The Sciences

A Geek is a Terrible Thing to Waste

The IntersectionBy The IntersectionJan 28, 2011 2:40 AM


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This is a guest post composed as part of the NSF “Science: Becoming the Messenger” workshop

held in Lawrence, Kansas on January 27-28, 2011. Ponder, for only a moment, how different your life would be without the geek. No phones, no roads or cars, no soap, no x-rays, no air-conditioning or heating, no Internet, and no stealth bomber. Engineers are problem-solvers and life-givers. They spend years studying math and science with the goal of applying that knowledge in the creation of transformative change. They build new tools and devices that enhance our day-to-day lives. Currently, the United States is facing a shortage of engineers. And that’s a shame, because engineers are needed to fuel economic growth. Corporations hire engineers to create and bring innovative products to the marketplace. Engineers also advance national and regional interests like homeland security, healthcare innovation, national defense and space exploration. These activities all help build the economy and bring more folks to the work place holding meaningful jobs. In short engineers help build the economy and generate needed tax revenue for governments. To agree that the United States needs more engineers is a good first step. But the U.S is ready for the next step. State legislators and Congressional representatives need to put more funding into supporting engineering education. That means helping with scholarships for talented students. That means supporting talented faculty. That means constructing more laboratories and classroom space. And once that’s happened America can begin building the next generation of smart phones and telecommunication, the next generation of cars and long-lasting roads, the next generation of energy efficient climate control, innovative medical devices and more. And if we’re really lucky, the geeks will help us figure out how keep America on the road of economic growth. -- By Jill Hummels

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