President Clough to Address Policy Makers on Professional Education in Math, Sciences

Wayne Clough, president of the Georgia Institute of Technology, will deliver a keynote address to university administrators, government officials and industry leaders at a national meeting of the Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology beginning 9:30 a.m. Oct. 2 in Washington, D.C.

Joining Dr. Clough at the meeting will be Anderson Smith, Georgia Tech's Associate Dean of Sciences, and Associate Professor Jung Choi from Georgia Tech's School of Biology.

Each will discuss the value, importance and growth in master's education in science and mathematics throughout the United States, particularly the growth and interest in professional science master's degrees.

Georgia Tech has four successful professional master's degrees in the sciences, each implemented under the leadership of Dr. Clough and Gary Schuster, dean of Georgia Tech's College of Sciences. Dr. Smith has responsibility for developing these degrees in that college, and Dr. Choi is the faculty coordinator for Georgia Tech's professional master's degree in bioinformatics, a popular program within the School of Biology.

Dr. Clough said the Institute began to offer professional science master's degrees because a significant number of bright students here expressed interest in science and math, but did not want to pursue careers in higher education. Many also were not convinced that they would get what they needed by beginning a Ph.D. program but finishing with a conventional master's degree.

"As technology became more ubiquitous in virtually every sphere of life, we also saw a need for a stronger knowledge base of science and math in the corporate and policy-making arenas," Dr. Clough said. "Corporate demand was increasing for employees with higher-level science and math skills, but not conventional Ph.Ds. Instead of a Ph.D. researcher who discovers new knowledge, employers were looking for someone with the skills to make competent use of those new discoveries. Others wanted someone with a specialized mix of skills, rather than a vast amount of knowledge in one narrow specialty."

To date, Georgia Tech has created professional science master's degrees in human-computer interaction, bioinformatics, quantitative computational finance, and prosthetics and orthotics. Each program -- generously supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation -- has produced successful graduates who work for the nation's leading companies and research facilities, including Los Alamos National Labs, GlaxoSmithKline, Toronto Children's Hospital and Vanderbilt Genome Center.

"These four degree programs are working very well, and we are playing around with some ideas for additional programs," Dr. Clough said.

The Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology is charged with collecting, analyzing and disseminating reliable information about the human resources of the United States in the fields of science and technology; promotion of the best possible programs of education and training for potential scientists, engineers, and technicians; and the development of policies for the utilization of scientific and technological human resources by educational institutions, industry and government for the optimum benefit to the nation.

The CPST was founded in 1953 and is a participating organization of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The non-profit corporation's membership includes leading professional societies, corporations, institutions and individuals concerned with advancing public understanding of professionals in science and technology, their roles, education and employment.