In NASA’s science account, planetary science emerges as a big winner, with the report allocating $2.12 billion, a record level. That amount is $191 million above the White House request and $275 million above what Congress provided in 2017. Some of that additional funding will go to missions to Jupiter’s icy moon Europa, thought to have a subsurface ocean of liquid water that could sustain life.
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education has well over 99 problems--but, for now at least, a lack of funding isn't one. 100Kin10, the national nonprofit seeking to recruit, prepare, and support 100,000 STEM teachers by 2021, has mapped out over 100 "grand challenges" facing STEM education. And today, the organization announced that Google, Chevron, and other funders have committed over $28 million to help.
In FY 2015, federal agencies obligated $30.5 billion to 1,016 academic institutions for science and engineering (S&E) activities. This represents a 2% decrease in current dollars from the $31.1 billion obligated to 1,003 academic institutions in FY 2014.
New launch vehicles promise cheaper access to space, either to Earth orbit and beyond or for suborbital missions. The cubesat revolution has made it cheaper than ever to build small but sophisticated spacecraft. That combination suggests that it’s feasible for scientists to develop missions without the need to go through government agencies for funding.
The little-known federal funding program has $400 million currently available. NEF has set aside $40 million to provide the required 10 percent matching grant. NEF's academic partner, the State University of New York (SUNY), the largest U.S. university, will set up and maintain the mandated STEM+ Academy (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, English, Social Studies, SAT/ACT, IT, Business) at no cost to the school district.
The SBIR program has been a legislated requirement of the Department of Defense, an agency responsible for roughly 40 percent of all federal extramural R&D spending, for more than three decades. One might expect that over that amount of time, the Department of Defense would have developed a system to become compliant with SBIR’s fundamental provision that a minimum threshold of innovation research spending be directed toward small businesses.
The initial federal research investment is small. Eighty percent of the companies in the report cited less than $5 million as the amount of federal funding received for their foundational work. For 40 percent of companies, this amount was less than $1 million. The 102 companies highlighted are predominantly small businesses, like most companies in the United States. Sixty-five percent of companies have fewer than 100 employees. Yet, the companies collectively employ 8,900 people.
In response to the recession that began in 2007, the U.S. Congress passed, and President Barack Obama signed into law, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Pub. Law 111-5). At an estimated cost of $831 billion, this economic stimulus package sought to save and create jobs, provide temporary relief to those adversely affected by the recession, and invest in education, health, infrastructure, and renewable energy. States and school districts received $100 billion to secure teachers’ jobs and promote innovation in schools.
During a March 10 hearing of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden testified about the $19 billion dollar Fiscal Year 2017 budget proposed for the agency by President Obama.
Last year was a notable one for scientific achievements: In 2014, European researchers discovered a fundamental new particle that sheds light on the origins of the universe, and the European Space Agency successfully landed the first spacecraft on a comet. Chinese researchers, meanwhile, developed the world’s fastest supercomputer, and uncovered new ways to meet global food demand.