Monday, April 1, 2013
By Governor Mary Fallin
Science isn’t just in labs. It touches every industry in our state – from agriculture and energy to health care, transportation and manufacturing. Researchers are developing plants that are drought tolerant, bridges with sensors embedded in the concrete to measure stress, and batteries that are microscopic for use in less invasive health equipment.
These are among the fascinating research and products being invented here in Oklahoma. They are of global significance and are happening right here in our own backyard.
These industries also present great potential for economic success in our state. To capitalize on the great work in science and technology related fields already happening here, I have asked the Oklahoma Department of Commerce to develop a data-driven plan that will help us focus our policies on industries that have the greatest potential for wealth generation and job growth. Data shows aerospace and defense, energy, agriculture and biosciences, information and financial services, and transportation and distribution are among the industries that offer the greatest potential to raise our income levels and create better jobs.
The data so far shows the need to strengthen our workforce, and we can do that by emphasizing STEM – or science, technology, engineering and mathematics – in all levels of public education. Last year, Secretary of Science and Technology Dr. Steven McKeever and I rolled out the OneOklahoma plan, a strategic plan for science and technology in Oklahoma. The plan offers several recommendations to help guide policy makers in regards to science and technology that will help us achieve economic growth, the creation of quality jobs and an increase in prosperity for the residents of Oklahoma.
The state of Oklahoma benefits directly from a strong science and technology base. Economic development in the United States over the past 50 years or more has illustrated that a commitment to science and technology is the most important key to building a better economy and quality of life for our citizens.
Research changes lives and has a significant impact on the Oklahoma economy. Researchers make discoveries and hire new employees to help take their ideas to the market. Scientific discovery can lead to the development of new small businesses with additional employees creating new products, selling those products around the world and expanding Oklahoma’s tax base.
Science and technology pay create jobs that pay 30 percent more than other fields, and helps Oklahoma retain our most valuable asset – our people.
April is “Oklahoma Science and Technology Month.” It’s a great time for us to encourage the next generation of inventors and researchers. To that end, my office along with the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST), has developed a recognition program that science teachers can use to honor their hardworking students during the month of April. The award honors Oklahoma students who excel in science.
OCAST also offers the OCAST R&D Intern Partnership Program that helps Oklahoma college students gain hands-on experience and employment in technology industries. These internships benefit employers and permit students to network and gain experience in the industry, work with mentors, learn to operate specialized instruments and often lead to permanent jobs after graduation.
For more information about OCAST, research happening around the state or if you are a teacher interested in nominating a student for the science and technology award, visit www.ok.gov/ocast or call OCAST at (866) 265-2215.