Community Leader’s View: San Diego’s future depends on young scholars


By Duane Roth


It is generally acknowledged that the nation that leads in science and technology will lead the world. For more than half a century, the United States has held that position and defined the standard for quality of life, industrial might, and national security. Today, we are in danger of losing that advantage.

Whereas most university scholarships are need-based, an ARCS award (from the Achievement Rewards for College Student Foundation) targets the best and the brightest in the fields of science, engineering, and medical research. It is an achievement award given to scholars who have already demonstrated their ability and, in the opinion of their advisors, show exceptional promise.

As we talk about the importance of innovation in helping San Diego maintain the competitive advantage that has made us known as one of the nation’s scientific leaders, we need to recognize that it is precisely from among these scholars that the innovation needed is most likely to come.

The San Diego economy is based heavily on defense, biomedical, biotechnology, pharmaceutical, wireless communication and software industries. The symbiotic relationship between these industries and the outstanding universities and research centers in our region cannot be overstated. These young scholars under the direction of senior scientists help produce the research and development in many areas of science and technology that support existing companies and lead to the creation of new businesses. And, as they graduate, these are the scientists and engineers, ready to meet the needs of local industry.

It is essential that we encourage and retain students already engaged in advanced studies in the sciences. These scholars, and those immediately behind them, will be entering the workforce in the near future. If we lose them, America will lose its next generation of scientists.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 8 at UCSD a panel of key regional leaders will discuss the topic “San Diego — Innovative Gateway to the World: Nurturing Our Intellectual Capital.” I will be the moderator for a panel that includes Capt. Joe Beel, Commanding Officer (SPAWAR); Don Casey, CEO (West Wireless Health Institute), and Kathleen Kramer, Professor and Director of Engineering Programs at UCSD. We will be discussing the importance of developing the future leaders and scholars in science and engineering and the importance for U.S. innovation.

La Jollan Diane Chalmers is chair for the Scholar Recognition Event.

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