***Coming This November: US Black Engineer magazine's 2008 Diversity edition will spotlight the careers of some of the most prominent blacks in Information Technology in Q&A profiles.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Putin to Obama, McCain: Top This

It's beyond Sputnik 2.0. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is now determined to make mother Russia a world leader in science and technology.

Putin has urged that his country spend $25 billion (600 billion Russian rubles) over the next two years to pump up its ageing technology infrastructure. He also offered ambitious plans to create two national research universities to direct fundamental research over five years to the tune of another $10 billion.

The news came after the end of August, when Russia’s heavy-handed aggression toward it's much smaller neighbor, Georgia, drew the ire of the world – perhaps a harbinger of foreign problems that will confront the next American president. Putin's Kremlin-like military actions may be outdated, cold-war style, but he understands upgrading Russia’s facility for science, technology, mathematics and engineering is what will power his nation's tanks and missiles, enhance Russian national security, and create commercial activity.

Zooming right over Russia's border to Alaska's mainland, what about Putin's soon to be U.S. rival -- McCain or Obama? Where do they stand on STEM?

Barack Obama would double government financial support for basic research, reform the U.S. patent system, appoint the nation’s first chief technology officer and exploit science and mathematics initiatives for workforce development and innovation.

John McCain would combine capital investment, corporate tax incentives and less government regulation to jumpstart U.S. science and technology. Both would make the U.S. research and development tax credit permanent.

But matching Putin? Only the next four years will tell. --M.V. Greene