Office of Science and Technology Policy Blog
- Posted byon January 29, 2013 at 10:56 AM EST
OSTP Director John P. Holdren speaks at the January 18, 2013, Interagency Mentoring and STEM Open House. (Photo credit: USDOT)
In science and engineering fields, this means celebrating those who keep our next generation of innovators engaged and excited about science, technology, engineering, and math while helping them acquire the skills needed for the jobs of the future. Studies have shown that—particularly for members of groups underrepresented in science and engineering fields, including women and some minorities—having a mentor can be a key determinant of whether a student continues to take math and science courses.
But there are many skilled potential mentors out there who have yet to venture into a school to express their potential.
- Posted byon January 28, 2013 at 12:43 PM EST
When the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy announced its call for 18 Presidential Innovation Fellows last summer, US Chief Technology Officer Todd Park also asked folks across the country to support these Fellows with great ideas and valuable feedback.
Over the past few months, through video chats, conference calls, and in-person meetings, thousands of Americans have connected with us to learn and share ideas about our work—and this Administration’s commitment—to unleash data from the vaults of the government as fuel for innovation. Time and again, we were asked why more people weren’t aware of these “Open Data” efforts, their numerous benefits for Americans, and how to get engaged.
After hearing this feedback, we had an idea: create an online showcase, highlighting the very best Open Data resources and how they are already being used by private-sector entrepreneurs and innovators to create new products and services that benefit people in all kinds of ways—from empowering patients to find the best healthcare right when they need it; to helping consumers detect credit card fraud; to keeping kids safe by notifying parents when products in their home are recalled.
Screenshot from the new alpha.data.gov experimental website, created by the 2012 Presidential Innovation Fellows.
- Posted byon January 25, 2013 at 12:24 PM EST
Last week, NASA launched the ISS Longeron Shadowing Optimization Challenge—a $30,000 competition that challenges citizen solvers to develop software algorithms that make solar panels on the International Space Station (ISS) more efficient. NASA is seeking solutions that reduce or eliminate the shadows the station casts upon itself at various points during its orbits of Earth. Ultimately, winning algorithms will help add power to the space station and expand the number and types of science experiments that can performed onboard.
NASA’s Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation and its Vehicle Integrated Performance, Environments and Resources (VIPER) office at Johnson Space Center are using the challenge to enlist citizen innovators in the hunt for optimal positions for solar collectors fastened to the space station so that that they generate as much power as possible on the spacecraft. This power is essential to performing science activities on the world class orbiting laboratory.
The energy used to power the space station is generated by eight sets of solar cells, or arrays, held to the station by longerons, long arms that are very sensitive to temperature changes—expanding when hot, and contracting when cold. Uneven shadows on longerons can cause solar array masts to buckle and create a hazard to the space station. In addition to maximizing the energy produced on the space station, winning algorithms must also minimize shadows on the longerons to help ensure no longerons fail.
- Posted byon January 22, 2013 at 1:39 PM EST
This summer, on June 1-2, 2013, citizens in cities across the Nation will join together to improve their communities and governments as part of the National Day of Civic Hacking.
Civic Hacking Day is an opportunity for software developers, technologists, and entrepreneurs to unleash their can-do American spirit by collaboratively harnessing publicly-released data and code to create innovative solutions for problems that affect Americans. While civic hacking communities have long worked to improve our country and the world, this summer will mark the first time local developers from across the Nation unite around the shared mission of addressing and solving challenges relevant to OUR blocks, OUR neighborhoods, OUR cities, OUR states, and OUR country.
National Day of Civic Hacking is a call to action for anyone who wants to make a positive impact on their town, city, and country. A coalition of leading organizations, companies, and government agencies have banded together to issue this challenge with the goal of promoting transparency, participation, and collaboration among governments, startups, and citizens. These partners will support Civic Hacking Day by hosting activities across the country that invite anyone to become part of the civic hacker community—whether you’re a newbie or an expert—and by connecting people in person or online during the weekend celebration.
- Posted byon January 17, 2013 at 5:43 PM EST
Today, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released its latest report to the President and Congress, Designing a Digital Future: Federally Funded Research and Development in Networking and Information Technology. The report is a Congressionally mandated assessment of the Federal Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) Program, which coordinates the Nation’s federally-funded research and development (R&D) in areas such as supercomputing, high-speed networking, cybersecurity, software technology, and information management. The report is an update on progress since the last such assessment was conducted in 2010.
The United States is a world leader in R&D for networking and information technology (NIT)—a sector that touches virtually every human endeavor and fuels economic growth, national security, and enhanced quality of life. NIT capabilities are at the core of our Nation’s infrastructure—underpinning and enabling diverse functions ranging from communication and commerce to defense and manufacturing. New NIT insights and discoveries ensure that the Nation remains a safe and healthy place where Americans can continue to succeed and thrive.
- Posted byon January 17, 2013 at 1:44 PM EST
(This article is cross-posted on the Treasury Notes blog)
Treasury recently hosted a Finance Data Working Session to brainstorm new uses and applications of government data that would help empower consumers. At the session, which was convened as part of Treasury’s broader Finance Data Initiative, over 50 entrepreneurs discussed dozens of ideas for new features, products, services, and apps that use government data to help American consumers make informed choices. By the end of the day, workshop participants narrowed down these ideas to a set of nine projects that show promise for helping Americans manage their finances, plan for retirement, and make more effective financial decisions.
At the working session, entrepreneurs and software developers volunteered to build the following ideas into prototypes and working applications in the coming months:
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