Tom Friedman on Innovation and National Lab Day

January 24th, 2010 by Ed Lazowska Post a comment »

Tom Friedman has a wonderful op-ed in today’s New York Times.  Read it here.  Then go to the National Lab Day website, here, and register!

“What the country needs most now is not more government stimulus, but more stimulation. We need to get millions of American kids, not just the geniuses, excited about innovation and entrepreneurship again. We need to make 2010 what Obama should have made 2009: the year of innovation, the year of making our pie bigger, the year of ‘Start-Up America.’

“Obama should make the centerpiece of his presidency mobilizing a million new start-up companies that won’t just give us temporary highway jobs, but lasting good jobs that keep America on the cutting edge. The best way to counter the Tea Party movement, which is all about stopping things, is with an Innovation Movement, which is all about starting things. Without inventing more new products and services that make people more productive, healthier or entertained — that we can sell around the world — we’ll never be able to afford the health care our people need, let alone pay off our debts …

“And to reignite his youth movement, he should make sure every American kid knows about two programs that he has already endorsed.  The first is National Lab Day … [which] aims to inspire a wave of future innovators, by pairing veteran scientists and engineers with students in grades K-12 to inspire thousands of hands-on science projects around the country.”

  • ronguerriero

    Olin College of Engineering (Needham MA) inspires young people by presenting engineering via a hands-on, project based approach. And, using innovative teaching methods that generate interest and excitement in the classroom. Many of our students have had experience with STEM-related competitive activities (e.g. FIRST) and, thus, Olin is the next step up the project food chain.
    We’ve conducted enough programs in the K-12 environment to tell us that the design thinking and entrepreneurial thinking we use to design Olin’s curriculum works in K-12.
    We are already collaborating with faculty from other engineering schools about how to create innovative engineering curriculum and teaching methods.
    I believe Olin can be a model for how to integrate engineering, science and entrepreneurship into K-12 curriculum.
    RG

  • http://www.techmatt.com/ Chris Farrell Ph.D.

    Do we need ‘millions of American kids or just geniuses’? I don’t know, and neither does Tom Friedman. Instead of opinion lets look at evidence. Recent knowledge, based on a breakthrough in Economics (a solution to its quality change problem) identifies the long sought connection between R&D and economic growth to be a four-link chain starting with innovation spending (the D of R&D) and ending at GDP. And the money spent on D goes mainly for a small quota of research-educated engineers. Whatever makes them more numerous and effective (including what they are working on, their management and their support): that is what the evidence of five decades points to. Study it at http://www.techmatt.com

  • Pingback: Get involved with National Lab Day | insideHPC.com()

  • rebecca_taylor_cccblog

    Tom,
    Take a look at Austin Texas as a proof to your thesis that we need more innovation once again in order to grow the country’s economy. Austin has lost a few jobs, but nowhere near the number elsewhere in the state or country. A big reason for that is the large number of startups that are created here each year (even last year). That spark of creativity and innovation is everywhere here, and has been for at least 25 years. That’s the other part of your thesis – this stuff doesn’t happen in a year, and so we need to get busy teaching our young ones how to run a business, and to have the courage and confidence to do so.
    Thank you for pushing the conversation.
    Rebecca Taylor
    Austin, Texas