ACM Education Policy Chair Testifies to Congress on IT Research and Development

By David Bruggeman
September 22, 2011

Dr. Robert Schnabel, Dean of the School of Informatics at the University of Indiana and Chair of ACM’s Education Policy Committee, testified before the House Research and Science Education Subcommittee on Thursday. The hearing focused on the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development program (NITRD), a U.S. government program that coordinates the various federal efforts in research and development in computer science. You can watch the hearing and read witness testimony via the House Science, Space and Technology Committee’s website. We also have Dr. Schnabel’s testimony on our website.

Consistent with the focus of ACM’s Education Policy Committee on K-12 computer science education, Schnabel’s testimony emphasized the need to boost that area of education to improve the future of hiring in the field. From the ACM press release:

“If we fail to address the issues facing K-12 computer science education, students will have little exposure or familiarity with this critical discipline or its concepts before beginning higher education. As a result, the IT workforce will continue to lack the capacity needed to meet the nation’s growing IT needs,” he said. “NITRD and the National Coordinating Office (NCO) can play a key role in addressing the obstacles impeding K-12 computer science education. As the committee works to reauthorize NITRD, we encourage it to help our nation address this problem.”

The other witnesses included computer scientists Ed Lazowska from the University of Washington, Robert Sproull, recently retired head of Oracle Labs, and George Strawn, Director of the NITRD Coordination Office. The House Science, Space and Technology Committee developed legislation for NITRD in the previous Congress, and may do again in this Congress. Whether it will get further than the House floor is an open question.