The greater Rochester region is renowned for being a center of educational excellence. As home to many internationally-known universities and colleges, our community is a leader of higher education in math and science for New York and the nation; home to the most PhDs and science degrees in any region.
In each region of New York State, there are “Centers of Excellence,” which are public/private partnerships centered around universities that focus their efforts on science, technology and research (STAR). Realizing education is our state’s biggest asset, the intention of these centers is to capitalize on a region’s academic infrastructure and scientific business expertise to cultivate innovation and new technologies; essentially redeveloping our state’s image as a “rustbelt” and into a hub of tomorrow’s technological achievements. In our region, RIT serves as a STAR center, leading the way with cutting edge technologies and break-thru scientific discoveries. We are fortunate to have many other universities and colleges that continue to grow and contribute to the growth of our region’s prowess.
A few weeks ago, the Rochester region’s academic institutions came together to discuss their role in 21st Century New York. The various independent colleges at the meeting decided that they have to help the Rochester region become recognized as the center for math and science education that it is, and I could not agree more.
We have a wealth of math and science institutions that should be recognized for their contribution to the region and the state.
For generations America has been the place where students seeking engineering, science and math degrees would flock to. The United States just three decades ago was ranked third in the world in number of students between the ages of 18 and 24 receiving science degrees; that ranking has fallen to 17th today. Universities in Asian countries are producing eight times as many bachelor’s degrees in engineering as the United States.
In the spirit of innovation, I am working with my Assembly minority colleagues to advance a new program, called the “New Edison Project,” which proposes to create an array of opportunities and programs to influence and inspire future generations of New York students in the study of the sciences and math.
The New Edison Project has much to offer New York’s next generation of students looking to enter the fields of math and science. This would create several initiatives that help our future math and science leaders by creating a loan forgiveness program for up to 500 students. These students’ loans, up to $10,000 per year for up to five years, would be forgiven in exchange for a five-year commitment to work in New York in the appropriate field after graduation. The package also proposes increased TAP allowances for math and science students. Furthering the drive for technological innovation and creation, up to $2 million in grant funding would be available to graduate students in all sectors to pursue scientific research for their graduate or doctoral studies.
I will continue to work with my Assembly colleagues to push the New Edison Project in an effort to make New York a frontrunner in technology and innovation.