U.S. competitiveness needs addressed, funds not yet OK’d


Manufacturing technologies contributing to control engineering have an opportunity to expand as part of the American Competitive Initiative (ACI), according to President George W. Bush near Chicago on July 7. The U.S. House of Representatives provided funding recently; the Senate still must approve the appropriation.

President Bush announced ACI in the 2006 State of the Union Address and has discussed it regularly since. President Bush toured Cabot Microelectronic Corp. in Aurora, IL, then touted the need to “enhance math and science in early grades, and encourage people to take math and science in the later years” to ensure the U.S. remains competitive in future high-technology endeavors, such as new energy technologies, supercomputing, and nanotechnology. Cabot Microelectronics makes polishing compounds and pads used in to manufacture advanced semiconductors (chips) and rigid disks.

Among ACI goals, President Bush said in comments at Cabot, “is to encourage advanced placement programs in our nation's schools, and help train 30,000 teachers in advanced placement. Another is to get people from institutions like this to go into our middle schools and high schools and say, it's okay to be a scientist, you know; math and science will be important for your future. In other words, try to inspire people. We call that an adjunct professor program.

“We've got a role at the federal government to make sure that we're research oriented in a technology-driven economy, and that is to spend your money on basic research, so that, for example, nanotechnology is a really important part of the economy -- an important growing part of the economy…. it makes sense to double the basic research budget of our federal government to help companies like this stay on the leading edge of change.”

President Bush praised the House for providing funding for the American Competitive Initiative and encouraged the U.S. Senate to do so. On June 29, the House passed the fiscal year 2007 Science, State, Justice and Commerce Appropriations Act by a 393-23 margin. The bill includes funding for the Bush Administration’s $6 billion request to strengthen basic research at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and $535 million at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). These are among research components of the American Competitiveness Initiative, along with House funding of $4.1 billion in May for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, according to the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy. ACI’s goal is to devote more than $136 billion over 10 years to these initiatives.

Click here to read more about ACI.

Click here for more from Cabot on the president’s visit there.

-- Edited by Mark T. Hoske , Control Engineering editor in chief

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