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Future looks brighter than the news

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By Kirsten Peters

I’ve seen the future of American science and engineering. And, in my humble opinion, it looks very bright.

From time to time the media tell us that American education simply isn’t working. Reports can make it seem that public schools — and universities, too — are wasteful, dysfunctional and produce students who can neither read nor write, let alone do science and math.

But I work at a large, state-run university and I see little evidence of those claims. Let me tell you what I do know about, what I see first-hand.  

Recently students majoring in all the sciences and engineering here at Washington State University presented the results of their research to both faculty and industry representatives from outside the Ivory Tower. Yes, I said that the undergraduate students — some of them 19-years old — presented the results of their own research to faculty, staff, their peers and industry representatives.

The next generation of nerds is more involved in research work than any I’ve known to this date. They don’t just sit passively in class taking notes, but broaden their horizons and deepen their minds by pursuing real research work in faculty labs on questions ranging from steel characteristics to atmospheric pollution to onion rot.


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