Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"A Vision of Science in Montgomery County"

I recently wrote a column for the Gazette outlining my hopes for our county's high-tech future. Here's how it starts:

Montgomery County is uniquely situated in the scientific community — even if those of us who live here don't know it. We hear a lot about the "technology corridor" or "DNA Alley," but what does that mean, why should you care and does it mean anything for our future?

There are two technology corridors in Montgomery County — a big one on Interstate 270 from the District of Columbia to Frederick County and a smaller one on Route 29 from Silver Spring to White Oak. Billions of dollars of research takes place annually in these corridors.

The National Institutes of Health spends more than $2 billion for research in Montgomery County alone. The Food and Drug Administration is completing a multi-million dollar expansion of its White Oak campus to oversee drug development and food safety. The National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Department of Energy are investing millions of dollars here every year.

Montgomery College has the largest science and engineering programs of any two-year community college in the nation and is constructing new buildings in Rockville and Germantown. MedImmune and its parent company, AstraZeneca, are hiring 800 new employees this year. Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) remains the world's largest private funder of basic life sciences research.

In short, this represents the most significant set of life science resources in one place, an unparalleled foundation for scientific discovery. Isn't it enough just having these phenomenal assets in our community in the first place?

It's not.

Wanna know why it's not? You can read the rest of the piece right here. Let me know what you think.


Roni said...

Insightful article; it is pleasing to know others are forward thinking about transitioning research to the next level. It is imperative to go beyond the research and commit the county to integration. Let's not stop at bringing JHU to the county and encouraging JHU to conduct research on site; let's also build transition and awareness programs in our middle and high schools. Exploring opportunities at the middle and high school levels will generate curiosity and expose students to endless possibilities. At the very least the students will begin analyzing and evaluating need, resources and interest. Counselors should keep students informed of the various types of universities; highlighting what it is to attend a research university. Many of our students are misguided in selecting the appropriate university for their goals.

Mark Ase said...

Bringing in more high tech jobs is going to get more competitive as it seems the economy is going to a high tech-service only situation pretty soon. With lower costs of living and great universities we should be in great position to grab some of those new jobs.