Chief Executive Emphasizes Business Roundtable Support for Math and Science Reform
WASHINGTON, DC – In testimony today before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education, Michael Morris, Chairman, President & CEO of American Electric Power (AEP) and Chairman of Business Roundtable’s Energy Task Force, urged Congress to implement legislative proposals aimed at improving the math and science talent pipeline in the United States.
Morris, who was recently named Chairman of the Roundtable’s new Energy Task Force, cited enhanced math and science education as important to meeting the future energy needs of Americans and to fueling our nation’s continued overall economic strength.
“As I ponder the energy challenges that our nation and the world face today and into the future, it is clear that technology, innovation and conservation must be part of the solution,” said Morris. “The answers will come from scientists and engineers who provide ingenuity to power our economy.”
“The bottom line is that improved training in science, technology engineering and math provides benefits to all students, which will in turn help ensure a productive, innovative workplace – in all fields – for decades to come,” added Morris.
In his testimony, Morris outlined five recommendations for improving U.S. scientific and technological capabilities, which Business Roundtable and 14 other prominent business organizations made in the July 2005, “Tapping America’s Potential” report (www.tap2015.org). The recommendations include:
- Building public support for making science, technology, engineering and math improvement a national priority.
- Motivating U.S. students and adults to study and enter science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers, with a special effort geared to those in currently underrepresented groups.
- Upgrading K-12 math and science teaching to foster higher student achievement.
- Reforming visa and immigration policies to enable the United States to attract and retain the best and brightest science, technology, math and engineering students from around the world to study for advanced degrees and stay to work in the United States.
- Boosting and sustaining funding for basic research, especially in the physical sciences and engineering.
“We [at Business Roundtable] take seriously our responsibility to develop the right set of incentives both to encourage students to pursue degrees that provide training needed for our industries, as well as to retain this talent within our companies,” said Morris.
“We believe that the American Competitiveness Initiative can and will play an important and critical role in achieving these goals by complementing other federal, state and local programs that stimulate U.S. student achievement and U.S. innovation.”
Over the last four years, AEP has contributed nearly $13 million to fund educational programs – primarily science-based initiatives – to train teachers and provide resources from pre-school to 12th grade. Another $8 million has been provided to support higher education in the eleven states where AEP operates.
Retirement of the “baby boom” generation is anticipated to deplete the current science and engineering workforce by more than fifty percent, and the number of students seeking training in these fields is insufficient to fill the gap. In his testimony, Morris noted that 22 percent of the professional workforce at AEP are engineers. AEP estimates that 14 percent of its current engineering staff will retire within the next five years and another 20 percent in the following five years.
“[AEP] has been built on innovations,” said Morris. “Our ‘firsts’ have been conceived and executed by generations of bright, inspired engineers and scientists, so we understand the critical importance of supporting and nurturing the next century of innovators.”