tv Politics and Public Policy Today CSPAN May 27, 2016 5:00pm-7:01pm EDT
which would be very difficult the put back in the bottle. and in a sense for all of the problems afghanistan is more corrupt than, sorry, more democratic, it's not more corrupt. it's got much more competition for corruption. but for democracy, it is clearly more democratic. than anyone of the countries that touches its border. which is something we don't reflect, but how do you see this balance between old politics and corruption on the one hand and democracy on the other? how do you see that balance tilting in the future? >> i paint the picture. i work at the american university of afghanistan. it was a difficult period
because we were just building. this is before it has its first graduate. we have invited people. finding those professors who would come. they have the internet to connect to their family. we knew how difficult it was building that. i left. i saw in the news, the headline said auf, the american university of afghanistan graduated its first class. to many people that was a headline. to me, that wasn't a headline. it was an emotional moment. because i knew how much difficulty we went to get to that stage. it's the same with hospitals. when you had to go across the porder just to treat malaria and you have hospitals today that treat that separate conjoined
twins, that treat more complex operations, kidneys, the heart. transplants. that progress is very difficult to get and cover in a headline. one of the reasons we have so much gloom in the media is because it only covers the war. not the progress afghanistan had maze in the past 15 years. we are making progress. we will continue to do that. we now have the institution to maintain that progress. we have more educated use than we ever had before. we have more opportunity, more frustrate that we have ever had before. we're building on the legal infrastructure to make sure that everybody has their rights preserved. this would have not been possible if we didn't have the basis to do that.
i would say we went through a political transition and that was our biggest test for any dploksy to survive. you have got to build and transition in them. because that's when, where in a country that is used to having revolutions and the leaders changing in every, all of the loyalty switch tog new leader. as part of revolution, rather than your loyalties being aligned to an institution, so, when we had our first transition, a lot of the institutions in afghanistan had trouble adjusting themselves to their institute, their loyalties to the presidency rather than a person who left office. it was made even more complicated by it being a national unity government. they had a difficult period going through that adjustment but it happened. over the past few months noticed
a lot more progress in afghanistan. there was a difficult period, but the adjustment happened. it was a question of survival for a while whether we would with able to survive and we passed that test. the people, were doubtful of that period, but once they saw the progress made, there is a lot more confidence and every day, that confidence grows. we're determined to preserve the progress we have made and build on it. we're also confident because we can see it's all relative. the media may only see the war that's covered. people's angle to afghanistan is only through the media.
it's an abstract. >> it's been a difficult year. i think it's time to go to audience questions here. we live it and we know what progress has been made and what we're doing to continue to make that. . >> well, it's been a very difficult year, ask you one more, then time to go to audience questions here. the national unity government has not always been distinguished by its unity. it's had an enormous difficult filling positions. it has no real policy differences. among dr. abdulla and ghani. it has a lot of other issues. what do you see look out at this
next year? are we going to continue to see this endless fussing and squabbling or can they play better together. >> for the first time we shared power. >> it's not a social habit. >> it was of course not easy. national unity governments or a coalition government by nature are not easy. it took belgium almost a year. germany, six months. australia struggled with it for a long time. where they every six months, there was a new u prime minister. those, that's part of a national unity government and that's part of the phase that goes into trust building.
to build it. and also, our population was not accustomed to this sort of rule. the election campaign teams that supported each of those candidates of course wanted their different form of government. so, while the two leaders may have been able to get along, their teams took time to be able to trust each other and i think that trust will continue to be built. it will take time before it's fully established, but we are in a very different place where we are today. than compared to 18 months ago. in a better place. >> well, having lived through i think nine transitions in my career, i can say that the habit of transition teams of thinking they should be immediately employed is is not only in afghanistan. i think we should go to the audience here.
when we recognize you to please give your name. if you have an affiliation, give your affiliation. please try to make them questions instead of statements and not of too great length. we have one back here already with a mike. there you are. >> here in the united states we have representative, congressman and senators on both sides of the aisle that support a long term afghanistan policy. we're about to go through a very interesting presidential election. as an ambassador, what are the two or three u.s. policies that you would like to see continued into the next administration no matter who is elected?
>> that's a question we always ponder. but what we're luckty to have bipartisan support. afghanistan is is lucky to have bipartisan support in the united states. we see that through congress and hope see that through the campaign teams. start working with the candidates and their teams. to explain and understand their policies towards afghanistan and if they have any questions of hobt it. so far, we're not, we don't have any concern i think we're, like you s. mentioned, there's a lot of support for afghanistan. we're in an extremely fortunate position. to be the, to have been made, to have made so much success. i think we are very close, afghanistan is going through a decade of what we call the
transformation decade toward self-reliance. and we have got a lot of, we have received a lot of support for that, for our policies. on both sides of the aisle and the policymakers that we meet here in d.c. >> i think the signal i'm getting is that we need to have people go to the microphone for questions. >> also, when i turn this way, i feel like maybe you don't hear. so i'm not ignoring this side of the crowd. >> i have to apparently ask people who want to ask questions to go to the mike, so you can have a quick stampede. i hope you're right because we still have almost 10,000 american soldiers in afghanistan and i haven't heard either candidate or any of the three remaining ones say one word about afghanistan. the presidential election.
we all, everybody talks about iraq, syria. we have twice as many troops in afghanistan as we have in syria. it's where we were attacked from and we don't say anything. if you can explain that to me, i'd be happy, but let's get the next question. >> my name is dominic card el. i have no affiliation. it's a little troublesome to me, you made ref to the fact that afghanistan has the most islamic of constitutions. how do you interpret that? does that mean sharia law? how udoh you interpret that. >> our constitution is based on sharia. it may be the version of sharia that perhaps some disagree, they, it's not the strictest of ininterpreteration that perhaps an extremist want in afghanistan, but our constitution is based on sharia. it has been for the past 15
years. >> but you've signed a whole variety of international human rights agreements, laws. >> absolutely. it's not to say that sharia is not come plying with human rights. sharia is. that has been our constitution. since it was formed 15 years ago. >> but also, the constitution, if i remember, has some very careful wording. about based on sharia law, but does not make sharia law the only source of law. no law can be in contradiction to sharia law, but it leaves room for a broad base. >> where there is doubt, we refer to sharia. for that matter. that's what is acceptable to the afghan population. we have been able to include all of the afghan population. my reference is we're
negotiating a peace process we already have sheria law in afghanistan. if we don't see that being a problem. absolutely not. so, the question is whether it would bring or put us in a position we would have to make compromise on our constitution. i said we don't have to make any compromises on the constitution because we're already compliant. and it's already acceptable and implemented by our government and and accepted by the population. so far, we have not had any issues with although there have
been no sub stastantive remarks about what needs to be, what the taliban would want for example, we have, we've not had those negotiations, but in and officially where there have been discussions, there have been no serious questions towards changing the constitution that would, so that's what makes us even more confident that that we have to make compromises on the gains we have made and toews have been strictly adraft and communicateded. >> sir. >> thank you so much. my name -- i'm a psychiatrist with george washington university and i'm interested in my question is, is it possible the psychological of conflict. to negotiate with the taliban how that process has gone so far and how do we proceed in that direction? given the challenges negotiated
with the taliban. >> you're talking about whether it is psychologically possible? >> i guess the political issues, but then understanding a psychological of the taliban and what do they want. who are they as a group. are there elements of the taliban that are more cognitive and flexible than others, there can be some soil to till, if you will. are they all just this monolithic entity that can only be dealt with with drone strikes. >> a peace is is a process. it's not one dealing as studying thu what has going on in other places and studying the peace processes in other countries. it's not a one time event. when a conflict drags this long
many elements become part of it. they become invested. we see a lot of people involved in the drug trade that have become part of this insurgency. now, it begs to question whether it's the drug trade that fuels the insur jgency, so, the questn here would be those who have legitimate grieve krans withes with the government and if there is any we have not been able to include, we are able to negotiate with. those with criminals would have to go after them with criminals. >> thank you. >> sir. >> my name is ronald wilson. i'm with the united states government. my question is do you think that
democratic principles as they are known in the western society, particularly united states, are truly viable than islamic state? >> we're very democratic. all our decisions have always been made in a council. to this day most of our biggest decisions that we cannot make that are not allowed within the constitution or about the constitution are made by a grand council. it's enshrined in the afghan culture. we're democratic by design. >> good evening. my name is sarah. i'm not affiliated. i'm very interested to see your technology background and your
comments about surgery. i was wondering if you could tell us a bit about how the intersection of technology and development perhaps in the education and health sectors. thank you. >> well, i have to say afghanistan made great strides in technology. we now have about 90% of all population that has access to cell phones. we have coverage through 90% of territory. with the availability of 3g because our country was not connected to wireless communication, we jumped a generation went straight into wireless communication. almost every one that has access to 3g has been connected and it's been a very vocal society. last year's election for example didn't require journalists to go
into areas. people acted as journalists and continued to be very k very active through social media and we're working, our government is looking into how we can bank on that accessibility and interest to be able to deliver services such as education and well, also with the connectivity being available for health care, medicine and other. so, there are institutions that are looking into this right now, but we're very lucky to see has been able to gain a lot of interest in afghanistan. >> it's also a free market success. when i went to iraq, the american government helped the iraqis set up the cell phone network. we had three different contracts and they didn't talk to each other. if you were in northern iraq, you couldn't talk to south. in afghanistan, they went with the free market. i use my phone when ever i go to afghanistan all over the country. works. it's one of the perks that's
paying the government pretty well. congratulations. >> it is our second largest income for the government, the telecom sector. things like e payments where they are being paid through electronic payments, mobile payments. >> thank you. the media sector has been using it for a while where they vote on shows and other. >> game shows. sir. >> thank you. for having my question. my name is john banks. i'm not affiliated with anybody. my question is this, a couple of times today, tonight, you've
mentioned cutting back on the international drug trade or eradicating it. eventually, america will pull back militarily and financially and without the opium trade, what do you see as the economic gap filler for those two influx of cash? >> afghanistan has many riches including mine. we have over $3 trillion worth of mines alone in afghanistan. we're working on the legal infrastructure to make that accessible. we're also building infrastructure to be able to physically deliver it, but we're also working on the legal infrastructure to make sure afghanistan doesn't get into what happens in africa, for example, as the resources situation.
afghanistan is at the cross roadses, what president mentioned. a linkage point between south and tral aig. we're already working on projects where gas is being transported from the resource rich central asia to south asia. we're working on electricity projects that are regional but we're also a land base for transport of goods. our idea for afghanistan or a vision is the roundabout of south and central asia where people in goods flow freely. that's an afghanistan we're working on building. we're also increasing our revenue through different entities. last year, alone, despite the very difficult year we were able
to increase our revenue by 22%. now, making a security improved in our legal infrastructure is much more attractive to investors. we'll be able to invest, to attract more investments into afghanistan. that includes costs and increasing revenue through different streams. >> time for the media. >> thank you. we are very worried about achievement in afghanistan. do you think any from the united states that woman's achievement will be safe.
and also, so many conditions. one of conditions is is is the -- should leave afghanistan based on this opinion. what do you think? >> first of all, let me repeat that we will not make any compromises on the achievements women and our society in general has made. we're not making any compromises on the institution and second, the conditions off that i think that condition has been refined. to say a deadline or a timeline for the security forces international security forces leaving and as we are working on a self-reliant, we're not counting on afghanistan to always have the quiet stance we currently have. we are thankful for the stance we do, but as you are aware, the afghan security forces are now
in full control and are taking, they are the ones responsible for protecting our territory of the international security forces providinging us with advise and assist. >> i would like to say -- >> i would like to see us provide a little more air support. we dropped 300 bombs this year in iraq and 300 in afghanistan, which is a very strange approach. you can tell i'm out of the government. >> i am doing my feed work with the international peace and security institute. before i came to my question i want to clarify something for the gentleman, i think he left, was sitting over here. mentioned sharia law and in the
west, you think of something extreme and like the saudi government. because in saudi arabia, there's no constitution. like every single thing, their source of information like legal, social, political, economical, all derived from the holy koran and that's based on the sharia law. just like mr. ambassador mentioned, in 2004, when the institution was modified, it was drafted and modifieded. it was of course recaequal righ for the women. for the gentleman not to worry, he mentioned like sharia law, not efg is is based on that because we have a constitution, which is in lined with international human rights and we have our parliament, 28% of our parol m are women. that will not be taken back if everything was based on the sharia law. >> and you had a question. >> yes, so, just for the gentleman, i think he left, but hopefully, he can see me later. my question, mr. ambassador is
that i've been in the u.k. for the past eighth months. doing my master degree and just you know, from a very poor background, but if it was not for the 15 years of the recent government in the international community, i wouldn't be standing over here, so that's just one example. what has been achieved in the past 15 years. one of the things, it's my first week in washington, d.c., opportunity for full bright scholars. when they are done in the u.s., they go back and thanks so much for that because they didn't have that opportunity before. you finish and you go back and look for work and some of them would just leave afghanistan again. so not a full bright student but i am studying in the u.k. when i finish my master degree and my hope and goal is to go back to afghanistan and serve my
country in any way i can just like you. and what would be some of the -- not the guarantee, but how hopeful i could be? >> this is a great opportunity for announcing that we have jobs fair this friday at the embassy. and that is meant to address the very questions that you have. and in the past with many ngos and contracting companies that work in afghanistan, it is easy to find a job from abroad. as with the drawn down, it has not been easy for many people to find jobs and we notice that there was that very same question for many people so we have organized a job fair. we'll have recruiters in afghanistan connected with their technology, video conferencing
and phones to be able to provide the information and direct question on what could be expected in the current market in afghanistan and where the jobs are and how are to find them and, again, what has -- how to adjust yourself to be able to get that job. i think we're -- afghanistan is looking forward to people like you returning back to us, to our country and contributing. and sometimes with your education and with the opportunities that -- that were at your disposal, it means you could create jobs in afghanistan. we are trying or trying to attract more investment and small businesses who would not only provide jobs for themselves but be able to provide jobs for others. so those are some of the discussions that you would hear when you -- on friday, i think it is this friday. this friday at the embassy. it starts at 8:00. 8:00 a.m.
>> thanks so much, ambassador. >> thank you. >> all right. >> i'm john rothenberg, currently unaffiliated but i was part of the civilian surge, i worked for the u.s. aid at that time and i was wondering do you think the civilian surge was successful or unsuccessful and in what ways. >> the civilian surge? >> when obama sent americans to work on -- to work in the provinces on prts. >> so, again, to say, well, afghanistan has made a lot of progress and it would not have been possible without the support from the united states. the institutions that we have managed to build, the infrastructure that we've managed to build -- the credit
goes to the united states and i have to mention the other international partners as well. there are -- i think we focus on challenges and this is point earlier to ambassador neumann, we focus on the challenges and we don't want to hide and every government has its challenges and we may have more than other but we don't want to undermine the progress that was made in the last, what, 15 years. and with the surge, too, that was -- we built over 7,000 kilometers of paved -- paved over 7,000 kilometers of road in afghanistan and built hospitals and schools, over 8 million children that attend school in all of the districts in afghanistan would not have been possible without the support of those -- with those individuals who served there and we thank them. and i think we owe it to the service of americans and afghans
who made those possible that we continue on that path and build on it. >> the civilian surge was a little bit like a roller coaster it took quite a bit to crank it up to the top and it peaked quickly and then went down and i don't know that there is any academic work -- there is an enormous amount of anecdotal -- that it doesn't -- every district is different. and i don't think there is any significant academic work yet, or study to actually do any cross comparison. >> you have a question. >> not so much a question but i want to let you know i had a friend or i have a friend and she and her husband spent a year in 2000 in afghanistan volunteering doing medical work there and i want to tell her that i had an opportunity to tell you how she really found the afghan people so wonderful
and what they needed was just an opportunity to explode and do their thing. and it sounds like they are doing it. and i'm sure she will be delighted to hear the progress that they've made. so i congratulate you and your country and i wish you all the best. >> well, thank you. it is wonderful to hear that i've been able to convey that, first of all. >> we'll let you go right now: >> i would like to thank all of those who served. i think -- i feel that we are lucky as a diplomatic mission compared to other countries, we have so many friends in the united states, over a million americans served in afghanistan and i think afghanistan is the type of country where if you are engauged with it, and even if you are not there -- have not been there, it captivates you. and i think it is to do with the opportunities. because you suddenly see that potential, you see that there
is -- there is great opportunities to be able to build on. and we're thankful to those people who served in our country and we thank you for the opportunity that we can to do that and we call them friends, of course. and i think they can continue helping the country by advocating for the cause that is afghanistan and i think the people that they, themselves, put their lives at risk to help rebuild our country. thank you. >> thank you. >> thank your friend for me. sorry. >> i wanted to be explicit, for sure. >> hussein insurance with -- insurance embassy affairs. your excellentsy, congratulations on the baby. in arabic, that means god willing with blessings. i'm a united states citizen and i've learned over the years that any states two most vital assets are youth and education.
i think we said in the beginning of the discussion today that there is about 50% of afghanistan's population under the age of 27. can you tell us very briefly what the international community can do to further the progress of -- of education and in the youth of afghanistan, just furthering over what it has accomplished over the past 15 years. >> more investments. we're working, like i said, on a decade that want to get to self-reliance. and it would not be possible without us being able to build an economy that is self-sustainable. now there are a number of things that the afghan government is doing to achieve that, that is by making sure that we sort our produce locally and our imports -- it is an agricultural country but sadly we import a large quantity of agriculture produce from outside.
and the government has set a rule where for our own security forces and our own purchasing that those be produced locally so we can create more jobs, we can also create a sustainable economy. we're also working on attracting more investment. so one of the things that we have been working on over the past 18 months is putting in the legal infrastructure in place so that we could attract investments. talking to many investors, including american ambassadors who work in afghanistan, they didn't leave afghanistan because of in security, they left because they didn't find the legal infrastructure there supporting their investment to protect them. and we've been busy passing laws to be able to create that opportunity. and if we want to attract investors, we need to have the ground not just -- not just the
physical infrastructure in place, we need to have the laws in place to be able to -- for them to be able to feel safe and be able to feel secure. we find -- we joined the world trade organization so there is the -- the availability of international court if there is arbitration required. we're also passing laws to be able to protect, let's say if you had a technology business, if amazon was to invest in afghanistan and wanted to put a data center there, while their immediate needs may be making sure they have internet connectivity and a safe location, the other is privacy laws to make sure that the government is not going to one day show up and say i want to look into all of your data. so we're preparing afghanistan for that investment while we're attracting smaller businesses meanwhile. >> thank you. >> okay. >> thank you so much, ambassador. i come from the spanish embassy. and i read in an interview in
"the washington post" that you were a representative two times, i think in pakistan. so my question is, what is your opinion about the european union's behavior with the refugee crisis? seeing your example that a refugee can become an ambassador of his country. >> okay. right to the point. you know, it is not easy to be -- to be a refugee. having gone through it several times, not just two times. i am -- the first time when we were escaping the ussr or the soviet invasion in afghanistan and the second time when -- due to civil war. and each time brought its own challenges. and the third time because we had lost hope. and that is the most important part.
we don't want our people to lose hope. we want to be able to create opportunities. and that is where the international community's role is so important. because the afghan public has seen so much turmoil over time. we have seen different factions come and take over and we have seen them -- they, themselves, have witnessed in our generation, losing their entire wealth and houses and everything they owned. so it makes the afghans a little concerned when we see we're headed toward insecurity and the international community supports because there was a period when we lost support and so much tragedy happened. so the international community is continuing to assure us that afghanistan -- they will continue to stand by afghanistan as we develop. and it is extremely important at giving the afghans who were maybe thinking about leaving and those who have left to be able to return because they feel there are opportunities for them in their own country.
you would know and everybody knows that there is no better place than home. that is where you feel comfortable. that is where your family is. that is where your friends are and that is where you feel you are not a foreigner. you belong at home. and we want to make sure that afghanistan has those opportunities for our people so they could come back. that is why we are negotiating peace deals so those not in afghanistan or worried about the security there or the lack of opportunities to come back from the larger refugee populations in pakistan and iran as well as those who may be outside. and also those are -- those are the people who are going to build our country, people who have studded -- studied abroad or in the united states or europe where they had the
opportunity to learn skills that we need to rebuild. and thank you for your support for afghanistan. when we are in the united states, we attack the united states and sometimes -- >> on behalf of the world affairs council in washington, d.c. and the ronald reagan center and ambassador thank you for sharing your time and expertise with us. [ applause ] >> thank you. >> take this off.
tonight on cspan, president obama's trip to hiroshima, japanful he said since the nuclear bomb was dropped to end world war ii, the two countries have formed a bond. here's a portion of his remarks. >> the united states and japan forged not only an alliance, but a friendship. that has won far more for our people than we could ever claim through war. the nations of europe built a
union to replace battlefields with bonds of commerce and democracy. oppressed people's and nations, won liberation. an international community established stuss and treaties that worked to avoid war. and as pyred to restrict and roll back and ultimately eliminate the existence of nuclear weapons. still, every act of aggression between nations, every act of terror and corruption and cruelty and oppression we see around the world shows our work is is never done. we may not be able to eliminate man's capacity to do evil, so
nations in the alliances that we formed must possess the means to defend ourselves. but among those nations like my own that hold nuclear stockpiles, must have the courage to escape the logic of fear. and pursue a world without them. we may not realize this goal in my lifetime. but persistent effort can roll back the possibility of catastrophe. we can chart a course that leads to the destruction of these stockpiles. we can stop the spread to new nations. and secure deadly materials from fanatics. and yet, that is not enough. for we see around the world today how even the crudest rifles and barrel bombs can serve up violence on a terrible scale.
we must change our mind set about war itself. to prevent conflict through diplomacy. and strive to end conflicts after they've begun. to see our growing interdependence as a cause for peaceful cooperation and not violent competition. to define our nations not by our capacity to destroy, but by what we built. and perhaps above all, we must reimagine our connection to one another as members of one human race. >> president obama's trip to hiroshima made him the first u.s. president to visit the site of the world's first atomic bomb attack. after his remark, he met with two survivors.
you can see his entire comments from hiroshima, japan, tonight at 8:00 eastern on cspan. the memorial day weekend on american history tv on cspan 3. saturday evening at 6:00 ooen on the civil war. >> sherman could not have agreed more and by the time he captured atlanta in september 1864, his thoughts on the matter had matured. once again, a rebel army had been defeated and another major city had fallen and still, the confederates would not give up, so, rather than continue the futile war against people, he would not wanl war against property. >> georgia historical society president today gross on general sherman, arguing his march to the sea campaign was hard war rather than total war and that his targets were carefully sected to diminish southern
resolve. sunday on american art facts take tour with mitch mcconnell fu vieuxing some of the oldest room. >> i had the good fortune to be here in august, 1963, when mart p luther king made the i have a dream speech. i confess, i couldn't hear a word because i was down here at the end of the mall, he was on the linkening memorial memorial, looking out at thousands and thousands of people. but you knew you were in the presence of something really significant. >> then at :00 on the presidency, former aides to johnson and nixon talk about the roll of the presidents. >> lbj anguished about that war. every single day. and that is not an overstatement. the daily body counts. the calls either to or from situation room often at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning.
to' if the care carrier pilots had returned. >> historian h.w. brands is joined by a former aide, tom johnson, and former nixon aide, alexander butterfield, to explore the president's foreign policies during the conflict. t monday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. eastern on real america, our hearingings convene to investigate the intelligence activities of cia, irs. fbi informants and others. zwl we are here to review the major findings of our full investigation of fbi domestic sbel jerngs including the call and tell program and other programs aimed at domestic targets. fbi surveillance of law-abiding citizens and groups. political abuses of fbi intelligence and several specific cases of unfjustified
intelligence operations. zpl for the complete american history tv weekend schedule, go to cspan.org. nasa nasa administrator now the state of science and technology-related education. he was at the brookings institution in washington, d.c. inventor and education advocate, dean kamen, also took part in the discussion. this is about an hour and a half. >> i think we're wired. ladies and gentlemen, it's a great pleasure to welcome you this morning to brookings. my name is john allen. i'm the co-director of the center for 21st century security and intelligence and with my fellow co-director, dr. michael
happ halan, we welcome you very warmly this morning to the institution. it's been acknowledged that the underlying base for long-term american national power and prosperity requires an education system where young individuals can excel in science and technology and engineering and math. something called s.t.e.m. as noted by scholars here at brookings, in the metropolitan policy program, s.t.e.m.-intensive industries produce about $2.7 billion, trillion in added value to our economy, and it's about 17% of our gdp. principled driver in patenting, productivity, growth and exports. from aerospace to renewables, s.t.e.m. disciplines will only increase in relevant in the 21st century. given the reality of increasing global connectivity, complexity, and economic competitiveness, the promotion of s.t.e.
s.t.e.m.-related skills and knowledge must be recognized as a national priority, a key point we'll make with you this morning. an influential group in the policy arena. the current state of s.t.e.m. education in the u.s. clearly underscores the urgency of this issue. according to the u.s. department of education, the united states is falling behind internationally. ranking 29th in math and 22nd in science among industrialized nations. additionally only 16% of american high school seniors are proficient in math and interested in pursuing s.t.e.m.-related careers. if we wish to preserve the united states as a focal point of innovation and technological achievement, such trends must be reversed and reversed quickly. the necessity for increased collaboration between leaders in the public and the private sectors in developing innovative initiatives for america's future
inventors, technologists and explorers has never been more apparent. the aim of today's events are severalfold. to examine how educators are and policymakers can better promote s.t.e.m. in the nation's future workforce and to gain a better understanding of how and where such programs should be implemented. also where is currently -- where currently and what currently is being done to improve k-12 s.t.e.m. education and are there effective initiatives in place to ensure that those who graduate with degrees in s.t.e.m. are equipped with the appropriate technical and employment skills necessary to lead successful careers? and we're joined this morning, we're very pleased and honored to have with us this morning two distinguished guests to help us to understand these issues and provide us important insights. the honorable charles bolden and dean kamen. what i propose to do is i'll give a brief intro to their bios and you'll understand immediately why they are key to this future for the united
states. they'll provide us some introductory remarks, and then we'll have a guided discussion from the dais up here and then go to q&a from the audience. i'll remind everyone that we're on the record this morning and we welcome c-span to record this event. and also let me now go into the bios of our key participants this morning. nasa administrator, charles bolden, also major general united states marine corps retired, was nominated by president obama and confirmed by u.s. senate as the 12th administrator of nationaler er a eeronautics and space administration and he began his duties on july 17th, 2009. administrator bolden leads a nationwide nasa team to advance missions and goals of the u.s. space program. as nasa's administrator, administrator bolden has overseen safe transition from 30 years of space shuttle missions
to a newer raf of exploration focused on full utilization of the international space station and space and aeronautics technology development. he's led the agency in developing a face launch system rocket and the orion spacecraft. he's established a new directorate to develop cutting edge technologies for missions of tomorrow. general bolden's 34-year career in the marine coarse included 14 years as a member of nasa's astronaut office. after joining that office in 1980, he would travel into orbit 4 times commanding 2 commissions and piloting 2 others. his flights including the deployment of the hubbell space telescope and also the first joint russian/u.s. shuttle mission which included a cosmonaut as a member of his
crew. dean kamen, the founder of f.i.r.s.t.. dean kamen is an inventor and entrepreneur and tireless advocate for science and technology. his roles as an inventor and advocate are intertwined with his passion for technology and his practical uses. driven by his personal determination to spread the word about technologies, virtues and by so doing, to change the culture of the united states. he holds 440 u.s. and foreign patents, many for innovative medical devices that expanded the frontier of health care worldwide. while still a college undergraduate, he invented the first wearable infusion pump which rapidly gained acceptance for chemotherapy, neonatology
and endocrinology. he later founded deca research and development corporation to develop internally generated invention as well as to provide research and development for major corporate clients. one of kamen's proudest accomplishments is founds of f.i.r.s.t., dedicated to the next generation to use and enjoy science and technology. let me also acknowledge we've had a group of young scholars with us throughout the year who are federal executive fellows. many of them are in class this morning. i believe we have one who is joini ining us this morning as . federal executive fellow who's bringing his tour to an end. it is a young marine corps recently promoted co ed colonele name of jay bolden. not in the presence of just two great marines but two great
marine fighter pilots. it's a great honor for us to be in their presence as well. >> his mother loves it. >> this is for my brookings employers, i never miss the opportunity to do preparations for a session like this. i was on an airplane flying to the balkans at the end of last week, turkish arable airlines there was neil tyson interviewing administrator bolden about the mars mission and the nature of technology that nasa has brought to us every single day and the session concluded with neil asking when nasa will produce a flying car, as i recall. i thought it was amazing you learned to speak turkish but realized i was on the wrong channe channel. so, again, this morning we'll have opening remarks.
i'll invite neil kamen to show us his first presentation. >> it would take me way longer to explain first than an officially done video which shows the background for us and it's told you by god, morgan freeman, who like a lot of people in hollywood and the world of super athletes i've gotten behind first agree. he would help us. i said, morgan, you know what, you could read the phone book and people would pay attention. put together some short introduction that really captures what f.i.r.s.t. is. he did this work five years ago so the data he has is very, very weak compared to where we are now because we have phenomenal growth every year. this year, for instance, we had 46,000 schools from 83 countries. but what you need to understand
is i'm an inventor. what do inventors do? we look at the same problems as everybody else and see them differently. and 25 years ago, when it was still urgent, when we were 29th in math and 22nd in science even back then, in the industrialized world which puts us at the bottom, let's be clear, we were in washington and everywhere, always talking about there's a crisis in education. look at the problem differently. i said, no, there's not a crisis in education. even in those years, as today, we spend more per capita on education per student in the united states than anywhere else in the world. we have great schools. we have great universities. stanford and m.i.t. so what's the problem? the problem is a very, very small group of kids care about that. it's not an education problem. it's a culture problem. in a free country like america, you get the best of what you celebrate, and we celebrate to obsession two things, the world of sports and the world of entertainment. and so 25 years ago, i said, well, there's a system that inspires kids to spend their time and energy becoming expert at something that really matters
to them, but probably not wisely for their career. but let's use that model. but instead of teaching them how to bounce a ball, let's give them the skill sets to create careers, to create industries, to make sure the country stays where it needs to be, and if we celebrate science and tech the same way we do with other things, particularly for women and minorities that just are not even present in science and tech back then. so i called on industry to help me and i said the business of america is business. you can't blame the schools. you can't blame the gym teacher if kids aren't going to be good at cricket and if you put cricket in the curriculum and they do it for 45 minutes thursday morning before phonics, once a week, they're not going to become super because they're going to spend three hours every day after school during this season playing basketball, during this season playing football. they'll to it nights, do it weekends, mom and dad will show up. we have great athletes, but not great cricket players. that's not a department of
education problem. so i need superstars, i need the lebron james of science and tech. they exist in our big companies. in year one of the competition, i had 23 of these companies. this year, i had 3,700 corporate sponsors. but by the way, this is not an ad. where do you find superstars of tech that kids even in our culture? you find them in nasa. astronauts. so from year two on, not year one, but by year two, when we went from 23 teams to 46 teams, we had a nasa team. then by year three, more nasa teams. and as of last year, the largest single source of f.i.r.s.t. teams around the country was nasa. and we're very proud of f.i.r.s.t.'s association with nasa and what they've done for us. to prove to you that it's impactful on all kids, i'm going to show you the 12:
2:54 introduction to f.i.r.s. but first, this is now five years old, it's way bigger, but listen to god. can we do that? >> this is the super bowl. the super bowl of smarts, that is. a life-changing competition. it's kids having fun, competing, working together, to dream up, design, and build robots. >> it's an exhilarating feeling. i'm using power tools. >> having the hardest fun they'll ever have, and they're becoming our next generation of engineers and innovators. first, for inspiration and recognition of science and technology. >> my teachers were spom of the greatest influences on my life. by challenging and trusting me. these mentors got me to understand that i could do anything i put my mind to. >> f.i. are r.s. t. mentors are changing kids' lives every day. professional engineers, teachers, parents, teaming up with young people, not just to build robots but build confident
and self-respect. >> i'm around people that i can get along with, talk computer lingo with. >> it was invented by dean kamen. he saw kids mostly look up to sports heros and movie stars. >> he said if we have a culture obsessed with sports and entertainle, let's inspire them to do big things the same way shaquille o'neal can spend thousands of hours a week bouncing a ball. >> our president agrees. >> scientists and engineers should stand side by side with athletes and entertainers. and here at the white house, we're going to rule by example. we're going to show young people how cool science can be. >> 250,000 kids age 6 to 18 compete at all different levels. the first tech challenge. and at the high school level, the first robotics competition. >> the only difference between this sport and all the others is
every kid on our team can turn pro. there's a job out there for every one of these kids. >> students who take part in f.i.r.s.t. are 50% more likely to go to college and twice as likely to major in science or engineering. >> i definitely know that i want to pursue engineering. >> once they tasted what the power of knowledge is, that it can be fun and rewarding, they won't go back. >> there's no doubt f.i.r.s.t. works. >> 10 or 15 or 20 years from today, some kid in those stands will have cured alzheimer's or aids or cancer or built an engine that doesn't pollute. look at these kids. they're the future. >> i feel like i can go and do anything i want to do because of this program. >> someone took the time to guide and inspire me. it changed my life. take some time.
go to usfirst.org. >> terrific. >> well done. let me invite administrator bolden for his remarks and then we'll go to q&a. >> first of all, big message i want to give you, nasa is on a journey to mars. don't want you to miss that, if you hear nothing else, but how do we get there? and a lot of the stuff that dean talked about is critically important. we need young men and women from all over the place who will help us to do that. if you go to the johnson space center today, not a commercial, but you'll find half the engineers in our robotics lab at the johnson space center were participates in the f.i.r.s.t. program when they were in high school. there is great benefit from it. we're using our missions to try to inspire the youth of today. i tell people nasa has a $19.3
billion budget today. we spent $19.3 billion on s.t.e.m. education because every single thing we do is related to trying to get people interested in, and we actually call it s.t.e.a.m. we extended it to be s.t.e.a.m.e.d. the "a" stands for arts. hopefully we'll have the opportunity to talk about arts and design because there's a new community of people called makers. these are young men and women who have an incredible bit of ability to visualize and make things. i'm privileged to have a young man, he doesn't know i'm going to do this, but tom is shadowing me today. he's an engineer at the glenn research center in cleveland, ohio, who he mesmerized me this morning. he's a graduate of a historically black college, florida a&m university, where he majored in architecture and said he always wanted to build
things, to make things. you know, spent time in the army but never gave up on his desire to build and make things and today is an architect. lashonda holmes is sitting right next to him. she's a white house fellow, went to spelman college in atlanta, georgia. was trying to figure out how she's going to make it through college the rest of the time. met a coast guard recruiter who talked to her about the coast guard. today, she flies helicopters in the coast guard, something you don't see very many people who look like her do. so science and technology, the arts, design, are writ call important for our kids today. so that's the one thing i wanted to say there. we believe that you advance the nation's s.t.e.m. program and you put yourself in a situation where you're able to compete with any country anywhere, anytime, anyplace. that's what the president talks about all the time. we have created cooperations -- collaborations with many other federal agencies. we work with the department of education on something called 21st century communities.
we work with the department of agriculture in their 4-h program and in other programs trying to promote the kinds of things the department of agriculture does. recently to celebrate our partnership, my deputy dr. david newman and the former assistant secretary of agriculture, harden, actually planted some seeds in the department of agriculture garden that had come back from the international space station and they were seeds that were just like the lettuce that had grown, the lettuce that the astronauts now eat on the international space station in preparation of going to mars. the youth engagement in s.t.e.m. at every level is critically important. our priority lies with women and minorities because they represent a huge portion of our population. if you look at women today, they're greater than 50% of the population. we believe that you cannot leave that behind and succeed. you cannot leave that portion of the population behind and be better than other people. so, really, really, really important. let me say one thing about f.i.r.s.t. i'm going to share with you a
letter from a principal who was at a school where recently he had some nasa engineers come out and visit. this was a school in west virginia. and the southern part of west virginia had never had anything like this. he had some engineers from ivnv facility in west virginia and they came out and visited his kids. they're middle school. he said i just want to let you know how much it meant to the children for you to come to our school. 75% of the students are on free and reduced lunch. this means that our children have less chance than 80% of the students to make it out of high school. the community is riddled with drugs, homelessness, and generational poverty. the children need to see it's possible to make themselves into someone who counts. someone who can help change the world. the younger students came to me and wondered if you would be back for them." this was after the engineers left because it was too good to be true. they wanted to know if they were ever going to come back again.
would they ever see them again? "i told them that i sure hope so. they went away with big smiles. we would love for you to come back next year. put us on your calendar for april 2017. thank you so much for your commitment to the children of wrf west virginia." that's through a s.t.e.m. program out of nasa. s.t.e.m. is not monolithic. that's the other thing we need to understand. we need people not only with science and technology backgrounds and interests but we need people who are willing to engage their hearts and minds, people who do understand the arts. ability to conceive of things and then designers who can build little things like 3-d printers and the like that we're currently using on the international space station. so we believe s.t.e.m. is critical. we want to talk about it a lot today. hopefully. and if we can fire some of you up to go and tell people with whom you come in contact that it's just as important to have a young student who's going to be an all-star on a first court or somewhere else, as it is to be an all-star basketball player,
then we will have achieved our goal i think. >> terrific. thank you for those terrific remarks. let me answer or let me ask several questions and we'll have a conversation up here and then we'll go to the floor for additional questions. we've used the word s.t.e.a.m., s.t.e.a.m. can we talk a little bit about watch of those components and are any of them more important than the others? or are any of them worthy of more investment given the current situation than the others? and i think we have laid a good groundwork with your opening remarks to lay this out. this is important, i think. let's get to the baseline and a definitional approach to s.t.e.m. or s.t.e.a.m. for the group and the continued conversation at brookings, please. >> i think education, as we all knew it, although we're all different ainges, that the first and the last, the "s" and the "m" for better or worse, they do try to teach in school.
we all took a science class every year. it was putting pins in frogs one year, it was we all take math, you know, we learn to count, then we learn, you know, algebra and trigonometry. some of us learned it, some of us didn't learn it, but it was always there. "s" and "m" are there. i think the reason those weren't well -- wasn't a lot of passion around them in kids -- is because they're out of context. there was nothing that a kid ever did in life for which trigonometry would help them. you don't go to a store and a 10% discount is the cosign. there's no place they see value, and science, putting pins in frogs wasn't that relevant. but the "t" and the "e" in the middle is really cool. every kid who says they hate science, they love "star wars." every kid who says they hate engineering, they're wearing supercomputers.
they're immersed in the results of engineering. so to me, what industry has got to bring, what our culture has to bring to the schools is the relevance by which it will be important to kids to do the hard work of learning the science, learning math is not easy. it takes multiple years to learn all of that, but there has to be a purpose. kids would not bounce a ball every day for an hour a day if there was no nba. they just wouldn't do it. to me, the average teacher may be very good at doing the science part and the math part, the same way that the phys ed teacher can teach them, but they don't inspire them. we took the position that it's up to our culture to create the passion and then the willingness to work will follow. and because of the nba, kids will learn to bounce a ball. well, you needed to bring nasa, we needed to bring the relevant people that use and apply technology and engineering into a real environment, a hands-on
environment, as hands-on as any other sport so when the kids show up at school, they realize, i want to go learn that math without knowing that "e" equals "ir." that let a lot of smoke out of the circuit board because i forgot to multiply 5 squared. and it turns out, i think, for better or worse, the schools have focused on science as this abstract thing and math as this really abstract thing. we are bringing to the school relevance, we're showing kids that it's accessible and it's fun and it's every bit as rewarding as any other thing they do, except unlike the nba that has a few dozen jobs a year, right now, there are a few million unfilled career opportunities because kids can't do it. >> i would agree. you know, the particular part for us is i started out by saying we're on a journey to mars. we know where we want to go, we're just not capable of getting there right now because
we don't have the technology. we don't have the complete suite of technologies that are needed. so we need kids to be very conversant and competent in science and math, but that's what allows them to be the dreamers that create the technologies that we know we're missing. we find a lot of things serendipitously. the crew on the international space station, they have to have water to survive, they have to have food to survive. we're finding necessity is the mother of invention. when we flew the space shuttle, we used hydrogen and hox joxygea fuel cell and the by-product, the presentable by-product was water. we didn't worry about getting water to crew. today, we don't do that. we use the sun to produce electricity and solar cells so we have to either fly water up which is costly or find another way to produce it. we take yesterday's coffee, put it into a water purification system. the technology that used the
science and matt the kids learned to create a water purification system so the astronauts now recycle everything. whether it's urine, perspiration, it makes no difference. we reuse everything. we're now growing vegetables. we have grown lettuce, they eat it. we're growing cherry tomatoes. we're not growing potatoes like mark watney did, but we're on the way. those are the things we need to do. the serendipitous discovery is the same machine that creates clean drinking water for the astronauts on the international space station, well guess what, 90-odd percent of the youth, the infants that die in the world die from water-borne pathogens. if we can take the same machines, put them in rural villages and i'm going to surprise you, not just africa, south america, and other places, put them into the south in the united states where kids are dying because they don't have clean drinking water. that changes the whole world. so that's taking science and math, putting it together into
the technology field, and getting what the nation needs. >> are we satisfied with the way that s.t.e.m. is being presented to students in the educational institutions around the country? and if we aren't, how might we change? >> programs like f.i.r.s.t., v.e.x., another program similar to f.i.r.s.t. kids need hands-on stuff. like dean said, my son is back there, but he has three beautiful girls who are my incredible granddaughters, the love of my life. i don't have any trouble with where they're going to be on the weekend. unfortunately, they're going to be in softball, ballet, volleyball or something else because that's what we emphasize, but i want them also to be participating in music or in art, and his baby girl is an artist. she's spent all day yesterday, you know, mother's day, just creating incredible artwork.
that's really important. so we need to expose them. and the schools need to make sure that there are opportunities for kids to do things like create a robot, create a satellite. today, we use something we call, well, you can call them small subs, whatever, but they're about the size of this glass. and a kid in elementary school today can be taught how to take a cell phone, take it apart, take the memory card, take the camera, and put it into a box that big, we'll take it to the international space station and spit it out so they have built a satellite. what kid could say that several years ago? so we're beginning to introduce that into the informal curriculum of schools. but i'll take the informal curriculum as long as the schools will allow us to put it there. >> i agree. >> dean? >> everything he said. i think our schools are there to solve the supply side of the equation. i think what's been missing for at least a generation in this country is the demand side.
when i was a kid, the demand was created in the culture because i'm older than most of the people, but i remember the news, sputnik went up. and all of a sudden, america, fat, dumb, and happy at the end of world war ii, we were unrivaled. everybody was good. our parents all wanted to come back and make the world a better place so their kids would never have to deal with the stuff they went through. and suddenly, sputnik went up and made america realize maybe we're not just the unrivaled leaders. maybe we have other things to worry about. i think it energized a generation to really understand the importance, the critical importance of science and tech. and we were in a race. americans are very competitive. we're fat, dumb, and happy, having a good time compared to the structured cultured in germany and japan. we're very happy to just, you know, until we're threatened. so i think sputnik did it. and then we won that one. you know, and then we sort of relaxed back, which is why you
were stating numbers like you have, because americans, it's not what we don't have enough of, supply. we have great institutions, but only a few people take advantage of them. they have parents that say, yeah, you can play volleyball, but you better get an "a" in math. well, as i said 25 years ago, we were in that mode where i don't think most of american kids ever saw the real value, the excitement, the fun of science and tech because we created role models, superheroes everywhere else. but i think the next version of sputnik is upon us. china has 4,000 f.i.r.s.t. teams. 4,000 teams. i came back from a trip to beijing last year. i was there representing the national academy of engineers and the joint meeting with the chinese academy. when i told people that, they said, dean, you're a traitor.
what they're missing is the part about creativity, how to make use of that. the chinese government knows that which is why they're -- they said, you're helping them. think of it as the next sputnik. if you're worried about compet competesing -- >> very good point. >> maybe the fact that we now have a couple billion kids around the planet that are all going to be competitive, maybe the fact that we highlight that will be another call to action in this country to get real hands-on passion, excitement in science and technology into the schools which again is going to require industry to help. and it's working. by the way, i think f.i.r.s.t. will also turn out to be a tool of international diplomacy, much like the original purpose of the olympics when it was started in 1894 by businesspeople in switzerland. they said let's create a platform where young people get together and compete in a positive way. running and jumping, the
original athletics of the olympics. well, it's been 120 years. i'm not sure it's turned into a love fest, as they hoped. but, but if we now have a single language, mathematics, that is the same everywhere in the world and we have 86 countries this year competing. we had more countries competing a couple weekends ago in st. louis at our championship. we had more countries representing the f.i.r.s.t. teams than they had in the winter olympics. i think getting the first time ever through the connectivity you talked about, getting the world's kids to understand that instead of repeating the self-inflicted wounds of their parents and grandparents by which they separate each other with political and cultural issues, what if they could all collectively be on the same team, fighting against the same challenges, global warming, water, the environment, education, health care, security? we could have a generation of kids worldwide working together, cooperating as they do at first, and maybe break the cycle of all these self-inflicted wounds and
take on the real challenges that the world is going to face with 9 billion people, and by the way, every one of those challenges is going to require world-class technology. >> i was on a panel, just to follow up on your questions, mr. bolden, two days ago where i made the comment that no post-conflict society or developing society could ever achieve its full potential without bringing women fully into the mainstream, and fully empowering women within society. how can we incentivize this environment to bring women more fully into s.t.e.m., and not just to study but to get them into industry? >> tell them we won't survive if you leave half the population behind. >> right. >> for one thing. people sometimes understand that. again, i think the best thing is to have concrete examples for them to see. we selected the class of 2013, the astronaut class of 2013 had
6,800 applicants, we selected 8 out of 6,800. half of them were women, half of them were men. those four women in that group have already become superstars. they were superstars in their own right before selection, but that's now four more women who can go into any place in the world and talk about how they became astronauts. they're from all kinds of backgrounds. one spent her last year before becoming an astronaut in the antarctic working with penguins. another was the captain of the u.s. women's rugby team, major in the u.s. army, helicopter pilot. another one, the only marine selected is nicole mann. f-18 fighter pilot, iraq, afghanistan. you name it. and was a soccer player at the naval academy. so the good thing about them is because sports is good. sports is important. but sports is a vehicle that
helps to build teamwork, which f.i.r.s.t. again, the big thing about f.i. are r. s.t., it builds teams. a winning team, for example, when we were in st. louis, is actually three teams. you talk about okay, my team won. well, my team consists of three teams, and since i did better than everybody else, i pick two teams to go along with me. and so they learn to scout. remember, we talked about you need more than just science and math. some of them using math are now statisticians. they look at the other teams and say, bow, we don't know how to do that. that team, we clobbered them, but they did this incredibly win. they want to win on the field of battle. they don't want to have their opponent have their robots break down, so they will go help each other in the pits in between contests. and so, you know, we're incredibly proud to look at the number of schools that now can say they have really been turned around because of something like the f.i.r.s.t. program, where it got kids really interested in
being technologists or being makers or being artists because it takes everything. i'm looking at my press secretary over here and my former press secretary over there who now works for bono, and they're both just texting away. we didn't know about texting when i first became a nasa administrator. i don't know that we ever heard about it. when you talk about the arts, social media absolutely critical today. if we're going to communicate with the world, we have got to know how to use social media. i've got some engineers and technologists and people who, like me, i don't do twitter. i don't do facebook. and you know, i don't do any of that stuff, but i got really sharp people who know it and love it and serve to communicate our story to the rest of the world. so when i talk about the arts being absolutely important, it is. if you want to get your story out, you got to be able to present it in a fashion -- morgan freeman, could you think
of any more powerful way to tell the story of f.i.r.s.t.? that is not an engineer, that's not a mathematician, not a scientist. that's an artist who has chosen to take his ability, his god-given ability and apply it to help kids understand the equivalent force of science and math. that's why we believe that s.t.e.a.m.e.d. is really, really, important. >> s.t.e.a.m.d. noted. >> add the "d" for design. >> any other thoughts on that? >> i'm happy to tell you more than 30% on our team, more than 30% are women and minorities, and after 26 years, all of our compound growth, that number keeps inching up every year. now, you can say, well, it ought to be 50%. you got me there. but i'll say, look what we're trying to do here. you know what the number of women that get patents on technology is? the percentage of patents that go to women. it's low single digits.
how many women are practicing engineers or doing welding? it's all single digits. so our 30-some odd percent is pretty good. thank you. i'd love to get it up to 50%. i think our program has a self-selecting extra value to women and minorities because, again, since i believe it's a social issue, i mean, that group of people is far more unfortunately, distracted from the real world of science and technology than kids that grow up in an environment where mom and dad are doctors and lawyers and engineers. the people who really grow up seeing the culture of this country on espn and mtv are at a huge disadvantage. so even though we try to get everybody into f.i.r.s.t., there's a process by which when women and minorities start to see kids having fun in exactly
the same kind of sporting environment in every -- i mean, it's always funny to me people say, dean, you're really hard on sports. i'm not hard on sports, i'm using it as a model for something i have been at for 25 years. what do they say, plagiarism is the highest form of flattery. i say to people, i love sports. i have a baseball field in my back yard. basketball courts, tennis courts. they're good for lots of reasons. in the end, people say i think you're hard on it. and you even said it, sports are really good. they teach kids teamwork. you got me there. then why is it when they do teamwork in a classroom, you call it cheating? why? so i just think the power of sports -- the power of sports, you can't underestimate it. and so we didn't -- f.i.r.s.t. is not like a sport. f.i.r.s.t. is the ultimate sport. it has everything every other sport has, except it's giving you passion to develop the skill sets that will build your life,
your career in this country. >> so are we satisfied then with where american industry or companies and the government, are we satisfied that sufficient investment in rnd and the processes and the systems of education are under way? >> since i'm government, i'll say definitely not. >> okay. for this audience, policymakers, what advice would you give them or ask them to help us with tin terms of how we go about the process of incentivizing industry and government and improving our rnd efforts here? >> nasa has introduced in the budget aviation horizon. it's the first time in decades where we're going to start building x-planes if we get the budget. that's the key part. if we don't get the budget, we don't build x-planes. what does that mean when you talk about airplanes? every kid knows about the --
they don't know about the naca, nobody knows about the naca, that's the predecessor of nasa. but they know about test pilots on air force bases and stuff like that. breaking the sound barrier. those were experimental airplanes. and other experimental vehicles. young men and women today in colleges and universities around the country, believe it or not, were really excited when they saw the president's budget come out with a significant increase in aeronautics that would enable us to do x-planes again. because that's what they want to do. they want to design and build new airplanes. they don't want to go to a plant and work on a production line where we're building more and more of the same old thing. dean invents. kids love to go -- i use the term, kids, because i'm an old man. but people love to go work for dean. they love to go work for spacex. they love to go work for jeff bezos and blue origin because
they're building and tdesigning and creating things. that's what nasa should be doing. so, no, i'm not satisfied government is doing our part because historically in this country in the last few decades, we have abandoned research and development, me have abandoned technology development. that's one thing we have increasingly tried to put in the nasa budget. we started a space technology budget. we can't get to mars based on what we have today. you know, yeah, we can go back to the moon, but, and we will, but we want to get to mars and in order to do that, we got to have young people coming out of our schools and colleges who are wanting to design and build new things, new technologies that we need. >> any thoughts on that? >> you ask whether we're investing enough. i'm not an economist, but i'd say to you, it's pretty clear whatever we're investing, it's probably at least as important to make sure how you invest as opposed to how much. because i know that we spend
hundreds, many hundreds of billions of dollars a year on public education. per capita, it's well known, it's more per student than the rest of the world. here in washington, it's something like $18,000 or $19,000 per year per student, and then when you take out the very high percentage that don't go to school or drop out, it's ridiculously high. and then you point out we're number 29 in development, we're number 22 in math. so i would say you can never spend enough money on things that really have a good return and you shouldn't waste money on things that don't. but to give you a sense of why i'm concerned about that, think about this for a second. the entire cost, dollar cost to have a f.i.r.s.t. team because you can't -- we have 140,000 volunteer technology people as mentors. we couldn't pay them.
there's not enough money to pay these technologists. and they all work for free. a lot of the stuff in the kits are free. i thought getting industry to donate all of these most valuable things they have, the time and expertise of their astronauts would be the hardest part. it turns out that industry knows it's a great investment to turn these kids on. it turns out we got to tens of thousands of schools and didn't run out of volunteers. here's a staggering thing. with the hundreds of billions of dollars we spent on education, almost all of it over the decades, centuries now, is to fixed costs that can't be changed. teachers have no discretionary budgets. schools develop, and somehow they have enough dollars for the parquet floors, for basketball, enough dollars for the football fields. and they have enough dollars to pay the stipend of the teacher that stays after school to become the football coach or the basketball coach, and that makes complete sense to me. teachers don't make a lot of money, engineers can donate their time. the teacher that's going to be there for three hours every day after school ought to get some financial recognition.
in 25 years, we have had almost no luck getting the school half of the equation to step up, even though all the stuff is coming in essentially for free. in fact, it's astounding to me that for less than the cost of one half of one student, a whole school can have a f.i.r.s.t. team, but it's almost impossible to get them to recognize the math teacher or science teacher with the same s tirtipend for coaching our team, because historically, it wasn't there. i think it's an intellectual slap in the face as well as it limits things. in that regard, a number of years ago, i went to our senators in our little state where f.i.r.s.t. got started. one is a republican, one is a democrat. i said year after year they keep trying to do the education bill. whatever it is. they finally passed it last year and in it, i forget which is authorized and which is appropriated. they did the part which allowed, in fact, it required in the new bill, the new law now, that
schools that meet certain criteria can fund, the feds can fund just the part -- i don't want them to take industry out, but they'll give the teacher the same recognition, the same little stipend. they'll hand the public school portion of creating our sport and putting it on the same plain as any other sport. if all you policy people can figure out, now it has to go to appropriation has to come next. you guys ought to figure out how to make sure how every school in this country can support a f.i.r.s.t. team. i don't understand how you could let an institution of learning spend its money on all these other things and not give kids this -- every kid in this country deserves the opportunity to try this. and the policy people in this country ought to realize it would be the best leverage of your resources to let that happen. the entire f.i.r.s.t. organization has 100 and some
odd people now working full time. 100 and some odd people and well over 100,000 volunteers that you couldn't pay to put in the classroom. world class scientists and engineers, which says for every person working at f.i.r.s.t., there are 1,000 volunteers working for free. that's leverage. now just get the schools to bring them in and you'll transform your schools, and if you don't do that, this country is going to deserve what it gets. >> really important point. and just a point of clarification. i would seldom wish to criticize something that administrator bolden would say, but i have to take issue with your calling yourself an old man. you happen to be in the prime life from one general looking at another general. a lot of bright faces on that video. young women and men who were so excited about the learning experience and the competition. how do we get them into the kinds of jobs that will leverage that talent that can secure america's future? >> the jobs are there.
that's the problem. >> how do we get them -- >> that's the easy part. these kids, these kids leave this f.i.r.s.t. program and the world is their oyster. >> the schools are fighting over them. we have what we call scholarship row. we had 180 some odd universities lined up 2 weeks ago scouting just like the football coaches do. and by the way, we handed out over $30 million of scholarships from a lot of little tech schools. some are local trade schools like m.i.t., stanford, cal tech, georgia tech. they're all lined up. wpi, rpi. they're all there. yale. and they're fighting over these kids. and these kids get an education in tech, and there's no question, how do you get them into the jobs? the question is every company out there is fighting as to they all want them. >> that's a happy dilemma. >> encourage them through whatever means possible to invest their time and energy into s.f.e. m.-related courses.
you can't do it once they get to college. you have to have it at the elementary level, then it feeds into the secondary level. and then into college. and it makes no difference, again, i always tell young men and women that i talk to, you cannot be having a technical background, a technical degree, because it gives you the flexibility to become an author, become a poet. anything you want to do, the world is your oyster. if you decide halfway through college that you want to be an engineer and you haven't taken trigonometry or basic math, you're out of luck. so there is no -- there is no downside to getting them into technical courses, in the math and sciences. they go through high school and college, it's all up. you know, they can go back -- teachers, some of the best teachers come from programs like teach for america. and they're young men and women who just don't know what they want to do in life, so they take two years after they graduate
from college. those with technical backgrounds, dean talked about having a physics teacher who didn't know physics. well, young men and women in teach for america, they know physics. and they know math, and everything else, and it gives them an opportunity to take the trade that sooner or later is going to allow them to be an engineer, but to teach young kids in our schools. and they do incredibly well. so, whatever you do, encourage a young person. and young is a relative term. okay? i use the term too loosely. encourage a person who has never experienced science and engineering. the other thing is you have to help kids understand, engineers are not only the person in the front of the train. and that may sound trivial to some of you. coming from my community, coming from the african-american community here in the united states, you say engineer and the vast majority of kids think
you're talking about the guy in the front of the train. that is not -- that is not an engineer that we're looking for. we're looking for someone who can look at a system and help to integrate things. so had a young member of a society of black engineers who i was talking about inspiring people when i first became a nasa administrator because i said the president told me he wants to inspire, inspire, inspire. it was a young black man who was the president of the society of black engineers, he said, if you say inspire one more time, i'm going to puke. i went, i beg your pardon? he said, i know what you're talking about. he said, but you cannot inspire anyone until you expose them. and so that is the key. we've got to take them by the hand and take them in and let them see that science and engineering and technology not only is fun, but it's available to them. that there is an incredible demand for them, much more demand than it is, like dean
said, for somebody who can dribble a basketball. you know, you're battling against the odds trying to become the next lebron james. to become the next dean kamen, get your degree. and go out and invent stuff. nobody can take that from you. you know, nobody can take that from you. and you're probably going to be better than anybody else around because you're passionate about it. >> now you know why we love having nasa as one of our great sponsors. by the way, humility is one of his weaknesses. but last at our championship, where we filled an 80,000-seat arena, and around town we needed to fill the rest of st. louis, it looked like olympic village. once a year we recognize an organization or an individual for helping to bring f.i.r.s.t.
to every school in the country, and now around the world, and it's been given out 24 times. only one organization has ever gotten it twice. once about 22 years ago and once a couple of weeks ago. nasa has demonstrated that they earned it year after year. again, as a matter of policy, you should go home and ask yourselves, how can any school in this country in the 21st century not be doing everything possible to give kids a passion for science, technology, and engineering? and we found the simplest, easiest, most cost effective, fun way to do it that is consistent with our culture. we're not going to become rigid and regimented. we're not going to be beating on kids to spend ten-hour days in school, six days a week, no summer vacation. we still have this -- you know, kids have to go home and need the summer off because they got to work in the fields or whatever it was.
but this country, its biggest strength is the passion that freedom gives kids. the trouble is their passion is being misdirected to things that will not give them careers. and we solve that problem for you, but it's so antithetical to the process inside education, and technology moves so quickly, i don't think we can expect, and therefore, we and blame the schools for not making these changes, but we brought 20, now 3,700 tech giants, people like nasa, saying we're here to help. we would love to work in cooperation with the schools. we call our competitions cooperatitions. it's all working but we need the get the schools to open the spigot and make this part of their culture. every school should have a football team, every school should have a basketball team. every school should have a f.i.r.s.t. team. and whatever you need to do to make that happen, that's your homework assignment. >> that's terrific.
let's go to the floor for some questions. we'll go for about a half hour. i want to call it directly at 11:30. you'll be handed a microphone, i believe. when you get that microphone, i would ask you to please stand so we can see who you are, tell us your name and affiliation, and try to keep your question short. so, sir, please? >> good morning. my name is rich cooper. former member of the nasa team for a number of years. proud uncle to a young man who was in st. louis a couple weeks ago. he already was on a glide path for great things, and he's even more inspired, so thank you for that. administrator bolden, i had the pleasure of being part of the nasa team on -- working with your education program for a number of years. and one of the things that nasa was doing was creating the educator astronaut. that would better help connect students to the program as well as teachers to the program. i'm curious as to where that's going. i know they're part of the core,
and where they will be in trying to communicate all of these great experiences. >> we felt the best way to get educators as astronauts is not single them out, so there are no educator astronauts anymore. they're just astronauts. what we did was there is criteria to be an astronaut. it used to be you had to have a technical undergraduate background. a person who is a teacher, who has taught in technical courses, math, science, and the like, is academically eligible to apply as an astronaut. so we have people like ricky arnold, joel acaba, they've all flown already. they are not teacher astronauts. they're astronauts who happen to be schoolteachers. ricky arnold is from right out here in maryland. and you know, i tried to get him to come back here, but he still wants to fly some more. so we are integrating teachers into the -- they're competitive as astronauts applicants now. >> please, this gentleman in the
front row, please. i'll work my way back. >> i'm alan schaffer, the chairman of the d.c. innovation summit. you have been focusing on people ages 6 to 18, but there's a massive number of people who are under-trained, who are out of jobs, looking for jobs from 18 on up, including those in college. what can we do to capitalize and to retrain and retain these people in the workforce as valuable members of society? >> nasa has -- we oef the last couple l years in our education program, we have now begun to integrate community colleges into our area of focus. we didn't do that before. we were looking for college graduates. today, because, you know, a person turning a lathe or a person working in a laboratory doesn't need a ph.d. or a bachelor's degree in many cases,
but we do need them to be trained as a technician, so we focus on young men and women in community colleges today. we really go after veterans. taking them, understanding what their training was for the military, which is directly transferrable. let me tell you, a rifleman today is a technician. don't know the last time you looked at a weapon, it's a computer. looking through a scope, you're doing math in your head. you know, some of it's done for you by the weapon. an artilleryman. a forward observer. it's math, math, math, math, math. you take what the veteran has learned because it's directly transferrable into the workplace. so those are things we're doing. we're trying to help retrain people into the fields that we need to get us to mars. i think dean is probably doing the same thing. >> and the good thing is when you look at all of the volunteers, you almost need to be at a f.i.r.s.t. event to feel it. it's a love fest of technology.
and a lot of the people there are certainly not 6 to 18, and there are some world-class senior -- you talk to somebody, what do you do when you're not -- oh, i'm the chief technology expert at the "x," "y" and "z." at google. wow, pretty neat. then you'll talk to other people. well, i just got out of the military and i wanted to do this and that. it's a great place to network because you have 3,700 companies. so i think there's a process going on that's just blending all these people together. there was a time when education was the skill set you learn and it worked for a lifetime. i mean, it just did. an artisan learned something. today, there's no skill set you have today, especially in the technology field that's going to be worth a damn in three, four, five years. you know, look at, we went from, you know, telegraph to telephone a generation or two, but we went from the internet to e-mail to
texting to snapchat, you know, in the lifetime of some of these technologies is six months. education is not the destination. it's a process. in the world of technology, you're either going to learn how to learn or you're toast. and a kid coming out of school with a technical degree, i hope these days, understands what their education gave them was the ability to keep adapting to future technologies because they don't have a skill set that's not going to be obsolete very, very soon. >> if the audience members wanted to attend a f.i.r.s.t. event, how would they find that? >> so we used to have only one event at the end of the season. i would say come on to this high school gym. after five years of growing, we outgrew any venue in new hampshire and got disney to put us on stage. fly down. but if you use the sports model, the most expensive -- you know, kids can watch the super bowl on tv or watch the world series. unless there's little league in
town, unless there's t-ball at the ballfield, kids can get into baseball before they can run. unless you can make it local, you can't get them, as you said. you have to start early. we started doing regional events. by the tenth year of f.i.r.s.t., we had one regional every weekend in march around march madness, before the championships that happened in atlanta at the georgia dome. well, we keep building up more and more resources to be more accessible because the most expensive part of f.i.r.s.t. would have been airplanes and hotels for kids to play. this is the call i give out now this year's season, which is each weekend in march, we had 126 cities hold their regionals. little cities, new york, detroit, los angeles, seattle, houston, orlando. we have 126 events. i can guarantee you nobody in this room is out of driving distance to one of our march madness events. >> if you looked, the convention
center was full one weekend in march or late february, and that was several regionals. they are everywhere. >> regionals in downtown washington. >> this march madness really is madness. >> madness. >> when it's all said and done. there's a lady all the way in the back. may we hand her the microphone, please? >> thank you very much. i'm joanne from the university of wisconsin. i have a question about the time span of some of the projects you're talking about. for example, the mars project. we're dealing with an age in which students have relatively short attention spans according to research and all of that and perhaps some mars fatigue could be setting in, but also some of the other interesting projects. dr. may jemison pioneered the 100 yss project in which the stars are the object, at 100 years is the goal. . of course, there are public forums and a lot of research being done as to how to get there.
how can we stimulate people to keep going toward that very lengthy goal? thank you very much. >> absolutely right. you know, going to mars in the 2030s. that's a long time from now unless you happen to be in the program. we don't have enough time to get ready. that's 14 years from now. we're talking about humans in the martian environment in the 2030s. and we're going to do that. but there are all kinds of precursors. how many of you saw the movie, "the martian"? anybody read the book? those of you who read the book, and i didn't finish it, but those of you who read the book, you know he gives you what nasa has been doing for the last 40, 50 years. it's called precursors. so every time you turn around, we're sending another satellite that's either going to be an orbiter or it's going to be a lander. "curiosity" we landed three years ago. 2020, we're going to launch another "curiosity" sized rover. this is going to collect samples from the martian soil.
then we have to figure out how to get it and bring it back to world. there are other planets in the solar system where we sent new horizons to pluto back in july, the year just keeps going. but you know, it was a long journey. nine years to get there. things we want to do now is increase the speed of transit. so i need young and women who are interested in propulsion, who want to give me another way to get to -- mars is eight months today. that's too long. it's too long for a number of reasons. for the human body, that's much more exposure to radiation and the like. so things that are happening now is what we're trying to do. bring young people in who can work on something that will see a return in the next two years as opposed to 14 years and there's all kinds of stuff going on. aeronautics, that's the reason we want to build x-planes because a student in a university can start working on an x-plane, they can actually see the x-plane fly if they start as a freshman, they'll see the x. plane fly before they're out of school.
if they're a maker, if they're working on small sats, they can build that in a matter of six months. the way rerespond, we can fly their cube sets. we stick it on a satellite that's going to space anyway. get it up there, throw it out and for a week or two, these kids, you know, they have their own control center in their school and they can sit there and watch their satellite as it either brings an image to earth or it pipes down a preplanned message that says hello, i'm here, i'm the cube set from st. mary's high school or something like that. >> terrific. halfway down the aisle, sir. >> hi. i'm john workman with the american association of geographers. we had a huge growth in our membership because of gis technology and we're currently working in the k-12 field to try and get the college board to adopt an ap gis course. >> you want to tell everybody
what gis is? >> geographic information systems. so we've been trying to get this course adopted so kids will think about gis at the k-12 age which they currently only do at the college age, and the president signed the new k-12 law for the student, every student succeeds act, and one challenge is it basically returns most federal education dollars to state control, and i guess the question is, how do we get the states as individual entities to think about s.t.e.m. or st.e.a.m.d. education and really focus on it without a federal priority for it? >> i see a guy, mr. berger, stand up a second. so -- >> hand him the microphone, please. >> it's a terrific question, although we support returning the funding decisions to the state and the localities, not
just the state. and it's the thing about f.i.r.s.t., it's ground up. and a set of three directors, some states like california, and they work with the local education programs to promote stem and the first concept as dean says to bring it into their school with the funding. you need to work with organizations that have a local footprint and many of the organizations in the education arena do. that is at least my opinion on it. >> if you're from a state, every state, every county has 4-h, one of the reasons nasa has taken to collaborating with department of agriculture and 4-h is because we have 50 what we call the education -- >> land grant. >> yeah. it's in the land grant college in each state where there's the nasa space grant consortium. that's 50 of them around the country. 4-h is in hundreds of counties. they're in every single l county in the country. nasa now teams with 4-h. we provide the content. we provide information on
science, engineering, you name it, and it gets out to every county in the country. so that's one way to get it, whoever asked the question about how do you get to -- get the schools to, you know, to adopt the -- to use the funds for science and engineering and the like. but so that -- we partnered as i mentioned earlier with the department of education on 21st century communities and learning. it's the same thing. trying to work with the states t to get them to understand the absolute value of s.t.e.m. education and the fact they have to take this money and reinvest it in giving their kids an opportunity to get into s.t.e.m. education fields. it's really up to you all to not let the states and the counties and the municipalities that control the schools, don't let them off the book. because if you do, it will end up being somebody's football stadium. >> gentleman all the way in the back against the back wall. >> thanks so much.
i have qua question about the b concept -- >> please identify yourself. >> henry steven perez. i'm a federal physician. i specialize in helping people at an individual level grasp the concept that's staring us in the face, intelligence. the idea -- i'm a cancer doctor. we're changing the way we're thinking about cancer. for 100 years we were focusing on the cancer cells. now we're focusing on the intelligence of the surrounding environment. that's the only word we can use. intelligence. as scientists, we don't have a word for that really. my question is simply this, if you think about how scientists or thoughtful people might think about the concept of intelligence in 1916, when it started at the dawn of the industrial revolution, or 100 years before that when we were solidly in the agriculture economy. we would have certainly come up with dre