U.S. House passes ‘tech talent’ bill

Looking to expand the number of undergraduate students pursuing studies in science and technology, the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a bill to fund programs designed to graduate more professionals in these and related fields.

The Tech Talent Act (HR 3130) proposes that the federal government’s National Science Foundation (NSF) provide nearly US$390 million in grants over a five-year period to colleges and universities so they can fund more undergraduate programs in math, science, engineering and technology. In turn, the institutions would be responsible for graduating more students who specialize in these areas, according to a press release from the House Committee on Science’s office.

“The problem is that fewer and fewer American college students are majoring in mathematics, engineering, technology, or science,” said the bill’s sponsor Sherwood Boehlert, a Republican from New York and chairman of the House Committee on Science, in a prepared statement. “In today’s world, just about every job has a component that is informed by science and technology, from the assembly line to the boardroom. And yet, we have fewer and fewer Americans who have the background to understand and analyze technical information.”

According to an NSF study, the country has seen a declining number of students graduating with engineering degrees in the past ten years.

In addition to funding the expansion of undergraduate programs, the grants proposed by the bill would also cover the cost of faculty training and related equipment acquisition.

Having passed the House, the bill now moves to the U.S. Senate for consideration.