WASHINGTON, May 10, 2007 -- OSA members are calling on US congressman on Capitol Hill today to drum up support for initiatives including federal investments in scientific research and development for fiscal year 2008 and innovation legislation in the House and Senate.
About 30 participants are visiting approximately 40 offices as part of 2007 Capitol Hill Day, co-sponsored by OSA, the Optoelectronics Industry Development Association (OIDA), the American Physical Society (APS) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers-USA Lasers and Electro-Optics Society (IEEE-LEOS).
The event is in conjunction with the CLEO/QELS conference, being held this week in Baltimore, Md.
“Capitol Hill Day provides an important opportunity for members of the field of optics and photonics to talk with elected officials and their staff,” said Elizabeth Rogan, OSA executive director. “They are sharing concrete examples of how federally funded research and quality math and science education are the basis for the technological breakthroughs that help save lives, advance communications and make everyday life better. Congressional decisions on issues like these affect not only those who work in the sciences but everyone who relies on scientific advances in medicine, energy and other advanced fields.”
Participants from 14 states will discuss the importance of doubling federal investments in basic research for fiscal year 2008 at the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy’s Office of Science and in the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) core programs. Authorizing bills for both NSF and NIST passed in the House last week, providing Congress with the clearance to double the budgets for the two agencies by 2010, OSA said. Participants will thank lawmakers for their support of those important first steps to ensuring scientific R&D gets the funding it needs, the society added.
"Participants also will encourage lawmakers to continue to strengthen science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, thanking them for recent bills that emphasize its importance," OSA said. "For example, the House recently approved authorizing legislation H.R. 362, the “10,000 Teachers, 10 Million Minds” Math and Science Scholarship Act, which is designed to strengthen and expand the STEM teacher workforce and attract the best and brightest students into STEM education careers.
"The Senate, for its part, passed S. 761, the America COMPETES Act, which seeks to improve K-12 STEM education programs by establishing new summer training programs for teachers at the National Laboratories and NSF, assisting states in developing specialty schools in math and science and creating partnerships between the National Laboratories and high-need high schools to establish math and science centers."
Members will also encourage passage of strong STEM education measures with the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act, emphasizing the significance of the provisions that support increased STEM education in the US.
Peter Delfyett, OSA's Public Policy Committee chair and a professor of optics at the University of Central Florida, will visit the offices of his legislators today, including Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Tom Feeney.
“My laboratory at CREOL (the College of Optics and Photonics) uses federal funds for critical, often life-saving optics and photonics research," Delfyett said. "While I am just one researcher in one lab, sharing my personal experiences with members of Congress has the potential to impact other researchers across the country."
For more information, visit: www.osa.org