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Supporting The Goals And Ideals Of National Engineers Week

Rep. Bob Inglis

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Madam Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the resolution (H. Res. 681) supporting the goals and ideals of National Engineers Week, and for other purposes.

The Clerk read as follows:

Whereas engineers use their scientific and technical knowledge and skills in creative and innovative ways to fulfill society's needs; Whereas in just this past year, engineers have helped meet the major technological challenges of our time--from rebuilding towns devastated by natural disasters to designing an information superhighway that will speed our country into the next century; Whereas engineers are a crucial link in research, development, and demonstration and in transforming scientific discoveries into useful products, and we will look more than ever to engineers and their knowledge and skills to meet the challenges of the future; Whereas engineers play a crucial role in developing the consensus engineering standards that permit modern economies and societies to exist; Whereas the recent National Academy of Sciences report entitled ``Rising Above the Gathering Storm'' highlighted the worrisome trend that fewer students are now focusing on engineering in college at a time when increasing numbers of today's 2,000,000 United States engineers are nearing retirement; Whereas the National Society of Professional Engineers through National Engineers Week and other activities is raising public awareness of engineers' positive contributions to our quality of life; Whereas National Engineering Week activities at engineering schools and in other forums are encouraging our young math and science students to see themselves as possible future engineers and to realize the practical power of their knowledge; Whereas National Engineers Week has grown into a formal coalition of more than 70 engineering, education, and cultural societies, and more than 50 major corporations and government agencies; Whereas National Engineers Week is celebrated during the week of George Washington's birthday to honor the contributions that our first President, a military engineer and land surveyor, made to engineering; and Whereas February 19 to 25, 2006, has been designated by the President as National Engineers Week: Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the House of Representatives-- (1) will work with the engineering community to make sure that the creativity and contribution of that community can be expressed through research, development, standardization, and innovation; and (2) supports the goals and ideals of National Engineers Week and its aims to increase understanding of and interest in engineering and technology careers and to promote literacy in math and science.

Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. Inglis) and the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Lipinski) each will control 20 minutes.

The Chair recognizes the gentleman from South Carolina.

Rep. Bob Inglis

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Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on H. Res. 681, the resolution now under consideration.

Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from South Carolina?

There was no objection.

Rep. Bob Inglis

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Madam Speaker, I yield to myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Speaker, I rise in support of H. Res. 681, a resolution supporting the goals and ideals of National Engineers Week.

In 1951, the National Society of Professional Engineers established National Engineers Week. The purpose of the week is to increase understanding of and interest in engineering and technology careers and to promote K-12 literacy in math and science. It also showcases the contributions that engineers have made to our society. Cochairs of the 2006 week are the Society of Women Engineers and Northrop Grumman Corporation.

Historically, Engineers Week is celebrated during the week of George Washington's actual birthday, February 22, as he steered our new Nation toward technical advancements, invention and education. His many credits include an order given at Valley Forge for more engineers and engineering education, an order which led to the creation of the U.S. Army Engineers School.

There is no doubt that we have worked very hard and come a long way since the days of President Washington to become the world's leader in innovation, and there is no doubt that engineers have been there every step of the way. From landing a man on the Moon to providing new colors in our children's crayon boxes, engineers play a role in nearly every facet of our lives.

I applaud the National Society of Professional Engineers for having this week to raise public awareness of the role engineers have to play in American prosperity. If we are to remain competitive and a world leader, however, it is not only important, but imperative, that we continue to attract young people to this profession. It is imperative that we provide them with the education and tools necessary to excel in this demanding and rewarding profession. It is also imperative that we see that the teachers have not just the knowledge but also the enthusiasm to inspire and stimulate students to excel in math and science.

It is my pleasure to join with my colleague from Illinois (Mr. Lipinski) as an original cosponsor of H. Res. 681, and I urge my colleagues to support its adoption.

Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

Rep. Daniel Lipinski

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Madam Speaker, I yield myself as much time as I may consume.

Madam Speaker, I rise today in support of H. Res. 681, supporting the goals and ideals of National Engineers Week. Engineers have helped make our country great, from their service in the American Revolution to developing key modern industries such as aerospace and energy. I would like to honor and recognize the more than 2 million engineers in the United States and the contributions that they have made to our country.

Engineers combine imagination and creativity with math and science training to solve problems. Engineers in the past have helped us to build boats to cross the seas, railroads to take us West, and the Internet to communicate with the world. Today, we need the innovative capabilities of engineers to confront the new challenges before us. Engineers will help America develop energy independence, find solutions to confront global climate change, and make our Nation more secure.

But there is a growing concern that America is falling behind other countries when it comes to engineering. U.S. students continue to score below international averages on math and science tests. In 2004, China graduated more than six times the number of engineers that graduated in the United States. The National Academy of Sciences recently released a report entitled, ``Rising Above the Gathering Storm,'' which raised questions about America's future technological competitiveness. This report, echoed by President Bush in his State of the Union address, emphasized the need for government to take a number of actions, including addressing the potential shortage of engineers. We must act quickly to take up this challenge. We cannot afford to let our future falter, and that future requires that we continue to lead the world in technological innovation. This innovation is supplied by engineers.

National Engineers Week seeks to raise public awareness about engineers' contributions to our society and our quality of life and has inspired future engineers for more than 50 years. Founded by the National Society of Professional Engineers, and including more than 100 society, government, and business sponsors and affiliates, including Boeing, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Society of Civil Engineers, National Engineers Week draws upon local and regional experts to promote high levels of math, science and technology literacy. Annually, it reaches thousands of parents, teachers and students in communities across the country. From national and regional engineering competitions, such as the Future City Competition, to events such as Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, this week helps inspire the next generation of engineers and scientists.

The Future City Competition is a great example of how National Engineers Week has touched students across the country. The competition encourages seventh and eighth grade students to use problem-solving skills, teamwork, research and presentation skills, practical math and science applications, and computer skills to present their vision of a city of the future.

The team from St. Barnabas Catholic School in Chicago recently won first place in the regional competition. This team included several students who come from my district. These students then went on to the national competition. At the national competition, they also won an award for their work in aerospace engineering.

These students had a great opportunity to learn more about the many factors that go into building a city. They then applied this knowledge to a real problem. Working with teachers and mentor engineers, they solved problems ranging from energy supply to waste removal to transportation needs. These students are the ones we will rely on in coming years to help us address these challenges in the real world.

If we are going to produce more American engineers, one step that we need to do is to improve our STEM education, that is, science, technology, engineering and math education, but we must also do more to inspire our children to become interested in engineering.

When I was a kid growing up in Chicago, I was fascinated by the way things worked, as most kids are. I had a physics teacher in high school at St. Ignatius. His name was Father Fergus. He took this fascination that I had and got me interested in engineering, just as I hope that the events of National Engineers Week will do for more children.

I went on to earn a bachelor's of science degree in mechanical engineering at Northwestern and a master's degree in engineering-economic systems from Stanford University. I am one of only nine Members of this body who has an engineering degree, but people come up to me often and ask me how does the training as an engineer help you. Certainly it helps in understanding science and technology issues, math and science education, and transportation and manufacturing issues.

But engineering is more than that. Simply put, engineering is problem solving. Training as an engineer teaches you how to analyze a problem and how to put the steps together to solve that problem, no matter what the problem may be. It helps teach the type of analytical and innovative thinking that has made America a world leader technologically, militarily and economically. We must do everything we can to encourage and inspire future engineers so that America continues to be a leader in this increasingly competitive world.

Finally, I would like to thank the gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. Inglis) for his involvement with the National Engineers Week resolution. I would especially like to thank the engineers who have contributed so much to America, to honor them for their commitment to their continuing work for the betterment of our society.

I ask my colleagues to pass H. Res. 681 in deserved recognition.

Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

Rep. Bob Inglis

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Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume just to close, and note that my distinguished colleague from Illinois referenced his engineering education. You notice he stopped short of talking about his Ph.D. in political science. That is where he went to the dark side. He could have fallen into the law after that, even worse. But he came to Congress instead, so we are happy to have him here and happy to have the expertise he offers.

As one of those political scientist undergrads myself, I would point out there are some national security implications to what we are describing here. The United States graduates in order of magnitude something like 60,000 engineers a year. China graduates perhaps north of 200,000. India as well north of 200,000 engineers a year. That has implications for us as a society.

Also, the U.S. Department of Labor predicts that in the future new jobs will require math and science training and technical ability four times more often than other jobs. In other words, there is a growing need, as Mr. Lipinski was saying, for people trained in science and math and engineering, in spite of the fact that out of 100 high school students only two of those students will typically go on to ever get a degree in engineering or science. That is of concern.

And that is why I join with the gentleman from Illinois in urging my colleagues to adopt this resolution supporting the goals and ideals of National Engineers Week.

Rep. Sherwood L. Boehlert

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Madam Speaker, I rise today in strong support of H. Res. 681, a resolution recognizing the importance of engineers and supporting National Engineers Week.

From the grandest of skyscrapers to microchips and the smallest of medical devices, engineers continue to design and construct products that are vital to our daily lives and our Nation's economy. Unfortunately, American students today are losing interest in engineering. The National Academy of Sciences report, ``Rising Above the Gathering Storm,'' notes that, ``after secondary school, fewer U.S. students pursue science and engineering degrees than is the case of students in other countries. About 6% of our undergraduates major in engineering; that percentage is the second lowest among developed countries.'' We need to get American students at all levels back into science and engineering classes. Our Nation's continued global and economic leadership depends on our ability to inspire the next generation of engineers.

H. Res. 681 recognizes and supports the goals and ideals of National Engineers Week as an important part of educating and building a competitive workforce for the 21st century. For example, National Engineers Week exposes students that might otherwise never dream of a career in a technical field to opportunities in engineering through programs such as the ``Future City Competition'' (a contest for middle school student teams to design a visionary city) and the ``Global Marathon For, By and About Women in Engineering'' (a 24-hour long series of presentations intended to attract young women into the engineering workforce). During this week, students and professionals at all levels will be motivated to explore the vast opportunities open to them in the field of engineering.

In conclusion, I would like to thank the National Society for Professional Engineers for its ongoing efforts to educate children and adults about the importance of engineering. I would also like to thank Congressman Inglis and Congressman Lipinski for their leadership on this important issue. I ask that you join me in recognizing the importance of engineering in our daily lives and the positive impact of National Engineers Week by voting in favor of H. Res. 681.

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson

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Madam Speaker, I would like to express my strong support of H. Res. 681, supporting the goals and ideals of National Engineers Week.

Engineers put ideas into motion. They must possess the creativity and analytical skills to innovate.

Texas is our Nation's energy State. Its roots are in big oil and big skies.

These days, much of the wealth generated by Texas oil is being put to good use to ``fuel'' the technology economy. Engineers are a critical part of that effort.

Our State is investing millions of dollars to develop cleaner-burning alternative fuels that are more efficient and better for the environment. Engineers, working behind the scenes, are involved at every stage.

I am proud that my State is showing leadership at a time when this Nation desperately needs to invest more in research, particularly in energy research.

Texas's tenacity and frontier spirit is strong, and I commend engineers in Texas and all over this Nation for the wonderful work they do.

Madam Speaker, I join my colleagues on the House Science Committee in support of H. Res. 681 and National Engineers Week.

Rep. Bob Inglis

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Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

Rep. Judy Biggert

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The question is on the motion offered by the gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. Inglis) that the House suspend the rules and agree to the resolution, H. Res. 681.

The question was taken; and (two-thirds having voted in favor thereof) the rules were suspended and the resolution was agreed to.

A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.