WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined colleagues in introducing the Engineering Education for Innovation Act of 2010. The bill would authorize the Secretary of Education to competitively award grants for educational agencies to integrate engineering education into K-12 curriculum and instruction. The legislation would increase student achievement in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subjects, and increase knowledge and competency in engineering design skills.
“Education that focuses on science, technology, engineering and mathematics is crucial to advancing our nation and maintaining our competitive edge,” Cantwell said. “This bill will help ensure we educate the best scientists, mathematicians and engineers right here in America. Unless we foster these skills, we will be losing great jobs to foreign competition. With the Engineering Education for Innovation Act, we’re investing in our future. Washington state already has innovative STEM schools partnering with Washington’s strong STEM workforce, including Boeing and Microsoft, and is well positioned to take advantage of the enhanced opportunities the bill offers. With this legislation, we’re enabling our schools to make this transition and meet critical 21stcentury workforce needs.”
Specifically, the bill would design challenging curricula frameworks that include engineering; increase teacher preparation and recruitment programs; promote aspirations for a career in engineering, particularly among girls and underrepresented minorities; invest in afterschool engineering education programs; and promote partnerships between engineering associations and schools. The anticipated cost of the bill is about $12.5 million between 2011 and 2015. Senator Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced the bill along with Senators Cantwell, Kaufman (D-DE), Snowe (R-ME), Murray (D-WA), and Klobuchar (D-MN).
Cantwell has been a consistent supporter of STEM education initiatives. Last May, she urged the Subcommittee on Agriculture to increase funding for programs that boost the participation of women and minorities from rural areas in STEM fields. In 2007, Cantwell co-sponsored the America COMPETES Act, which authorized $33.6 billion in funding through 2010 for STEM programs.