Congress encourages the next generation of computer scientists

Susan Molinari, Vice President, Public Policy and Government Affairs

Any student in the country could be the creator of the next big website or the next cool app. That’s why we’re excited that yesterday the House of Representatives passed H. Res. 77, a near-unanimous resolution highlighting the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) — especially computer science — and establishing an annual, nationwide academic competition in these fields.

STEM disciplines are a source of jobs and innovation, and they are necessary for our workforce to match the fast pace of technological change. For example, an estimated 1.4 million new jobs will require computing skills by 2020. Yet the US still lags in this area; only a small percentage of middle schoolers show proficiency in math and science, and only one third of bachelor’s degrees earned in this country are in a STEM field. For this reason, energizing students at an early age is crucial.

The competition established by the House resolution could engage students in various ways. To start, it calls for a challenge to create new apps for a range of platforms. Developing an app is a great way for students to gain hands-on experience in computer science, the next wave of opportunity in today’s economy. As technology advances, the competition may evolve to focus on different fields.

We believe it’s crucial to help kids and teens around the country move from being great consumers of technology to being great creators of technology — and competitions like this one can help drive that evolution. By reaching out to budding technologists in their districts, Members of Congress can foster a deeper enthusiasm for computer science. We hope this opportunity for students to showcase their creativity will spark interest in the STEM fields for years to come.