Potomac ACM Policy Challenge

On April 21, 2021, it appeared as though Congress would do the unimaginable: pass a bipartisan, game-changing, “technology policy” oriented legislation. Over five years, the Endless Frontier Act authorized $110 billion for basic and advanced technology research.

I applaud Senators Schumer and Young and Representatives Gallagher and Khanna, along with a number of their colleagues in the House and Senate, on the introduction of The Endless Frontier Act today. This sweeping bill rises to the occasion of this pivotal moment for the U.S. science and innovation ecosystem. With significant investments in The National Science Foundation, it will advance research across the continuum, especially in the emerging technologies that are so central to ensuring global competitiveness and addressing societal challenges. The bill joins the NSF for the Future Act as a promising pathway to amplify the power of U.S. science and innovation to generate broad-based economic opportunity in all regions of the country.

Carnegie Mellon University President Farnam Jahanian.

From the Internet to cloning, Mars expeditions, and 5G, technology policy is almost certainly the most critical factor influencing the evolution of global competition. Technological innovation is generating new businesses, transforming existing ones, and redefining the parameters of competitive success. Unfortunately, however, much of the demand-side technology policy remains unimplemented. Additionally, there is considerable room for divergent views on policy capabilities and industry needs. A year ago, the Endless Frontier Act concluded the debate at a federal level. Both proponents and critics of the original concept of technology policy initiatives agreed on the importance of a strategic investment in technology advancements to assist businesses—and society—in preparing for a global economy where rapid absorption and application of innovative ideas are critical to competitive success.

The Potomac ACM Policy Challenge aims to boost the public’s awareness and knowledge of technology policy and helps young scholars contribute to policy engagement in the nation’s capital. Increased engagement can influence the community’s level of attention and expertise. Meanwhile, we recognize that a lack of knowledge is an essential barrier to policy construction. Knowledge and awareness are insufficient to form a public consensus on technology policy without engagement. Moreover, public participation and particularly active participation in bipartisan policy formation can significantly contribute to gaining knowledge and awareness. Public awareness, understanding, and participation can drive a better technology policy in the name of peace and solidarity. Increased personal learning and community awareness of policy issues can accelerate social capital building for global competitive success.

The Challenge is a collaboration between the professionals and academic faculty from the Potomac Chapter and support from members of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and leading research institutes on technology policy. All shortlisted candidates are honored as the Potomac Policy Fellows, where they will be invited to publish their Manuscripts on our Potomac Policy ACM Challenge Symposia. Award Winners will be featured in the Symposia.

Finally, we advise underserved students on college majors and curricula and prepare them for a technology policy career. We focus on college access and retention. Often these populations lack the resources, knowledge, and guidance to navigate the application and financial aid process. In addition, these students are not extensively courted by elite postsecondary institutions or, seemingly, are affordable for many private and some public institutions, where they can be prepared for a technology career.

Dr. Ross Martin administers the program at the Potomac ACM chapter.