By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Last week Congressman Mo Brooks (R) from Alabama released a statement following a field hearing the the subcommittee on Research and Science Education held in Madison, AL. Rep. Brooks is that Chairman of the committee. Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D) from Illinois is the ranking Member of the subcommittee. The purpose of the hearing in Madison was to explore local science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education programs and partnerships. The hearing was titled STEM Education in Action: Local Schools, Non-Profits, and Businesses Doing Their Part to Secure America’s Future.
Chairman Brooks stated, “Our commitment to STEM education is exemplified by contributions to STEM programs in the community by the University of Alabama-Huntsville’s Propulsion Research Center and related scholarships and the U.S. Space and Rocket Center’seducational programs, as well as many other local initiatives supporting STEM programs for students ranging from elementary through high school.”
Rep. Brooks addressed the Subcommittee, “I have had the privilege of serving Alabama’s Fifth Congressional District for the past 15 months and am proud of the science and technology achievements North Alabama has provided to American exceptionalism. “NASA and our Marshall Space Flight Center have led American exceptionalism in space. We were instrumental in putting Americans into space and onto the moon. We were instrumental in the development of the Space Shuttle – a three-decade workhorse unmatched by any other nation on earth. Redstone Arsenal’s numerous commands have played a key role in developing the gee-whiz-bang weapons that help America’s war-fighters achieve military success with minimal loss of American lives.”
Rep Brooks said that the hearing was the first Science, Space, and Technology field hearing ever conducted in Alabama’s Fifth District. Chairman Brooks said, “North Alabama is an ideal place to promote STEM education,” adding that Alabama’s fifth district “can serve as a model for the rest of America.”
Dr. Camille Wright is the Director of Secondary Instruction for the Madison City Schools. Dr. Wright told the Committee, “In today’s fast-paced world, so many of the jobs our students will hold don’t currently even exist. This means that our students need to exit high school with the ability to think, collaborate, make decisions and innovate.” “It is important to develop a culture that embraces the concept ‘community of learning’ from the schools, to the family, to industry and throughout the community.”
Dr. Robert Altenkirch is the President of the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH). He stressed the need for educators to give students a broader view of how STEM disciplines become a foundation for high-tech jobs. “At younger ages — elementary and middle school — we need to help students gain a better appreciation of what engineers and scientists do.” Dr. Altenkirch said, “Outreach efforts by UAH faculty and staff are giving them opportunities throughout their K-12 career to engage in STEM career type activities (design, programming, etc.). This will allow us to develop more integrated approaches and programs that build on one another so that students can anticipate future activities as they progress into later grades.”
According to statistics published by the National Science Board, of 202,000 occupations in Huntsville the median annual wage was $48,000. Eighteen percent (or 35,500) of those jobs were in STEM fields. There the median wage was $86,000.
Chairman Brooks concluded, “An essential element of future U.S. economic prosperity is a competent, skilled workforce – one that we cannot achieve without strong STEM education efforts, particularly on the local level.”
To read Congressman Mo Brooks statement in its entirety: