Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Vice President for Academic Affairs Phillip J. Cornwell, PhD, testified today at a congressional hearing on STEM engagement and retention issues with  world-renowned innovator Dean Kamen. Kamen is best known for inventing the Segway and the world’s first wearable infusion pump. He also founded FIRST Robotics, which is closely tied with IndianaFIRST and the TechPoint Foundation for Youth, all organizations striving to transform culture and make STEM as cool as sports for kids.

According to a press release from Rose-Hulman, Cornwell’s testimony focused on five critical moves that would improve the national engineering graduation rate by 10 percent and produce 100,000 new engineers in six years.

These five proposed moves include:

  1. Providing youth STEM development programs
  2. Rewarding professors with passion and expertise in undergraduate STEM education
  3. Providing meaningful STEM internships early in students’ college experiences
  4. Enhancing high school mathematics and science instruction
  5. Offering advantageous student loan rates for STEM students
A professor of mechanical engineering, Cornwell was selected as one of America’s top STEM college educators in 2012 for the Princeton Review’s Best 300 Professors book, and has earned the institute’s prestigious Dean’s Outstanding Teacher and Board of Trustees’ Outstanding Scholar awards. He has been a member of the Rose-Hulman faculty since 1989.
Rose-Hulman has been the nation’s No. 1-ranked undergraduate engineering institution for 15 consecutive years by U.S. News & World Report’s survey of college presidents and engineering deans. It has a first-year retention rate between 90 to 93 percent and a five-year graduation rate of approximately 80 percent—much higher than the national average of 50 percent (six-year graduation rate).
Today’s subcommittee hearing is being chaired by U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Indiana, Eighth).
“A STEM-educated workforce is critical to preserving the American capacity for innovation and securing U.S. economic strength and competitiveness in the 21st century global marketplace,” said Bucshon, a physician and chairman of the subcommittee who invited Cornwell to provide his expert testimony. The congressman added: “It is critical that we engage students at an early age and retain them in STEM related careers. Rose-Hulman is a national leader in this effort and proof that private industry development and involvement are vital to the science, technology, engineering and mathematics advancements left to be discovered. I thank Phil Cornwell for joining us for such an important discussion.”