House approves bill to promote STEM educational program

The House of Representatives approved legislation on Monday that was introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) to promote investments in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) educational programs.

The measure would broaden the definition of STEM to include computer science and promote student participation in non-profit competitions and field experiences that are related to STEM, according to a press release.

“We need to ensure that young adults have the scientific and mathematical skills to strive and thrive in a technology-based economy,” Smith, the chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, said. “But we have to capture and hold the desire of our nation’s youth to study science and engineering so they will want to pursue these careers. A healthy and viable STEM workforce, literate in all STEM subjects including computer science, is critical to American industries.”

In May, the House Science, Space and Technology Committee approved the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science and Technology Act (FIRST Act). The bill would reauthorize the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and would allocate federal funding for the programs’ STEM research and development efforts.

“The FIRST Act keeps America first in areas of science and research that are crucial to economic growth,” Smith previously said. “It focuses taxpayer investments for basic research in the critical areas of physical science and engineering. These are the fields that are essential for technological innovations that will lead to the creation of new jobs, new businesses and industries of the future. This bill strengthens the economy, improves people’s lives and creates a more open and responsive government.”

The bill would require the NSF to justify the scientific merit and relevance of each grant it awards in a published explanation to enhance accountability.