Dr. John Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), testified at an oversight hearing of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee yesterday. In his testimony, Dr. Holdren spoke of the transformative nature of science and technology and its potential for economic growth but also its challenges for public policy.
While the majority of the hearing focused on energy priorities and space science, STEM education and computing did get a share of the attention. In opening testimony and in subsequent answers to questions from several Committee members, Dr. Holdren addressed STEM education by discussing the Educate to Innovate program and the Change the Equation program to increase the number of students who are prepared for and want to study STEM fields in college.
Representative Biggert (R-IL), asked a computing specific question of Dr. Holdren. Rep. Biggert noted that the Administration announced earlier this year a Big Data R&D Initiative. While Rep. Biggert agreed that the research in big data was important, she noted that there needed to be a balance between that and the research into high performance computing in order to fully realize the potential of big data. Dr. Holdren agreed that the future of computing requires both investments in “big hardware” as well as big data and that there were also research efforts underway to reduce the energy needs of high performance computing.
Representative Edwards (D-MD) made a point to say that research isn’t done in stops and starts. She noted that the best thing Congress and the Administration could do would be to give researchers consistency in budgeting for research and that this would also be encouraging to students entering the STEM disciplines.
Dr. Holdren’s written testimony and the archived webcast of the hearing can be found here.