’s long-term economic competitiveness and our continued leadership in basic research and science and engineering education initiatives.

As you know, in August 2007, Congress passed – on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis - the America COMPETES Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-69). This law authorized increased funding for basic research and education areas critical to America’s economic well being, energy security, and workforce competitiveness. Specifically, this bill targeted the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Department of Energy Office of Science to receive increases to place these agencies on the path towards doubling in funding over time. Unfortunately, this important legislation was only authorized for three years, and with the growing number of obligations for Congress in the 111th Congress, the COMPETES Act is now in danger to expire without a reauthorization.

The America COMPETES Act also strengthens the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education pipeline by attracting the brightest young minds, including women and underrepresented minorities, into the STEM fields by devoting substantial resources to address a range of educational areas.

To remain globally competitive, the United States must invest in the research and development that underpins innovation. If history is any guide, we know the benefits of such an investment. According to economic experts, science-driven technology is responsible for over 50 percent of the growth of the U.S. economy during the last half century. Robust, sustained investment in research and development is required for stimulating growth in high-wage industries, for generating new technologies in critical areas of need, including energy, transportation and manufacturing, and for preparing the workforce of tomorrow.

The historic challenges currently facing our nation will require proportionally historic solutions. To preserve this nation’s global competitive edge and put America on a track for economic expansion, it is critical that Congress supports essential basic science research and STEM education initiatives by reauthorizing the America COMPETES Act. These investments are vital to ensuring our energy security and national competitiveness, meeting our environmental challenges, and producing innovative technological breakthroughs and new jobs that will fuel our economy well into the future.

Sincerely, 

Roger L. Simpson, Ph.D., P.E., FAIAA, FASME                          J.P. Mohsen                                
2010 Chair                                                                               President
American Association of Engineering Societies (AAES)               American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)

David Thompson                                                                        Gordon Holness, PE
President                                                                                  President
American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics (AIAA)              American Society of Heating, Refrigerating 
                                                                                                    and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) 

Eugene Eckstein, Ph.D.                                                            Amos Holt, Ph.D.
President                                                                                 President
American Institute for Medical & Biological Engineering              American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) 
(AIMBE)

Ian Sadler                                                                                Gerald Cockrell, CAP
President                                                                                 Chairman
American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical                                 Automation Federation 
    and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. (AIME)                                

Thomas Sanders                                                                      Kathleen L. Mosier, Ph.D.
President                                                                                 President
American Nuclear Society (ANS)                                                Human Factors & Ergonomics Society (HFES)

Ronald Yoder, PE                                                                    Evelyn Hirt
President                                                                                President
American Society of Agricultural                                               Institute of Electrical and Electronics
    and Biological Engineers (ASABE)                                              Engineers-USA (IEEE-USA)
                                                                                            

Blaine D. Leonard, P.E., D.GE, F.ASCE                                    Fred Oberkircher, LC
President                                                                               President
American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)                              Illuminating Engineering Society (IES)

Jane C. Ammons, Ph.D., P.E.                                                   R. Keith Michel
Immediate Past President                                                         President
Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE)                                         The Society of Naval Architects and  
                                                                                                    Marine Engineers (SNAME)

Leo Staples                                                                              Dr. Ralph James
President-Elect                                                                         2010 President
International Society of Automation (ISA)                                   SPIE The International Society for Optics
                                                                                                    & Photonics (SPIE)

Carl B. Mack                                                                             Nora Lin
Executive Director                                                                      President
National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)                                 Society of Women Engineers (SWE)

Samuel W. Grossman, P.E., F.NSPE                                           George T.(Rusty) Gray III
2009-2010 President                                                                    2010 President
National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE)                        The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (TMS)

Elizabeth A. Rogan
Executive Director
Optical Society of America (OSA)

Dr. Andrew Brown, Jr.
2010 President
SAE International

Nikhil C.Trivedi, Ph.D.
President
Society for Mining, Metallurgy and
Exploration, Inc. (SME)