American Geological Institute

Government Affairs Program

Update on Department of Energy's STEM Initiative (7-31-97)

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Shortly after taking his post, Secretary of Energy Frederico Peña proposed $25 million for the Department of Energy's (DOE) Science, Technology , Engineering, Math (STEM) initiative. However, On July 16, 1997, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to fund only $10 million to reinstate some of the DOE's university and science education programs in fiscal year 1998. The Senate report explains that "the Committee regrets the elimination last year of the university and science education program." With the funding, the Committee has directed DOE to focus its education efforts on two areas: expanding undergraduate and faculty research opportunities and reinstating programs that support "minority institutional development." Two particular programs that address these issues are, respectively, the University Lab Cooperative Program and the Minority Technical Education Program. Both of these programs are included in the STEM initiative.

In their appropriations bill, the House was silent on DOE's science education funding requests. The next step in the process is a joint House/Senate conference committee that will seek to reconcile the differences between the two budgets.

The STEM initiative is part of DOE's effort to revitalize its science education programs. The initiative coincides with DOE's responsibilities, specified in the Department of Energy Science Education Enhancement Act of 1990, to support science, math, technology, and engineering education consistent with its energy and defense missions.

The overarching goals of the STEM initiative are to promote public understanding of science and to provide a diverse workforce for the nation's science and technology infrastructure. Five elements compose the STEM strategy:

For more information on the opportunities offered under STEM, visit DOE's STEM web page.

Sources: American Institute of Physics, Department of Energy website, Triangle Coalition Electronic Bulletin

Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program.

Contributed by Stephanie Barrett, AGI Government Affairs Intern
Last updated July 31, 1997

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