STEM Education & Workforce

FYI presents its annual list of 10 science policy stories to watch in the year ahead.

Major science and technology provisions in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act cover issues such as intelligence agencies’ adoption of emerging technology, biomanufacturing, the technological rivalry between the U.S. and China, and research capacity-building at minority-serving institutions.

The CHIPS and Science Act prescribes the mission of the Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships that the National Science Foundation created early this year, establishing priority focus areas and authorizing new programs supporting technology commercialization, regional innovation, and workforce development.

The National Science Foundation is taking steps to address sexual assault and harassment at the Antarctic research facilities it supports, including launching a new office to support victims. The problem was the subject of an expansive report the agency released to the public in August.

The new CHIPS and Science Act includes a variety of provisions aimed at promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion within the STEM workforce through grant support and workforce research, and by instituting new requirements for data collection and ethical research conduct.

With the CHIPS and Science Act set to channel billions of dollars into U.S. semiconductor R&D and manufacturing, chip companies and other stakeholders are weighing in on how to best structure the new programs.

The Department of Energy is ramping up its equity-focused activities by fleshing out the details of its Justice40 initiative, which channels federal investments into disadvantaged communities, and by announcing new funding opportunities for minority-serving institutions.

Congress is on the cusp of approving historic legislation that would provide more than $50 billion to the semiconductor sector and lay out ambitious expansion plans for a set of federal science agencies.

Most STEM education programs across federal agencies received steady funding or moderate increases from Congress for fiscal year 2022, and this year the Biden administration is seeking to rapidly scale up initiatives aimed at diversifying the STEM workforce.

The National Science Foundation is seeking to seed innovation ecosystems across the U.S. through regional “Engines” that fund partnerships between diverse groupings of organizations. The program is a major new component of the agency’s focus on expanding the “geography of innovation.”