In last week's testimony before Congress, Dr. Regina Dugan, director of DARPA, warned the House Armed Services Committee that the US was facing a lack of a critical resource -- a lack so severe that it endangers the security of the nation. Dugan wasn't talking about oil, or rare earth minerals, or plutonium, but something far more important to America's defense: nerds.
Yes, according to Dugan, the lack of emphasis on science and engineering education in America has resulted in possible future manpower shortages for an agency that Dugan herself called "the nation's elite army of futuristic technogeeks." Dugan said the coming shortage is pinching DARPA at both ends. Over the 2000s, DARPA saw its funding cut by half, making it harder to recruit new scientists. Simultaneously, US colleges graduated 43 percent fewer science and computing students, shrinking the pool of potential scientists for DARPA to choose from.
To help rectify this problem, Dugan suggests targeting teenagers with scholarships, contests with iPod prizes, and career days as a means of generating interest in science, technology, engineering, and medicine. Of course, if Dugan really wants to solve the looming nerd shortage, she and the creative minds at DARPA might want to try enticing teenage geeks into science with something they can't otherwise get: dates.
Who in the hell thought it was a bright idea to cut DARPA's funding in half?
Wait - 00's? BUSH!
Here in PA, PSSA tests that are mandatory for kids now for assessment have forced the public schools the remove most science courses from the curriculum all together.
It pisses me off to no end. Kids now go to school to be able to pass a test, not learn anything of substance and value.
I don't think that "contests with iPod prizes, and career days" are going to be much help here. The scholarships idea is nice but how does DARPA think they'll do that without any money for it (considering the slashed budget).
I think that this is a looming problem not just for DARPA but throughout this nation in multiple sectors. The only real fix to this would be an overhaul of education...a radical one.
But I am NOT optimistic that this will come from government. We need a new game plan!
@SJak: he had to get the money to pay his friends on wall street and in the banks to crash the economy from somewhere.
im a teenager (interested in science and engineering) i find that more and more of my friends think that being an engineer would be easy and unimportant, that all you do is walk in draw a couple shapes and then the next week its a finished product. they dont understand that its hard work to design future technology PS i find ipods and scholarships good incentives but career days, not so much
put star trek back on TV; that'll generate some more nerds.
What day is it today?
To many CSI shows have come on and now everyone is into criminal investigation instead of science. Also not enough stuff has been going on at NASA to really inspire anyone. With no child left behind policies, the smarter people are being held back so the dumber people can think that they are just as smart. (It wasnt supposed to be that way, but with all policys people will eventually just do what is cheaper and less effort despite initial intentions)
(In my area at least) Teachers are afraid to discipline students because it jeopardizes there job. So students can show up to class late without consequence. 10 problems of math homework seems way to much and most students are refusing to do it. It doesnt matter because the teachers are instructed to give them as much makup days as possible, most teachers just find lousy excuses for extra credit.
DARPA if you want to inspire people, we need programs that will inspire. As a nation we need to put an emphases in back into science. Start making jobs that are scientific that every 5 year old wants to do. (I was reading something about a payload specialist whose job would be to deliver stuff to the ISS.) Seriously? how do i apply for that one?
Maby you can take some of that advanced scientific research that you do and turn it into something that kids can enjoy using. (Hoverboards anyone?? JK) But i do read about a lot of cool stuff created from darpa but Ive never seen any of it used in application)
Of all the career choices out there, I would think computers and science would be on the rise. Everything is heading that way, so that's what kids should study/focus on.
Let me guess, all of them want to be the next American Idol.
Hey rich people, instead of buying your next yacht or diamond studded iPhone ... how about sending some funds to DARPA?
Please tell me this was an April Fool's joke.
well good thing I plan on going into science and technologies
I call foul on the "Geeks can't get dates" reference. I could get a date if I wanted one. Maybe. Um...
Well, we couldn't keep it up indefinitely...but I'm sure as soon as the demand grows higher, domestic production of nerds will amp up once the salaries grow higher, especially for locally grown and cultivated nerds who are citizens and don't need to pass the scrutiny of a background check wondering if they're Chinese/Russian/Indian/Korean spies.
Not that locally grown ones aren't susceptible to espionage for the other guy, but it's less likely.
michael taylor No Child Left Behind, is a terrible system with many more flaws than that.
This is why we import nerds. We glorify athletes like Tiger Woods and tear down nerds like Bill Gates and we will go into debt to finance the stadiums and subscribe to ESPN. We are regressing in all technical fields yet nobody cares because this is a pop culture and we care more about our athletes and movie stars than why we can’t build a new space shuttle.
I hope this will help me enter MIT! As an international student, I need to get a VISA, Financial Aid, and everything and all this ONLY if I am accepted. I'm already getting electronic courses at my school and I love that. I'm gonna have a DEP (Professional Studies Diploma) 6 months before making my application and I will have another 6 months of Electronics/Computerized Systems collegial studies (College in Quebec isn't the same thing as in the US, we need to go 2 years in college to have a DEC diploma then go the university a few more years to get another diploma...). My English is near perfect (for a French student)(save for accent), but my grades aren't perfect. I mostly get into the eighties percent but I get a few time in the seventy and fewer times in the sixty. Our educational system sucks so much! If the US wants people like me to study and work in the US, they should look at who we're really and stop always looking at our grades! The system is made so you pass exams but don't learn anything useful. Seems it is the same thing in the US.
Especially, Quebec educational system, actually, is undergoing a ''reform'' that is destroying our grades and making students stop school.
I guess a lot of countries got these problems.
NAh, no way. Theres plenty of nerds around. The nerd population is high!
Sounds like its time to start giving serious incentives to go to school!
lately I have been learning an animation and game engine program called blender. Not only do I reward myself with cool visualizations that I can exploit to the rest of the world, but it also delves into the geometric and fundamentals of the sciences. If we really want to educate the geeks of tomorrow, then starting at the 4th grade art, music, and literature should be replaced with computer based industrial applications that literally get the kids foot in the door at a young age. I'm currently learning about using basic curves that translate to movement of a model or to the changing of colors and shadows in real time z-depth using vectors. Not only that, but my programing capabilities are growing just the same. I could fix up a good module from the top of my head. But another issue we should address in the near future is the blown up head syndromes. I can't stand a cocky kid!
Maybe if being a nerd paid people would do it again.
Outsourcing to India pretty much killed the nerd movement.
Have no fear DARPA! I will answer your call!
I do think that there is a lack of interest in Science and Engineering, My public high school has an accelerated program called STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics). We have around 40 people of each class, 9-12 grade, in STEM. This means out of a class of around 550 people, for each grade, that is right around 7% of the population. I think that we are so engrossed in Technology today, that we expect some one else to be that 'nerd' and come up with the new technology. But the lack of interest may also come from the fact that many of our jobs opportunities are being shipped out of the country due to the strict environment protection laws being put in place for the companies that manufacture any, and all things. We, the nerds, are being forced in to a corner of either, going to India, or China, to work, or picking a profession that is in the military. I personally have a dream to work for NASA one day, but with the recent budget cuts for them, have put my dreams on hold, until we thin it is the "right" time to go back to the moon.
Aside from whatever testing might be offered at school, I still think the US gov't should provide aptitude tests @ any federal building accessible to the public. Better yet, why not provide this @ state & federal unemployment offices?
Just like an old garage, if you look around, you might find more than what you need to build something better than you wanted. Young minds are good but age sometimes offers a little more.
Hey im a senior in high school. I havent done my math home work for the whole year because my teacher doesent even take it up. I carry a 57 right now, but i dont care because I know I can bring it up any time I wanted, but I can not bring it up by listening to the teacher. I have to go to Purplemathe.com or whatever it is called to learn anything.
3 things make people ask why they should be nerdy.
1. The insentive. Will I get payed enough for my work? The answer in the U.S. is a definite NO
2. Do I have the motivation to be a nerd? Things like Star Trek and Star Wars were awesome when they came out, but movies of today seem to be slightly modified versions of these classics made for profit. Nerds are no longer really inspired.
3. WHY IS THAT IDIOT IN THE SAME CLASS AS ME?
As an extra note there are no "Nerdy Competitions". There are all kinds of sports for the athletes, automotive competetions, and band competetions, but no single arena for those who are good at math or sciences!
DARPA chief was speaking of the nation's elite army of futuristic technogeeks, which is so much higher a standard than "nerds". Anyone capable of becoming an elite futuristic technogeek will be the best and brightest. I think these types of people are looking for challenging and rewarding careers. Working with computers is likely one of the most boring careers, considering no sex, social contact, or adrenaline is involved: it's a bit like being the caretaker for a machine: and that goes for programmers and designers too. It will take twenty years for cool computer careers to emerge, and as usual it will be the strong socially competent types who get all the glory. For instance, a cool computer job would involve using a cool computer technology to make something socially interesting happen: like peace, love, justice. Those careers won't go to someone who spent a lifetime in front of a glowing screen, but rather someone who can compel people to follow or pay them. Bill Gates was not a great programmer, but a compelling businessman. Steve Jobs is a relative wonk, but he sure looks cool. People are starting to realize the truth, that geeks were never cool, they were just tools for someone else's success: like slaves were.
The mere fact that she (DARPA head) refers to us as geeks speaks volumes about our position in society. I mean I know people with just a high school diploma that think they are cooler than me, and coincidentally that they know more about computer than I. I have a B.S. in computer engineering and a juris doctorate in law: but that does not make me valuable. What makes someone valuable is their ability to generate income for a business. Sales people get paid three times what I make and I sometimes feel like they are borderline illiterate.
the irony is nerd/geek culture is growing, WITHOUT any growing interest in science and math. sigh, sadly I'm not surprised in any way....
I was a straight-A glasses-wearing nerd in High School and College and dated blond cheerleaders and even two teen models, including a Junior Miss <insert State where I lived at the time>.
I found out something by experimentation: A lot of those girls went dateless on many weekends because everyone was too afraid to ask them out. Even the jocks.
For all you fellow nerds out there -- give it a try. You might be surprised.
Now get off your butts and get Math degrees.
The sad truth is that nerds in the DoD are under appreciated (often ignored), federal acquisition laws stifle creativity and research, and in many cases, a brainiac is of more value to an organization in a capacity other than a nerd. Funding is king these days and unless you can convince some sugar Daddy that you've got the best idea since sliced bread (next to impossible, because the decisions makers with the "check book" have no clue what you're talking about), your idea is going nowhere fast. And how do I know this? I've transitioned myself from the nerd class to the class that sits around all day getting paid big bucks to do practically nothing. Go figure. =/
This is not new news. The US corporations have been sending most of our Engineering and Computer Science work over seas for a decade, and it wasn't helped by the book "The World is Flat".
Thus, since all the jobs went abroad, US students stopped targeting those areas. It's not for a lack of smart individuals, there are plenty. They are just not going into these fields.
The author of the article ought to look into how many college campuses have decreased their programs due to a lack of students, and see how hard it is for a middle class person to get engineering and science scholarships. I have a son at one private school in CS, and another going into Biomedical Engineering. Both are concerned that their futures will be over seas at lower salaries. To get anywhere in the US, these students must have a master or PhD to compete here against imported people special H1B visas. Stop the VISAs, add more scholarship money for MIDDLE CLASS students, and fix the FAFSA. This will go a long way.