Congressman David Scott Unveils Bill to Close STEM Skill Gaps through Makerspaces in Community Colleges, HBCUs and Minority-Serving Institutions
Congressman David Scott (GA-13), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, today unveiled the Making Advances Kinetic, Education, Research and Skills (MAKERS) Act, a bill that would address the skills gap at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) and community colleges. Co-sponsored by Representatives Mark Takano (CA-41), Tim Ryan (OH-13), Drew Ferguson (GA-03), Steve Cohen (TN-09) and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), the bipartisan MAKERS Act would promote the development of a Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM)-capable workforce by directing funds towards the research and development of makerspaces.
Makerspaces are work spaces where students can use tools and technology, such as 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC machines or other equipment that students might not otherwise have access to. In these locations, students can exercise their creativity while solving problems and learning new skills.
“Our nation is a leader for the world in science and innovation, but the STEM workforce must grow to sustain its position in the increasingly-competitive environment,” said Congressman David Scott. “Education inequalities prevent our STEM industries from fully embracing our country’s strength in diversity. I am proud to announce this bipartisan bill with my colleagues to address this problem and I will continue to work to make the STEM workforce more accessible for all Americans, regardless of their backgrounds.”
Endorsed by the MAKER Caucus, the bipartisan MAKERS Act would improve access to makerspaces by directing the National Science Foundation to award research grants, prioritized for HBCUs, MSIs and community colleges, to purchase equipment for STEM learning in makerspaces and to further study the effectiveness of makerspaces in engaging students with STEM skills.
“As one of the Co-Chairs of the Congressional Maker Caucus, I am proud to support the MAKERS Act in an effort to promote the development of makerspaces at HBCUs, MSIs, and community colleges,” said Congressman Mark Takano. “The maker movement is rapidly growing, and it’s important that we invest in the people and spaces that will be at the center of the creativity and forward-thinking innovation that will propel our economy and our technology into the 21stcentury. We must take these kinds of steps to assist in the formation of a truly STEM-capable workforce.”
“I am proud to join with my fellow Co-Chair of the Maker Caucus, Representative Takano, in supporting the MAKERS Act,” said Congressman Tim Ryan. “This legislation is critical in building the STEM workforce desperately needed to advance our nation’s economy and outcompete China. I strongly encourage the House to take up and pass this bill without delay. We cannot afford to wait.”
Research shows that Black and Hispanic workers are underrepresented in STEM jobs. Black workers comprise 11 percent of all employed adults, yet only 9 percent of STEM positions; Hispanic workers comprise 17 percent of employed adults, but make up only 8 percent of those employed in STEM jobs.
Congressman David Scott has made advancing workforce opportunities that meaningfully reflect the diversity of all communities a top legislative priority in Congress. Last month, in the Build Back Better Act, the U.S. House passed bipartisan legislation spearheaded through the Agriculture Committee by Congressman David Scott to provide a historic $100 million in permanent funding for student scholarships at the nineteen 1890 land-grant HBCUs. His MAKERS Act would build on that work to close our country’s skills gaps by providing minority and historically-underrepresented students with opportunities to innovate and experiment with cutting-edge technology in a collaborative environment.
Read the bill here.