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Ringold STEM visit
How NETL Is Sowing Seeds in STEM

Director’s Corner

by Brian Anderson, PhD.

Nearly 12 years ago, a committee of American leaders commissioned by the National Science Foundation put the final touches on a report called “Rising Above the Gathering Storm.”  It was an urgent call to action to preserve the nation’s strategic and economic security by creating high-quality jobs for Americans and responding to the nation’s need for clean, affordable, and reliable energy. Much of NETL’s history, focus and vision has been all about answering that call — work that continues at a hectic pace in 2019.

The report recommended a renewed focus on increasing opportunities to encourage young people to pursue education and jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The authors of the report called it “sowing the seeds through science and engineering research.” At NETL we have great stories to tell about our enduring commitment to “sowing the seeds.”

This month, visitors to our web site and social media platforms will be reading about some of the key STEM activities NETL pursues that are actively cultivating tomorrow’s energy researchers. For example, our February STEM focus will explain NETL’s:

  • Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia Science Bowl competitions — fast-paced quiz-style events that help middle and high school students expand their science and math knowledge, build team work skills, and learn how to excel under pressure as they compete for a spot in the Department of Energy’s National Science Bowl competition in the Nation’s Capital.
  • K-12 STEM education and outreach efforts that help enhance curricula and opportunities in regional schools with teaching materials and school visits in regions surrounding our research sites.
  • Scientists and engineers who engage outside their laboratories - impacting their home communities as mentors, leaders and friends as they carry forward the goal of encouraging young people to pursue STEM careers.

NETL’s work in support of these and other STEM initiatives answers a key statement from the “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” report.

“We owe our current prosperity, security, and good health to the investments of past generations,” the report concluded “and we are obliged to renew those commitments in education, research and innovation policies to ensure that the American people continue to benefit from the remarkable opportunities provided by the rapid development of the global economy and its not inconsiderable underpinning in science and technology.”