Those in the science and technology fields watched as President Biden named 30 new members of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) this week, which is one of the greatest honors that can be presented in the field. This designation has gone to some of the greatest minds the country has ever seen and was created back in 1957 by President Eisenhower. It has gone on to become a well-respected tradition and a way to shine the spotlight on this ever-evolving field and talent within.
What Does PCAST Do?
The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology isn’t just a fancy title or an impressive designation to receive; the members perform a very important job. It’s up to these highly qualified advisors to make policy recommendations to the White House that have an innovation, technology and/or science angle to them. This is why the advisors must be so high level, as they are reporting to the President himself.
With the pandemic still raging across the country and around the world, never before has science and technology held such an important role. And it’s not just health-related, since there are very serious and real climate change issues, national security and even the health of the economy to worry about. These individuals have been chosen to provide valuable insight, direction, ideas and policies that will help change the country for the better.
An Incredibly Diverse Group of New Members
Many were happy to see that this year’s members are also one of the most diverse groups ever chosen. The new members were made up of the following:
- Two Nobel laureates
- Two former Cabinet secretaries
- Five MacArthur “Genius” Fellows
- 20 elected members of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
These members are all seen as experts in their chosen field, and the fields are also vast – which provides a well-rounded group. Some of the fields they are experts in are immunology, biochemistry, entrepreneurship, agriculture, ecology, astrophysics, neuroscience, nanotechnology, cyber security, national security, social science and computer engineering.
Another thing to note is that this is the first time in which women will serve as co-chairs on PCAST. President Biden made sure this monumental first took place to help open the door to women moving forward. It will hopefully act as inspiration and motivation for others.
You can find a complete list of the PCAST members by clicking here.
The History of PCAST
For anyone outside of the science and technology industries, you may be left asking what the PCAST is, what its main goal/purpose is, and just how much of a pull or influence it can have on the government.
Today’s version of the PCAST was chartered in 2019 by then-president Donald Trump. It was also re-chartered in 2010 by the Obama administration and 2001 by the George W. Bush administration. When it originally began, it consisted of just 18 members, so it has grown significantly over the years. This allows the President to draw on even more talent, ideas, innovations and inspiration.
Why It Should Matter to People
While the members that were chosen may not impact many people out there, the fact is that anyone eyeing a future in science and technology should take an interest. It’s more than just naming distinguished leaders; it’s about recognizing new technology, trends and developments and providing a glimpse into what’s to come next.
Even students can research the work of the new members who have been named, and use that as inspiration as they work to complete their studies in the field – such as the popular computer engineering masters at Kettering University. Perhaps one day they will become members of the PCAST.
The Science and Technology Industries are Driving the Country’s Boom
If you want to look at the sectors and industries that are doing well right now, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the science and technology field is right near the top. Many economists point to these two industries as the major drivers of any boom in the economy right now. They were doing especially well pre-pandemic and are proving to be resilient and strong no matter what has been thrown their way.
The science and technology fields are quite vast too, encompassing a wide array of jobs. For those looking to break into either of the industry, you may want to look into healthcare-related science and technology careers. Other areas that are growing include machine learning and artificial intelligence. Experts believe we have only just begun to scrape the surface of what is possible.
And as these industries continue to grow and evolve, it becomes more important for the President to stay abreast of up-and-coming technology so it can be funded, supported and used in the best possible ways.Just take a look at how much the computer and IT industries are expected to grow in terms of jobs from now until 2029. That number is about 11%, which is much higher than the national average.
Employers are desperate to find qualified experts that can help to lead their companies into the future, make a difference, and ensure their tech is the best out there.
Smart Tech Will Continue to Be Big
Another technology and policy avenue to watch for is smart technology. Smart technology in itself isn’t new, but experts are finding new and exciting ways to use it almost daily. What is considered smart and high-tech today will already be outdated a year from now. It’s advancing that fast.Wearable devices can fall into smart technology. It’s more than just wearing a tracker that calculates your footsteps, active minutes and calories burned; wearable tech is taking advantage of some of the best smart technology for health and well-being purposes. It’s another trend that will continue to grow.
Now that the PCAST has been injected with fresh ideas, inspirations, confidence and motivation, it’s time to pay closer attention to what sort of policies they will advise.