science & technology

Employee Supply for STEM and IT Jobs: Too Many? Too few? Which Is It?

Posted on May 5, 2013. Filed under: employment, science & technology, workforce | Tags: , , |

The U.S. is not turning out the engineering students that we need to in order to compete as an innovative country. The skill level in science and math reasoning among the students coming out of high school is not where it needs to be. There are not enough U.S. students that are interested in the STEM fields. ~ National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA)

Our examination of the IT labor market, guestworker flows, and the STEM education pipeline finds consistent and clear trends suggesting that the United States has more than a sufficient supply of workers available to work in STEM occupations ~ Economic Policy Institute (EPI)

Well?  Which is it?  We probably all recognize the value of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and jobs to the U.S. economy,  that there’s truth to both statements, and that there are other truths as well.  Which makes for a complext situation.  What else is new!

The NDIA is not alone in asserting an alarming shortfall of  U.S. graduates ready for STEM-related careers.  The Association calls for efforts to excite and attract K-12 students into STEM careers and urges [more] cooperation between federal departments, agenices, and industry on STEM workforce development initiatives, among other actions.   You can learn more about their perspective at their STEM Workforce webpage.

The Economic Policy Institute report Guestworkers in the High-Skill U.S. Labor Market: An Analysis of Supply, Employment, and Wage Trends was released just last week, on April 24th,2013.  While the report focuses on IT jobs, it does assert that that “For every two students that U.S. colleges graduate with STEM degrees, only one is hired into a STEM job” and “In computer and information science and in engineering, U.S. colleges graduate 50 percent more students than are hired into those fields each year.” 

I’ll go on record as agreeing that “level of skill” is important, and note that the NDIA statement, in and of itself, does not provide actual data that there is an alarming lack of skill.  Neither does the EPI statement that 50% more students in these fields graduate each year than are hired mean, in and of itself, that those 50% actually have the requisite skills.   In fact, both statements may well be true.  And probably are.

Since, on the basis of essentially no data at all, I accept that the U.S. (or any country) requires ongoing research and innovation to remain competitive and to provide a high standard of living to its citizens and other residents, and since I believe that STEM interests and jobs fuel research and innovation, I’m all for efforts to excite and attract young Americans into the various STEM fields, and to ensure they graduate with the requisite skills, and to further ensure there are careers for them to enter. The devil, of course, is in the details.

What do you think?

NKS Info Services / Bosque Farms, NM / / 505-715-0607

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“Battery U” – First of Its Kind Master’s Program in the U.S.

Posted on April 28, 2013. Filed under: education, manufacturing, science & technology | Tags: , , , |

From San Jose State University …

San Jose State University in collaboration with CalCharge, is launching “battery university,” a first-of-its-kind MS Degree program that seeks to expand the skilled workforce needed by this rapidly growing and changing industry. Course topics will range from the basics of battery technology and manufacturing to overviews of market dynamics and policy considerations. Designed to include opportunities for hands-on experience, students will be able to conduct research and market analysis projects with local battery firms. Scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will contribute instructors to the program.

Classes start in August of 2013, with a course titled “Renewable Energy Systems”.  Prospective students can enroll at SJSU and earn an MSE, but can also enroll and complete certificate coursework, or just register for single classes of interest, as an Open University student.

NKS Info Services / Bosque Farms, NM / / 505-715-0607

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America needs more scientists and engineers. Will a contest help?

Posted on June 5, 2012. Filed under: science & technology, society | Tags: , , | is engaged in a June  “full-court press” (it’s own words) to investigate why science education is lagging and how to improve it.  According to Slate “Inspiring the next generation of inventors, healers, and builders is perhaps the single most important public policy question of our time.”

In addition to stories that will run this month, Slate is soliciting proposals that you, I, and anyone can make and vote on.  This approach to idea generation has been used by government agencies and some private sector companies to decent effect, although typically the agency or organization has the power to implement the ideas that rise to the top.

So do I think a contest will help America begin to build back its cadre of scientists and engineers?  Not really.  Not this one.  But any effort to keep the conversation going is worth it in my book.  Your thoughts?


NKS Info Services, your research, writing and editing partner

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Innovation “test beds” in New Mexico

Posted on May 20, 2012. Filed under: innovation, science & technology | Tags: , , , |

I recently posted about an eHighway pilot planned for Los Angeles.  My own small state is no slouch when it comes to R&D test beds.   You may have heard about the $1 billion technology and testing and evaluation center planned for southeastern New Mexico.  This planned “fully functioning ghost town” (gotta love that characterization) will serve as a test bed whereby public research institutions and private companies can test renewable energy, smart grid technology, wireless telecommunications systems, modern transportation and information and security technology.  Read more at the New Mexico Business Weekly.

Same state, different location

Albuquerque’s Mesa del Sol planned community will soon host a microgrid “aperture center”.  Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) invested about $10 million to build the microgrid, and nine Japanese companies installed  and will test various systems for two years to learn about how a smart grid can function in a real-world setting.  NEDO is also building a microgrid testbed in Los Alamos, NM.  You can read the full story also at the New Mexcio Business Weekly.

Innovative sites like this are undoubtedly springing up in other communities as well.  In addition to serving as test beds for emerging technologies, they also offer economic development benefits to local communities, and can serve as a magnet for other similar businesses.  What’s happening in your region?


NKS Info Services: Your research, writing and editing partner

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ARPA-E Offers Good News for Advanced Energy Research

Posted on April 24, 2011. Filed under: energy, government programs, research & development, science & technology | Tags: , |

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency -Energy (ARPA-E) has announced an additional $130 million for innovative research focusing on rare earth alternatives and breakthroughs in biofuels, thermal storage, grid controls, and solar power electronics.  More specifically, the five advanced energy technology areas are called:

  • Rare Earth Alternatives in Critical Technologies (REACT) (up to $30 million)
  • Plants Engineered to Replace Oil (PETRO) (up to $30 million)
  • High Energy Advanced Thermal Storage (HEATS) (up to $30 million)
  • Green Electricity Network Integration (GENI) (up to $30 million)
  • Solar Agile Delivery of Electrical Power Technology (Solar Adept) (up to $10 million)

Concept papers are due May 19, 2011.  Learn more at the Funding Opportunity Announcements page. 

Good for the DOE and for the the congressional appropriations process that retained ARPA-E funding.  It’s this kind of high risk/high reward scientific research that industry can’t or won’t sustain alone, but is so essential for scientific advances we and the rest of the world need.

Need research assistance?  Perhaps I can help!

Nora K. Stoecker, NKS Info Services

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Elsevier, SciTopics, and Free Stuff – What I learned at Websearch University

Posted on April 1, 2011. Filed under: information search, science & technology | Tags: , , |

Earlier this week I spent two days in Scottsdale, AZ (poor me)  at “Websearch University”, where I and the other attendees delved deep into tips, tricks, tools, and resources for internet-based research – both fee-based and free.   

A session titled “Market Research for Sci-Tech”  opened my eyes to a resource I’d never heard of … which led to me exploring the site … which led to me being reminded of how much “free stuff” can be found on all kinds of otherwise fee-based, commercial sites.  Take Elsevier for example. 

“SciTopics:  Distilled, authoritative and up-to-date information for researchers on scientific, technical and medical topics.”

Elsevier is a HUGE publisher of scientific and technical journals (and many other fields).  It’s not known for being inexpensive.  Quite the contrary.  But from its website you can get to a wonderful (and free) resource called SciTopics .   Select a research summary from your field of choice (materials science, for example) and, in addition to the short research summary, you’ll find a list of related SciTopics pages, other recent related articles, web search results, and a list of related keywords.  (invaluable to me as an information researcher for building a good search strategy!)

SciTopics research summaries are not peer-reviewed, if that’s important to you.  But  they can provide a nice starting point and point to additional resources.  A great find – but there’s more!

Top 25 Hottest Articles!  Another way to begin exploring a topic.

As long as I was at the Elsevier site, I did a little exploring and clicked on ScienceDirect.  I’d forgotten about ScienceDirect – it’s a tool to search across Elsevier’s journal and book content for topics of interest (hint – use the “advanced search” feature). 

At no cost, you’ll get a list of citations, a “preview” look, and links to related articles and related reference works (i.e. encyclopedia sections).  All that at no cost, along with links to the PDF files of the articles, which can be purchased.  But wait, there’s more 🙂

If you register with ScienceDirect, you can set up “alerts” ,  identify a set of favorite journals, and customize the page to meet your needs as a researcher.  And, ScienceDirect offers up lists of the “Top 25 Hottest Articles” in any or all of their subject areas.  A quick way to take a mental break whule still, sort of, working.

Rooting around in these sites can turn up all kinds of useful – and no cost – good stuff!

While rooting around in SciTopics and ScienceDirect, I clicked on the link for Scopus, also an Elsevier product.  Scopus is a not-inexpensive abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature.  But the Scopus website, I discovered, provides an “Author Preview” link.  Again, full details cost $$, but you CAN type in an author’s name and find out a little about their subject area, affiliation, and sometimes city and country.  OK, admittedly this limited bit of information might not be that useful very often — but there have been times I’ve been trying to track down author affiliations.  This tool could help!

Thank you Websearch University (and Mark Goldstein who taught the session) for showing something new to me, and for reminding me of the value of rooting around for the gems to be found in so many sites.

Need research assistance?  Perhaps I can help!

Nora K. Stoecker, NKS Info Services

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ScienceCinema – DOE’s Search Engine for Videos from National Labs

Posted on February 10, 2011. Filed under: government info, information search, science & technology | Tags: |

ScienceCinema is a new search engine for videos from the national laboratories and other DOE research facilities.  One more way to find interesting and potentially useful scientific and technical information from the national laboratories.  See more information at my blog post ScienceCinema: DOE Search Engine for Videos, which I shamelessly lifted from colleague Peggy Garvin of the Special Libraries Association Government Information Division.

NKS Info Services  – Your research and writing partner

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A challenge – managing the deficit and supporting scientific research

Posted on January 3, 2011. Filed under: economic development, research & development, science & technology, the economy |

How will the country balance the competing demands of managing and reducing the budget deficit while also investing in the kind of scientific research and development needed for future economic prosperity? 

I expect the National Academies, the scientific societies, the national labs, and universities among others will line up to support funding for the sciences.  I’m sure others of equal stature will argue the country can’t afford it right now.  I wish I had a good answer; I don’t.

For now I’ll just try to follow what others are writing – such as George Will’s Sunday Jan. 2nd Washington Post column.

New Republican legislators should come down Capitol Hill to the National Museum of American History , which displays a device that in 1849 was granted U.S. patent 6469 . It enabled a boat’s “draught of water to be readily lessene…

What do you think?  — nks

NKS Info Services  – Your research and writing partner

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Rising Above the Gathering Storm Revisited – Some Factoids

Posted on September 30, 2010. Filed under: innovation, research & development, science & technology |

The recently released Rising Above the Gathering Storm Revisited contains a number of thought-provoking if not disturbing factoids.  Here are five of them:

 China is now second in the world in its publication of biomedical research, having recently surpassed Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France, Canada, and Spain.

In 2009, 51 percent of United States patents were awarded to non-United States companies.

The World Economics Forum ranks the United States 48th in quality of mathematics and science education.

According to OECD data the United States ranks 24th among thirty wealthy countries in life expectancyat birth.

The United States has fallen from first to eleventh place in the OECD in the fraction of 25-34 year olds that has graduated high school.  The older portion of the U.S. workforce ranks first among OECD populations of the same age.

What are the implications for U.S. competitiveness in the world economy? –nks

Need related information?  Perhaps I can help.

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Outlook for America to Compete for Quality Jobs Has Deteriorated, Says National Academies

Posted on September 29, 2010. Filed under: policy, science & technology, society | Tags: , , |

In spite of the efforts of those in both the government and the private sector, the outlook for America to compete for quality jobs has further deteriorated in the past five years.  This according to its follow-on report Rising above the Gathering Storm Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5.   The executive summary can be downloaded at no charge from the NAS website.

The nation’s public school system has shown little sign of improvement, particularly in math and science, and the government has lost latitude to address the problem due to the growth of the national debt.  (Though, in my opinion, it was too slow to react in earlier years when more opportunity existed.)

This is a sobering report, and one we should all take time to understand. –nks

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