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Zack Hutchins
Director of Communications

November 3, 2005

IBM executive: New York should double its number of math, science and engineering grads

A top IBM executive has challenged the New York State education system to double the number of science, math and engineering graduates by 2015, to help drive the innovations that will enable the state and the nation to compete in the global economy.

Nicholas M. Donofrio, IBM’s executive vice president for innovation and technology, told an “education summit” of more than 700 education and business leaders in Albany on Nov. 2 that “innovation is the driver of economic opportunity, job creation, and advances in virtually all disciplines.” He said a highly educated workforce, with a substantial portion of top graduates in the sciences, is essential if New York and the nation are to keep their competitive edge.

The summit was called by the Board of Regents to build consensus and exchange commitments on the next steps in improving the state’s overall education system. Linda Sanford, chairman of The Business Council and an IBM senior vice president, concluded the session by promising that business will make the system and the general public aware of future job opportunities and of the skills needed for them.

In his keynote address, Donofrio said that China is graduating eight times as many engineering students as the U.S., and India five times as many. “Right now,” Donofrio added, “New York is below the already inadequate U.S. national average in that regard.”

The first step, he said, is to upgrade the teaching of science and math in elementary and secondary schools. In middle schools across the U.S., he said, about 70 percent of the students have math classes taught by teachers without a major or certification in math, “and the record in science is even worse.”