Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, served two terms from 2009 to 2017. During his time in office, Obama implemented numerous policies and initiatives aimed at advancing science, technology, and innovation, promoting STEM education, and fostering economic growth. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key accomplishments and actions of Barack Obama as a leader.
Elevating Science, Technology, and Innovation
One of the primary goals of Barack Obama’s administration was to restore science to its rightful place. He recognized the importance of science, technology, and innovation in driving economic growth, addressing climate change, and ensuring national security. Here are some of the actions taken by Obama to elevate science, technology, and innovation:
1. Restoring Science to the White House
President Obama reinvigorated the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) by restoring the rank of Assistant to the President to the OSTP Director. He also created three new high-level science, technology, and innovation positions in the White House, including a U.S. Chief Technology Officer, a U.S. Chief Information Officer, and a Chief Data Scientist. Additionally, he reinvigorated the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), which provided valuable advice on various scientific and technological issues.
2. Boosting Talent and Expertise
Obama prioritized attracting top talent in science, technology, and innovation to serve in his administration. He appointed five Nobel Laureates in science and 28 other members of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to key positions. He also created programs like the U.S. Digital Service, 18F, and the Presidential Innovation Fellows program to bring in engineers, designers, data scientists, and product managers to improve government services.
3. Coordinating Science and Technology Initiatives
The National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) played a crucial role in coordinating science, technology, and innovation initiatives across government agencies. Under Obama’s leadership, the NSTC published over 90 policy papers in areas such as environment, national security, fundamental science, technology, and STEM education. This coordination helped drive progress in areas like climate change research, nanotechnology, cybersecurity, and more.
4. Promoting Transparency and Scientific Integrity
Obama prioritized transparency, openness, and scientific integrity in federal agencies. He issued a Presidential Memorandum on Scientific Integrity, emphasizing that political officials should not suppress or alter scientific findings. He also called for agencies to embed these principles in their policies and procedures. As a result, agencies developed and published scientific integrity plans, ensuring that scientific and technological information developed by the government is made available to the public.
Funding Research and Development
Barack Obama recognized the importance of investing in research and development (R&D) to drive innovation and economic growth. Here are some of the actions taken by his administration to fund and incentivize R&D:
1. Historic Increase in R&D Funding
Under Obama’s leadership, the Recovery Act of 2009 provided $18.3 billion in R&D funding, the largest annual increase in research funding in U.S. history. This commitment to R&D continued throughout his presidency, with every budget proposal prioritizing research funding.
2. Support for High-Risk, High-Reward Research
The Obama administration supported programs like the High-Risk, High-Reward Research program at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), funding for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), investments in advanced technologies for space exploration at NASA, and the establishment of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) at the Department of Energy (DOE). These initiatives aimed to support groundbreaking research with the potential for high impact.
3. Advancements in Physics Research
Obama’s support for fundamental research and major capabilities in physics research led to significant advancements. This includes the discovery of the Higgs boson at CERN in 2012 and the detection of gravitational waves by the LIGO collaboration in 2015.
4. Making the R&E Tax Credit Permanent
In 2015, Congress made the Research and Experimentation (R&E) tax credit permanent, responding to Obama’s call to support and expand the credit. This move aimed to incentivize businesses to invest in R&D and innovation.
Promoting Innovation Nationwide
Barack Obama recognized the importance of promoting innovation and entrepreneurship across the country. Here are some of the initiatives undertaken by his administration:
1. National Innovation Strategy
In 2009, Obama released the Strategy for American Innovation, outlining efforts to promote long-term economic growth and competitiveness through innovation. The strategy focused on investing in science and technology foundations, creating an environment favoring entrepreneurship, and catalyzing breakthroughs in key areas like clean energy and healthcare.
2. Open Data and Citizen Science
The Obama administration made over 180,000 federal datasets and collections available to the public, encouraging innovation and collaboration. They also promoted citizen science and crowdsourcing approaches, allowing citizens to contribute to research efforts and improve predictive models.
3. Incentive Prizes and Challenges
Obama’s administration engaged over 80 federal agencies in more than 700 challenges on Challenge.gov, offering incentives and prizes to address various problems. These competitions led to the formation of startup companies, job creation, and innovative solutions to pressing issues.
4. STEM Education and Workforce Training
Obama prioritized STEM education and workforce training to prepare the next generation for the jobs of the future. His initiatives included the Educate to Innovate campaign, which attracted over $1 billion in private investment for improving K-12 STEM education, and efforts to strengthen the K-12 STEM teacher corps. He also called for computer science education for all students and promoted broad participation and equity in STEM education.
Using Science, Technology, and Innovation in Education
Barack Obama recognized the potential of science, technology, and innovation in advancing educational goals. Here are some of the actions taken by his administration:
1. ConnectED Initiative
The ConnectED initiative aimed to connect 99% of students to high-speed internet through schools and libraries by 2018. Over 20 million students gained access to high-speed internet, and the number of schools lacking connectivity was significantly reduced. The initiative also focused on fostering digital learning and providing resources for teachers and students.
2. Bridging the “30 Million Word Gap”
Obama’s administration took steps to address the early literacy gap between low-income children and their more affluent peers. They launched initiatives to provide resources and support for caregivers and teachers to enrich learning environments for young children.
3. Innovative Use of Digital Tools
The Obama administration promoted the use of video-game technology for learning and organized the White House Education Game Jam to develop educational apps and games. They also supported the creation of openly licensed education resources and highlighted the role of innovative assessments in measuring student knowledge.
4. Support for STEM Education and Workforce Training
Obama’s initiatives in STEM education and workforce training also extended to the field of education. He prioritized STEM education, strengthened the K-12 STEM teacher corps, and encouraged the participation of students in STEM fields through events like the White House Science Fairs and Hour of Code.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: What did Barack Obama do to promote science and technology?
A: Barack Obama elevated science, technology, and innovation by restoring science to the White House, boosting talent and expertise, coordinating science and technology initiatives, promoting transparency and scientific integrity, and establishing innovation labs and behavioral insights teams.
Q: How did Barack Obama support research and development?
A: Barack Obama enacted a historic increase in research and development funding, supported high-risk, high-reward research, advanced the frontiers of physics, made the Research and Experimentation tax credit permanent, and prioritized funding for advanced technologies and space exploration.
Q: What initiatives did Barack Obama undertake to promote innovation nationwide?
A: Barack Obama developed a national innovation strategy, made federal datasets and collections available to the public, incentivized innovation through prizes and challenges, and promoted STEM education, workforce training, and entrepreneurship.
Q: How did Barack Obama use science, technology, and innovation in education?
A: Barack Obama’s administration used science, technology, and innovation to support educational goals through initiatives like ConnectED, bridging the “30 Million Word Gap,” promoting the use of digital tools, and supporting STEM education and workforce training.
Q: What were some of the key accomplishments of Barack Obama as a leader?
A: Some of the key accomplishments of Barack Obama as a leader include elevating science, technology, and innovation, funding research and development, promoting innovation nationwide, and using science, technology, and innovation in education to advance educational goals.