Sunday, November 24, 2013

Good Science...bad science???

Oddly enough, we’re going to continue on our “science” type theme this week, but with a slight (or major) twist.  I didn’t actually plan it this way, originally, but heard this great discussion on how “beneficial” science really is…or isn’t…
Science, for the most part, is the accumulation of knowledge in a systematic method to create general truths on the operation of the universe, most commonly referring to “the physical world and its phenomena, the nature, constitution, and forces of matter, the qualities and functions of living tissues.” (Webster’s) For this blog it can be understood to be the development and utilization of new technology and the expansion of human knowledge in the modern era, though it should be noted that not all technological advances are from rigorous scientific analysis (such as the industrial revolution) and science has only significantly influenced technology in the last two centuries. What it means to be human is itself another debate, but here it can be understood to be both the collective entity of the human race and the defining features of humans which make them distinguishable from other beings (you know, what separates you from your dog or cat or other life forms).
Advancements in science have occurred for thousands of years as far back as the Ancient Greeks (who many believe invented scientific principles), and their effects are becoming ever more pronounced. Production has shifted to mechanized factories and even killing in warfare is being replaced in parts with unmanned drones. The boundaries of medicine are being expanded with possibilities of cloning and stem cell research. Science has allowed acts that would otherwise be impossible for humans to consider undertaking. It has created previously unknown abilities to heal the sick or destroy all of humanity with Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Blog Topic: The question is whether or not being able to undertake those acts is a benefit, and whether science does more to improve lives or harm them.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Foreign STEM Graduates

Here at Secaucus High School, we have what is known as the STEM Academy (aka Science & Math Academy...or the Math and Science Academy... depending on your preference.... kind of like which came first, the chicken or the egg...)

As the U.S. economy staggers out of recession, many see the growth of the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields, known collectively as STEM, to be crucial in keeping the United States competitive on the global stage.

In addition to facilitating the study of these fields among American youths, some STEM proponents argue that immigrants who come to the United States to learn about the sciences should be encouraged to stay here once they have graduated. They fear that otherwise, foreign STEM grads will take their skills and education to their home countries, costing America the opportunity for job-creating innovation. The STAPLE Act, which would grant immigrants who earn Ph.D.’s in STEM fields permanent residency and exempt them from immigrant quota limitations, is one initiative being proposed to keep foreign STEM graduates on U.S. soil in the hopes that they will create successful companies and more jobs for Americans.

Opponents say this and similar measures would have the opposite effect, taking jobs away from Americans and suppressing wages in the fields. In addition, many opponents feel that the over emphasis on STEM related subjects belittles the other equally academic fields in the Arts and Humanities.

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies and author of The New Case Against Immigration, Both Legal and Illegal and How Obama is Transforming America Through Immigration, feels that the idea is a good one, as long as it's restricted to those receiving a Ph.D.  He stated:

""Staple a green card to every foreign STEM grad's diploma!" say the politicians and lobbyists. But the real question is, which foreign STEM graduates should get green cards?
Foreign students getting bachelor's degrees most certainly shouldn't, because that level of achievement is hardly special. Even the tech companies pushing for the "staple" legislation don't want that; Texas Instruments's human resources director testified before Congress last year that her firm doesn't sponsor foreign students with bachelor's degrees because there are plenty of Americans to choose from. In fact, there were in 2010 1.8 million Americans with engineering bachelor's degrees who were not working in engineering. And that's not all STEM fields—just engineering."

Dr. Norm Matloff, a professor of computer science at the University of California opposes this idea and any legislation that would promote this program.  Dr. Matloff wrote:

"Flooding the STEM labor market with foreign students produces stagnant wages. This disincentivizes many of our best and brightest young Americans who hold STEM degrees from seeking careers in the field; instead, they often pursue law or M.B.A. degrees. Reportedly 25 percent of Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineering graduates now go to Wall Street instead of launching careers in technology. Proponents of "staple a green card" proposals should worry about an internal brain drain in the United States."

Blog Topic Question:
Should foreign STEM graduates get green cards? If so, should it be restricted to only those that obtain a Ph.D in their field