Halifax Community Leaders Meet with White House Staff Regarding STEM Training and Advanced Manufacturing in our Region
Riverstone Energy Center’s Director of Business Development Kristy Johnson, Riverstone Energy Center Subcommittee Chair the Honorable Ted Bennett, Southern Virginia Higher Education Center Director Dr. Betty Adams, Halifax Industrial Development Authority Director Mike Sexton, R&D SVHEC Intern William Cherry, and 25 community leaders and educators from Halifax County and Danville took part in a roundtable luncheon and discussion with Dr. John Holdren, the Assistant to the President for Science and Technology. The round table discussion focused on the administration’s plans regarding STEM education, advanced manufacturing, and innovative technology, which President Obama addressed in the State of the Union Address.
"Basic research, science and math and engineering education are the foundations of a stronger American economy going forward. Innovation has always been this country's strength and we need to continue to invest in it," Dr. Holden said.
“Echoing themes from the recent State of the Union Address, Dr. Holdren reinforced the significance of bringing innovation to bear on our economy and the “constellation of issues” that must be addressed in order to do this: bringing manufacturing back, advancing the energy economy, and the importance of STEM education and basic research. He also encouraged us to “lift our game” by extending and plugging leaks in the educational pipeline. As I listened, it was hard not to swell with pride. Because, as a community and a region, we are already well-positioned to provide all of these things: STEM Academy, Riverstone Energy Center, SVHEC R&D Center for Advanced Manufacturing & Energy Efficiency, Center for Coatings Research & Education, and more”, according to Dr. Betty Adams, Executive Director of the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center who was also in attendance.
While giving community and educators the opportunity to ask questions and get valuable insight into the administrations plans, Dr. Holdren also gave some valuable advice to the community. Holdren’s take home message was that we need “to do a better job of telling our story”. The community itself must provide a compelling and true story with specific examples of how the investments our community has made in STEM education, advanced manufacturing, and innovation will revitalize our local economy.
Dr. Holdren said that one of the most important things that we can do in the short term is to “lift our game” in STEM education. Science Engineering, Technology, and Math has always been the competitive edge of our economy. We will not be able to outspend other countries in research and development. We must out smart them, we must get better at teaching our students, and we must retain our students.