China, India expected to best US in science, math grads … by a lot

Oak Ridge Associated Universities

Jason Hayward, Ph.D., is applying his nuclear engineering research expertise to develop the next generation of high-resolution instruments for facilities such as Oak Ridge National Laboratory‘s (ORNL’s) Spallation Neutron Source. He hopes his work eventually will help curtail the spread of nuclear weapons and assist in identifying viable alternative energy sources.

Hayward is an assistant professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Tennessee, a joint faculty member with ORNL’s Nuclear Security and Isotope Technology Division, a Department of Energy (DOE) research award recipient and a participant in the Higher Education Research Experiences Program.

He and many other early career researchers are participating in Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU)-managed fellowships and internships with the DOE and other federal agencies and are the main focus of ORAU’s 2013 Annual Report, which has just been released.

Alongside accomplished scientists and engineers, these students and postgraduates are performing cutting-edge research in national laboratories and research centers that is positively affecting the U.S. scientific mission.

With the U.S. expected to produce only 400,000 graduates in scientific, technical, engineering and mathematics disciplines by 2015 compared with more than 3.5 million and 1.5 million STEM graduates in China and India, respectively, in the same timeframe, cultivating U.S. STEM talent through these fellowships and internships is more critical than ever.

“A number of my graduate students have been supported through DOE funds, allowing them to research a wide range of topics from new scintillator development for measuring radiation to using radiation detection methods for monitoring treaty verification and nuclear arms control initiatives,” said Hayward, a graduate of the University of Michigan. “Some of the innovations resulting from basic research funded by DOE have the potential to lead to patents, enhanced national security and increased global competitiveness.”

Building on long-standing relationships with the DOE and national laboratories, as well as academic institutions that are part of its 114-member university consortium, ORAU manages robust STEM learning enrichment and work force development programs through the DOE’s Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education and the ORAU Center for Science Education. The primary goal is to attract world-class scientific talent into research programs and scientific and technical careers.

“Thousands of early-career professionals are conducting research at more than 300 federal laboratories and research centers across the country through ORAU-administered research participation programs,” said ORAU President and CEO Andy Page. “These efforts, along with our K-12 STEM initiatives that motivate and inspire young students to pursue S&T careers, help develop the infrastructure necessary for the U.S. to successfully compete globally.”

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