Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Innovation Key to Rekindling the Sciences

Innovation Key to Rekindling the Sciences
By Susan Winlow

VALLEJO - The need to rekindle a declining student interest in math, science and engineering was the main topic Tuesday at a Mare Island forum attended by Solano County community leaders and members of the education community.

The forum's guest speaker, Congressman George Miller (D-Concord) unveiled his proposal, "The Innovation Agenda," which is designed to attract and educate 100,000 new students in the next four years into the sciences, math, engineering and high-technology fields.

His proposal calls for innovative ways, such as alternative fuel sources, to create industries that will produce local jobs and secure a future globally for the United States.

The proposal is crucial, Miller said, because the decline in these areas is impacting the United States in terms of its "global leadership in technological advancement and innovation."

With fewer American students entering these fields and more students than ever entering these fields in other countries the United States is falling behind, he said.

His proposal mirrors Vision 2020, the new education agenda unveiled by Solano Community College recently in which the school partnered with local industry and other universities to strengthen the workforce.

In order for the United States to continue on the "cutting edge" and "prepare our future generation" changes are needed, said Paulette Perfumo, president and superintendent of Solano Community College.

"I believe his Innovation Agenda is what we need to get our country focused," she said "We are falling farther and farther behind."

SCC, in conjunction with California Maritime Academy, a California State University, is working on an engineering degree and a joint biotechnology degree with the University of California, Davis - the latter already in place.

Tuoro University, located on Mare Island and one of the hosts of the forum, is also working toward innovative measures to ensure the United States remains on the cutting edge in the sciences.

The university boasts a college of osteopathic medicine, a college of pharmacy which opened in 2005 and a college of education.

However, money is a key issue, Perfumo said, and Congress needs to understand the lack of resources befalling today's education.

"If not, we will fall further behind," she said.

Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or

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