MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA – January 28, 2009 - With graduates in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields declining, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) is partnering with computer science experts to encourage and inspire the next generation of technology professionals.
At the invitational Rebooting Computing Summit in Mountain View earlier this month, ONR collaborated with more than 250 visionary leaders from various computing fields as well as representatives from business, journalism and government to identify major issues contributing to the declining rate of U.S. graduates in STEM areas.
The three-day summit, hosted by Dr. Peter Denning of the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, featured an open forum for participants ranging from undergraduate students to Alan Kay, Vinton Cerf and Fran Allen — three recipients of the Computing industry’s prestigious Turing Award.
“The United States is in danger of losing its leadership in the field of computing,” said Dr. Denning. “We are dismayed that K-12 students — especially girls — have such a negative perception of computing. Enrollments in computer science degree programs have dropped 50% since 2001.”
ONR sent a delegation to the summit comprised of staff, active duty Navy, and principle investigators.
“We all need to be recruiters of good talent to grow the workforce that will follow in our steps,” said CAPT John Morris, who led ONR’s participation at the summit. “I’m glad our team had a chance to contribute ONR's perspective to this important conversation, and support the outcomes. From our point of view, the future health of the Department of Defense science and technology community is at risk if the trend in declining enrollments, not only computer science, but all science and engineering curricula, is not reversed.”
Attendees lent their vision and voices to the effort, pinpointing 14 focus areas for regenerating interest in computer science. Among them, summit-goers stressed a need for elevating the image of computing and its professionals; recruiting 10,000 new teachers by 2018; implementing a national curriculum for multidisciplinary collaboration; pairing computer science applications with socially relevant projects; and introducing computer science applications with a focus on elementary education. See www.rebootingcomputing.org, for additional information.
ONR joined action groups focused on K-12 education and communication. Both areas of focus align with programs already in development by ONR for building excitement around education in technical fields:
•University Laboratory Initiative
•Naval Science Awards Program
•Science & Technology Focus web site for students and teachers
Additionally, ONR offers programs, research funding and scholarships for high school, undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate students. For a comprehensive list of programs aimed at secondary education and higher, review ONR’s Education and Outreach opportunities at www.onr.navy.mil/dor/education.asp