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SPARKS:2001 V1/Q2

Beyond the Cutting Edge

by Don Kelly, Chief Executive Officer

There's a lot to be said for being in the right place at the right time. Today, that's precisely where the Academy finds itself - in a world where technology changes with blinding speed, while society scrambles to embrace its potential. We'd be hard pressed to name another organization so steeped in experience, so ready to attack today's challenges.

I'm talking about challenges such as America's struggle to meet demands of an exploding science and engineering (S&E) job market. To adequately staff our nation's companies with highly-trained personnel by granting work visas to hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals is, at best, a temporary quick fix; at worst, it is embarrassing given America's Super Power status.

Another challenge is society's disparate Internet access. Delicately termed the "digital divide," this poses unhealthy social and economic inequities everywhere.

Then, there's the problem of dealing with arcane concepts of intellectual property, as it rapidly becomes central to all business ventures. Traditional education offers little to prepare one to understand "IP," much less cope with its complexities.

For decades, the Academy has addressed such issues well ahead of its time.

Long ago, the Academy was fostering creativity of youth, gently channeling their interests toward S&E careers through innovative national initiatives such as the Young Inventors Program and the Junior Science and Humanities Symposia. Similar initiatives, the Research & Engineering Apprenticeship Program for example, also focus on women and minorities underrepresented in S&E.

Bridging the digital divide, Academy programs such as the Washington, DC-based Exploration Cybercamp collaborative project place computer keyboards at the [hands] fingertips of disadvantaged inner city youths never before exposed to the wonders of the Internet.

Anticipating the emerging power of IP and the important role inventive entrepreneurs would play in an expanding economy, the Academy long ago established itself as a major influence in these areas. We're proud that the Academy's substantive support and encouragement of the United Inventors Association, coupled with the educational efforts of our PTC Research Foundation, are reducing hurdles for those who will build a better tomorrow.

The Academy's reach, with global collaboration and distance learning techniques seems limitless.

What certainly is limitless is our spirit of adventure and willingness to look far beyond today. When tomorrow comes, the Academy already will have been there and moved on.

Copyright 2002 Academy of Applied Science